COVID-19 Healthcare Marketing Questions: Pause, Pivot, or Push for Success?

By Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer

COVID Healthcare Marketing Webinar

COVID-19 has changed the healthcare industry quicker in the last two weeks than in the last 50 years. With medical practices temporarily shutting down and elective procedures put on hold, what should healthcare networks and healthcare specialists do with their marketing campaigns‘ strategies?

Stewart Gandolf, CEO, Healthcare Success photo

Stewart Gandolf, CEO, Healthcare Success

Photo of Aaron Clifford, SVP Marketing, Binary Fountain

Aaron Clifford, SVP Marketing, Binary Fountain

To answer this important question for healthcare marketers, I partnered with Aaron Clifford, Senior Vice President of Marketing, at Binary Fountain for a marketing webinar, COVID-19 and Healthcare Marketing: Should You Freeze, Pivot, or Push Forward? This event drew tremendous audience response and I want to share it with you on our Healthcare Success blog.

In this timely COVID healthcare marketing webinar for marketing practitioners & healthcare CMOs, you will learn:

  • If and how you should reallocate your marketing budget
  • Which marketing strategies and tactics make sense…and which don’t
  • How to tweak brand communications because of COVID-19
  • If you should change your digital marketing and directory listings as Coronavirus spreads
  • What key updates need to be made to social media profiles and healthcare organizationslocal listings

I’ve included this presentation’s video above (and below), and a pdf of the deck, audio options, and the entire transcript further below, for your convenience. And, I trust this webinar helps your medical practice, health network or hospital survive and thrive through the Coronavirus pandemic.

If you would like to speak to us about your marketing budgets through the COVID crisis, please give us a call at 800-656-0907.


PDF: COVID-19 and Healthcare Marketing webinar slides

Podcast: COVID-19 and Healthcare Marketing webinar audio

Other streaming services: COVID-19 and Healthcare Marketing podcast is also available…
Spotify | iHeartRadio | Google Play | iTunes | Pod Bean | Tunein | Radio Public | Stitcher

COVID-19 and Healthcare Marketing Webinar Transcript

Aaron Clifford:

Welcome everyone to today’s webinar, “COVID-19 and Healthcare Marketing: Should You Freeze, Pivot or Push Forward?”

Welcome everyone and thank you for taking time out of your busy day to join us. My name is Aaron Clifford. I’m the Senior Vice President of Marketing here at Binary Fountain. We know that it’s been a challenging time in everyone’s business and your personal lives, so we are extremely grateful that you’re here and we’re going to try to squeeze as much help, ample information and advice as we can. I will warn you, Stewart and I both are remote, so you may hear the a random dog bark or other noises that you typically wouldn’t in a normal webinar. And so I’m sure many of you are remote as well and probably could understand that. So for the next hour, we’re going to discuss specific ways healthcare marketers can shift their digital marketing efforts and engage customers online throughout the COVID crisis.

To help lead this discussion, I’m joined by Stewart Gandolf, CEO of integrated marketing firm Healthcare Success. Stewart, you care to introduce yourself?

Stewart Gandolf:

Sure. I’m excited to be here. Everybody I know, again, as Aaron just said, we’re all busy trying to adapt to a new reality. I’m CEO of Healthcare Success and as Aaron mentioned, we are an integrated marketing firm. We work with really kind of all kinds of healthcare entities, hospitals, medical practices, pharmaceuticals, device, heath plans across the board. I think there’ll be fun to share some insights today.

Aaron Clifford:

For sure. Thanks, Stewart. So glad to have you here. Really appreciate it that you joined us. Before we begin, let’s take a quick look about what we’re going to be talking about today. So first we’re going to discuss strategizing your digital marketing in a way that matches the current shift in consumer behavior. What we’re seeing. Then we’ll cover recommended adjustments to marketing budgets and brand communications in light of the health crisis. And then we’ll dive into some key updates to the local listings and also social media platforms. We’ll cover things that you should be looking out for and some strategies from a social media standpoint. And finally we’ll have a Q&A session. So we’ll be collecting the Q&A and we’ll make sure that we get to your questions. So please feel free to ask questions as we go along and then we’ll address those towards the end. But for now I’m going to pass it over to Stewart to get started. Stewart.

Stewart Gandolf:

All right. Hey everybody, as I said I’m really excited to be here. As some of you may have seen me speak at different venues, I tend to go really fast. I like to give as much information as I possibly can, so it’s kind of like drinking from a fire hose. Aaron, I both have a lot of subject matters today. So I think you’ll find this interesting. First step is to keep in mind that, we are living through historic pandemic. And so the I want to give a thank you and shout out to the caregivers on the front lines today. You know, one of the things we’re going to talk about today is to acknowledge the reality in your communications, where we are today.

And you know, we have caregivers in the front lines out there. We have people who are working hard, to protect ourselves and our loved ones. One of the common themes I’ll talk about today is to stay at home, right? Because that’s a more than a hashtag. We are literally trying to save some lives. One of the things that I’d like to talk about too is that how we act today will be remembered tomorrow. And so meaning that we’re working together to create marketing plans. We’re trying to communicate to the community out there. And one of the things that we’ll talk about a bit more later, is that even if you’re staying at home, you can help.

But the reality is that we’re trying to get the word out, and help for the common good marketing today in a real sense.  There are still people who don’t know what’s going on. I just saw something in the news today about a governor who didn’t really realize that the Coronavirus is transmittable before symptoms happen.

So I would argue that this is our chance to not only do a good job for our various institutions, but to really help the public. Keep that in mind as we go forward from here.

So we know today that it’s amazing what’s going on here. We see that the headlines just seem to be more and more depressing. Some of the recent ones include

“Model’s predicting spread a virus is a grim picture,” according to New York times.

“More than 75% of all Americans have been ordered to stay home.”

“Social distancing appears to be slowing the spread,” which is good news. That’s great given that the crisis won’t be over soon.

“The Dow dropped 410 points down, 23%. The worst quarter ever.”

“Coronavirus job losses could total 47 million.”

It’s just amazing.

“Unemployment could be 32%.”

This is coming from a super-heated economy where a couple of months ago it was, what two or three percent unemployment.

One bit of note of good news for the small business owners out there. The feds are putting together the new CARES package. The $2 trillion stimulus has hundreds of millions of dollars set aside to help small business owners. They can request forgivable SBA loans to help cover salaries over a couple months. And you can certainly look that up. And I should mention after the webinar, we will be sending out the the video and there will be links.

There’s lots of information we can point you to. So anyway, I think it’s really important to recognize that this is our new environment. I mentioned a minute ago how things are changing so quickly. This is an amazing trying to prepare for each day. Think how much the news has changed. If you look back just a couple of weeks ago, people were still largely in denial.  Then by latest data on our chart, March 20th to 22nd, large percentages of people began avoiding events, avoiding traveling, avoiding small groups and stocking up on food.

So it’s amazing how quickly and really historic how things are changing so quickly here.

I’m big on data. Hopefully you are as well. Up to 70% are now avoiding major purchases, up from a couple of days ago when just 40% said they were delaying major purchases.

However, great challenges can create great opportunities sometimes from a marketing point of view. So we’re seeing today, and this is something that we’re confirming a lot from our side, that 95% of global consumers say they’re spending more time in media consumption.

That’s of course not surprising. The fact that they’re watching more news coverage isn’t surprising. One of the benefits, again, as terrible as this crisis is there are some silver linings. Like I have proved myself, I’m spending more time with my family. I have two daughters, one of them is a teenager, and we’re just having some excellent family time because normally we’re always so busy. And I think it’s important to recognize present moment, not just with yourselves but in your communications.

And it is a different time. What’s amazing is the growth of streaming – not just Netflix which doesn’t have a lot of commercial opportunity there – but just streaming TV and streaming radio. I’ll talk about this more later.

From a marketing point of view, this creates some unprecedented opportunities. People are spending more time on social media. Again, not surprisingly, but these are all opportunities.

And we were talking before we got started here about how things are changing forever. So, with so many people using Zoom for video conferences, it is unlikely we’re ever going to go back to the way we were before.

Regarding telemedicine, it took some hospital systems years to begin to experiment but over the last couple of weeks they’ve embraced it and fully figured out how to do it. So the world has changed.

So it’s a lot of what I am sharing are things that I’ve observed, but I wanted to make sure I got my team’s input on this as well. People that are dealing with clients every day.

And so the first thing I mentioned to kind of at the opening is I think it’s really important to acknowledge the current situation. It’s almost hard to have almost any conversation without discussing this virus. And that’s okay. It’s really important to be transparent. You’re seeing this beginning to happen with broadcast TV. Any ad that has pictures of large crowds, handshakes, big parties, look just out of touch.

And I think the public understands that, commercials like that were creative before COVID, but the more you can be transparent, the more you can feel up to date, the better.

Also, I think while most marketers are aware of this, it’s really important to not look exploitative. Just be careful of that because the it is easy to do that.

Make sure that you don’t present any unintended messages. This is particularly true if you have lots of things going on. Be careful of words like, “I’m dying to see you,” or referencing viruses when you mean computer viruses. Obviously we’ll have a whole new meaning today if we are not careful.

And then remember how empathy is really, really important. I talked to our Creative Director, Dana, about this yesterday. Dana’s has worked on a lot of pharma campaigns, and she was actually in the process of writing a campaign that describes how people with rare diseases go through various stages of grief. And we were both remarking how many people we know are grieving. Employees of ours are grieving, clients are grieving.

And I really don’t see people talking about that very much. But we have to recognize that if there was ever a time for grief or empathy it is now. Our messaging and the way we communicate with people needs to recognize that everybody’s stressed out. As human beings, we want to have empathy.

I shared this screenshot which just happens to be one of (an appropriate for the times) Verizon commercial. Here is an even better Verizon commercial, which is a well-produced shout out to its employees.  I saw that and it piqued my interest. I also have seen another great ad sponsored by the city of Las Vegas. And I’ll share some others on Twitter

By the way my Twitter handle is at @Stewart Gandolf. And right now is you’re live tweeting through this healthcare marketing webinar, we just chose the hashtag #healthcaremarketing. So if you have things to tweet hopefully Kaylie you can watch that while I’m presenting to see if there’s anything to respond to on Twitter.

But going back to what I was saying, there are already some examples of commercials that are out there. I’ll try to tweet and share things that I like and are certainly a lot of updates that we are all seeing today. So one of the big questions and by the title of our webinar is, should we pause, should we run straight forward? Should we stop?

We are having these conversations with every single one of our agency’s 80 or so clients.

And the first question that comes up from a lot of them is, “In light of what’s going on, should we just stop marketing?”

Should YOU stop marketing? And our answer to that is no, but it might sense to stop advertising. And let me explain what I mean. I definitely don’t think that stopping marketing is a good idea for virtually anybody, but for advertising, maybe. We’ll talk about what that looks like in a few minutes.

We have a reminder just for those of you who are marketing people here. We also have some executives that are not marketers, like CEOs and operating people, and we certainly have some doctors too. Just as a reminder to the marketers, and you may remember the four Ps of marketing, or maybe you are familiar with the seven P’s of marketing.

When we lead our seminars, we teach seven. And just as a reminder, marketing is not the same thing as advertising. Advertising is a small subset of one of the P’s of marketing, promotion.

So while advertising is certainly important – it’s the sexy stuff that everybody focuses in on – marketing is much broader than just advertising. So as I mentioned a moment ago, with every crisis sometimes there’s opportunities, right?

And I think it was Rahm Emanuel who said, “Never waste a crisis.”

And so certainly again, I don’t want to in any way underestimate the human toll of Coronavirus, and people are dying. It can’t be any more serious.

So with that in mind though, a lot of us still have to do our jobs to inform the community and help people in any way we can. So this is really, really important.

So what can we do? Well, one of the first things is keep in mind is many competitors are freezing or doing nothing.

So if you’re in a competitive specialty or competitive hospital or a competitive drug, a lot of people are just running for the hills and pausing or doing nothing. And I would argue strongly that that’s probably not the best strategy.

I would say that almost in any event, assuming you’re going to stay in business, which hopefully most of us are, your job is to prepare for the future because eventually COVID-19 will recede. There are drugs they’re testing now, and hopefully they find a breakthrough that can help us until a vaccine is available in a year, a year and half. Hopefully it won’t drag on for months and months. We’ll see. But in any event we want to prepare because once the smoke does clear there’ll be tremendous opportunity for new leaders to emerge, and also become visible.

So even if you’re not looking to attract patients in this environment, there are things you could do. Certainly you could continue your branding, right? So if you’re a hospital, for example, you don’t want to disappear in the community. You could do ongoing branding kinds of messaging.

If you aren’t going to advertise, you could be doing marketing planning. You could be doing brand strategy and development. You’ve always thought about your brand, and maybe you’ve always wondered where it’s off.

I would again argue strongly this is a time to look at your creative work. For example, a lot of people that I meet are really dissatisfied with where their website. Or maybe  there’s other changes they’ve been trying to make, like video content or a new content strategy.

And just a little transparency here on our side. Our company has grown tremendously over the last three or four years. Regarding our own website, we’re usually focused on client stuff first. This is a pretty common issue with agencies. While we’ve been working on it, it hasn’t had that kind of energy that we would like. So it no longer represents who we are today as well as we’d like.

But today is a fantastic time, so over the next three months we’re aggressively working on our own website, as well as our clients’, to represent better who we are today.

So these are the kinds of things to start thinking about. Where can you make an effort?

Even simple administrative things. I was talking to our managing director of the day, and now is a great time to complete all that HR training that we’ve been trying to get around to. This is a good time continuing ed, and also for strengthening your employee communications.

A lot of you are in larger institutions and they have thousands of employees. These people are begging for leadership and guidance today.

My head of SEO urged me to tell you a 15 second tip here. Right now there is massive things you can do to build enterprise SEO, particularly with schema. If you don’t know what that means, it is a kind of the infrastructure that helps the machines learn the meaning and the context behind what’s on the page.

These are tremendous times. We’re working a lot with clients on that.

One of the things I’ve mentioned earlier is we can use social media and again. Aaron will talk about the organic social media in a few minutes, and how to really work on growing your own reputation.

So of our blog subscribers may recognize that our last post mentioned how the US Surgeon General appealed to Good Morning America viewers about social distancing.

And because of the way the CDC had communicated in the early days, a lot of Millennials and Gen Z famously thought they were immune, and it’s no big deal to go partying on spring break.

So the Surgeon General called upon influencers like Kylie Jenner to go out there and say, to Millennials and younger Americans that this is for real. And she did. And a couple hours later, Kylie posted a video to her 4 million followers on Instagram. So my argument here is that while I think it’s fantastic Kylie Jenner used her clout with Millennials and younger Americans to get the word out about social distancing, I would argue anybody in healthcare has a responsibility too. Not from a marketing and making more money point of view, but for the good.

But you know, on my own social media, I tweet educational info about this epidemic.Independent private practice doctors can simply put up a notice about COVID on their Facebook page, and email their patients. So I think it’s fantastic opportunity to, just for the common good, promote social distancing help people who think they may have the virus.

Again, the CDC is one voice in the wind. There’s a lot of misinformation out there. Certainly we want you as providers to put out accurate information and to help people understand that, for example, people could be contagious before they show up with symptoms.

Wellness tips. A lot of doctors, a lot of hospitals are providing wellness tips. We’ll talk more about that in a minute.

You can also make sure the public knows you’re taking proper safety precautions You can answer frequently asked questions. You can update notices on your websites.

All these things are things for the common good. Again, not just from a marketing point of view, or business development. So I would argue, we need to get the word out to everybody in our communities. You have people that you’re influencing personally. You know, we went virtual in our office way before the government told us to. A friend of mine is a neuroscientist who sent me out information on the importance of social distancing early. His email was so compelling that we took action immediately. And I just think that’s the spirit of what we all have to do today.

So let’s say that advertising doesn’t make sense for you now to attract patients. Yet, I would argue that if you are in the position to position yourself as a community thought leader to educate the public during the Coronavirus crisis.

So certainly pharmaceuticals, health plans and hospitals, may find themselves in that category. Maybe even forward-thinking private practices depending on the size, philosophy and specialty.

So beyond the organic social media, advertising can make sense there if you’re looking to build your brand for the long term and capitalize the competitor’s absence.

If you’re a small independent practice, just trying to keep the lights on and you’re shut down, then maybe it’s not possible to advertise, but that’s not everybody.

When should you not advertise? Well if you’re in the situation where all your budget has to be direct response advertising, and every dollar must bring an immediate trackable ROI. Or maybe you’re an elective business that’s closed, right? The Surgeon General asked you to close and if you can’t accept patients that would be a factor. And obviously if you’re struggling advertising may have to wait.

So I want to share some insights for the rest of my time with you today. Many of my ideas come from my team, because they’re on the front line every day.  While I’m looking at the big picture, they’re watching new developments daily for our clients.

And here are some of the insights we’ve noticed.

Number one. Some specialties are actually seeing increased traction, including increased click through rates and increased inquiries or lead conversions. These include urgent care, not surprisingly, and primary care. Maybe not surprisingly, people are looking for alternatives. We have a integrative medicine, primary care doctor who’s seeing tremendous opportunity because people are looking for things like wellness and boosting your immune system.

Addiction treatment searches are up right now. I just tweeted something I saw yesterday, that alcohol sales are booming. They’re up 50%. Again, it’s not surprising.

Just watching people’s behavior, we need to have empathy. I’ve participated in a couple of these virtual cocktail hours. Some people are drinking too much, and you can just see it. So sad.

We have a number of addiction clients who recognize that  there are people out there who are addicts and are at home. They are hurting. And so some of these specialties are seeing great big increases in interest.

Other essential categories are holding strong like cancer related searches.

Not surprisingly, inquiries for elective based surgeries like vein surgeries are falling. While inquiries are down, clicks are not dropping as much. A lot of people we are finding at  home, and they’re clicking on those paid ads, but they may not be actually inquiring.

So whether you are with a practice or a hospital, you need to really actively manage your campaign.

I mentioned earlier preventative care kinds of terms are hot, like “boosting immune system.”

We are predicting we’ll see a little bit of cost decreases for the cost per click if you’re doing pay-per-click. And we expect to see that to continue as competitors flee the market.

So our recommendation going forward for your paid search campaigns, Google or Bing, is to make sure your ads read appropriate for a new reality. Also actively manage your campaigns. Just like we’ve talked about earlier, refine your general creative direction, and monitor keyword searches and campaign results as consumer behaviors continue to change.
Be ready to pivot and make adjustments to keywords and landing pages and websites as appropriate. Recognize we want to avoid trying to exploit COVID, yet capitalize on new opportunities like telemedicine. We’re doing a new blog post next week about the marketing opportunities with telemedicine.

Other ideas include Televisitation for addiction centers or SNFs, or free transportation. Think a little bigger. What can you do that you never did before?

Another thing to do is think through beyond paid search to  display advertising, native advertising on Yahoo! And Youtube. Remember people are spending more time online, but not always actively searching.

By the way, Google is also going to be throwing out some credits to people that have been advertising since last year. They’ll be rolling those out in coming months. They’re not very specific on that, but that’s a little bit of relief to people that have been advertising with them for a while.

If you’re interested in current search terms, there’s a plethora of information out there. You can just search for “Google trends, Corona virus search terms,” and see what people are searching for on a minute by minute basis. This changes constantly. Just some sort of free value added. I think you’ll find that interesting.

Regarding Facebook, we work with lots of different clients with different specialties. We’re not seeing a big dropoff and click through rates or conversions at the stage across most of our campaigns.

Again, it varies a little bit with addiction. It’s just such a great example because it is so relevant right now. Keep in mind we want to be emotional appropriately for the particular world that we’re in. You can consider Facebook live or promote various events. We’re going to share some examples of that in just a moment.

One of our pharma specialists came up with such a great idea of promoting our community actions, or our everyday heroes, especially the providers.

Again, Facebook is also considering a grant, though there’s no details of yet. But, they’ll probably be providing some rebates to small businesses as well.

Since everything is shutting down, if you can hang in there, there will be some opportunities.

Something else I want to share, that our paid social media manager is so excited about. Facebook Messenger now has a program similar to chatbots. This happens to be from one of our recovery clients.

I blocked out the names and phone numbers. It asks prospects to start a confidential message and then the bot will come back and give a couple of different options. You can dictate the questions, and people feel like they’re talking to a real human. You can control the conversation.

And we’re finding that we’re getting tons of inquiries this way. \Facebook always comes up with new formats. This just happens to be one of our favorites. I’m just sharing a little secret that we’re seeing tremendous success with this early on. This is brand new. Another thing that’s cool about this is we’re able to share a social endorsements. This is an example of a real life patient. Again, we blocked out the name of this real patient, interacting with the addiction treatment center.

So these things are very, very powerful. Another thing we’re doing with another client right now is we’re promoting webinars. They’re not seeing patients live. So, if you’re able to stay in the marketplace, instead of doing dinner seminars this is a fantastic time to try something new. If you have some marketing budget to test and track, now you can finally get around to it. And I would argue there are some terrific opportunities here today.

I recognize that some of our audience listeners are very sophisticated marketers, who understand things like OTT, CTV and programmatic buying. Others may be much further down the marketing continuum in terms of experience with it. Either way, this slide here from Comscore underscores the amount of time people are spending online that I described earlier. And if you’re interested, you can go to that URL yourself.

This was a screenshot from yesterday. So for example, Hulu streaming through Apple TV or Amazon fire or through smart TVs is just exploding. Viewership is up in record numbers. Both broadcast and streaming TV are showing record numbers, and behavior is changing daily.

You have to be paying attention here if you want to capitalize on this. And I know if you’re a provider and you’re just trying to take care of patients, you have challenges. And, we’re all scared. But, from marketing standpoint, this time has some tremendous opportunity. My team is working harder than ever currently on these types of opportunities. This graphic was shared with us, with our reps at iHeartRadio.

This Nielsen study from a couple of days ago shows that because people are no longer commuting, and they’re not listening to the radio in a car, streaming radio is taking off. Interestingly a couple of days later, this is an email I got that work for a work at home playlist from iHeart radio.  It’s funny, I love their programmatic buying and use of artificial intelligence. They obviously know I like chill. And so they not only came up with a word from home playlist, they targeted me with the kind of stuff that I might be interested in, although that was a big mess with me on country. But it feels so personalized.

Our iHeart rep tells us that new subscribers are up by 20% plus us over recent days.

So I asked my media guru Charlie for some tips, and I thought this would be really intriguing to you.He and I always agree on this kind of stuff.

Streaming radio and television are our favorite opportunities, but for for billboards and print, “not so much.” Print is slowly dying and nobody’s driving to see billboards. So are if you’re going to do traditional advertising, these are some of our favorite things.

Interestingly, while viewership is up and listenership is up, advertisers are fleeing the marketplace. Due to COVID, the cancelled Olympics, reduced political ads, prices are dropping. So it’s a very strange time that you have more viewership and listenership than ever, coupled with declining rates. Now remember with broadcast in particular, that’s is dead space. It’s gone forever. It’s like a little revenue is better than no revenue because it’s dead space.

That’s why broadcast is often negotiable. Those of you that are more experienced marketers know, broadcast is very, very powerful. A less sophisticated advertisers often go with the newspaper, but broadcast tends to be super powerful. And it can be negotiable.

Regarding creative, we talked about creating positive messaging that informs the community I think it is a good thing just to acknowledge where we are. If you have an agency (hopefully), or media buyer, whoever it is this is a time to cash in those relationships with your media reps.

Our Charlie has worked in 200 of 210 DMAs [Designated Market Areas] in America. His knowledge level is insane – he can tell you which train stations in New Jersey have the best outdoor signage, for example. More importantly he has thirty years worth of relationships with hundreds of reps nationwide.

Charlie’s been going back to our clients’ media reps saying, “Hey, my client is thinking of pulling out of the market. Help me convince them to stay in.” And I would recommend you do the same. If you have relationships with your media reps, ask them for help. They’re a lot more willing to negotiate right now.

I’m not saying grind your media reps, but look for win-win. So just two anecdotes are inspiring.

First, for one our big clients in Chicago, Charlie was able to negotiate 80 free community oriented radios spots, while also changing our mix to streaming.

Second, for one of our multi-location practices in Texas, Charlie advised the client to move most of the April media budget to TV. Rather than complaining, our radio rep offered 180 radio spots free across three stations. He said he looks at it as an investment in the longterm, and a measure of goodwill.

The broadcast stations are hurting, everybody’s hurting right now. They used to say back in the depression, “Things are tough all over.”

If you have no relationships, it’s hard to do this. But if you’ve been in the market, I encourage you to negotiate with your reps.

I’m going to turn the ball over to Aaron here as this is my last slide again. If you’re interested, because I know some of you may have to run, you we’ll be sending the deck to you afterwards. If you want to follow me on Twitter, it’s just @Stewart Gandolf: is simple and we’ll provide you contact data later. Aaron?

Aaron Clifford:

Hey, thanks in just such great content and great information. There was a lot of engagement and questions. So do you mind just answering a couple of questions related to your content? Real quick.

(Sure, go ahead.)

All right, so one question was with more people watching news and TV, would you recommend television perhaps over social media or is it a both and, or what’s your recommendation there?

Stewart Gandolf:

You know, it is, that’s a great question. Here’s the deal. In our experience, it is now both. One of the things we write about a lot,is that everybody’s multitasking. They’re watching TV and they’ve got their iPad or phone in front of them. So I don’t know if it’s necessarily either / or. It’s integrated. We see, for example, one of our clients is an addiction center hates to put phone numbers on their ads They just feel like they don’t want to look too salesy.

And so we see that as when we’re on radio or on TV,  their website just explodes with activity. So that’s really why we are an integrated agency. I love digital (but advertising works well in conjunction with it). I would try to do both.

Aaron Clifford:

All right, thank you. Helpful. A couple of more while we got you. So in reference to the Facebook Messenger slide, are these Facebook they considered HIPAA compliant?

Stewart Gandolf:

They are, if you set it up right. I’m not giving legal advice. Let’s start right there. But remember these are private messages that are coming from a prospect to the provider through a bot. So consult your own attorney, but our team feels comfortable using them. This is brand new technology. So I would do your own research, but so far we’re comfortable.

Aaron Clifford:

Good. All right, thank you. And then someone was asking about the webinars and what the success has been or attendance what are you seeing there?

Stewart Gandolf:

Okay, great. So that’s a good, another great question. You know, it’s like the one I just showed as an example. He’s gotten, I don’t know, I think during the first day or two, five registrants. So, not hundreds, not thousands, but response depends on the topic too.

But one thing I didn’t share very well before is that’s important for the listeners who are not as familiar with paid social versus organic social. (While organic social is powerful), you’re only reaching your followers. These are people that are already following you. And even then, oftentimes you’re getting just a small percentage of the followers. Meanwhile, with ads on paid social, you can reach tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of prospective patients, and it’s a really good value cost-wise. It allows you to reach a far broader audience.

Stewart Gandolf:

So I think the capability and, and success of that will be based upon how good your offer is and especially how compelling your topic is. Like right now, we have hundreds of people viewing it on this webinar, which is exciting. We had even hundreds more register who probably want to get the recording.

And while I would like to think the reason is because you and I, Aaron, are so good looking and smart, it’s really because the topic is so timely. So I feel like the right timely content is everything, the right offer. So we are seeing that this is brand new. I’ll just say for our listeners, whether you’re with agencies or whether you’re with hospitals or whatever, this is a great chance to try things that you wouldn’t have gotten around to before. And this is how breakthroughs happen.

Aaron Clifford:

Great. Great point. Thank you Stewart. And please keep asking questions and we’ll have a time at the end of the webinar to go through a number more.

Stewart Gandolf:

Thank you for asking those. I’m happy to help. I’m having a blast with this. This is great. So, yeah.

Aaron Clifford:

All right. So a lot of my contents going to dovetail into what Stewart described. And for those of you who don’t know, Binary Fountain is a customer experience platform and we help healthcare systems, a number of different industries.

We have a large contingent in the healthcare with large enterprises down to large medical groups and mid-size and even down to small, smaller clinics. So we analyze a lot of online data, we analyze a lot of first party surveys patient satisfaction surveys and we get a lot of detail. And so we’re helping businesses not only manage all of their listings on the third party platforms like Google my business and Facebook and Vitals and health, Verizon getting all of their information accurate, but then also monitoring their reputation online. So what we did is a little study and we’re doing this study weekly just in looking at all of the mentions per platform where COVID-19 and related terms are being mentioned and the frequency and quantity.

So what we’re seeing is right now Twitter’s exploding and this is related to our brands and the mentioned the, with these terms in relation to our brands. And we cover about over 250 clients. And again, often they are, have hundreds of locations and cover hundreds of providers. And so we’re seeing a lot of activity there. Of course we’re seeing a lot of information and surveys, but then Facebook is number two to Twitter.

But in terms of mentions, Twitter is, is just dominating. And there with regards to the brands, there’s a lot of questions there. People are getting answers and some cases not getting answers and others. But we are encouraging clients to manage and you know, make sure that you are having a pretty good strategy for each one of these platforms as it’s mentioned, but also spending time where the most questions and activity is happening. So there goes Twitter, Facebook, Google, you’d expect to be a lot higher. But since Google had suspended their reviews their numbers aren’t as high. And so we were seeing quite a bit of lift.

Technology we are seeing Google started to increase and then there is that freeze and not as many reviews there. So it’s kind of interesting and you guys may be thinking that as well. So some of the best practices that we’re seeing on social media you’re, we’re seeing a lot of activity and good brand promotion on various social media platforms. Folks in giving information, helping their patients and the consumers and also employees and get most up-to-date information. Many of them answering questions and linking over to their own website where there’s valuable information. And I’m sure many of you on this call have been doing that as well. You’ll see the engagement there. There’s when there’s questions being timely to making sure that your dispelling disinformation in health systems, communities and providers, physicians are so important in this particular space right now where there’s so many different rumors and just so much coming at patients and they’re looking for trusted resources and are seeing that the providers are filling an incredible void right now when they are able to answer those questions.

Twitter, there’s a lot of noise. There’s a lot of times I’ve seen some angry posts and some definitely the misinformation and rumors. And just some the wild, wild West that sometimes. Twitter is, and our recommendation is not necessarily to answer every single one of those. You can’t, you don’t have enough resources. There’s not enough time, but there’s definitely when there is an opportunity to answer a question directly or direct and that comment or reviewer poster to correct information on your own website or social channel. We’re seeing a lot of customers having success in there and a, a large click through rate as well going to their own content with the correct information. So, you know, make sure that you’re responding to those questions calmly in a transparent manner. But also you’re not having to answer every single person that’s out there either with relation to your brand.

It’s just too much where you can take those comments, whether it’s on a review platform, on a Facebook post or in Twitter, taking those offline. Right now the challenges, we know there are not a lot of resources offline to handle the calls that are coming in. So I say only take it offline right now. If you have somebody who’s going to pick up the phone and an actual human being to answer those questions, if not, it may be a bad patient experience or a bad brand experience. So be careful, you know, prior to COVID-19, I’m, I’m saying for the most part when you can’t resolve something online then almost always take it offline. But right now things are different and resources are scarce that many of these provider locations and systems. So you guys make that call when you can and when it makes sense to take it offline, but only if there’s a human being to answer.

Next seeing content recommendations, you know, making sure that you’re creating content that answers all the questions on potential questions that you know about is extremely helpful. So I referenced this earlier just in terms of all of the different misinformation. But you know, we’re seeing our customers pages and locations on their own website and social channels that are answering frequently asked questions. And I recommend that this too, for those that even though Google your patients and their family members and consumers aren’t able to post questions right now to your Google my business page, you can anticipate what some of those questions are and do a Google post related to COVID and Google is prioritizing those on the Google my business page. So there’s a real opportunity there to provide information in Google my business and Google my business posts to create content for that particular channel and then link it back to your own website with them, the information and frequently asked questions.

You know, Revive Health, they did a survey last week and I encourage everybody to look at Revive Health survey and study, but they showed that local health care experts are trusted 86%, 86% of the respondents said they trusted local health experts. And with regards to Coronavirus information, massive opportunity. If you’re a marketer and you’re a content producer for your facility, for your system, now is the time to engage your physicians. And I know the front lines are so inundated and they are swamped. And like Stewart said, just so appreciate everything that they’re doing in the communities, but with, there’s an opportunity if you have some physicians that may not be on the front lines and they may not have the patient volume that they normally have right now, might be a good time to engage with them to see if you can get some video content and ask them, maybe do an interview and produce some blogs that are helpful, that are providing relevant and good information.

You know, posting information if there’s a need for supplies and we know across the country there’s different hotspots and there are different needs and definitely from health system to health system, the needs vary a little bit, but if there are needs, it might be appropriate to be posting some of those that information on your social channels and on your own website. And then you know, what’s interesting is I’m sure many of you follow what Cleveland Clinic does is such an amazing job with health content and with just all the way around in marketing. But you know, Amanda toward [inaudible] on Twitter the other day mentioned that the health essentials portion or sites or health essential site, they had over 11 million sessions in March. And according her, that’s 3 million higher than the previous month traffic. So, you know, we’re, we are all not going to be Cleveland Clinic and it was something when I was at HCA, we aspired to Oh man, were it to be, have all the content that they had, but in your corner of the world and where you’re at, it might be a good opportunity to start creating some content relevant to COVID and on a consistent basis and where it is helpful and providing value.

You can start small. It doesn’t have to be health essentials. That’s pretty aspirational. But you can start where you’re at. Your community wants to hear from you for sure. And then we’re recommending from a consistency and communication on all of the various channels. You know, you know, sometimes and some companies, social is not managed by the same people who manage the digital content and these contents. There’s two silos. Seeing that a number of times, but there is an opportunity to make sure that you are lockstep, your content team is feeling the same information to both social and to the digital teams that are postings and making updates on the websites are really important. It sounds common sense, but you’d be surprised that some of the things that we’ve seen who were not necessarily congruent there are customers here that are doing a great job of this and making sure everything is just lock step with their digital channels with their social and with their own website.

And then obviously in phone, their call centers, everyone’s operating from some the same playbook and we’re really important there. So demand generation versus providing information. I mean, this is shows just week to week the amount, so it’s not apparent here, but it completely, but this was a nine days we saw it and go up just double from the week of March 22nd to March 31st we saw a massive increase and what people are talking about online. And with regards to COVID. So really important to, you know, all of the effort right now in responding and putting out good information related to COVID. Don’t lose sight that there will be a day and we don’t know when obviously, but there will be a time where demand generation comes in really strong and there are some demand generation obviously right now for telemedicine.

We’re seeing that. And so there is opportunity if you have those services and capabilities to be making sure that you’re not ignoring that piece of demand generation for your clinics and for your providers. But you know, there will be a day where this will be over. And so there is an opportunity right now to look at what does a 60 or 90 days from now look like and what are those activities and what are the demand generation activities going to happen that are outside of cope. And finally on listings management. So this has been a really incredible time in the listings management space. So as far as the volume and the changes, the temporary closures and the updates to ours and the changes that the platforms have made. So you know, it’s really important just when we’re seeing a 60% increase and just the Google my business call volume right now.

Google released a new, or not in Google, but schema.org released and Stewart mentioned that they’re released a new schema type for the COVID-19 specific items. So if you have not checked that out, look at schema.org and the new COVID-19 specifications and if possible, implement those on your site to make sure that your content has structured appropriately so people can find and get the answers, their questions answered, really important there. But you know, if there’s been a change in hours or service suspensions or revised contact information Google is providing more priority for health systems. So it’s still, you know, at times tough. But please update all of your Google my business pages. Of course, all your other third party directories as well. If you’ve not done that, very important. And we’ve been posting articles on how to do this, what to update kind of Binary Fountain.com at the top there’s a carpet area you can click on and we’ve published a number of blogs and then we’ve had webinars in the past and cover some of these items as well.

So Google temporarily suspending reviews as I mentioned along with the Google Q&A. there’s there they will be. Now if you post before it was the posters who are leaving reviews didn’t know that their reviews were not being posted. But now Google is saying that, Hey, this is temporarily disabled indicating that there will be a time in the future where these posts will be posted. I doubt all posts will be there. Hopefully they will take some of the ones that are damaging or not accurate with regards to the health system. Hopefully they won’t let those posts. But those are coming soon to the business Google descriptions, Google recommend adding information about any extra precautions, putting those into Google with descriptions. And then they’re temporarily allowing for small edits to your business name when it’s applicable. So testing centers, virtual visits, appointments, only a drive through curbside pickup, you know, those things.

They’re allowing businesses to upstate there. Those particular business names where you can make a change. So it’s apparent to those that are looking on their phone or on a desktop. And then the Google post, I mentioned those earlier, but they are being, those are going to be live for 14 days after you publish them. So that’s an extension Google has made. And within response to the COVID-19 crisis and regarding Yelp, just touching on them, for those of you who get a number of Yelp reviews they announced a zero-tolerance policy for any reviews of a person contacting COVID from a business or its employees. So they’re not allowing any of those reviews to go out. You can customize the COVID-19 alert message at the top of your Yelp business page now. So that’s something else that they’ve added.

And there’s going to be more virtual services that they are going to be offering virtual classes, virtual consultation. So if your particular community is a heavy Yelp user with regards to healthcare, some aren’t, some are make sure that you’re aware of those updates. All right. That was a lot of information squeezed in there. We have a couple of more questions, so let me get to those real quick.

Stewart standby. My Q&A is not showing up exactly, but I have them right here. Here’s the question. I’m in this medical spa business. What is your feeling about doing virtual consultations and selling gift cards online? I want to be sensitive not to be asking for money at this time. Stewart, do you want to take that one?

Stewart Gandolf:

Yeah. I think that’s makes sense. You know, it’s funny my wife and I are joking, like, I’m going to look like seventies guy. By the time this is over, right. New haircut. I think that’s going to come back. And my wife is complaining her gray hairs starting to show up underneath the dye. It’s like I haven’t seen her real hair color for a long time, so I think, there are people that are still interested in these things. I think the idea of doing it like that, if you’re not taking money now or you’re doing those kinds of consultations, people are bored. I would just experiment with it. You can stop if you try it and it doesn’t work.

Aaron Clifford:

I would agree. Somebody asked about having a Zoom panel discussion for the public with our providers. I’ll take that one and Stewart you can jump into, but I think that that’s a great opportunity where you have influence in your community. I think it’s great for the providers. You know, I’ve talked to a number of provider friends and they’re, they’re uncertain right now. They know it’s going to come back, but some of them are not working in the ER or in the ICU or you know, for the health system as far as in they’re waiting for their patients to come back. And so there is some capacity and some areas and I think would be beneficial if you have those providers who are willing and can provide value to your community. It’s not only good for the community, but it’s good for those providers, their own personal brand and then the brand of the health system. Stewart, any thoughts on that one?

Stewart Gandolf:

Yeah, sure. I love it and I just think, you know, I’m a creative guy, right? So this is fun to me. Like what I would do is take that idea and maybe here’s a good supplement. What if you created like a regular weekly show? You know, that would be cool. You could have your feature, your providers, you can have themes that are topical. And especially if you’re like in a hospital or hospital system, it’s a great opportunity to highlight various topics. You know, it’s funny you mentioned that earlier that some specialists are probably helping out in the ER and helping out with, you know, telemedicine patients depending on where the hospital is located. Obviously it varies a lot, right? New York is overwhelmed. Other states hardly feel anything right now. This is an opportunity to truly take thought leadership.

And remember, we’re trying to help people. So there’s a double whammy there. And I would just say if you do this for sure of your organic channels, but man, that paid social is so great. Instagram or Facebook paid in particular, we get such fantastic results with those for our clients. Beause you can reach people that you otherwise wouldn’t. So it’s a combination of paid and organic social to promote that. You know, this opportunity won’t happen again. Everybody’s home. So, yeah, I love that idea.

Aaron Clifford:

Yeah, great idea. Somebody asked about texting versus emailing patients, you know, it’s a lot of that is dictated by your organization or the contact information that you have taken on intake as far as in your registration papers on what can or cannot and contacting the patients. So every organization is going to be different. Every business is going to be a little bit different. But a lot of that I would just refer you to your own. What has the patient provided permission or consent to how to be contacted? Texting rates. Obviously if you do have permission to contact them through texting, depending on the message and what you’re communicating. Texting has obviously a higher open rate and a higher click through rate than email. But you know, it the depends on the message is what I would say. Stewart. Anything extra to add on that?

Stewart Gandolf:

Absolutely. And the texting is so intrusive. It’s very powerful. You just have to use it correctly.

Aaron Clifford:

Good. good question here. How does downstream provider services such as radiology engage with physicians who are moving to telemedicine instead of traditional B2B methods? That’s a great question. Stewart, do you want to take that one?

Stewart Gandolf:

There’s opportunities that are surprising. You know, with radiology and radiation oncology, they’re not usually the stars of the show. They’re usually behind the scenes, but it does vary. We have a highly prestigious and well respected radiation oncology group in New Jersey. In normal times we do paid social for things like prostate cancer and radiation for an alternative to Mohs surgery – and it works. So even something like radiation oncology that you wouldn’t think would be very consumer direct has opportunity, does have some.

Stewart Gandolf:

So if you’re looking at radiology or imaging, just making this up, we might not be doing routine mammograms in this environment. But if you feel a lump, then what, how do you really know what that is? So there’s an example of some thought leadership. You could take almost any specialty and find a compelling angle, that’s what’s fun about this business is just trying to think a little harder and you might find an idea that can be, wow, that’s cool. And then you’re also engaging your doctors that way. So, they can feel heard and be part of the program.

Aaron Clifford:

Okay, great. Great. great. We’re going to end on that question. I know we are about to go. We’re a little over now, but thank you Stewart and thank you all for joining. We will be sure to follow up with those questions we weren’t able to answer during the session. So we’ll send a response there and if you have any additional questions, I know Stewart and I am available as well. Please feel free to reach out. Thank you for joining us. We will be sending the recording soon to all the participants along with additional resources that might come up for further guidance from all of us at Binary Fountain. We hope you stay well and you stay healthy. We’re here to help. So please let us know and I’m sure Stewart, you all at Healthcare Success feel the same way. So I’ll speak on behalf of both of us. We’re here to help here to provide any assistance that we can stay safe. Thank you for joining.

Stewart Gandolf:

Thanks guys.

Related COVID/Coronavirus disease links here on Healthcare Success:
COVID-19: Healthcare Marketing Adjustments | Ways Social Media & Digital Marketing Help the Public During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Stewart Gandolf
Chief Executive Officer at Healthcare Success
Stewart Gandolf, MBA, is Chief Executive Officer of Healthcare Success, one of the nation's leading healthcare and digital marketing agencies. Over the past 20 years, Stewart has marketed and consulted for over 1,000 healthcare clients, ranging from practices and hospitals to multi-billion dollar corporations. A frequent speaker, Stewart has shared his expertise at over 200 venues nationwide. As an author and expert resource, Stewart has also written for many leading industry publications, including the 21,000 subscriber Healthcare Success Insight blog. Stewart also co-authored, "Cash-Pay Healthcare: Start, Grow & Perfect Your Cash-Pay Healthcare Business." Stewart began his career with leading advertising agencies, including J. Walter Thompson, where he marketed Fortune 500 clients such as Wells Fargo and Bally's Total Fitness.

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