2017 Consult YHN Year in Review

What did we do in 2017? The short answer: a lot…last year was a productive, highly-caffeinated year at Consult YHN.

As we look forward though, it’s important to reflect on the year that was. Take a look at what we accomplished for our Associates in 2017, and get ready, because 2018 is going to be even bigger and better.


About the Author

Julia Shreckengast joined Consult YHN in 2015 and serves as Marketing Account Executive, providing support to Associates by managing creative projects and developing/executing marketing plans. Prior to joining Consult YHN, she helped promote the city of New Orleans as a member of the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation. Julia graduated Cum Laude with a bachelor’s degree in marketing from Tulane University.

Seven Things to Consider When You Run Your Next Ad

your-ad-goes-hereWhile it is true that advertisements don’t drive as much traffic as they once did, they are still effective!

In Consult YHN’s most recent ROI report (compiled from Associates’ marketing data), ads brought in a slightly negative ROI (-4 percent) and brought in few opportunities, BUT 72 percent of those completed appointments were converted to sales!

We also noticed that few Associates are running inserts, but those that do generate a positive ROI. In fact, of all the marketing initiatives, inserts delivered the highest conversion from appointments to sales (75 percent)!

The next time you weigh the options of advertising in your local publication, ask yourself these seven questions:

  • 1. Is the ad at least a quarter-page?

WHY: If you want traction, your ad needs to be at least a quarter-page in size. Frequency in the newspaper is a tale of the past — if you want your ad strategy to be successful, run one larger ad once a month instead of smaller, weekly ads. In the hyper-competitive world of advertising we live in, frequency can become white noise. Allocate your budget to a larger ad or an insert that doesn’t run as often in order to make it stand out.

  • 2. Is your logo and contact information prominent?

WHY: You would be surprised how many ads we review that neglect to list a practice’s name or their phone number! Beyond your contact information:

  • Utilize your logo prominently to establish some brand recognition in your community.
  • Calling out a landmark close to your office under your address can help provide easy reference.
  • List your website URL under your address — it helps build your credibility as an expert in your field and your website is typically the place that individuals will go to after they see your ad and before they pick up the phone.
  • 3. Do you have a call-to-action that encourages people to call the practice?

WHY: You need to tell people what to do with the information you give them. As simplistic as “Call today” or “Schedule an appointment” are, you would be surprised how effective these messages can be.

  • 4. Do you highlight what makes your practice unique?

WHY: From a branding perspective, it is important to utilize your messaging to highlight what sets you apart from your competition. With the big box stores and OTC coming into play, you need to tell your audience why they should come to you instead of going to your competitors. Ask yourself if there are any services that you provide that no one else in the area offers. Have you been around longer or have more experience? Are you doing things in the community that no one else is doing? Your audience wants to know!

  • 5. Is there an incentive that will entice them to call?

WHY: Incentives provide an added value to the services you provide. While everyone loves a deal (e.g., money or percentage off a hearing aid device or a free hearing screening), this doesn’t always have to be the offer. For instance, Consult YHN’s wellness initiative encourages practices to have “Lunch & Learn” events or educational seminars within the community, which could be your promotion. Ads receive a greater response rate when tied to an event where there is no commitment to buy vs. advertising an offer for a hearing device.

  • 6. Is there an image that relates to the message?

WHY: It is important to feature an image in your ad that grabs your audience’s attention and visually communicates your message. We prefer imagery with multi-generational families or active seniors that the audience can relate to. If your message is focused on technology, include imagery of up-to-date hearing devices that showcase their sleek design and advanced features.

  • 7. Are you optimizing your ad results?

WHY: Based on industry benchmarks, the average response rate for an ad is 1-2 calls per run. If you run an insert, then it is 10 calls per run (est. 30,000 distribution). The calls may convert to appointments and sales, but that is not always the outcome. While ads are typically seen as a branding awareness initiative, you can promote them through digital marketing or utilize your community network to gain more traction.

You should be allocating about 15 percent of your marketing budget towards print ads. While there has been a decline in response rates, it is still an important touch point that should be integrated into your multi-media marketing plan. If you have questions or need marketing help, the Consult YHN marketing team can review your existing ads and provide feedback, develop and release ads, and assist you with your overall marketing strategy.

About the Author

Lindsey Pierangeli joined Consult YHN in 2012 and serves as the Marketing Manager. Previously, she held marketing positions with advertising agencies and worked on accounts such as Amazon and Coca-Cola. Lindsey graduated Magna Cum Laude from Johnson and Wales University.

Social Media and Blogging: What to post and what to write about.

So you want to write a blog and post on social media?

Today’s digital marketing requires more than just a static website. Social media and blogging have become popular ways for practices to boost their online presence. Baby boomers are active on social media and blogging offers a great way to increase your SEO — so both activities attract potential patients — but thinking a blog needs to be a 2,000-word article or that posts always need to present new content can stifle the work that needs to be done.

To help get you started on your path to delivering online content, here are some tips to consider when starting:

  1. Develop a realistic schedule. Posting once a week on Facebook for a year provides more information to your patients than posting every day for one month. Similarly, a monthly blog ensures articles are up-to-date. Make sure you’re providing interesting content on a regular basis. No one likes reading a blog with outdated content!
  2. Provide relevant information. Don’t focus on one patient demographic. Instead, make sure you’re developing a mix of content that is useful for current hearing aid users, prospective patients, custom hearing protection for musicians or loud work conditions, and general hearing health information.
  3. Keep it personal. Your relationship with each patient is the basis of your practice. While you do want to be professional, you should make your posts relatable and inject your personality into your writing.

Here are a few tips for starting a social media strategy:

  1. Share content. Social media content need not be new or original all the time. Sharing video clips from relevant TV shows or news broadcasts, articles from scientific studies, and manufacturers’ posts can make up as much as 50 percent of your social media content.
  2. Create relevant stories. When creating your own posts, steer clear of the hard sell! Event invites, product announcements, patient testimonials, and introductions to blog posts are all great ways to get traction through social media.
  3. Have fun. Every so often, pepper fun human-interest content into the mix. Everyone likes a heartwarming video of a baby getting their first hearing aids. If you live in a tightknit community, local events outside of hearing might be relevant as well! Make it personal occasionally — do your patients know you’re in a tribute band? Feel free to let them know where you’re playing next.

Interested in blogging? Here are some tactics to get you started:

  1. Write for your patients. While you may be interested in scientific journals, it just may be too in-depth for your patients. You can always feature a study, but write about how that study relates to your patients and their hearing health. Also, 400 words is a good length — a little more or a little less is okay, too!
  2. Think in keywords. Including industry-relevant keywords throughout your blog makes the content search friendly and can increase your rankings in search engine results. Search engines have gotten smarter, so you no longer have to repeat the same phrase over and over again. Instead, include different variations of your SEO keywords. For example, if there is a new product launch, use the manufacturer and product names both together and separately throughout the blog.
  3. Plan ahead. Consistent blog writing is much easier to commit to when you have a plan in place. This limits the chance that you’ll get writers block because you feel you must get a blog out today. Keeping a content calendar will allow you to plan for event-related invitation blogs and product releases that may provide you with some pre-written content.

As digital marketing trends continue to evolve, social media and blogging are great ways to develop an up-to-date digital experience for both your current and prospective patients. If you have concerns that planning for and implementing these tactics will take too much time away from your patients, let the Consult YHN marketing team recommend a solution for you!

About the Author

Rachel Atar joined Consult YHN in 2015 as Marketing Account Executive. With experience in multiple industries, Rachel has consistently helped small businesses navigate marketing for their end consumers. Prior to joining Consult YHN, she was Taylored Home Health Care’s Marketing Manager.

Gain- vs. Loss-Framed Messaging: What do patients best respond to?

Consult YHN Consumer Behavior Series: Message Framing

The way we communicate to customers through marketing materials is extremely important when it comes to their feelings and opinions about, and ultimately their purchasing decisions towards our brand. From the tone we set to the phrasing we use, the way we communicate in an advertising landscape can make or break the relationship between the customer and the brand. Especially in the healthcare industry, messages conveyed to patients must be tailored to speak directly to the audience and meet them at the exact point of their journey towards healthy living.

In the first installment of Consult YHN’s Consumer Behavior Series, we’ll examine the different ways to frame messages when speaking to hearing healthcare patients.

  • Gain-Framed Messaging
    • This type of messaging focuses on the benefits of acting on a certain behavior – put more simply, the benefits of purchasing the service/product in question.
    • Ex: Hearing aids help people with hearing loss better connect and communicate with loved ones.
  • Loss-Framed Messaging
    • On the other side of the coin, loss-framed messaging stresses the negatives of not acting on a certain behavior – or the negatives of not purchasing said service/product.
    • Ex: Without hearing aids, people with hearing loss experience a disconnect from loved ones and suffer anxiety.
  • Mixed-Framed Messaging
    • The combination of gain- and loss-framed messaging; usually introducing the gain as a solution to the loss.
    • Ex: Hearing loss can lead to communication problems with loved ones, but the good news is that hearing aids can dramatically improve your ability to reconnect.

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Consider the age-old idiom of using “the carrot or the stick” to change behavior based on either rewards or punishments. Gain-framed hearing messaging represents the carrot – or the future benefits of seeking treatment, whereas loss-framed hearing messaging represents the stick – the negative flipside to not seeking treatment. There are some campaigns that successfully employ the “stick approach” of loss-framed messaging (think the scare tactics of anti-smoking campaigns), but the hearing industry is its own unique landscape and therefore requires a different framing device to motivate patients to purchase.

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Overall, gain-framed messaging tends to be the most effective approach in the hearing healthcare sphere. Patients respond better to positive language that emphasizes the benefits of seeking audiological treatment and the improved quality of life that results.

The doom-and-gloom nature of most loss-framed messaging instills a sense of fear in patients that does not translate into the positive mindset associated with ready-to-buy attitudes. Using a negative voice can come off as critical and judgmental to the audience, automatically isolating them further. Especially in a climate where hearing loss is already stigmatized and associated with weakness and old age, loss-framed messaging does not perform well with the target audience.

Of course, there is a time and place when the negative aspects of untreated hearing loss may need to be addressed, like in educational seminars and informational articles. However, when it comes to introducing your customers to your brand and practice – via print ads, brochures, direct mailings, etc. – show your patients the increased quality of life possible with better hearing, and how you can help them achieve that.

Wellness-focused materials are great tools for putting a positive spin on seeking hearing help. Make sure your practice has some sort of Wellness Program in place, and use promotional items to encourage patients to commit to hearing and whole body health. Help your patients look to a healthier, happier future and communicate the benefits of taking the first step towards hearing wellness!

If you have questions about gain- or loss-framed messaging, or would like any assistance in developing any wellness materials, contact marketing@ConsultYHN.com today!

 

 

 

Sources:

American Marketing Association, Framing Health Care Messages: Why Interpersonal Context Matters

Health-Care Product Advertising: The Influences of Message Framing and Perceived Product Characteristics

Positive Messages Make the Most Impact in Public Health Campaigns

Lead Generation: What is it and where do I start?

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Generating a steady supply of patients and maintaining a full schedule is a critical part in developing a profitable practice. However, we all know it can be a challenging process. Now is the time to reevaluate your business to determine what initiatives are effectively driving traffic to your office and what things you can be doing differently to generate more leads. This methodology is what marketers call “lead generation”.

In order to diversify your pipeline, you’ll want to attract, nurture and retain a combination of new acquisitions, prospects and customers. To accomplish this, create a plan that communicates messaging to each segment of your target audience via a multi-channel approach; aka your lead generation strategy.

Here are some tips to consider when you’re developing a lead generation strategy:

–  Identify your target audience

Begin by focusing on two major target segments. One type includes the residents within our community who you’ve never met; people won’t visit your location if they don’t know the practice exists. Consider targeting areas within a close proximity to your office, possibly where the majority of your patients are already travelling from.

The other audience segment includes the people already in your database. These leads are uniquely qualified because you have established a connection with them; now all it takes is nurturing that existing relationship. Consider not only your current patients, but also contacts in your database who haven’t physically visited your office. These leads could have been connections from a lunch and learn or health fair; however, these contacts never took the next step to schedule an appointment with your practice. This group tends to get overlooked, yet they are one of the strongest prospect segments.

–  Identify your messaging

Your practice’s selling point is a key message that needs to be communicated to all audience segments. Consider which of your products or services are different or better than what your competitors are marketing in the community. Put yourself in your patient’s shoes and think about what motivates their behavior and buying decisions.  Try to uncover the real reasons why your patients came to your practice and purchased, instead of patronizing one of your competitors.

If you are having trouble identifying your differentiator, ask your patients directly why they chose your practice.  Encourage patients to rate your practice on things like atmosphere, staff, and services; it will not only help you identify your unique selling point, but it will also determine how you can improve your customer service as well.

The other option is to think about your “why” statement. Why did you become a hearing health provider and/or start your business? Integrating this personal statement about your practice helps you stand out among your competitors.

–  Identify goals and objectives

It’s essential to have goals and objectives established when developing a successful strategy. Identifying these benchmarks and milestones allow you to evaluate the success of your outcomes. Make sure your practice’s goals are aspirational, yet attainable, and ultimately support the purpose of your current business strategy. When you are developing your goals, determine if you want to measure by quantity, quality, or both. Examples include growing overall profitably by a certain dollar amount or percentage, achieving or increasing measurable ROI, obtaining more qualified leads, or gaining additional insight into what makes your target audience tick.

–  Determine what to offer

Think about what you can offer your audience that will entice them to convert into a lead. While price is important, it’s not the only reason why people will express interest. If your competition is beating you on price, you have to present the target audience with a relevant benefit that addresses their needs. Then, build your sales and promotional material around that “pain point.” You can create an offering with less perceived obligation and more perceived value (for your leads) and provide it free of charge. This could be a booklet, gift, demonstration or anything else related to your product or service. Think of it like a door opener; something to discover interested individuals and get the conversation started.

Once you have determined what offer(s) you want to promote, you should include a call-to-action (CTA) to support it. This CTA is an instruction to the audience to provoke an immediate response. Something as simple as a “call today” or “call to schedule an appointment” will suffice – and remember to include contact information. Creating this type of urgency will entice consumers to reach out to the practice.

–  Determine the best multi-media approach 

The lead generation techniques of the past look quite different then the modern version. The methods for generating leads in today’s marketplace need to feed your sales pipeline from various channels. This year at AHAA’s Convention, our team will be presenting a multi-faceted lead generation strategy that introduces you to new products and strategies you can employ right away to reach beyond traditional efforts.  Decide which approach offers your practice the most promise after hearing from the business owners who have already boldly embraced today’s lead generation strategies.

Lead generation is the backbone of an effective marketing campaign for your practice. Without a continuous flow of fresh leads, your practice could have difficulties thriving in today’s competitive arena.  If you can’t make it to Convention this year, reach out to your Associate Manager; he or she will help you develop your lead generation strategy and diversify your approach to customer acquisition and retention!

 

 

 

 

Your Newsletter: 30 Informal and Amusing Ideas

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Newsletters keep subscribers informed about your business and brand while building a trusted relationship.  Many companies produce and distribute newsletters either printed or thru email on a consistent basis. While people understand the importance of it, it’s not always easy to come up with content ideas for them.

Content that’s helpful to the subscriber

Your newsletter should contain content that’s valuable to its subscribers. Your newsletter is a way to communicate with your customers and build a relationship, so you don’t want to fill your newsletter with promotional material. However, once in a while it’s okay to add promotional messages.

To help you create customer-focused newsletters no matter how you distribute them, we’ve compiled a list of 30 ideas for your newsletter that you can use to inspire fresh and fun content.  Here are some ideas to get you started:

1. How-to articles

Create content that’s relevant to your audience and helps them accomplish something with step-by-step instructions. Try using content from the list of frequently asked questions your office gets from customers to solve routine challenges.

2. Product maintenance advice

Does your product require maintenance? If so, provide maintenance tips in your newsletter.

3. Top 10 lists

Top 10 lists are popular because they’re easy to read. Create a list of valuable tips, most popular articles on your blog or ideas that refer to your business.

4. Add an infographic

Use online tools to create an infographic for your newsletter. Turn industry numbers into an eye-catching chart, or provide customer satisfaction ratings in a visual way.

5. Roundup

Create a post that offers a roundup of your company’s best blog topics or most popular social posts. It’s a great way to repackage content that already exists.

6. Customer reviews

Collect a few customer reviews on a specific product and share them in your newsletter. Start out by explaining the product, offer a picture of it and show subscribers what others are saying about it.

7. Events

Use your newsletter to invite or remind subscribers about upcoming events.

8. Invitations

Tell customers about events, charity drives and exclusive sales. Create an event on Facebook so guests can RSVP and include the link in your newsletter.

9. Upcoming health fairs or community shows

Planning to attend a health fair or even a local craft show? Share the details in your newsletter. Explain why you’ll be there, what’s new this year, or provide valuable information like the most affordable place to park.

10. Business history

Tell customers a piece of your company’s history. You can add a tidbit in each newsletter, create a timeline or write a longer piece on the company’s anniversary that covers the big milestones.

11. A letter from the owner

Have the owner craft a letter for the newsletter. The letter could thank customers for their support, provide goals for the upcoming year or talk about a new product the company is about to offer. Customers need to hear from those in charge now and then; it helps maintain a trusted relationship.

12. Employee of the week/month/quarter

Pay tribute to a special employee by highlighting him or her in your newsletter. Keep it short and sweet, but provide enough information to show customers that your staff is top-notch. Always include a picture of the employee.

13. Frequently asked questions

What are the top five questions that your staff receives each week? Use the information to create a frequently asked questions post for your newsletter.

14. Updates on changes

If the company has a new boss, a renovation is taking place or the company is changing the way it does something, use your newsletter to update customers.

15. Business video tours

Break out a video camera and provide a short tour of your business for customers to check out in your newsletter.

16. Discuss partnerships

Whether you’re teaming up with a local charity of the business next door, tell customers how the partnership benefits them in your newsletter.

17. Behind-the-scenes photos

Give customers a look behind the scenes by posting pictures of employees moving massive inventory for the holiday season, or a shot of your team stocking shelves.

18. Be Social

You can promote social initiatives in your newsletters too. It’s a great opportunity to cross-promote your business and encourage subscribers to become part of your social family.

19. Tell subscribers about giveaways

Are you giving away something cool on Facebook? Remind your customers about it in your newsletter. Provide participation details and a link to enter.

20. Encourage subscribers to follow you

Add a brief “Follow Us” section to your newsletter that includes all of your social links.

21. Tell subscribers about a social competition

Ask subscribers to submit photos of them using your product, or submit a short essay about a loved one that should be considered for a special prize. Launch the competition in your newsletter and remind subscribers to participate. This creates a wealth of testimonials and positive reviews!

22. A special coupon

Offer a coupon just to your newsletter readers. Provide a coupon code to use online, or a printable coupon that can be used in-store.

23. Mention a new product launch

When you have a new product coming in, tell your customers about it. Build the hype by providing availability, release dates and options like sizes and colors that are available.

24. Refer-a-friend promotion

Allow subscribers to forward your newsletter to a friend, and if they subscribe to your list, send the customers a special thank you (gift, deal or discount) for helping you grow your list.

25. Make a connection to a unique holiday

When an odd holiday rolls around that’s connected to your business, use it to spark a small post in your article. For example, you can can write an article on Senior Citizen’s Day and offer a discount. Here’s a list of odd holidays to use.

26. Cute or wacky photos of your employees

Did your company host a Halloween custom party? Are you hosting an Evening with Santa? If so, use a few of the pictures in your newsletter to give subscribers an “insider’s look.” Be sure to get permission to use the photos first, and use good judgment. Pictures from the 11th hour of the holiday party aren’t a good idea. Don’t overdo this one, it gets old fast!

27. What’s the deal with the weather?

At some point, the crazy weather will impact your area. Consider writing about it and how it impacted your business. Be careful, you don’t want to write about any storms or weather that hurt someone. Instead, stick to interesting weather topics like the lack of snow in cold weather spots.

28. Pictures of pets or mascots

Does your business have a pet or a mascot? Use a picture of your furry creature to liven up your newsletter. Put the company cat in a cute holiday sweater, or give it a birthday crown when the business hits its anniversary. Again, use your best judgment here, be careful not to let the content become the primary focus or a distraction from the important stuff.

29. Digital holiday card

Use online tools to create an e-card. You can create one for the holidays or the company’s birthday. ‘Punchbowl’ offers traditional options or try ‘JibJab’ for something a little more out of the ordinary.

30. Make a pop culture connection

Use pop culture references to spark an article about your company. For example, “5 things the hit show Scandal has taught us about business.” Make a connection to a hot TV show, a celebrity mishap or musical fads.

If you are interested in sending out a newsletter to your database, contact the marketing team to help you get started.