How to market Essential Services during COVID and beyond

Patients who put their health on hold in 2020 are ready to reclaim it. We’ve all seen how important health is, and how the small actions taken today can have a great impact on not just our health, but the health of our entire community long-term.

Essential services such as primary care, cardiology, cancer care and orthopedics should remain highly visible in the market with increased budgets in digital and traditional marketing. Patients will continue to need these services and they’ll be looking for a provider they can trust to walk them through it. Take a look at how consumer behaviors have changed in your area. Most likely people are still not out and about as much as they were pre-pandemic, so use this information to rejigger your traditional media buys.

Try shifting some of your terrestrial radio budget into streaming services like Spotify or Pandora. You’ll probably want to leave some money in radio, but reassess your time slots; people aren’t driving during the typical 9-5 anymore. If your area is doing schooling in-person, try to schedule around school drop-off and pick-up times, the evenings when people are picking up food, or weekends when people may be driving around town.

Move some of your radio and/or outdoor budget into TV, especially to the broadcast news stations where people will be watching for COVID updates. This will reinforce credibility and keep you top-of-mind. Maybe take a look at some of the less expensive morning and afternoon slots as people are working from home or staying at home more, and may have the TV on in the background.

Using marketing as education

Now that consumers want to be more informed and in control of their health, you need to make extra sure that important information is easily available for them, including:

  • Insurance coverage info and contact info for your billing/customer service department to answer questions
  • New safety protocols for in-office visits including check-in protocol
  • Information on changes in service locations, telehealth options or pausing of services
  • COVID-testing info

Now is also the time to push that preventative care services are covered in full by insurance and target specifically young people who may not be aware. Especially now people need to make their health a priority (particularly as we get into cold and flu season) and promote getting their yearly check-up and flu shot. This is also a way for doctors to start the conversation about mental health and refer them out if need be. All this info should be available on your website, apps, and frequently pushed out via social media and email, with a heavy target on 21-35-year-olds.

Don’t forget to reach out to your previous patients who were using mental health services but stopped. The pandemic and social isolation have affected everyone. Now is a great time to update or revamp your existing mental health resources. With people being home more often than traveling or hanging with friends, people are actively searching for helpful content including blog posts and videos, maybe even opening and reading emails more often than they normally would.

Promote telehealth sessions, and publish free content to help people cope even if they can’t come back due to lost insurance or changes in financial situation. Consider repackaging existing content related to meditation, breathing exercises and stress management into toolkits to let patients access them with ease, and display prominently on your website and/or email to existing patients.

Service line marketing: Let’s get creative

So what about the other specialty service lines like cancer, cardiology and orthopedics? Make sure to bulk up paid search, native advertising and social media campaigns. Complement with more personalized and memorable tactics such as email marketing and video. Finally, adapt the tried and true organic and public relations tactics to the new reality:

  • Schedule social media and search campaigns around National Health Observance days to hi-jack search traffic.
  • Virtual Events:
    • Partner with local businesses – Here’s where you can really get creative. Host or co-host live events over Zoom like virtual trivia nights, scavenger hunts, healthy cooking lessons, wellness sessions or educational webinars. Hold a virtual walk or an event/giveaway around a certain topic or service.
    • Partner with charities/non-profits – Organizations that rely on donations will definitely be hurting. Use your resources to help amplify their message (and earn some positive PR for yourself).
    • Make the connection with your communities by promoting a hashtag and sharing photos and stories relating to your event or cause so the community can feel a sense of “togetherness” even when apart, especially during the holiday season.

Interested in learning more about this topic? Join us for a Live Webinar with VP Paul Fahey on December 3, 2020!


Further Reading:

6 Steps to effective primary care marketing

Tool – The hospital service line marketing calendar