The last few years have been difficult for Australians because of the downturn in the economy post GFC. Almost every area of business has been affected – medical and allied health practices included. Even some of the best practices have felt the decline. Many of their patients have lost their jobs or can just no longer afford to pay for some of their health care. This trend has kept people from seeking the healthcare that they need.
As a result, many practices have cut back marketing spending. How should you market your health care practice in the down economy? The first inclination is to pull back spending, specifically in their marketing, when in fact that is the absolute wrong thing to do, and here’s why: When people don’t seek the health care that they need, NOT marketing will only perpetuate the bad situation by not replacing lost patients.
Based on my experience, the practices that have been the most successful over the last few years have either maintained their same marketing budgets or increased them. The logic is that you want to seize an opportunity to get your message heard when your competition is pulling back. If your competitors are marketing less, your marketing is more likely to be seen. Since your competitors are reducing their marketing efforts (and their budgets), this is your chance get your message out more cost-effectively.
The key to marketing in the down economy is to be as selective as possible in the way you invest your marketing dollars. First, target your existing patients that can come back for additional services or refer others to you. Marketing to existing patients is very cost-effective since they know you and trust you already. In addition, if your health care practice relies on professional referrals this is the time to maintain relationships and if possible, build or grow new relationships. Your existing referral sources are very important and keeping them will help you stay afloat in this economy. Your competition may no longer be marketing to their sources – this could be an opportunity. The key is to go after this “low-hanging fruit” – easy, cost-effective ways to market your practice in this down economy.