“Shut it all down” is the easy answer when it comes to marketing during the COVID-19 crisis. One of the first things business owners tend to cut in times of uncertainty is marketing expenditures. However, rash decisions around your marketing program without a clear strategy in place may actually do more harm than good in the long run. Here’s why: properly managed branding and marketing programs during this crisis may actually be your saving grace when the dust finally starts to settle. Even if you cannot accept new patients in your physical office right at this moment, that does not change the fact that you will need your calendar booked every single week in order to make up for this lost time and lost revenue. Additionally, there are options like virtual consultations that may help provide you with some cash flow in the interim.
Here Are the Essential Plastic Surgery Marketing Dos and Don’ts During the COVID-19 Crisis:
Put Yourself Out There
Here’s the deal – the world WANTS to hear from doctors right now. People value your opinion more than you realize. People are spending even more time on social media and that opens you up to a massive audience of people eager to listen to what you have to say. Whether your content is focused around COVID-19 or not (we recommend a combination of both), putting yourself out there with something truly unique and valuable is going to allow you to connect with people in a completely new way.
Set Up a Virtual Patient Program
With the amount of office shut-downs, we are seeing the pain our clients are feeling first-hand. However, just because you cannot see patients in-person, does not mean you cannot see patients. We live in the wonderful world of all-things-possible and setting up a virtual consult program is actually not nearly as complicated as you may think. When the sun begins to rise again and you are able to reopen the doors, you will thank yourself a million times over that you now have patients with whom you’ve already consulted and who are now ready for surgery. For those of you who are still offering free consults, we recommend you begin charging ASAP. Between $100 – $250 is fair for surgical procedures.
Take This Time to Revisit Your Branding Strategy
Be honest – when was the last time you sat down and took a deep dive into the essence of what makes your brand tick? Have you created brand guidelines? Is your overall vibe in need of a mass overhaul? While we are not necessarily recommending that you go out and hire a branding agency when your financial situation is already in question, we are recommending that you do some research on what makes a BRAND. The plastic surgery market (pre-COVID) was already starting to shift from a surgeon-focus to a brand focus. Now more than ever, people will come out of this situation seeking to experience a deep brand connection with whomever they decide to give their money.
Stop Doing SEO
I repeat – DO NOT STOP DOING SEO! SEO is a process – it can take months to rank your practice for specific keywords. All of those keywords you rank for on Page 1 require ongoing maintenance to keep you ranked on Page 1. If you stop this process, your rankings will inevitably decline and it may take months to get you back on track. This is not intended to scare you – it’s simply the way that SEO works. When it comes to paid advertising, those campaigns are relatively easy to turn off and on without too much long-term damage to the overall results. If you’re trying to decide which elements of your marketing program can be temporarily axed, opt to reduce your paid campaigns first and shift your focus toward long-term gains via SEO, social media and email campaigns.
Appear Tone-Deaf on Social Media
For the most part, what we are seeing is a responsible mixture of COVID and non-COVID posts on social from the plastic surgery world. However, there is a notable chunk of surgeons who are continuing to post promotional material, before and after images and “look how great I am!” type of content. There is something to be said about creating a balanced content strategy on social media in times of crisis. Address your patients’ concerns, answer commonly asked questions, offer advice and legitimate value to your audience and of course sprinkle in content that has nothing to do with COVID. But please, do not appear tone-deaf to the situation. This will inevitably hurt your brand and your reputation.
Make Big Marketing Decisions Out of Fear
We really are all in this together. It’s so easy to go down the rabbit hole when you’re uncertain when you will be able to reopen and what things will look like moving forward. The most important thing you can do is be strategic yet flexible. With new developments taking place every day, it’s important to work with those who will advocate for your success and help you navigate the waters so you come out of this situation on top.
For more information about our Surgeon Survival System, VIrtual Patient Program or Crisis Navigation Consulting contact firstname.lastname@example.org.