How To Adapt Your Healthcare Business Marketing Strategy During a Recession

There’s no doubt about it: the recent turbulence in the economy is concerning. It’s justifiable — record high inflation and plummeting stocks paint a worrying picture. Talks of a recession dominate headlines everywhere, leaving businesses in every industry, including healthcare, wondering what this means for them. 

Disruption to supply chain, complications in logistics, and rising costs with suppliers and manufacturers are just some of the areas that would be impacted. Rising costs may cause your customers to tighten their wallets, and instinctively, you’ll want to follow suit. 

With stricter priorities, containing costs seems to be the wisest move to make. But this may not always be the best strategy. 

Here’s the last thing you’d expect to hear: a downturn might be the time for businesses to increase their market spending. Competitors choosing to cut back presents a unique opportunity for you to take advantage of a less crowded space. 

The secret to doing it well lies in knowing how to adapt your tactics and offerings accordingly to cater to your customers’ core needs. This can help to boost your healthcare marketing strategy during recession times, and even long after!

 

Understanding Lessons From The Past 

The 2008 financial crisis, as well as the abrupt downturn during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, both held significant impacts on the healthcare industry. 

Trend analysis from the 2008 financial crisis found that:

  • The healthcare industry may not feel the impact initially
  • Patients will prioritise their care 
  • Treatments may be delayed depending on the severity of the condition to save money for essentials
  • Flexibility in financial arrangements is necessary to help consumers alleviate the burden of costs 
  • Demand for non-urgent or elective care decreases 
  • Outpatient care options were recommended to expand, as they were considered to be more consumer-friendly and affordable

Historically, the healthcare industry has always been viewed to be relatively resistant to recessions. Demand for essential medical care is always constant, and health insurance has always been an option to alleviate costs. 

However, the recession that resulted in the early years of COVID-19 proved that this isn’t always the case. With countries going on full lockdowns, the healthcare industry faced a huge peril in its economy. Thus came the push into the virtual space, with telemedicine and self-diagnostic tools as responsive solutions that proved to be economically savvy. 

These lessons highlight the unique position of the healthcare industry. Regardless of the economy, people will always require your services. The idea is in knowing how to tailor your message to your target audience. 

 

Tips to Adapt Your Healthcare Marketing Strategy During Recession Times 

During the current recession, healthcare marketers must be mindful of how their campaigns might be perceived. Consumers are more likely to be choosy and scrutinize their spending when times are tough. To that end, there are a few tips to follow when crafting your marketing strategy during this time. 

 

Assess Your Consumers’ Needs

Taking the time to understand the psychology of your audience is imperative in helping you to redefine your value to them. According to Harvard Business School Professors, consumers generally fall under four segments during tough times: 

‘Slam-On-The-Brakes’ segment: Most vulnerable and most impacted financially. React by reducing, eliminating or substituting their purchases. 

‘Pained-but-patient’ segment: The largest segment representing a wide range of income levels. Resilient and optimistic about the long-term, but less confident in short-term recovery. Similar to ‘slam-on-the-brakes’ consumers, they economise in their spending, though less aggressively. 

‘Comfortably well-off’ segment: Primarily those in the top 5% of the income bracket. More secure about the short and long-term stability of their finances. 

‘Live-for-today’ segment: Life as usual. Most unconcerned about savings and purchasing habits. May choose to prolong major purchasing decisions in times of recession. 

Changes in the economy impact the priorities of people. Take the time to determine what it is that your patients want or need, so that you can deliver. 

 

Fortify Your Existing Relationships 

If there is only one marketing strategy you can afford to do during a recession, our advice is for you to focus on your loyal customers. 

New customers who may be attracted to your service due to lower prices often fail to buy more when your business recovers. This impacts your long-term growth. 

On the other hand, companies investing more into growing their loyal customer base reap much more benefits. They generally cost less to serve and have the potential of attracting new customers for your business. 

Focus on taking care of those who have been there all along, and they’ll take care of you too.

 

Plan and Budget Strategically

There’s no denying it—the world is going online. It makes sense then, that the bulk of your healthcare business’s marketing and advertising budget is allocated to online marketing efforts. 

After all, digital marketing is cheaper and tends to be more targeted. However, in industries such as healthcare that require more emotional connectivity, integrating traditional marketing methods into your strategy is imperative. 

Traditional marketing channels can be much more effective in reaching out to your audiences. As the demand for advertising drops during a recession, brands get to enjoy a ‘buyer’s market’ on channels. Studies have also shown that direct mail advertising, which contributes to better short-term sales growth, increases during a recession. 

 

In Conclusion

If we haven’t made it clear, don’t stop your healthcare business marketing efforts just yet during the recession. In fact, grasp this opportunity while your competitors are down by adapting your strategy according to our tips. In turn, you’ll get to enjoy a long-lasting boost in your sales and market share. 

Reach out to us to learn how INL Agency can boost your business with our extensive healthcare marketing and advertising services.