COVID-19 health IT marketing health tech PR

Selling-Marketing-Communicating in a COVID-19 World

By Chintan Shah

Within healthcare technology and the larger provider-payer-pharma-vendor landscape, everyone of us have felt the impact COVID-19 has left on our organizations. With the crisis starting at the beginning of the year, it has caused an enormous shift in business plans and financial forecasts.

With this big shift, there are new opportunities to help and also to identify business needs. KNB Communications is the PR & marketing partner for health and health tech companies that are under pressure to perform in a rapidly changing business environment – no matter the crisis. We help turn those challenges into opportunities.

1. Hit the reset button and make a sharp pivot

The unexpected crisis has made, is making and will make a huge impact on your 2020 business plan and has forced you to reprioritize initiatives. Expect your sales forecasts to change and budgets to be directed differently.

It’s time to rip up your 2020 plan and quickly start over (or you can put your original plan aside and revisit it once the world normalizes a bit). Take your B2B go-to-market strategy or business plan and pivot. Build a new short/mid range plan to address the next three to six months. Your customers may be slower to make decisions, opting for conservative measures. 

  • Focus on immediate needs and short-term new business. Emphasize risk mitigation since your prospects will be more cautious about the business ideas they invest in. 
  • Push longer-term projects to later in the year - Q3 or Q4.

You need to accelerate success as business and regulatory environments have been changing daily and weekly in the last two months. At KNB, We have proactively created new roadmaps, implemented different tools, and focused on the present. 

2. Adjust marketing activities to match current needs

    • Marketing is as important now as ever. 
    • If you cut your marketing costs, your profitability gains will be temporary. When this crisis is behind us, the potential of the recession will be compounded by potentially longer sales cycles and a smaller pipeline. The prudent approach is to balance cost sensitivity with ensuring a large enough pipeline of new business.
    • If you build and maintain your outreach, visibility and brand through hard times, you can position yourself as a trusted, reliable and reassuring presence in your industry.
    • As other brands cut back on their marketing efforts, you can stand out and improve your competitive advantage by investing wisely in the right tactics.
    • Repurpose funds not spent on sales, travel and conferences to tactics that will yield high lead gen.

3. Show genuine corporate empathy and leadership 

    • Foster a sense of community with the idea that “we’re in this together” and make explicit how your businesses are trying to help.
    • Many companies are offering medical equipment, software and training for free. This not only provides a valuable asset to potential clients, but it also encourages them to try your product or service. The lasting impact will be felt long after the virus subsides.
    • Use messaging about who you are as a company, what your values promote - social responsibility is important to a brand’s image.
    • Treat prospects as people. Show your humanity and genuine care during this difficult time.

4. Adapt to the new marketing landscape by leveraging new channels during the pandemic

    • Cost-per-impression on Facebook ads has dropped substantially even as traffic on the platform has surged. Since people have more time at home, they are more likely to be browsing Facebook, commenting and viewing pages.
    • Traffic on news sites has skyrocketed as people look to stay informed. Consider some modest programmatic advertising with targeted audiences and defined parameters.
    • Podcasts are extremely relevant right now. People are listening to educational, entertaining and informative podcasts. Numerous options exist for earned and paid content as well as targeted advertising.
    • Consider ads on Spotify or YouTube

5. Take sales meetings and conferences digital

Many organizations rely on in-person sales meetings and conferences to bring in new business each year. Unfortunately, most events have been and may yet be cancelled due to COVID-19. Where do you go from there? How do you generate business without that in-person pitch?

    • Go digital. Boost your presence on digital and social media channels. You can still build customer interactions, manage relationships across multiple channels and extract value from data to find opportunities for revenue.
    • The wave of event cancellations is leading some marketers to re-evaluate how they currently distribute digital content and consider emulating the personalized experiences provided by live events. 
    • Join or guest-host Twitter chats to bring your influencers, prospects and clients to you. To do this, you will need to have a strong Twitter following and/or partner with individuals/companies/groups that will draw an audience.
    • Schedule a webinar with a particular focus and partner with an association, media outlet or other third party to invite your prospects 
      • The costs for this will be equal to or less than that of attending events, exhibiting or sponsoring.

6. Deliver personal experiences to clients and customers from a distance

  • Utilize Twitter to engage directly with companies and individual prospects
  • Leverage Account-Based Marketing (ABM) strategies to provide more value to select prospects where you have identified a need and a solution that meets the need.
  • Focus on prospects who are likely to continue to buy. Invest the time into determining whether a prospect is financially viable and able to spend money.
  • Qualify leads more vigorously by creating more detailed criteria before investing time in follow ups and from sales.
  • Leverage automation tools and content marketing more. Content with meaningful education, insights and guidance will yield much more than email blasts, cold calls and superficial outreach.

 


by Chintan Shah

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