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Healthcare marketing in times of COVID-19 and after: in the midst of chaos, there is opportunity

Hospitals are scaling up to more COVID-19 capacity at the expense of non-COVID-linked activities. Many clinicians will be forced to reschedule their activities from home in anticipation of the decline in Corona numbers. As a healthcare vendor, how do you learn to surf the waves of these (and coming) pandemics? 

The recent decisions by most European governments to scale up the COVID-19 capacity of General and University hospitals in the context of the current evolution of the number of hospital admissions of COVID-19 patients, will also imply that not COVID-bound activities are put on the back burner. For clinicians with a specialty not directly affected by the COVID-19 threat, this again implies a reduction in their activities and hospital presence. Perhaps this offers opportunities for medtech vendors and healthcare companies.

Let’s start with a note on how to avoid what I’d like to call “panic marketing”, often confused with agile marketing: make subsequent short-term decisions on slices of programs that had been developed earlier in an attempt to keep marketing costs low.

"In the midst of chaos, there is opportunity."

According to Sun Tzu, who wrote one of the world's most known military texts 2,500 years ago, change is one of the most important factors in deciding the outcome of a battle. As a realist, Sun Tzu emphasizes that anything can happen in warfare, and that generals should always prepare for the worst.

However, if you want to get ahead, you need to take the right risks. Therefore, if you remain calm and keep an open mind during a time of uncertainty, you will be best-positioned to take advantage of opportunities when they arise.

In business, in marketing, in life there are decisive moments that tell us we need to slow down. To retreat in order to better move ahead when the next milestone moment is there.

To be successful, we need to:

  • Build momentum for what truly matters long-term.
  • Focus our efforts.
  • Challenge ourselves to act in the best interest of the next ten years as well as the next ten months.

For a strategic marketeer, this is where the balance lies between short-term profits (or cost reductions) and long-term value (investments). So how can we reach this momentum for the future at a time where we need to grasp the attention of clinicians that are facing a slowdown of their activity, travel restrictions and even a physical lockdown?

Use existing digital marketing platforms

Key is to rethink your marketing strategy based on your strengths. If you had a good content marketing approach with valuable content, it will be very useful to you in the future, short- and long-term. So let’s respect what we have been doing in the past and leverage it in the new normal.

One way is to use existing digital platforms to provide your contacts and prospects with relevant scientific and proven expertise information. When Cerus, a biomedical products company focused on blood transfusion safety, used its cloud-based Showpad as a platform to leverage the seminar content to a wider professional audience, they bundled a mix of new and existing audio-visual and written materials in one app, containing speakers’ messages and additional background materials.

The app is available for the sales team and for technical-commercial or scientific staff members. Sales can provide the app to the clinician after a call or during a videocall.

Engagement rates for the information show openings of 30% and downloads of 10% in a couple of days. 

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Create your own digital event

Another opportunity is to create your own digital event. Assemble your content and provide it in different formats at the event :

  • scientific showcases to leverage the scientific information
  • white papers or scientific research results
  • peer to peer sessions, offering clinicians the opportunity to exchange ideas with their colleagues
  • training courses
  • poster sessions : ask clinicians to collect the posters they’ve released for past events and publish them
  • Create virtual events that connects clinicians with solutions from your company as well as others.

Think post-corona value

Finally, make as many contacts as possible and try to understand how your customers will make decisions post-corona. Putting customers at the center of your business has been the best principle at all times, but to continue this, you will need to understand what customers value and how you can build use cases, reference cases and customers experience cases that support these new insights.

Ask your external agency to conduct listening sessions with your key customers and prospects to make a purpose-driven customer playbook, including a nuanced approach to segmenting customers. More likely than not, the segmentation you have been working on will be strongly influenced by the way the customers and their organizations are coping with COVID-19 and how they come out of this crisis. Think about the role you want to play during this episode. It may define your relationship with your customer for the coming ten years.

Contact us on how to seize opportunities for your go-to-market in COVID-19 times. I’m sure we have some great ideas.

Anne-Mie Vansteelant
Anne-Mie Vansteelant
COO | Managing Partner at Living Stone

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