The challenges and constant pivots healthcare practices have had to cope with during the pandemic and after the waves of COVID-19 are unmatched by any other industry. Although the pandemic rocked every industry, none were quite as impacted as healthcare. Many healthcare businesses have halted or slowed down marketing in response to the ever-changing landscape, but that would do more harm than good.
In fact, several studies on advertising during recessions between the 1920s and 1990s found that businesses that advertised saw much more success during and after the recession than those that did not. For instance, Jif and Kraft salad dressing experienced 57% and 70% growth due to continued advertising. Another one reported sales growth as high as 275% for those who advertised aggressively, while companies that stopped advertising "lagged behind the ones that maintained their ad budgets" even after the recession.
There are ways to effectively market even during the toughest of times, and we have the insight here. Keep reading to learn more about the importance of marketing in the healthcare industry, how to market healthcare practices, and tips for developing a healthcare marketing strategy during the pandemic and even after it passes.
How Has the Pandemic Changed Healthcare Marketing?
Since the pandemic, a lot has changed in marketing, especially in the healthcare industry. However, the most significant changes to impact healthcare marketing are the following.
The Foundation of Healthcare has become Shakier
Talent shortages in the healthcare industry have shaken the industry's very foundation since the pandemic. Although it was already becoming a problem to fulfill every position sufficiently, studies show that difficult times will only get more complicated. One SHRM study reported that a shocking 81% of HR professionals surveyed said it was 'very difficult' or 'somewhat difficult' to fill positions for nurses, specialists, and doctors. Another study noted that by 2025, we could expect to see a shortage of 61,700 to 94,700 health professionals in the U.S.
Significant Emergence of Telehealth Options
Telehealth is becoming a priority for most Americans, and many healthcare practices are starting to catch on. Before the pandemic, telehealth gained some traction in the modern-day digital era, but it wasn't until the pandemic that the process sped up. According to McKinsey's updated study in 2021, the utilization of telehealth was 78 times higher in April 2020 than just two months earlier, in February 2020. An uptick of 17% has been consistent since June 2020, suggesting continued importance.
Widespread Distrust of Healthcare/Science
The emergence of COVID left many people feeling uncertain, misinformed, and scared. These feelings were inherently associated with the healthcare system and science as the disease was navigated publicly day by day, leaving a lot of room for speculation until there was enough data to support otherwise. One study even revealed that although 17% of respondents from the general public reported distrust before COVID, another 32% reported a 'decrease in trust' in the healthcare system since the pandemic.
Potential Loss of Emotional Connection to Practitioners
Emotional connections with practitioners are an essential component of the healthcare system. As the talent shortage leaves many practices understaffed despite keeping busy, more people find it difficult to feel those same emotional connections with their doctors. The top two reasons for this were because the practitioner spends too little time with them (25%) or doesn't listen to them or know them (14%).
Healthcare Marketing Strategies to Get You Through the Ever-Changing Pandemic
With the cost of healthcare ad spend, practices need to put their ad dollars to best use right now. RBR reports that the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries are expected to spend about $11.1 billion on advertising in 2022.
Here are the top healthcare marketing strategies to get the most out of your ads and budget, no matter if we’re in crisis or not.
Adjust Your Campaigns to the Times
Consider what's happening today and how that impacts your ideal audience when delivering your campaign.
- Addressing fears and concerns
- Giving factual information that people are looking for
- Reminding people of your standards of care, improved guidelines, etc.
If you find that your original campaign isn't addressing the times appropriately, consider making some important adjustments.
Re-Engage Current Patients
Many patients may be forgoing appointments for all kinds of reasons, so it can be helpful to re-engage with them through your marketing. This includes an outreach campaign to contact them and remind them of services, taking care of their health, improved safety standards, etc.
Adapt Your Messaging to Current Search Trends
What search inquiries are topping the charts among your audience? Update messaging and SEO to capture what people search for and adjust your keyword strategy to rank at the top. On Google, in particular, ranking on the first page is essential because at least 75% never click past the first page. Moreover, if you pay for one of the top 3 spots on Google, you benefit from 75.1% of all clicks.
Accommodate Prospects with Valuable Information
People are searching for new information as it comes. If your healthcare practice keeps up with the necessary content to answer these questions and accommodate prospects with valuable information, their trust in you will grow. Update your messaging to be a trusted source for people to go to. Eventually, that established trust will encourage those prospects to consider you over the competition when a problem you can resolve arises.
Healthcare Marketing with McClatchy
When you're ready to partner with a company you can trust, contact McClatchy for more healthcare marketing insights, including the strategies we use — SEM, SEO, content, display ads, and integrated marketing.