Here I am at a senior health fair a few years ago as my amazing coworkers talk to potential patients and perform otoscopy. See, I’m smiling—nothing to be scared of!

Health fairs are an excellent opportunity to connect with your community, educate consumers about hearing loss and hearing aids, promote your business, and drive new patients in the door.

However, understandably, many practice owners and providers find the idea of standing in a crowded room, starting conversations with strangers, and asking for their business to be intimidating – some might even say terrifying.

But, fear not—I’m here to help make your next health fair or community outreach event a little more fun and a lot more successful.

Here are answers to several of your most plaguing health fair-related questions as well as some helpful tips and tricks I’ve learned over the years.

Q: How do I find out about health fairs and other senior events in my area?

A: There are plenty of ways to do this, but here are three that I’ve had the most luck with:

1. Google “senior health fairs near me.” This might seem obvious, but you’d be surprised just how many events there are going on around you all the time. You may also be surprised to learn how many senior organizations there are in your area—home healthcare companies, community centers, services for the aging, etc.

2. Check your local newspaper and its website – Organizations that host seniors events know that many Baby Boomers still read the newspaper and therefore, advertise in the events section. Most newspapers also allow people to post events online for free.

3. Check your local hospitals – If they don’t have an Audiology or Speech Therapy Department, that could be your in. Hospitals have open houses and other events and if they need a hearing provider, you could make a great connection.

 

INSIDER TIP: Don’t ignore events that have passed—they can be a goldmine. If you come across an event from the previous year, reach out to the coordinators. Sometimes they already know when and where this year’s event will be held and can add you to their contact list so that you know when the event opens for vendors.
Q: Should I do video otoscopy?
A: If you can, go for it! Explain to the patient that this is the first step of the hearing exam and invite him/her to your office for the other two steps. Have a printed copy of your schedule so that you can see what dates and times you have available for appointments and book them on the spot. Don’t take an iPad or laptop—you only have a short window of time with each person and you don’t want to waste it inputting his/her information. Also, you don’t want to rely on the venue’s Wi-Fi.
Q: Should I offer free hearing screenings on site?

A: Absolutely not. This is a big no-no for many reasons, starting with the fact that there usually isn’t a space that’s quiet enough to conduct hearing screenings at a health fair. More importantly, it defeats the purpose of attending these types of events which is to grow your database, establish relationships with members of your community, and attract new patients. Why give the milk away for free?


INSIDER TIP: Even if you can’t attend a health fair as a vendor, check it out anyway and bring a stack of business cards with you. Talk to the vendors that are at the event. Network. Mingle. Have fun. Find out what events they’re going to next. Perhaps one is worth keeping on your radar.
Q: What should I bring?

A: Here are five absolute essentials:

1. Information about your practice – business cards, brochures, etc. .

2. Educational materials – picture of an ear, hearing health articles, handouts they can take home, etc. Consult’s MarketSource has a large selection of collateral to choose from.

3. Directions to your office – seniors who have hearing loss usually also have poor vision. So, make sure your message is clear and the font is BIG. And don’t get them lost!

4. Appointment sheets for the next 2 weeks – I can’t stress this enough. Paper is your friend.

5. Giveaways – such as pens and notepads with your logo and practice information.

Q: How do I stand out from all the other vendors?

A: This is one of the most important questions you should ask yourself. And one of the best things you can do is to engage everyone who walks by your table—don’t just sit there and wait for them to stop and show interest. Make your table pop with a colorful tablecloth, preferably one with your practice name/logo on it. And lastly, a little bribery can go a long way—as in free candy, water, or snacks.


INSIDER TIP: When talking with individuals who were in the military, thank them for their service, ask when they were discharged, then respond, “I’m guessing that’s the last time you had your hearing checked.” Anyone who is discharged from the military must have a hearing test and for most, it’s the last one they’ve had.
Q: What should I say to people when they’re at my table?
A: Start by asking when they last had their hearing checked or if they have their hearing tested every year. Once you get people talking, see if they have a history of hearing loss or have ever worn hearing aids. Educate them on the importance of having an annual hearing evaluation. Deliver your “why.” Talk to them about your practice and why they should choose you over another provider. Remember: you have less than five minutes to leave a lasting impression on that person before he/she moves onto the next table.
Q: What’s the best way to handle any appointments that I book during the event?

A: Track your results. Create a spreadsheet listing all the pertinent patient information, including each person’s appointment date and time. Update the spreadsheet every morning for each patient:

  • Did the patient get tested?
  • Did the patient have a hearing loss?
  • Was amplification purchased? If so, what type of hearing aid and how much?
  • Was it a no-call, no-show? Pick up the phone and call the patient to reschedule—don’t wait for him/her to reach out.

 

INSIDER TIP: Since you’ve already established a relationship with these patients, call to confirm their appointments the day before to ensure they feel comfortable and know where your office is located. Additionally, confirm they are bringing a Third Party to the appointment. If a patient’s appointment is four or more days out, send him/her a reminder postcard with a handwritten note: “Nice to meet you at the health fair – see you Tuesday!”

Hopefully, I answered all your questions. If you have any others, don’t hesitate to ask your Account Manager or shoot me an email: JGesuale@ConsultYHN.com.

About the Author

Julie Gesuale joined Consult YHN in 2010 and currently serves as an Assistant Account Manager in the company’s Hospital and University Division. Her diverse professional background includes customer service, marketing, and project management. When not working, Julie enjoys spending time with her wife of 15 years and her two rescue dogs, Sheldon and Leonard. She’s also been singing in church and community choirs for over 25 years.