Thought Leadership

Providers, payors, and consumers, oh my!

Audience-based marketing strategies for telehealth leaders

Telehealth has been making waves over the past few months. Seemingly overnight, policy changes in response to the pandemic have broken down barriers in support of virtual care.

We’ve talked about the challenges health systems are having when it comes to introducing telehealth. But if you’re a marketing leader at a telehealth company, you’re likely facing a different set of challenges. The pandemic has brought on an onslaught of new competitors taking advantage of growing demand and reimbursement changes. It seems everyone wants a piece of the telehealth pie.

While many will get caught up in the hype, virtual care providers that focus on driving impact for their specific audience will thrive. We’ve outlined a few thought-starters for marketing virtual care offerings to providers, payors, and consumers.

Marketing to Providers

  1. Define your value proposition: Telehealth companies must reexamine their value proposition in the context of our new reality. It may be tempting to skip this step, but sticking to an outdated script will derail subsequent marketing efforts.

    Talk to your current clients — what are their worries and observations? What decisions do they have to make, and where does your solution fit into that? Look at your competitors too. Find out what claims they’re making and investigate whether these claims hold up. Examine how new trends, policies, and consumer perceptions impact the playing field. Dig deep into what makes your telehealth offering uniquely relevant.

    At Revive, we’ve been working closely with our health system clients on their Rapid Recovery of surgical volume, and there’s no doubt telehealth companies will play a critical role here. You must be able to differentiate yourself from new entrants and status quo options.
  1.  Amplify your message: Armed with your updated value proposition, turn your attention to your content strategy. Your content marketing should provide immediate value to your audiences. Furthermore, it should fill a white space in the telehealth category.

    Build a story arc that aligns with your target audiences’ current customer journey and create content that inspires. Through the lens of your value proposition, empower your audience to navigate policy changes, select the right telehealth partner, and virtualize service lines.

    Don’t limit your efforts to owned channels. Be ready to jump in on industry conversations and establish yourself as a leading voice and expert. This will further reinforce your value and secure your position as a trusted partner in your target audience’s mind.
  1.  Prove it: It’s not enough to provide intrinsic value alone. At the end of your audience’s buyer journey, make sure you can prove your solution’s ROI. Develop case studies highlighting successful partnerships with health systems amid COVID-19. Don’t adopt a “one size fits all” story. Create multiple case studies for different challenges and sequence them in personalized buyer journeys, so that potential customers see themselves in these examples.

    Look forward, too — how will your partnerships continue to provide value post-COVID-19? COVID-19 will fundamentally alter parts of the industry. Show how you’re helping your clients navigate these challenges as a long-term, strategic partner.

Marketing to Payors

  1. Clarify your messaging: Resist the urge to default to a singular marketing message for all audiences. For telehealth companies targeting health plans and employers, now is the time to get absolute clarity on how your solution uniquely addresses each target audience’s priorities and pain points.

    Often, we see companies leading with a consumer-impact message when they really need to address how their solution solves business challenges. Take an opportunity to refamiliarize yourself with your buyer segments — their actions, behaviors, attitudes, and demands on time and money. You may find that COVID-19 has altered buyer perceptions in an unexpected way.

    To get started, review our research-based findings on health plan buyer tendencies. Furthermore, consider investing in qualitative and quantitative research to develop custom buyer personas, assuring your message is built on data rather than assumptions. This exercise will allow you to analyze every touchpoint from each audience’s perspective and personalize each marketing message.

  2. Customize your channel strategy: Your employer and health plan marketing plan should look almost nothing like your consumer marketing plan, in terms of channel selection, spend, and tactics. And each marketing plan should not necessarily get equal priority in your overall marketing mix.

    For telehealth companies targeting health plans and employers, it often makes sense to focus corporate marketing efforts on these business segments and deploy customized consumer marketing programs on behalf of clients. These B2B2C marketing programs are a win-win — they allow for more precise targeting, increased member engagement, and allow you to continually prove the value of your solution back to your customer.

  3. Embrace corporate social responsibility: When deployed strategically, corporate social responsibility efforts can create substance and opportunities for engaging stakeholders.

    When aligned with your value proposition, a defined and expressed initiative is vital to the bottom line and could sway people across both B2B and B2C segments to choose you over a competitor. It also creates a platform to speak out on industry issues, cementing a thought leadership position.

Marketing to Consumers

  1. Be transparent: Consumer adoption of telehealth has skyrocketed in 2020, and many say they’re likely to use telehealth in the future. But with the surge in interest comes more options. While health systems and plans are introducing new offerings, some companies are going straight to the consumer with their own offering. And it’s not always clear who foots the bill.

    Telehealth companies must be transparent in their communications. Clearly articulate your cost structure (subscription model, copay, one-time fee, etc.). Help patients navigate insurance and payment options. Even if this leads consumers to another company, you’re establishing trust and creating a positive experience for the long-haul.

    This goes beyond cost. Let consumers know what to expect before, during, and after the experience. Provide complete clarity on your offerings — what you can and can’t treat or prescribe. Do not mislead patients when it comes to COVID-19 or antibody test offerings. While many telehealth providers have instituted partnerships to provide direction and access to testing, don’t imply you can diagnose COVID-19 through a telehealth appointment alone.
  1. Celebrate your purpose: Many B2C telehealth companies have developed hyper-targeted product offerings, including gender-specific services, family subscription models, and therapy plans. These companies often flaunt millennial-friendly branding, hanging their hat on missions of increased affordability of care and challenging the status quo.

    Now more than ever, consumers are looking for healthcare brands with purpose. Your mission may have historically inspired your internal teams, but it’s time to amplify this rallying cry for external audiences. Brands must celebrate their purpose and articulate how their offerings support their overall mission. Going further, develop a content strategy that complements your mission, whether that be around mental health, sex and gender, or family wellness.

  2. Rally your userbase: Many consumer telehealth brands have earned impressive brand loyalty. Rally your users to become advocates. Create an engagement strategy to encourage users to share their personal stories, discuss their experiences, and foster further conversation.

    Going further, consider creating an influencer program, leveraging influencers and public figures who align with your brand values. Pay special attention to identifying a diverse reflection of your brand — people who consumers can relate to and trust — representing different genders, sexual orientations, races, ages, and lifestyles.

Looking Forward

COVID-19 presents new challenges for telehealth marketing leaders. But whether you are trying to reach providers, payors, or consumers, there’s an opportunity for telehealth companies to usher in a new era of healthcare. And those who find and connect deeply with their audience will lead the way.