During a time when concerns over privacy, public health, and civil unrest have your audiences anxious and overstimulated, how can healthcare marketers make communications resonate?
In uncertain times like these, all of your audiences (patients, donors, employees, and community members) are looking for information to help them solve their problems, understand issues, and just feel safer. As has always been the case for healthcare institutions, earning and sustaining consumer trust is critical. Today’s environment just makes it that much more difficult to accomplish. But when you focus your marketing on creating dialogue and relationships with patients and the public, you can gain goodwill for your brand, increase valuable brand awareness in your market, and enhance your brand’s influence.
COMMUNICATE WITH EMPATHY
Best-in-class healthcare institution marketers aren’t removing themselves from the battle. Instead, they are using their own lived experiences coping with doubt, concern, and uncertainty to help their teams craft messaging that responds to audience wants and needs. They employ empathy to make sure their marketing speaks to both shared and unique needs.
Key to communicating with empathy is to understand what your audience is uniquely dealing with and then deliver information that helps them manage better. For example, your healthcare institution undoubtedly has multiple precautions in place to keep patients safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. But instead of communicating about those generic precautions, can you develop content that targets their exact needs? For instance, new mothers want to know when they can have visitors in the hospital. People planning elective surgery want to understand how pre-admission testing works before elective surgeries. Targeted messaging to answer these questions enhances your brand value.
Similarly, we are all experiencing information overload. What is missing is practical content that answers specific questions. For example, tips abound about washing hands. Why not create an infographic that explains why soap works to kill germs? How about creating video content that speaks to seniors about how to combat loneliness, or an easy-to-read article that helps people understand how to keep their personal identity information safe and not fall victim to a coronavirus scam?
By serving up content that directly addresses what your audience is worried about, you inform them and help them feel better, which is, after all, the purpose of healthcare.
Authentic healthcare marketing means being on the same page as your audience. If you’re already communicating with empathy, you are on your way to authenticity. When you bring a genuine voice to your marketing, you connect with people. That’s because people will be able to relate to what you are saying and to your brand.
A great way for healthcare institutions to cultivate authenticity is to tell stories. Think about your patients or staff who made healthy choices during the pandemic and feel better for doing so. Those would make great, relatable stores. The same can be said about stories that tell how your patients feel about the care at your hospital and the staff who go the extra mile to care for them.
Stories have particular resonance at this time. People are more isolated and crave human connection. Stories can deliver that connection, as well as excellent healthcare institution brand positioning.
In addition, think of how you are packaging and disseminating necessary data. Are you relying on facts-and-figures one sheets or social media posts? Drive more authenticity into those types of communications by serving up that information via webinars. Think about all the ways your caregivers, donors, first responders, and leadership can communicate that vital information, but in a relatable and high-value way. Plus, by doing webinars hosted by these thought leaders, you’ll find you can reach a wider range of stakeholders.
SHOW YOUR INVOLVEMENT
Your audiences expect that your healthcare institution will be there to provide medical attention. What they may not know about are the other important ways you are responding to current crises like the pandemic, civil unrest, and data privacy controversy. When you communicate about those issues and how people can better manage them, your audiences will be comforted and assured that your brand is there providing solutions and is thoroughly involved in responding to the many needs that have resulted from these crises. For instance, healthcare systems today are successfully promoting these solutions through multipronged marketing approaches:
- Real-time Q&A sessions or call-in lines that focus on COVID-19
- Telehealth services and their safe and convenient delivery of care
- Webinars or online programs designed to explain ways that patient privacy and data are protected
- Hospital-community partnerships with organizations like college campuses, housing services, and community service organizations
EFFECTIVE MARKETING DURING TIMES OF CRISIS
Crises are always on the horizon and will always pose a threat to your brand reputation. Pausing your healthcare marketing efforts during those times is not the answer. Instead, move forward with marketing that is responsible and empathetic to what the public is dealing with. Keep your healthcare institution in front of consumers by providing the information that assures them and messages that illustrate how you are making a difference in the communities you serve.
AN AGENCY RELATIONSHIP YOU CAN DEPEND ON
LIGHTSTREAM is ready to help your hospital or health system accomplish more with its marketing budget, so you can better adapt to these challenging times. Turn to us for a full range of cost-effective traditional and digital marketing services, a streamlined process, and deep healthcare marketing expertise. Contact us to learn more.