Marketing Tips During COVID

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By Cathie Pruitt

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, with more experience regarding its effects on our businesses, some ideas of what sales and marketing strategies should look like for the foreseeable future are surfacing.

I spoke with some O&P clinics' marketing and sales professionals, including Jeff Miller, CO, clinical services manager at Orthomerica, and have gathered these takeaways beyond "be creative and hang in there."

If your state is open, techniques such as lunch in-services, sales calls, and the like may be closer to pre-COVID normal, depending upon their internal policies and procedures for seeing representatives. On the other hand, in closed states, it can be difficult to even get into a hospital for patient care.

Part of the challenge Zoom meetings present with referral sources is that normal sales pitches don't translate well in that format. Miller's suggestion, and a technique he has had success with on behalf of his customers, is to involve suppliers to deliver in-depth education with the pitch. You provide breakfast or lunch at the referral's facility, make introductory comments about your practice, and then turn the meeting over to the supplier rep on Zoom. Make sure that the rep is clear that his or her presentation needs to educate while also tying back to your practice.

Another idea for using Zoom is to provide continuing education units (CEUs) for physical and occupational therapists, and physical and occupational therapy assistants. Again, you provide a meal and the education, and the attendees earn CEUs.

If you can budget for advertising, now is the time. Depending on your available dollars, consider television and radio. If your practice has enough offices to make any "waste" of a statewide campaign negligible, advertising in referral sources' trade publications is a good move. If you can do both, even better.

Keep your social media up to date. Post every day, more than once a day, if possible. It's very inexpensive to boost your Facebook posts. Boost the ones that are patient success stories, excellent reviews you have gotten, new practitioner announcements, facility upgrades, etc. Video is the most effective technique for this.

If you have mobile units or can make house calls, this is definitely the time to heavily promote these services and add home health as a target.

Hopefully, you have been collecting referral source email addresses already so that they are available to use to do broadcast emails. Programs such as Constant Contact and Robly make creating professional looking broadcast emails easy. Don't overuse this tool, however, by overwhelming your sources with too many emails.

Some skilled nursing facilities will allow reps to drop off materials and goodies, which can help keep you top of mind.

The holidays are coming up. Consider upgrading what you do for your primary referrals.

Stay in phone contact with your referral sources to be informed when they will begin to allow rep visits.

The thinking is that we will be in for at least another six to 18 months of COVID-19­ effects. The tips in this article are not an exhaustive list, and I think that we will likely come up with more ideas over time. Please share your ideas.

 

Cathie Pruitt is president of PrimeCare Management Services. She can be reached at primecarepruitt@gmail.com.