Opportunities to keep your practice top-of-mind with patients and prospects during the COVID-19 outbreak
Considerations for Currently Scheduled Marketing
In light of COVID-19, our marketing considerations to our Members and the industry in general are geared toward controlling what is controllable today while strategically planning for marketing opportunities that will occur in a post-coronavirus landscape.
Prior to COVID-19, the practices we work with all had fully developed marketing plans for 2020, including not only different types of campaigns, but also for in-person events.
Live Event Considerations
For instance, many Audigy Member practices had patient seminars planned for April or for May of this year, but given the current situation of social distancing and stay-at-home mandates, our stance is that serious consideration should be given to cancelling, or, better yet rescheduling these events for later in the year (depending on your state, its present COVID-19 condition, and your post-pandemic marketing budget).
There is also the opportunity to host a virtual better hearing event through platforms such as Facebook Live. A few Audigy Members have leveraged this technology to remain in contact with patients. (We hope to provide a future webinar on this topic.) If leveraging this technology is of interest, we’re urging our Members to work with their Marketing Managers, and we urge all non-Members to seek out online resources before diving in. These platforms can be finicky, so you want to do your best to mitigate technical glitches before you’re in the middle of a Facebook or Instagram Live event.
Direct Response Campaign Considerations
For those who have direct mail campaigns scheduled, it is recommended that this campaign be postponed for several weeks, potentially restarting with the tactic in May 2020. (Though as COVID-19 progresses, we will revisit this recommendation.)
With a large number of people being asked to stay-at-home and these folks being more dialed into TV/Radio, broadcast campaigns are being recommended as an opportunity to enhance your practice’s brand image.
In today’s environment, this medium could be used to highlight any modified services that your practice is providing (e.g., curbside service, telemedicine, hearing aid drop-off boxes, free shipping of supplies). We also feel that is incredibly important any messages your brand is delivering to the public be positive in tone.
Digital Marketing Considerations
With people more deeply engaged with online resources (internet usage is up 20% as of this writing), many newspapers are offering renegotiated pricing for their digital marketing offerings, with larger ads, full-color ads, and even two-for-one ads in some instances.
For TV ads, we recommend that you read the fine print to ensure that your ads are running during peak hours, and not during late night or early morning hours. We are asking our Members who need help with their digital marketing to please consult with their Marketing Manager or Media Buyer so they can assist with consideration regarding pricing and contract negotiations.
Now is the perfect time to leverage social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram.
Current traffic on these sites has increased remarkably as individuals seek more up-to-date information online, particularly as it relates to healthcare.
Hearing loss and hearing aids are potential topics being searched by future patients, so it is important that brand practices maintain an online presence. It is also important, given the spike in Internet search, that practices maintain or increase their search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM), and pay-per-click (PPC) advertising budgets to remain viable in their markets if they are able to remain open or provide specialized services.
Considerations for Patient Outreach Activities
Proactive patient communication is absolutely crucial right now and should be divided into two strategically distinct buckets:
1. Your overall commitment to patient care, especially during times of crisis to project stability
2. Your message of differentiation that distinguishes your practice in the marketplace
Ensuring that website content is up to date, including working hours and modified services, will help build brand equity with patients.
While patients are not necessarily shopping for hearing aids in the current market, they could be soon. Thus, service provision updates could go a long way in differentiating practices that are considered and those that are not. Service provision could be presented in various forms, including blogs, social media posts, and how-to guides. Product information can also be presented, especially information that is easily digestible (e.g., “How Does a Hearing Aid Work” or “The Five Best Hearing Products for 2020”).
It is recommended that content be placed on your practice’s website first, then onto social media platforms. Doing so allows for clicks on social media to be directed to your website.
Now is also a good time to call and remind referral sources and community centers of the services you offer as a member of the healthcare team. Virtual in-services and supplying equipment (e.g., earwax guards, hearing aid domes, batteries, etc.) are ways in which to enhance your brand with these groups.
Patient follow-up with patients who are still under the trial period is important. Following up with these patients on device use, potential troubleshooting issues, and potential application of assistive devices (such as TV streamers) can ensure that listeners are maximizing their listening opportunities.
Be sure to reschedule patients by moving appointments out by several weeks and continuing to be engaged with patients through follow-up reminders if your practice is open and providing modified services.
Lastly, we ask you to consider checking in with patients that were tested and not treated to see whether there are services or information that can offered to help this population cope during this unprecedented time.
There are myriad ways in which you can market to your patient database and community, even in times of crisis. If you’re interested in learning more about considerations for practices during COVID-19, we recommend reviewing the rest of our COVID-19-related resources or calling us to speak directly with an Audigy representative. We’d be happy to assist!