Lisa Wells is an online marketing and e-commerce veteran with over 20 years of experience in public relations, marketing communications, and web product management. She founded Naturally Able, Inc., a consumer support organization and medical device marketing consultancy that advises healthcare providers on the best ways to connect with customers with disabilities. HomeCare spoke with her about how to improve the marketing and public relations of home medical equipment (MCH).
HOME CARE: Is there a “first step” to better communicating with clients, especially in these times?
WELL: COVID-19 has caused a lot of disruption in the market, especially in the supply chain. And on top of that, there is a recall of a major manufacturer of respiratory products. How should EHM providers communicate these difficulties to their customers? … A golden rule of public relations is that if you do not state the reality, the people you serve and who depend on it are making up the truth for themselves. And 99.9% of the time that truth will be negative because this is how we are psychologically connected, especially when you are addicted to something.
This is very important during tough times – whether it’s logistical challenges, product recalls, responding to a pandemic – in each of these situations you have a lot of uncertainty and a lot of fear. So you have to go back to your caring roots in this space to understand how to calm fears and how you communicate about what is happening to your clients. And I don’t call them patients for a reason. They are clients; they are people like you and me and they react like us. It is better to over-communicate or anticipate a need that you will have to explain before being in the middle of a crisis.
So when you need to tell someone that you have no more items, always recommend an alternative, explain the timeline, and make sure to share that it is network wide and not s. This is not a failure on your part as a health care provider, as it helps them understand. People are more likely to be kind and calm because they understand they face uncertain times. But you have to explain it because if you don’t they will just assume the worst and think you are bad at your job.
HC: What language should providers avoid when talking about this kind of problem?
WELL: You want to avoid language that makes people feel like they are powerless, as if they have no choice, because there is a good chance your customers are already experiencing this feeling due to their medical condition. regular. So you don’t want to chase your active base. This is the fastest way to do it: take away their choice and power in a situation and talk to them as if they don’t have any.
The second thing is, even if there is no choice because the product or the situation is untenable and there must be a change for the better,… [then you approach it as] we have to work this out together. This is how it should be done, from a language point of view. We’re here to solve it together, but we need your help to find what’s best for you. So if you start with that in any kind of crisis, it calms your audience, your employees because you’ve given them a script that is helping now. And then you come up with solutions together, but you have to have a plan before you start training people. And then you communicate, communicate, communicate with as many touchpoints as you can.
HC: What are the marketing angles that people are missing? Talk about personalization.
WELL: If you bombard people with emails, make them personal. If you work on social media, post content that is about people like them, that they can relate to. Use technology to your advantage. If you spend $ 300,000 a year on Google AdWords, consider targeting ads instead of covering ads like you did on TV because it’s such a broad and expensive way to do it. Examine the technology to find ways to truly break into your identified customer base. Chances are, if you have a thousand active clients, I guarantee you have 10,000 inactive names. The Internet Protocol (IP) targets these addresses.
The first to embrace this in the healthcare space were hospital systems because they have a very defined service area. A hospital has a ward card in which it is authorized to provide care. So when people come into the neighborhood, you will see hospitals targeting those people. They send mail to these physical addresses, which you can do as well. But when you have the physical address technology, it’s called IP targeting. You can also send your messages directly to any computer to this physical address.
I’ve been doing this for five years now to lead brands around big competitors who have 10 times the sales force and 10 times the budget that I had. I directly target the physical source who can choose our products or recommend the products. So instead of doing $ 300,000 Google ad campaigns, I target banner ads on a list of 1,000 urologists who go right to their office and anyone on their computer, in their office all day long, they will see my product ads bounce in front of them. And they think I’m running a national campaign for $ 300,000; I’m not, I’m running a $ 1,000 a month campaign.
HC: People are often unable to go to the community because of COVID-19 and other things. If you can’t go into the community, how do you engage your audience?
WELL: Digital is the way. And it is in fact a strategy. I spoke with some of my friends in the industry; so many salespeople are being excluded from referral sources right now, because you know, if elective surgeries are canceled, I’m pretty sure your reps won’t be invited either, right? So that’s where things (come in) like the right imagery and stepping up your digital presence and personalizing your automated experience and doubling the way you would go online to build awareness of your brand. . Now is the time for that. This is the time when, if you haven’t understood the power of technology, if you don’t know anything about IP targeting, if you don’t know how to write an authentic blog and share it in a conditional Facebook group which is only a audience made up of the people you serve, if you don’t know how to get there, now is the time.
I mean, it’s high time you should be here already, but now is the time to really embark on this digital shift. You are a lifesaver right now, you know that … While you are sitting at home you feel bad, [it helps to check] with people online. Can’t you feel it yourself? Well, anyone who has recently been paralyzed or just had a stroke or found out they have cancer or don’t know what to do with their diabetic mother is going to find the same level of comfort in these. online channels, if it’s delivered in a way that’s supposed to be well received by them instead of a sales pitch, isn’t it?
HC: Is there something we missed that you would really like the vendors to know?
WELL: I will tell you that if you are really interested in growing your business in a meaningful, yet profitable way, that means [it’s] long-term sustainable for the people you serve – digital [marketing] is a key element that you can no longer ignore. [And it’s] not just a responsive website that people can see on a cell phone. It’s basic, isn’t it?
You have to get to the point where you talk to people on a regular basis in a way that is not at a physical cost to you, a physical action by a game of hands. The other thing about branding buzz: brand is who you are, what you stand for; it is the body of the car. The buzz is the wheels of the car. And the wheels of the car are so important from a digital point of view, because they will influence more than potential customers. If you ever want to sell your business, it influences who might buy it. If you have a need to recruit for your own team, it helps people assess who you are and whether or not they want to work for you. If you have shareholders, it makes more sense to them of what they’ve invested in so that they don’t yell at you all the time because of a crash in the market. Now is the time to do it. There are so many good reasons to do more in this space than the bare minimum that I would really encourage vendors to consider this when making their go-to-market plan. Make sure it’s customer-focused first, because if you choose to make a difference, you will be, not only with your own team, but also with the families you serve across your community.
Want more Wells? Listen to his episode of the HomeCare podcast here.