With the current outbreak at the forefront of everyone’s minds across the globe, we’ve entered a time full of uncertainty. As a result, office closures, postponement or cancellations of meetings and events, and just about everything else, is up in the air for the dental community (among the many other industries affected.)
Dental practices, groups, and many other business organizations are trying to function in a volatile and rapidly changing environment. So how do you conduct business as usual during a crisis? And is it okay to market your dental practice and services during this time?
My answer to this is yes. It is okay to market and you should – but it should be done differently than before the outbreak crisis event.
Support and empathy should be at the heart of everything you do right now.
Your guiding principle should be to show compassion and care to your team members, patients, and the greater community around you- and to educate, inform and help others through leadership and education.
If these activities lead to enhanced branding and new business by demonstrating your position as an authority in a particular area, then that’s fine – but practices that do heavy marketing during a global crisis can be seen as insensitive and out of touch.
It is important to remind your team members and patients that you care about them, you’re here to help them, and that it is business-as-usual at your organization, even if most of your team members are working from home. Companies often struggle with getting this balance right.
In this article, we will discuss strategies for marketing your firm during the coronavirus – as well as any crisis – that may arise.
Create Helpful (and Sensible) Campaigns
Create campaigns with helpful messages such as reminding others to stay healthy and strong. One dental group filmed a video of its CEO washing his hands under the CDC guidelines (for 20 seconds using soap and water).
While it was only sent internally, I think it’s a clever and sensible way to bring leadership into the lives of its team members and to show concern for their wellbeing. You could also do the same for your practice’s social pages, leave COVID-19 out and discuss washing your hands all the time not just in times of illness.
Focus on Multichannel Communication
To ensure you can reach your patients (both existing and potential) and respond to their inquiries in a timely way, use multichannel communication, whether that is through your website, email, or social media channels.
As the crisis continues, you may want to issue an email to patients ensuring them that it is business as usual, focusing on how dental health can lead to overall health, that a dental office is one of the cleanest and safest places to visit due to the already overwhelming amount of cleaning/disinfecting in place at all times, and even when some team members are working remotely or staying home as a precaution. This information can also be posted on the homepage of your website with a link to more information posted in a blog or as a page and don’t forget key contacts such as times you're open and who they can ask for if they have questions.
Also, you will want to be sure everyone within your practice/group/organization knows what to say and to whom with consistent messaging, especially those on the front lines – such as your front office receptionists.
Avoid Boastful Marketing
This is not the time for social media posts or emails with the underlying message “Look how great we are and here’s what we’re doing!” or “Look where we are traveling too!”
I would avoid posting about awards or big successes your practice or group has achieved for the time being and would especially avoid anything about travel, even if for CE. Take the photos, get the content and save it to share for future, patients don't need to know when you went to the CE to be better teams or providers! This is the time to lay lower than usual on pure marketing messaging.
Turn off Pre-Scheduled Online Posts
During times of crisis, it’s important to be aware of any automated online activity that you’ve prescheduled such as automated email blasts, tweets, social media posts, blog posts etc.
Distributing business-as-usual posts for your services during a time when serious news is unfolding, can appear disrespectful and insensitive. My advice is to cease all scheduled updates for the time being. They’re just not relevant.
Use Your Platform for Good
Any practice or group with an online presence large or small has a great opportunity and platform to provide support – whether it is information, support or empathy, as well as resources. Perhaps it’s a link to donate to the Red Cross disaster efforts or where to get help for children who are out of school. Let others know both internally and externally in a humble way what you’re doing to help the situation so you can inspire and lead others to do the same.
Also, think about whether there something your practice can contribute to those in need in order to help the community. For example, can you give out free or discounted dental health supplies, or perhaps pro bono services?
Build disaster relief into your businesses social responsibility strategy and make it an ongoing effort. If team members and clients are used to seeing your company doing good, you will raise your profile with them in the process.
Be Mindful of Impacted Members of Your Community
Determine if you have any patients who have been personally affected by the crisis. Then reach out to them offering help and support. The same goes for any referral sources and colleagues. Loyalty in a time like this goes a long way—and it works both ways.
Balancing your desire to do good, continue to operate and make money during a global health crisis can be tricky. Always remain on the side of caution when it comes to how you communicate and market yourself during a crisis like this – sometimes it's better to do nothing than to do something insensitive.
Make sure to support your team members and patients, and adjust your marketing strategy as needed and you will maintain a strong brand now and into the future.