How COVID-19 is Complicating Healthcare Marketing

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Written by Erika Mayerle, VP and account director at Preston Kelly

The pandemic has thrown curveballs to virtually every individual and business out there. Not only are consumers and companies dealing with the health implications of COVID-19, but the economic impact as well. Talk about a one-two punch. Healthcare companies, in particular, have confronted many COVID-related challenges in recent months, including reduced marketing budgets as revenue wanes.

During tough times, we as marketers need to reflect and reevaluate, which in turn pushes us to do things differently, and better. Doing things better means making sure our marketing efforts evolve to meet the changing needs of the consumers and patients we serve. Despite how these trials are testing the healthcare industry (insurance, hospital systems, pharma and med device companies, along with all the ancillary services) right now, there’s surely a silver lining lurking in the background.

Here’s what we know:

  • Worries around health and safety are leaving people feeling anxious and stressed. More than one-third of Americans (36%) say coronavirus is having a serious impact on their mental health.
  • More than ever, people are craving meaning and embracing brands that align with their values. 47% of consumers expect brands to translate their values and promises into new and innovative products and services, while 77% feel brands should make an effort to support society right now.
  • People are desperate for positivity and optimism…70% of respondents to a recent survey by Twitter said brands should boost positivity and share positive stories.

It’s no wonder that people are hungry for purpose-driven and emotionally connected brands, ones with messages of optimism and positivity. This is true across the board, but perhaps more so when it comes to companies and brands involved in keeping us safe, protected and healthy. Here’s what you as marketers can do:

  • Feeling safe and secure is critical to our wellbeing. Tell your customers what you’re doing to help keep them safe. Reassuring your customers that you’re looking out for them will generate a lot of goodwill, a sense of security while building trust.
  • Take a stand and highlight the causes and issues that are important to your organization. Show people your commitment. You may lose some customers along the way, but more than anything you’ll drive loyalty and advocacy for your brand.
  • Recognize the moment we’re in, but don’t harp on the negative. Help combat the doom and gloom with human-centric messages of hope.

Recognizing and responding to changes in consumer sentiment and behavior is the key to remaining relevant and emerging from the pandemic intact. We know consumers are tired of COVID-19 and are pretty unhappy overall, according to many reports. And it’s no surprise when you consider all we’re dealing with individually and as a society, on top of the pandemic – social justice issues, a polarizing political environment, and an unnerving economic situation.

Now more than ever we need to empathize with our customers, keeping in mind what they are experiencing – fear, uncertainty, a loss of normalcy. It’s so important to focus on the human-side and reach people on a personal level. Brands that can positively impact people’s lives will win the day.


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