By: John Lavey | Hammock President/COO

On Sunday, March 29, President Trump extended social distancing guidelines until the end of April. Two days later, he warned of a “painful two weeks ahead.” The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases continues to rise rapidly, and our healthcare system and nation are heading into a critical few weeks where the death toll is estimated to soar. 

We’re in awe of the frontline healthcare workers who are making sacrifices to care for the critically ill, especially as there continue to be shortages of personal protective equipment and ventilators that are needed to treat the most acute cases. We see you, and we thank you. 

For healthcare marketers, making decisions in this environment is disorienting. Where are we, and where are we headed? What is the right way to communicate at this time? *A client who quickly adapted her company’s marketing to the current reality, and developed stages of where to go from here, framed my thinking.

She shared a recent Harvard Business Review article, which showed how Chinese companies successfully pivoted marketing efforts in the midst of the pandemic. These observations might be instructive in thinking about how we communicate now.

  1. Discovery and sense-making
  2. Crisis planning and response
  3. Recovery strategy
  4. Post-recovery strategy
  5. Reflection and learning

We’ve moved through Stage 2 with our clients: crisis planning and response. Most companies have already articulated business continuity, and how they are participating in social distancing efforts to play their part in flattening the curve of the spread of this pandemic. 

Some healthcare companies we partner with are well into Stage 3, already working their strategy for the recovery period. Other companies are standing still, unsure of what to do next. One observation from the HBR article should motivate you not to stand still: “Prepare for a faster recovery than you expect.” In China, six weeks after the initial outbreak, there were real signs of economic recovery. 

What does that mean for you? Here are three lessons from our work on a recovery strategy and how to position you to resume post-recovery operations:

    1. Two things matter to your customers. How will you take care of me? How will you help me save money? Do you have a simple message to address those two concerns?
    2. Change the channel. Are you sharing helpful, meaningful content with your audience and providing your sales support teams with helpful, non-salesy content so that they can operate virtually.
    3. Don’t go away. Now is not the time to wait to talk to your customers. They need you more than ever right now. Be helpful. Be there. 

*We failed in the original publishing to acknowledge this idea was given to us by a client. We appreciate all contributions given to us by our clients.

(Image: Getty Images)

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