Alarmist headlines, endless scrolls of LinkedIn content and countless hand-wringing sessions in boardrooms are currently amplifying the economic uncertainty felt in many industries, including healthcare. Peaks and valleys are natural economic cycles, but the hype sometimes becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy that causes organizations to sacrifice short-term investments at the expense of long-term gains.
During these times, it’s important to remember that, according to the Harvard Business Review, 10% of public companies actually grow during economic downturns and their aftermaths. Still, when a downturn looms, thoughts turn to cutting costs.
Often, marketing is one of the first areas to feel this pull back. There’s a reason for that: too many marketing activities lack a clear, tangible ROI, making those resources seem expendable. In addition to marketing, budgets impacting employee engagement and communication are also often slashed. Cutting back in either of these areas boxes are some of your most valuable assets — people and reputation.
We witnessed and lived this during the COVID-19 pandemic. Organizations were challenged with finding ways to reduce costs, while also maintaining the quality of care or product delivery their patients demanded. Shortages in both supplies and workers lead to burnout, delays and frustrations as overwhelmed healthcare organizations worked to manage through the crisis.
Now, as it was in the shadow of COVID, investing in your people and market reputation creates a durable long-term brand. But what makes an investment “smart?” A strong, aligned internal and external marketing strategy will drive clear ROI and tie to revenue benefits.
So how can you move forward with certainty during uncertain times? Here are some pointers from our experience across pharmaceuticals, devices and services:
1. Scrutinize and narrow your focus on the audiences with the highest potential
Leverage customer insights you have at your disposal or conduct market research to truly understand your patient/customer’s preferences and motivators. Explore tactics that allow you to hyperfocus and drive meaningful ROI with your most important audience set.
2. Leverage digital tactics
Digital tactics continue to be the most cost-efficient tool in a marketer’s tool belt. Double down on channels like paid search, blog content, webinars, email marketing campaigns and social efforts. These tactics support a targeted audience and bolster your organic search results, and also provide hard data and tracking capabilities that allow you to prove out your investment.
3. Capitalize on customer advocacy
Word of mouth is one of the most effective ways to drive someone from consideration to action. Nothing can replace the value of a current customer encouraging the conversion of a new customer (or, for that matter, a happy employee referring your company to a potential employee). Create an environment for current customers and patients to share their experiences. Motivate them to refer others. This will expand your reach, and also create deeper bonds with your existing audiences.
3. Optimize your website
For many healthcare organizations, your website is your hub for all efforts. If it’s not easy to navigate and understand, your ROI from other efforts significantly diminishes. An objective audit of your website can drastically improve SEO and user experience and, in the process, increase your customer visibility, drive measurable results, and enable faster conversions.
4. Empower and support your workforce
Your sales teams, healthcare providers, front office staff and customer support teams are the face of your brand. They directly impact the patient/customer experience. Focus on delivering tools that make their work easier and empower them to effectively do their job. Open lines of communication for feedback and improvements. Prioritize easy-to-execute efforts that help them better navigate patient demands and meet their business goals.
Driving market success during times of economic uncertainty can be like playing a game of Tetris. Your job: to make sure all the pieces fall into place. The key is to prioritize and focus efforts on the most value-driving audience, and target them with trackable, measurable tactics. When you correctly and seamlessly put the right pieces into play, the result is success that is felt across the entire organization.
If you are looking for a partner that can help you navigate the peaks and valleys of healthcare and garner measurable success, consider Schaefer Advertising. Our team of experienced professionals brings a wealth of knowledge, expertise, and creativity to the table, helping you effectively address your challenges head on. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.