COVID-19 Impact: How Healthcare Marketers Can Prepare for the Future

how healthcare marketers can prepare for the future

The doctor can see you now – virtually. As emergency rooms fill up with COVID-19 cases and surgery centers and doctors’ offices reduce the number of people they see, the healthcare industry has had to rapidly retool how they operate to weather the pandemic. Here’s a look at healthcare now and how healthcare marketers can successfully prepare for the future.

The Rapidly Changing Healthcare Landscape

Telemedicine is on the rise. Many consumers have shifted to using telemedicine for conditions that aren’t life-threatening to minimize their virus risk.

Healthcare

According to Kaiser Health News, “Millions of Americans are seeking care by connecting with a doctor electronically, many for the first time. Health systems, insurers and physician groups said it allows people to practice social distancing while reducing the spread of the disease and protecting health workers. Many hospitals have also recently added telemedicine services to keep patients concerned about the coronavirus from clogging their emergency rooms.”

These telemedicine services include new operations and processes, health-related wearables and text messaging programs so healthcare systems can successfully treat and educate patients from afar. And adding these services now during the crisis can pay off later. According to Global Market Insights, telemedicine was a $45.5 billion global industry in 2019 and is expected to grow to $175.5 billion by 2026.

Where Healthcare Marketers Should Focus Now

To adapt to the healthcare industry’s latest changes – the shifting consumer needs, the recent technology innovations and the latest consumer messaging advances– here are three areas healthcare marketers should focus on now for the greatest long-term impact:

1. Check Your Vitals.

While facing today’s influx of patients, prepare for a potential second wave of COVID-19 patients as states reopen and all the patients who deferred elective care or put off doctors’ visits during the first part of the year. From a billing standpoint, rescheduling surgeries and visits are positives. But ensure your healthcare system can handle increased demand and address any operations gaps as needed. Train physicians and nurses on virtual encounter best practices and smooth out any technical issues with online scheduling or services. Delivering efficient care, whether in-office or online, is key to ensuring patients’ long-term loyalty to your healthcare brand.

2. Build Messages That Matter.

Making an emotional connection is critical in these sensitive times. According to a recent survey by the American Association of Advertising Agencies, 43% of people say they want messages that are “reassuring from the brands I know and trust.” Communicate clearly and work to connect with patients and prospects. Share all the careful planning you’ve done to ensure patient wellness and safety as your medical offices and specialty departments reopen. Patients who have put off elective surgeries and other doctor appointments will want your reassurance it’s safe to enter your offices. Build your go-to-market strategy now so when the time comes to reopen all your facilities, your patients and their guests will be confident all the proper health-related precautions have been put in place.

3. Focus on Telehealth Advertising.

The brands that will fare best during COVID-19 and beyond are the ones who can both accelerate their telehealth capabilities and then promote them to the right audiences. The pandemic expedited the need for virtual care, but if you’re ready and able to promote those services through paid campaigns, you can capitalize in the long term. Patients realize they have more virtual and digital options for healthcare services than ever before, so shine the spotlight on the online services and remote monitoring tools you offer. Most importantly, regularly examine how your products are being received and how your messages are performing. Which ones are the most popular and successful? Once you identify them, shift your organic and paid media creatives to align with those trends.

Long after the pandemic ebbs, emergency rooms empty and doctors’ offices fill up again, you’ll be happy you followed our advice. If you focus on these three areas, you can adapt to the healthcare industry’s new landscape and flourish. Want more digital marketing guidance to prevail during the pandemic? Check out our Marketer’s Guide to COVID-19 and all our COVID-19 marketing resources. Or connect with us to get the digital advertising tools and knowledge you need to chart your course.

COVID-19 Impact: What Fitness Marketers Should Do Now

With COVID-19 lockdowns starting to lift around the United States and some gyms and health clubs now reopening around the country, how do people feel about heading back to a public place for a workout? Drive Research, a New York market research firm, surveyed 600 gym-goers nationally in late May and found this: Three out of four respondents aren’t comfortable going back when their gym reopens. Though they’re likely eager to abandon their neighborhood walks or escape the confines of home for a trip to the gym, what are the biggest concerns that will keep people away? Survey participants said they felt they wouldn’t be able to trust gym members to follow new health and safety rules and that they were anxious about their health when having to wear a mask while exercising. To bolster consumer confidence and rebound after the crisis, this is what fitness marketers should do now to help their brands adapt and innovate for the post-pandemic routine:

  • Prepare and Communicate New Messaging.

The Drive Research survey showed gym-goers’ greatest fear around going back to the gym was germs: on the equipment, in other communal areas and being too close to other members. For employees and guests alike, make health and safety your top priorities. For employees, consider implementing health screenings before every shift and offering masks, gloves, sanitizer and plenty of hospital-grade cleaning supplies to make them feel as protected as possible while on the job. Keep ceiling fans going to help circulate the air and ensure all exercise areas are well-ventilated. Ensure employees frequently sanitize common areas and wipe down machines, at least hourly. For guests, have them schedule workouts, at least for the short term. That way, you can easily monitor and cap gym capacity. Offer visitors contactless check-in and sanitizer as well as masks, water bottles and towels for sale. Naturally encourage physical distancing by spacing out your equipment to help keep people apart. Ramp up sanitation and cleaning by installing handwashing stations and providing cleaning spray bottles throughout the gym and make people wipe down all equipment before and after use. If possible, hire a professional cleaning crew to come in daily. Once all your new COVID-19 health and safety protocols are in place, build your messaging around them. Share all you’re doing for guests and prospects to ensure their workouts are as safe and stress-free as possible. Consumers are paying careful attention to how businesses respond during this period, so providing support, demonstrating genuine care and concern and finding new ways to serve members will set up your brand for success. Exhibiting these values through your messaging and actions will result in a win-win for businesses and consumers.

  • Provide On-Demand Content.

With some consumers still wary of sweating it out at the gym, help them continue their workout routines at home until they’re ready to return in person. Leverage your owned platforms, such as branded apps and social media channels, to connect with consumers and stream fitness classes, post motivational content and offer other virtual on-demand wellness services, such nutritional support, meditation sessions and more.

  • Offer Equipment Access Alternatives.

To help keep money flowing in during these difficult times, get creative and consider offering equipment for rent or sale. Days after a small indoor cycling studio was ordered to close when the pandemic began, the gym owner asked members this on Instagram: If you could rent one of our 56 stationary bikes for the duration of the coronavirus pandemic, would you be willing to pay? All bikes were rented within a day, and members now pay $250 a month for the bike rental and an unlimited number of virtual classes. This is just one example of how in-home remedies can take on a whole new meaning for those who can’t afford to purchase equipment themselves. Fitness trainers can also incorporate household items (chairs, water bottles, paint cans, etc.) into their virtual training sessions to make all attendees feel they can participate in workouts and achieve good results, even without traditional equipment.

  • Collect Your Data.

Remember to take time to review your first-party data processes, both how you collect your data and your strategy on putting that data to use. Tap your most loyal customers to get feedback on your new gym practices and offerings before and after you implement them. Also, capture contact information from online workout classes to connect with these consumers after reopening and to encourage more foot traffic into your facility. Modeling audiences and gaining insights based on your consumers’ patterns will help guide your data strategy as life slowly gets closer to normal when COVID-19 ends. The $38 billion fitness industry was already battling new at-home smart bikes and trainers when the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic hit, further challenging its bottom line. And unlike past recessions which were primarily financial, the impact of a health-related recession means gyms and health clubs will be among the hardest hit. While these times may be filled with uncertainty and ups and downs, this is what fitness marketers should do now to win: Implement new health and safety measures, pivot and communicate new messaging to stay relevant with consumers, respond to an increasing demand for fitness-at-home options and make smart use of data. For more expertise and tips to help your fitness brand succeed and thrive now, check out our Marketer’s Guide to COVID-19 or reach out to us to discover all the ways you can use digital advertising and the latest digital industry news and trends to your advantage.

COVID-19 Impact: 5 Ways Movie Theaters Can Prepare To Reopen

Hot dogs, popcorn tubs and soda cups will be dancing again soon across movie theater screens and singing “Let’s All Go to the Movies,” but will customers want to? Atom Tickets, a company that sells movie tickets, concessions and more through its app and website, knows. The Santa Monica, CA, startup found in its May survey of 1,500 digital moviegoers that 34% of customers plan to return to movie theaters within a month of reopening, 25% plan to return immediately and 21% will wait for a vaccine. For marketers in the industry, here’s a quick look at COVID-19’s impact on movie theaters and five ways movie theaters can prepare to reopen to a crowd. How Movie Theaters Stack Up

Moviegoers don’t plan to stay away from the big screen for long, and this may explain why: A Motion Picture Association of America’s (MPAA’s) poll shows America’s favorite pastime is going to the movies, beating out theme parks and Major League Baseball, probably because it’s more convenient and cost-effective than other events on the list:

Top US Entertainment Events Chart How Movie Theaters Are Faring

When customers do flock back to movie theaters, will movie theaters welcome them back with open doors? Both small and large movie theaters are struggling financially right now and doing their best to stay afloat. Even the largest theater operator in the United States, AMC Theatres, isn’t immune to financial woes. The company is looking at a long-term debt of $4.85 billion as a result of COVID-19. And back in March, AMC Chief Executive Adam Aron in a CNN interview said, “Literally we don’t have a penny of revenue coming in the door. Three weeks ago, AMC was an immensely healthy company. But now with expenses out the door and no revenues, we are burning through cash. What we need is liquidity, and only the government is going to provide that.” Now months later, AMC’s situation has only gotten more dire, to the point the company is at risk of going under.

How To Market Movie Theaters Now for the Biggest Impact Later

With many movie theaters still playing the waiting game until they can reopen, with Hollywood studios delaying big movie releases, and with customers leery about exactly when they can safely escape to the movies, what can movie theater marketers do now for the biggest impact later? Here are five recommendations:

1.      Focus on Your First-Party Data. Gain more knowledge and insights about your consumers with first-party data. If silos exist, break them down and consolidate your first-party data so it’s insightful, actionable and measurable. Modeling audiences and gaining insight into the highest lifetime-value customers will give you a solid re-entry strategy when theaters can get back up and running. 2.      Communicate the Right Message.

Internally plan now to ensure when it’s time to reopen, guests are confident the proper health-related precautions are in in place to make them feel safe. Build a go-to-market strategy to showcase the careful planning you’ve done behind the scenes to ensure guests’ wellness and safety and strive to make an emotional connection with your messaging. People will remember the sense of comfort your brand gave them during the crisis once life returns to normal.

3.      Address Safety Concerns.

Atom Tickets also found 42% of respondents said having spaced seating in a theater auditorium was the most critical safety concern to make them feel comfortable returning to theaters, even more important than vigorous cleaning procedures and theater staff and customers wearing masks. To keep crowds at bay and to enforce social distancing, here are ways movie theaters can prepare to reopen. Consider upgrading typical theater seats to luxury loungers, which can naturally help space out guests in your auditoriums and think about staggering movie show times and reducing auditorium capacity for the short term. Put extreme cleaning protocols in place. Disinfect areas – bathrooms, concession stand surfaces and theater seats – much more frequently than usual and post signs when you do. Offer your employees easy access to cleaning supplies, sanitizer, masks and gloves to make them feel as safe as possible while working (and encourage customers to wear masks too). As an added safeguard, implement staff and customer temperature checks before entry as long as COVID-19 persists.

4.    Enhance Your Mobile In-App Experience.

In a new era of social distancing and with technology on your side, now’s the time to enhance your mobile in-app experience. Then when customers return, they can order up their movie experience digitally: make ticket and concession purchases, reserve spaced seats and get showtime updates directly from their phone. Providing as many contactless functions as you can will help customers feel at ease about visiting your location.

5.      Evaluate Your Engagement Strategy.

Go beyond selling gift cards or offering curbside popcorn pickup during COVID-19 by connecting with customers in new imaginative ways. Consider hosting quarantine crew events – offering auditorium space for rent to individuals looking to host their own (socially distanced) party or to churches looking for space to hold weekly services. Or make use of this other unexpected asset, your parking lot. If it’s huge, turn it into a pop-up drive-in. Host your own double-feature movie nights or other community events throughout the summer such as comedy shows and concerts that people can enjoy together from the safety of their own cars. When business is in full swing again after the pandemic eases, offer special movie promotions plus ticket and concession discounts to woo customers back.

COVID-19 may have stolen the magic of the movies for a time, but not for long. Those larger-than-life stories will play out on the big screen and enchant audiences soon if you implement these five ways movie theaters can prepare to reopen: work to discover who your customers are, learn how to best reach them, put safety first, refine your mobile app and be willing to branch out and try new advertising strategies. For more guidance and recommendations on how to weather the pandemic and succeed, contact us. Or to get the latest COVID-19 industry best practices, news and  trends, download our marketing guide to COVID-19 now or sign up to receive our newsletter, delivered right to your inbox.