If you’re part of a hospital that halted elective procedures with the COVID-19 crisis onset, there’s a good chance your system is considering cutting its marketing budget. That’s the wrong decision. Right now is the time for organizations to be in the market communicating with their consumers, not retreating.
The need for healthcare didn’t stop because we’re in a health crisis. Numerous studies show that consumers are looking to their local healthcare providers as the leading voice for answers about resuming care.
I’m not advising you to open the floodgates and pick up your old campaigns where they left off as if nothing’s different. We’re not back to “normal” yet – and it’s unlikely things will go back to precisely the way they were before the coronavirus struck. Your messaging has to reflect the current state of your community in order for it to create a positive impression on your consumers.
But I am advocating that your marketing needs to prove its value more than ever – otherwise, it will be cut.
Don’t Let the Marketing Budget Be Cut When You Need It Most
Cancellations and postponements of elective procedures, which are normally some of the highest revenue-generating producers in healthcare, have been a substantial hit to the bottom line. Yet, hospital leaders often see marketing as low-hanging fruit in terms of budget cuts, believing it to be an unneeded expense, particularly if the goal isn’t to bring in new business because of reductions in service.
There is a lot of false optimism that the patient market is going to come roaring back.
The patient market has shrunk by 10-30% in many places, meaning all the rescheduling phone calls you can muster will get you back to at most 70% of backlogged procedures.
You need to engage with your existing patients and find replacement volume, in the right place, at the right time.
Digital Marketing Can Smooth the Peaks and Fill the Gaps
Digital marketing has several attributes that help prove its value to budget hawks among your organization’s leadership:
- It takes advantage of increased consumption of digital media while consumers are under quarantine or stay-at-home orders
- Leveraging pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns means your organization doesn’t pay unless consumers click or tap your ad
- Digital marketing is easily targetable and trackable, so it’s easy to measure your campaign’s actual impact
Due to our depth of experience in healthcare and ability to accurately optimize campaigns daily, our clients’ PPC campaigns have yielded tremendous results. In one example, every $1 the client has spent has led to $15.50 in downstream revenue for the organization — a return on investment (ROI) of 1,450%.
During the current crisis, rates for digital campaigns are relatively inexpensive right now because so many companies have fled the market. In a few weeks, as organizations start dipping their toes back into the digital stream, these low rates will start rising again. By resuming your digital marketing now, you can reap the rewards of targeting the right exposure with less competition and save money in the process.
Where Should You Cut Marketing Budget if You Have To?
If you’re required to trim your marketing budgets, consider cutting back or eliminating your print media, radio (but not podcast), and billboard campaigns. These are channels that depend heavily on a mobile, in-person workforce/consumer base who are commuting. In most cases, these campaigns aren’t trackable, so it’s difficult to measure what impact, if any, you’re getting from your efforts.
Some organizations have switched their service-line marketing to campaigns thanking their physicians, nurses, and other front-line staff members for their service during the COVID-19 crisis. While your team members deserve praise for their heroic efforts, these are brand-awareness campaigns and aren’t driving revenue.
We recommend shifting these campaigns to social media, where members of your community can add their thanks. This allows your paid marketing to focus on campaigns that bring in revenue. Healthcare systems’ business leaders have to be concerned with ensuring the financial well-being of their organizations.
By laying out the benefits of your marketing campaigns in terms of ROI, you can play a critical role in helping your organization drive revenue during these tough times and position your team members as vital business resources within your organization.
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