Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Hospital Grassroots Marketing- Seven Ideas To Lead the Community Out Of The Pandemic

“Houston, we had a problem here,” is the correct quote made by Apollo 13 astronaut John Swigert not the ever-popular misquote, “Houston, we have a problem.” Though, “Huston we have a problem,” from the 1974 made-for-television movie, “Houston, we have a problem,” flows much nicer.

Fast forward to the SARS-CoV-2, 2020 pandemic, and it could easily be ‘Hospital, we have a problem.” I am not making light of the situation that hospitals and health systems find themselves in, but it points out the dilemma. And the difficulty is, how does the hospital lead the community in slowing the community spread of COVID-19?

With the lack of national and sometimes local pandemic strategy, the hospital needs to lead the community in partnership with local businesses to “slow the spread.”  A complicated messaging task but not necessarily impossible. Businesses have already started with the no shirt, no shoes, no face mask, no service. 

Image by Joshua Woroniecki from Pixabay

The effort required by the hospital is grassroots marketing.

Don’t confuse grassroots marketing with guerilla marketing.  The difference between the two is the audience and intent, even though some of the marketing techniques are the same. Grassroots marketing is also highly cost-effective, as you will rely heavily on social media.

The hospital, in grassroots marketing, is purposely targeting a specific audience or demographic group, in an attempt to persuade that group to propagate the hospital message on slowing the community spread of COVID-19.

The hospital needs to capitalize on existing social trends and allow direct interaction as a credible, believable source of information and education to slow the community spread.

Seven ideas for your grassroots marketing campaign. 

Image by Daniel Reche from Pixabay

1.       Use emotional triggers to spread the word. COVID-19 wear a face mask, no I won’t wear a mask, and social distance and I won’t social distance is emotional triggers. The reason for focusing on these two is that wearing a face mask and social distancing is proven to work on slowing the community spread. 

2.       Create a PR buzz in social media. People are on social media and can where they can be found, period. It is where the hospital needs to be all in as well. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, TikTok, Pinterest, Tumblr, Instagram, and other social media platforms are where the hospital needs to be if not already.  You need to be creative and attention-getting.  

3.       Be ready to capitalize on trending topics. Part of the grassroots campaign is to dispel as quickly as possible harmful or dangerous COVID-19 information. I am sorry to have to say this. Still, as I am writing, POTUS was at is again promoting ineffective and unsafe drug treatments, gaslighting his public health and disease experts, and misleading the American public about a cure. 

4.       Get creative with ambient ads. Ambient advertisements are ads that run in unusual locations or in a unique way. These types of ads stop people in their tracks, making them one of the most compelling examples of grassroots marketing. 

5.       Use tear-off flyers. I know that is old school, but it works, and this is where the partnership can come in between the hospital and local business. Tear-off flyers are cheap and effective, outside of the colored ink and perforation to spread the word. Be creative with the design, messaging, and offer. 

6.       Since social media and social sharing are a crucial component of grassroots marketing, you are going to have to rely on word-of-mouth. People trust the recommendations of family, friends, and other people they know.  Incentivize your “influencers” to share on social media and in social settings. Times are desperate, and there is no longer any safe or middle ground in the pandemic. The key here is not to be tone-deaf or insensitive with the message or optics. 

7.       Direct messaging. Taking word-of-mouth and social media efforts step further, direct messaging enhances communication. If you find the same people engaging with your posts or those of your influencers, send them a message.

The task at hand is to slow the community spread so that life can return to some normalcy. In the absence of a coherent national strategy, the hospital needs to follow the lead of business and lead their community out of the pandemic.

Image by Fernando Zhiminaicela from Pixabay

Michael is a healthcare business, marketing, communications strategist, and thought leader. As an internationally followed healthcare strategy blogger, his blog, Healthcare Marketing Matters, is read in 52 countries and is listed on the 100 Top Healthcare Marketing Blogs & Websites ranked at No. 3 on the list by Feedspot.com. Michael is a Life Fellow, American College of Healthcare Executives. An expert in healthcare marketing strategy, digital marketing, and social media, Michael is in the top 10 percent of social media experts nationwide and is considered an established influencer. For inquiries regarding strategic consulting engagements, you can email me at michael@themichaeljgroup.com. Connect with me on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. Opinions expressed are my own.

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