Key Marketing Priorities for HME Providers in 2021

Published in Member Communities on January 07, 2021

Now that 2020 is officially in the rearview mirror, it’s time to get strategic in 2021 with resources, priorities, and investments. From a marketing perspective, healthcare delivery models have undoubtedly changed. 2020 served as a year of pivot, adaption, and a just little bit of ‘fly by the seat of your pants’ to continue to get the job done for patients, customers, and caregivers alike.

Marketing plans for 2021 will be more intentional based on what we know now, as well as where we see the industry trending. Telehealth, consumerism, technology, e-commerce – all terms you have repeatedly heard and experienced in your business even before the COVID-19 pandemic. What perhaps the pandemic has done is really pushed these trends to the forefront and accelerated advancement for providers, manufacturers, and others in the industry.

Below are key marketing priorities that will help your company achieve its business goals in the current environment we find ourselves in, as well as set it up for continued success beyond 2021.

Intentional Patient Experience

Patients remain top priority for providers. A useful exercise for your team might be to whiteboard everything that is different for your patients since last year. How has the experience changed? Noting the differences and improvements will help the team develop marketing messaging that communicates the value of these changes from the patient’s perspective.

Have you been to the dentist or to your general physician lately? There are many changes in the experience from more text alerts and appointment reminders, to communication about COVID-19 precautions and updated hours, even virtual visits when possible. The concept of a waiting room is much different with a virtual visit! Logging in and only waiting a few minutes vs. driving to the doctor’s physical office and waiting 20+ minutes is quite a different experience. However, who is talking to you about these changes? Have your providers’ offices been pro-active with communicating the benefits of change, or did you find out simply by experiencing the change for yourself? It is interesting to pay attention.

The Accenture 2020 Digital Health Survey found that post-COVID-19 providers need to continue to enable technology and digital health. How can you utilize technology, while patients are still somewhat being forced to adapt, to maintain momentum and enhance the patient experience? This is an area worth looking at from an investment standpoint. Remote monitoring capabilities, online chat, patient portals, patient apps, texting apps, Artificial Intelligence, marketing automation, and technology to simplify workflow and patient communications for your staff are some examples if your company isn’t already investing in one or more of these technologies.

Communicate Core Services & Humanize Your Brand

Now more than ever it is vitally important for people to know what your company does. Never assume that even your own, loyal customers or referral sources know everything that you can provide to them, their families, their friends, and even strangers they may randomly start up a conversation with. This is especially true with changes that were made in the last year such as curbside pick-up, remote set-ups, etc. Update all marketing collateral and have at least a quarterly review plan (more frequently for web content) to ensure all information is current. There are many digital asset tools available that assist with version control for sales teams. Invest in one!

Last fall a great HME leader said to the industry, “don’t let this be forgotten!” It is time to tell your brand’s story in 2021. Let your patients and customers know what your people did in 2020 and continue to do in 2021. Tell your story via patient stories and/or videos (these can be low cost these days!) Also, review your value proposition and brand positioning to ensure it aligns with where you are going.  What does your brand stand for? Let your patients know! 89% of consumers say that they will remain loyal to a brand if it shares similar values with them. (Source: Fundera)

Strong Internet Presence & Reputation

Simply having a website used to be enough. That is not the case anymore. Your website needs to be user-friendly, mobile-friendly, optimized for search, updated very regularly, and state what your company does as crystal clear as you possibly can. Your website is your storefront. It is your story. It is what your patients and customers will visit, and either decide to stay or go within fractions of a second.

Your website can host information about what to expect in the patient experience and offer resources they can’t get anywhere else (or must search forever to find). It also needs to have continually updated, correct information such as hours, services, products, shipping or pick-up information, and any necessary forms or documents. Is your company offering appropriate and convenient products to purchase online? Offering even a slimmed down e-commerce part of your website will help you demonstrate what you have available to potential customers or show existing patients that you carry those additional items that they may already be buying online. If you do not already utilize free tools from Google My Business, now is the time to start. From an investment perspective, virtual health services, Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools such as chat bots, and online customer experience tools like reviews can all work to give your company a robust internet presence. These investments will also help your company stand out from the competition and rank higher on Google Maps and search engine results pages. Does your current website get the job done? Ask your best patients/customers!

Reputation is gold, especially now. Having an easy review process in place is a great way to highlight experiences and help address things that might need addressing within the company. Also, a closed feedback loop to talk to customers who have either had an amazing or not so amazing experience will go a long way. 57% of consumers say that they would cease being loyal to a brand if their negative review goes unaddressed. (Source: Fundera) The data collected can be used to improve your company in so many ways.If you don’t have time or personnel to help monitor your business reputation online, VGM Forbin’s Reputation Plus+ service automates monitoring of online reviews and helps build up positive reviews on top sites like Google and Facebook.

For more information on this topic, listen to our podcast Connection Over Convenience: How to Make Your Connection with Your Customers More Valuable Than Convenient with industry veteran Christina Throndson. You can also contact me with any questions or comments you may have.

Tell your brand story through video! VGM is offering customized branded videos for a limited time. Click here for more information.


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