When coming out of lockdown, forget about marketing for a minute

If lockdown has thrown you for a loop or slowed your business growth, you're not alone. Here are some steps you can follow to help you get back on track after lockdown or a setback.

Michelle Geslewitz·

An illustration of a mobile phone with a hand holding a megaphone in the centre

It can be a tough time for businesses right now. There’s a lot of uncertainty, and again, the world is changing fast, hopefully in the right direction this time. You are likely looking to ramp up your business again, but aren’t quite sure how to go about it. It’s a new situation, without a precedent to rely on.

As a marketer, I’ve been there. Where things aren’t quite going to plan, that place where you want to avoid looking at the numbers, and know you need to do something to get control back.

This article covers some of what I’ve learned to do in these sorts of situations instead of panicking, and how you can apply it to your practice. None of what I’m about to suggest requires big budgets or special skills.

Forget about marketing

By that, I mean don’t jump straight into throwing everything at the marketing platforms immediately.

In my experience, ramping your business up again isn’t about how many marketing channels you can switch on and throw money at, like social media, search engine optimisation, or paid ads on Google.

It’s also not about how deeply you can discount your services to get people through the door again. Nor is it about dropping everything to create a campaign to get people onto a waitlist.

Don’t get me wrong: those kinds of tactics have their place, and absolutely can help you get people into your clinic again. But they won’t “work” if what you’re offering doesn’t quite resonate with your patients. And like you, your patients may be facing slightly different challenges than before, so what was right for you pre-lockdown may not be as effective now.

Revisit what matters

In my humble opinion, the best thing you can do if you feel lost facing life after lockdown is to take a moment to revisit the fundamentals and ask yourself:

  • Has what your patients need from you shifted or changed?
  • How can you relate to what your patients are going through right now? What changes are they going through in their day to day life?
  • What can you do to make sure your patients feel safe coming to see you? What are the barriers they face in visiting your clinic and will you need to meet them halfway?

Then, think about the best ways to accommodate your patients with your services in light of these changes, and how you can reach them to tell them about it.

When you break it down, one of the most important things your marketing can do for your business is to help you communicate how, where, and when you can solve your patient’s more urgent problems. And that should be where you channel your initial bit of post-lockdown effort–not Facebook or Google ads.

Focus on one thing at a time

Another trap that comes during high-stress periods is trying to do too much at once and spreading your resources too thin.

With marketing, that can mean trying a little bit of everything to see what sticks, be it your messaging, the platforms you’re using, the number of emojis in your posts, literally anything! What’s especially confusing is that this strategy actually can be effective and is often recommended as a way to learn fast. But if you’re coming out of lockdown and rebuilding, the last thing you need is to overwhelm yourself–and your patients–with too much at once.

Think carefully: Are you being inundated with messages and ads from other businesses right now? How does that make you feel? If the answer is not good, don’t do what they are doing. Do what feels authentic to you.

There will be many decisions to make in the days and weeks ahead, so instead, consider focusing your efforts and budget on re-engaging your existing patients before going all out to try and attract new ones after lockdown. Temporarily aiming to rebook existing patients over recruiting new ones can be more cost-effective as you restore your cash reserves.

Choose quality over quantity

Previously, we shared a COVID-19 marketing guide for healthcare with all the most important basics to cover during lockdown. It’s still essential to make sure your business hours, address, and communication info are all up to date wherever they have been published!

When it comes to creating new communications, though, take stock of the resources at your disposal: What is realistic for you to do really well in order to get the word out about your practice?

For example, if you have a team, can they do outreach calls to your existing patients for rebookings, and perhaps also glean how they are doing and how your practice can better help them?

If you’re working solo, maybe you have time to write one really good email or SMS that makes your patients feel their prayers are being answered...or at least, one that invites them to re-start their relationship with you.

My point is it’s not necessarily the breadth of your communications that can make the difference right now, it’s the quality. Sending just one message that’s unique to your business because it’s in your tone of voice or written in a friendly, casual way can be more effective than sending out dozens of generic messages.

Stay adaptable

At this point there’s a reasonably high chance you are thinking: Michelle, you are totally wrong here. My agency / in-house marketer says I should do the exact opposite of what you recommend. An annoying truism of marketing is that what works for someone else may not work for you, and vice versa. There are many ways to be successful with your marketing and this article is meant to guide your thinking, not dictate it.

But one thing I firmly believe is always true is that good marketing is adaptable to what your patients need now, not what you planned six months ago. Things are still changing quickly. So never be afraid to switch things up as you go. The work of making your business better cater to your patients, through marketing or otherwise, will never end. There will always be more you can do (and frankly, more the world throws at you and your patients). You want to make sure you’re flexible enough to act on it.

As you start to adjust to post-lockdown life, keep sight of the fact that your message is what matters when it comes to marketing, not the other way around.

Author information

Michelle was born in Chicago and now lives in Leamington Spa, UK. She currently helps with growth marketing for Cliniko, working with Kate to look after paid marketing channels, content and more.

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