Welcome to our new series of weekly blogs on crisis management during the COVID19 pandemic. In these weekly updates we are examining the business, marketing and communications function of IVF clinics.
Last week, I spoke about reviewing operational policies amidst our newfound reality. I covered staff moving to home working and cleaning advice for those still seeing obstetric patients.
It’s now been two weeks since guidelines were issued in the USA to suspend fertility treatment. So, where are we now?
Clinics in overdrive
It’s been a really busy time; clinics have had to contact all the patients who had cycles booked. It’s also come at the end of the financial year for many. While the daily bustle of the clinic has been suspended, the business element of running a clinic continues.
Working life here at The Fertility Hub has been exceptionally busy. There are numerous webinars to attend with clinical leads around the world. This content is being published as clinical updates.
Surge in patient enquiries
There has also been a sharp increase in the number of patient enquiries. These patients are not actually asking about COVID19, they are looking for guidance of where to have treatment. Quarantine is being used to research the best clinics and to explore countries they hope to visit for treatment.
Marketing has never been so important
This brings me on to the marketing and communications function of a clinic. In the most part, many clinics are suspending all advertising. This is understandable as the revenue stream of patient cycles has dried up. BUT and note it is a BIG BUT, when the clinic is busy you SHOULD advertise, when there is an economic downturn you MUST advertise!
Whilst COVID19 is unprecedented, recession is not. History can be relied upon to give accurate data of companies that survived and those who didn’t. This data has shown when marketers cut back, the brand loses ‘share of mind’ with customers.
Dedicated and experienced marketing specialists
Depending on the size of your IVF unit, you may or may not have a dedicated marketing team. If you don’t have a marketing department, it is worth considering outsourcing to a specialist to help you in these challenging times.
A marketing specialist will help you to develop and implement a marketing plan. If you are not marketing in this climate, your clinic will suffer. Patients have the opportunity to look elsewhere, find higher success rates and cheaper treatment options.
Keep these patients engaged!
- Maintain regular patient contact – have the nursing team calling patients on regular rotation, just a quick chat to see how they are doing.
- Keep up your social media presence.
- Share useful reading material.
- Shout about positive pregnancy tests.
- Share new arrivals.
- Avoid COVID19 emails unless it is relevant to your clinic or their treatment.
- Recruit new subscribers to your newsletter.
- Let your patients get to know you.
- Videos from home lets them in to your personal space.
- Patients are more likely to stick with a clinic that they feel they have a personal connection with.
If your clinic does have a dedicated marketing team, are the directors freezing the marketing budget? Now is the time to challenge those decisions and lead your clinic through this crisis with innovation and creativity!
Drip feed content
Over the coming weeks, there will be many elements to this blog series.
Most people are struggling to cope with the stress of the current situation. I believe all messages should be short and to the point.
Brains are on overload so don’t swamp people with too much information at once. Drip feeding content not only keeps you at the forefront of patient’s minds, but also means you can deliver consistently.
So, on that note I shall end today’s blog! I hope I have given you some food for thought about how to keep the clinic moving in the right direction during this crisis.
Over the coming weeks I will look more at marketing during a recession and the financial implications both for IVF clinics and patients.
I will also discuss the use of PR, your branding, your web presence, newsletters, digital advertising, the use of video and podcasts.
If you wish to speak to me directly about marketing and communications, then please drop me a line.
Veronica Montgomery, Clinic and Patient Liaison Consultant
The Fertility Hub