Post COVID-19 Marketing Is Going To Be Different Than You Expect
May 1st....or June 1st, or some month of some day, the lockdown we're under is going to be lifted. When it is, many industry people expect that our sales and marketing effort will slowly go back to the way it was before.
I believe the post COVID sales and marketing landscape is going to look dramatically different than what we were experiencing just 2 months ago. In fact, if you look at little more deeply at the changes that have swept the homecare industry in the past few years, you'll see that we were already heading down this path....COVID is just accelerating it.
How different will things be?
First and foremost we should realize that COVID-19 is a robust virus that preys (mostly) on the elderly and infirmed, while still sometimes going after younger healthy people with no pre-existing conditions. The random nature of the virus is what's most concerning. If you knew exactly the population of society that was at risk you could shield them to a degree. Every time the virus takes a young healthy person you realize that you might not be "safe" from it for some time. Also, if you follow some of the world's leading epidemiologists, you'll see that they are expecting a "rebound" this fall or winter when the virus begins to slow in the southern hemisphere. So, while we may be lifted from our temporary sales exile, that reprieve will most likely be short lived.
Is this our new sales reality? Probably not, but hey....you never know?
So, many of the precautions that are in place now such as no visitors, etc....are either going to stay in place, or be relaxed only slightly which will definitely change the process of how we sell. You can be sure that if and when we do have a viral rebound those facilities will lock down immediately to protect their patients and residents, because they'll already know how to do business in that environment.
Also, you seen the gradual lockdowns of hospital systems, large rehabs, SNFs, etc over the past 4-5 years. While this trend had little to nothing to do with protection from spreading germs and virus, it had everything to do with protecting patients HIPAA rights, protecting employees from the time drain of unplanned meetings, and generally to secure the referral patterns of that facility.
What do you think will happen now?
These facilities have gotten along just fine without rep after rep walking through their doors, and other types of facilities have wondered "Hey, can we do that too?". Well thanks to COVID-19 their question has been answered. Yes, they are able to lockdown their facility or office and still effectively communicate with homecare, home health, and hospice agencies. I expect a significant percentage of the facilities you called on 2 months ago to no longer allowed unsolicited visits from marketers.
Now, that doesn't mean that NO one can get in, it simply means that walk in traffic without an appointment, or without a common patient onsite is most likely going to be the law of the land.
How many of these new lockdowns are you likely to see? We don't know, is the real answer....but we're going to find out relatively soon.
So what is the industry to do in order to compensate?
Well, luckily for us, we've had to live in a new world of marketing over the past several weeks so we're getting a crash course on sales & marketing in our new reality. You've taken your marketing efforts more and more online. You've used Zoom or similar technology to have "face to face" meetings with key referral partners. You've made better use of your social media to post "passive" marketing messages. You've learned patience (almost always a virtue) when trying to work with referral partners because they've got so many moving pieces right now. Some of you have taken your CEU programs online in a virtual format as that was the only way to under our current lockdown environment.
So you see, you've already made some of the adjustments that will become permanent in a short time. Now, whether they've been effective or not is another matter. We must still perfect the process of joint in-person/virtual selling....but the writing is on the hospital wall that we'll have to perfect it if we want to thrive.
We'll cover more of this in more detail over the next few months, but realize you are getting a crash course right now on how to grow your business in this new world. Take good notes. Measure everything. See what works, what doesn't, and what needs a tuneup in order to work better.
This is your chance to shine, and the industry sure needs you to do that as we come out of COVID hibernation.