The economy has taken a hit over the past couple of years, and that has been affecting numerous industries, including the healthcare industry. At Ignite, we’ve worked tirelessly through this challenging period to get our clients new patient enquiries. Still, we understand why you’d have your doubts about whether or not to market your clinic in an uncertain economic climate.
If the economy is suffering, why should you market your clinic?
A common misconception is that you should cut back on marketing during difficult financial times to save money. We’ll go into this in detail later, but first, we need to understand what consumers are feeling and why they are spending less.
What has affected the UK economy?
Whenever we thought we were hitting a new low, something else would come at the economy even harder.
As recently as September 2022, it was reported that the UK is the only G-7 economy still smaller than its pre-covid size. So, how did we get here?
Firstly, in 2020, the global pandemic devasted the world. With businesses temporarily closing, this led to the economy shrinking drastically. Recently, the ONS has estimated that the GDP fell by 11% in 2020.
Businesses had to adapt to offer services online. Healthcare businesses provided consultations online to decrease the number of in-person visits. Some continue to do this for patient convenience as it was received so well.
Marketing also went almost totally online. Whereas before, word-of-mouth and referral were vital in getting new patient enquiries, clinics and practices started to promote their services through online advertising. However, without the expertise of marketing professionals, this could have proven difficult for some businesses as the competition was so high.
When the UK started coming out of lockdown, people found themselves with more disposable income. Whether on furlough or continuing with their jobs, their spending was dramatically reduced with no shopping, eating out or holidays.
After the initial lockdown, you may have noticed a boost in new patient enquiries. People were ready to spend money and treat themselves to new treatments. However, as we were starting to see the light, 2022 arrived and with it, a big hit to the economy as Russia invaded Ukraine.
2022 saw energy prices skyrocket and the fastest inflation the UK has seen in 30 years. Increased living costs have left consumers sceptical about their future and that of the economy.
The result has been a historic low for consumer confidence. GFK’s Consumer Confidence Index has shown a steep decrease in confidence throughout the year. Despite a short rise since September, it still remains incredibly low, resting at -44 in November 2022.
What does this mean for businesses?
It means that generally, consumers are lacking confidence in the UK economy and their jobs. Without this confidence, purchases will also be at an all-time low, which is essential to remember as you search for new patient enquiries. This is why it’s crucial to understand your patients and what they are going through.
So, now that we know what has affected the economy, we can start to understand what potential patients have to consider before booking a treatment. That isn’t to say they aren’t out there. The demand is there; you just have to find suitable patients for your treatments.
Why you shouldn’t give up on marketing and advertising
As mentioned previously, the quick fix to a drop in new patient enquiries and a decrease in new treatment uptake tends to be to reduce costs by cutting marketing. While, in theory, slashing what you spend on advertising sounds like a sound way to save the pennies, the effects of this can lead your clinic to fall into an even bigger state of financial decline.
That’s right. Although it seems counterintuitive to spend more on advertising, or to continue spending, if you cut back, you will only perpetuate that downfall.
Marketing has become a necessity. You’d be strapped to find a successful business that doesn’t have a yearly marketing budget. An economic crisis doesn’t change that.
Let’s go into some of the reasons why you won’t want to cut your advertising spending.
#1 Stay top of mind
In the Harvard Business Review, research showed that companies that invest in growth do well in the future after a recession. While advertising, although you may not be receiving many new patient enquiries, you are creating brand awareness.
Potential patients will be seeing your ads and interacting with them, and one day, when they are ready financially to commit to a treatment, where will they go? Your clinic!
This is why it is vital to avoid fading into the background during an economic crisis. You need to be there ready and waiting to receive those new patients when they are ready.
#2 Beat the competition
Maybe you’ve noticed competing clinics have cut back on their marketing, and you’re concerned that you aren’t doing the same. Don’t be. Having your competitors cut back only leaves room for you to broaden your reach and get your ad in front of new people.
Those same people that you would be competing for if your competition hadn’t pulled back. This means that although you may see a reduction in your conversion rate, you’re more likely to get out in front of prospective patients that wouldn’t see your ad at all or that would be tempted to go with one of your competitors.
#3 Reach the patients already looking
While you might not see the same spike in new patients booking treatments as before 2020, if you stop advertising, you’re bound to notice a significant drop in leads. How will they find your business if you aren’t advertising?
In fact, at Ignite Growth, we’ve had clients come back to us wanting to restart their campaigns after pausing them to cut costs. The reason? They noticed a massive decrease in new patient enquiries, and walk-ins and word-of-mouth were not sustaining their clinic.
Understanding the patient
Now that we have considered the UK’s recent economic turmoil, we can understand our prospective patients and why they would be more reluctant to spend money on treatments.
Here are some quick tips to get your patients feeling confident in you and your clinic:
Provide value – explain why the treatments are life-changing and the benefits of them
Be sympathetic – let them know that you understand the financial situation they may be in
Make it worth their while – offer freebies or discounts without undervaluing your treatments
Offer them a solution – provide payment plans to help them out
The economy’s future may look bleak for 2023, but hang on in there. While the coming year may be challenging, we are looking at a decrease in inflation in 2024, allowing the economy to grow and allowing you to market your clinic and see results!
So, in the meantime, what can you do?
Keep advertising. Get in touch with Ignite for a call where we explain exactly how we work and what you can expect from one of our campaigns. The no-strings call will give you the chance to find out how campaigns can help you predictably grow your clinic.
If you want to learn how to market your clinic successfully, check out our blog post where we explain how to attract patients to your clinic and grow your business.