If you’re lucky enough to be in an area that isn’t in full COVID-19 crisis mode, maybe you’ve had a little time to do some post-pandemic marketing planning. Maybe you’ll lead the way as a first mover in resuming other types of care. Regardless of your strategy for what, when and how you’ll re-enter the market after COVID-19, make sure to start with your why.Christy and Karrie at computer

Your why is your purpose. Your heartbeat. It’s where you’ll reconnect with patients, community and staff. It’s where you’ll reinvent your organization’s future — and the future of healthcare itself. Because COVID-19 is more than a market disruptor. It’s a global change agent with ripple effects across industries, space and time. Healthcare above all will be challenged to innovate the way forward.

Priority 1: Make patients feel safe

Healthcare isn’t for the faint of heart, and that’s true whether you deliver care or receive it. Throughout this crisis, we’ve heard about the courage of frontline workers and support staff. Returning to your health system will require courage from your patient community as well. Making patients feel safe will require leaning into your own vulnerability while you recognize theirs. And you’ll need to lead with empathy.

Right now, patients’ fear is causing massive drops in emergency visits for appendicitis, heart attacks and strokes. Those health scares didn’t disappear. People are just too afraid to get care. Going forward, we as marketers must appeal to emotions rather than logic to help soothe these fears. After all, fear lives in our emotional, limbic brains — the same area that guides our decisions. Your next marketing campaign is likely to be more about keeping patients — and staff — safe than about offering the latest procedure.

>>Read more: Be present, be compassionate, be kind: Resources to cope with COVID-19

Priority 2: Remind patients their care is still important

It’s remarkable how people will put others’ needs ahead of their own, especially in times of crisis. It’s inspiring. But you may need to remind patients that although their care wasn’t urgent a month ago, it’s still important. It may be even more important and timely to schedule care now to avoid serious complications.

Again, leading with empathy is key. We need to put ourselves in patients’ shoes and recognize their priorities have likely changed. They might have lost a job, their health insurance or even a loved one. They might feel selfish seeking certain care now. They might worry about burdening the health system or your care team. It will be important to address those concerns to let patients know their care still matters. And we need to do this in a way that makes them feel like a friend — not a means to boost revenue.

Priority 3: Rebuild from the inside out

Culture is essential to a brand, and it’s largely an inside job. Whatever your why, your staff must feel and live your purpose within your organization before people outside your organization will believe in it.

You have likely gone to great lengths during this pandemic to show your staff how much you appreciate them. Keep it up! Encourage staff to recognize workers in other departments — and at all levels. There’s no better time to recognize behaviors that align with your purpose and value and to do so at every opportunity. It will reinforce everything you stand for. It will lend strength to staff who are physically and emotionally drained. It will help your staff persevere through the next phase — and encourage them to help shape it.

People will feel the difference when they walk through your doors. And they will come back.

Need some support as you re-enter the market? WriterGirl is ready to jump in anytime. Drop us a line to learn how we can help you reach your audience with custom content.