The Biggest Marketing Pitfall and How to Avoid It

I’ve worked in the hearing industry for over 16 years, and there’s so much that’s changed in that time. Technology has advanced by leaps and bounds. The population of patients seeking help is growing faster than ever, and the connection between hearing health and overall wellness is indisputable.

On the flip side, there are countless new threats in the industry. The economy has gone through its cycles, COVID-19 has turned everything on its head, and patients are acting more like retail consumers than ever before.

Yet despite all these changes, there’s one thing that’s remained consistent. No matter the location, size, or type of business, when I talk to business owners or clinic administrators, they’re still asking the same two questions they asked 16 years ago: How do I generate more leads and how do I get more people through the door and on my schedule?

The marketing pitfall

The biggest mistake that practices make when trying to generate more leads is that they’re going about marketing all wrong. But before I can address that, you need to understand the traditional marketing pyramid.

At the bottom of the pyramid are the largest groups of people who are also the most competitive and most price sensitive. What I mean by that is that these people are the least connected to your practice, are least likely to identify having a problem with their hearing, and are more likely to be price shoppers because they don’t know what else is important in terms of hearing health.

As we go up the pyramid, the audience gets smaller, but they become more likely to be aware of your practice, have a hearing loss, be motivated to do something about it, and see the value in the services and care that accompany the hearing devices. Therefore, they’re less competitive and less price sensitive.

So back to the biggest mistake: it’s that most businesses rely too much on the bottom of the pyramid by focusing on traditional marketing efforts that drive NEW patients in the door. Don’t get me wrong, that should still be part of your strategy, but you must also make a significant effort to get your message to the people higher up in the pyramid. I see many practices taking those top four groups for granted and not mining their database to ensure that those people who have already been referred to you or seen in the practice have equal attention from a marketing standpoint.

Why providers neglect their database

I know, you feel like you’re bothering them, right? You think patients will come back to your practice when they’re ready to upgrade their devices because they already know and trust you and that patient recall feels too salesy.

But have you ever tried to see it through a different lens? Perhaps you’re not bothering patients but rather demonstrating to them that you care. Yes, some may return to you when it’s time for them to upgrade their devices. But if you haven’t kept in touch, many won’t. Instead, they’re more likely to respond to someone else’s marketing campaign and go elsewhere to purchase their next set of hearing aids (45 percent, in fact).

I’d argue that maintaining contact with your existing patients and the prospects in your database is actually the opposite of salesy—it’s the ultimate demonstration of caring. We can all agree that hearing health is a critical component of a patient’s overall wellness. If you as a hearing professional aren’t fanatical about getting this across to your patients, then I guarantee no one else will convince them of it for you.

Getting started with strategic database marketing

Why recreate the wheel when you can let Consult help you develop and implement your entire database marketing strategy? We have tried and true processes, programs, templates, and strategic partnerships to help you avoid the pitfall of ignoring the most important section of the traditional marketing pyramid.

Just to name a few…

But you don’t have to adopt it all at once. Pick one or two new strategies to try, then utilize Consult’s Account Management team to take on the planning, implementation, training, and tracking right along with you. We can help you minimize the workload and maximize your return on investment!

Reach Out to Your Patients Today!

About the Author

Ridgely Samuel joined Consult YHN in 2005. She has held several positions within the sales and operations teams but has found her passion for developing others in her current role as a Training Manager. Ridgely has experience working as a financial analyst for a former Fortune 500 company, holds a degree in Business Administration from Wake Forest University, and is a certified Six Sigma Green Belt. When she’s not working or acting as a chauffeur for her two daughters, Ridgely can be found relaxing in a hammock with a novel, tossing tennis balls for her dog, or paddleboarding on the lake.

Real Mistakes Audiologists Have Made & How to Avoid Them

We talk a lot about patient satisfaction and how to ensure that the next patient who walks through your door leaves happy. But what if they don’t? Have you really helped them?

We spoke to two different patients about their first audiology experiences and uncovered several mistakes that should not be done by an audiologist or practice. Note: names have been changed to protect their privacy.

Patient #1: Rocco

Rocco is in his mid-eighties and very healthy. He likes to take long walks, watches what he eats, even plays basketball with the men’s club from church twice a week. Rocco’s wife visits an ENT at least twice a year for cerumen removal and thought that because she can’t hear until her ears are cleaned out, that that must be Rocco’s problem as well. The otolaryngologist ran a few tests, didn’t find excess wax in Rocco’s ears, but decided to send him down the hall to the audiologist for a hearing test.

After a quick “hello,” the audiologist sent him into the booth. Afterward, the audiologist showed Rocco his audiogram and informed him he had “a significant problem” with his hearing. She then told him to “come back in six months for another test and we’ll see where we go from there.” Rocco learned nothing about his hearing loss or hearing aids. The audiologist simply handed him a copy of his audiogram and walked him out. Over a year later, Rocco still hasn’t gone back to the audiologist for another test. His family continues to struggle to communicate with him and vice versa.

What to do instead:

  • Tell patients about yourself.
    You can’t expect patients to trust you if they don’t know who you are. A 30-second video introducing yourself, outlining your credentials, and explaining why you became an audiologist can go a long way in reassuring patients they’ve chosen the right person to trust with their hearing health. Be sure to have this information on your website as well. Share your WHY with patients—they want to hear from you! Prepare a quick statement as to why you do what you do and why they are in the right place.
  • Educate them.
    Seize every opportunity to share your knowledge about hearing health and its importance on one’s overall wellness. The more you educate those who don’t know what you do, the more your business (and our industry) will benefit. Patients should know what to expect before they step foot in your office and definitely before you put them in the booth. Explaining the testing process and the audiogram in advance creates greater transparency not to mention easing the fears patients might have.
  • Focus on the patient.
    No matter how busy your schedule might be, it’s crucial that you give each patient the time and attention they deserve. Making patient counseling a priority can result in greater patient satisfaction and better clinical outcomes. Encourage patients to share their stories by asking opened-ended questions during the intake interview. Knowing how hearing loss affects their lives and relationships will give you a better feel for their readiness and motivation for treatment. You can’t provide patient-centric care if you don’t understand each patient’s unique journey.
  • Don’t pre-judge.
    Give every patient who is a candidate for hearing aids the opportunity to listen to or “demo” the technology. By educating patients and giving them a chance to listen to what’s new, you are empowering them to make the best decision for their hearing health. Don’t assume that a patient’s hearing loss “doesn’t seem bad enough” or that he/she “isn’t ready.” Instead, educate the patient so they can make the most informed decision.

Patient #2: Grace

Grace is a 94-year-old grandmother who’s been wearing hearing aids for more than two decades. She needed to upgrade her devices and called the practice she’d been going to for many years, but the phone was disconnected, and her granddaughter couldn’t find any information about them online anymore. Begrudgingly, Grace found a new practice and purchased new hearing aids, but the hearing aids are still not right and she’s not happy.

What to do instead:

  • Keep in touch!
    Your relationship with a patient should never end after they leave your office, regardless of the outcome of their appointment. Following up with patients after their appointment will reduce the chances of them going elsewhere when it comes time to upgrade. In addition to scheduling a follow-up appointment two weeks after the fitting, we recommend our practices call the patient one to two days after the fitting to check-in and ask a positive question like “What’s the best thing you’ve heard with your new hearing aids?” to get immediate feedback, start a positive dialogue, and address any immediate issues/concerns. Also, this should go without saying, but if you move, someone buys your clinic, or you retire, you should notify your patients.
  • Continue to educate.
    Even if a patient’s hearing aids are functioning properly, he/she may not be hearing at their best potential. Continue to invite your patients in for annual evaluations and consistently notify them of updates in hearing aid technology. Who knows—they may be ready for an upgrade before you realize! Another great way to use Vidscrip is to create a series of tutorial videos that educate patients on how to care for and get the most out of their new devices. Remember: a satisfied patient is a loyal one.

    The Consult Development Programs offer ongoing professional growth opportunities for providers, including procedural best practices and increasing help rates.

    Talk to your Account Manager to learn more!

    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.

    Physician Marketing: Expert Tips for Boosting Referrals

    Physician marketing is essential in today’s increasingly competitive landscape. There are many ways to bring new patients through your door, but when they come from a physician referral, they are that much more ready and willing to take the critical next step in their hearing healthcare journey. That’s because their provider—the person they trust with their health—has recommended that they go to you for treatment.

    So, it makes sense why the goal becomes to not only attract more patients but also build and maintain lasting relationships with physicians. How do you get that relationship off the ground? The answer is actually quite simple—it’s all about messaging, visibility, and consistency.

    Messaging

    Becoming a trusted resource to your local physicians is the first step in establishing a mutually beneficial relationship. Of course, finding the right message can be overwhelming because there’s a lot to say. New studies are being released all the time linking untreated hearing loss to copious other social, psychological, cognitive, and physical health issues. Fortunately, you can find a variety of physician marketing collateral on Consult MarketSource, all of which can be customized with your practice logo and information.

    So how do you know exactly what information and data will be most helpful? You have to ask questions! Dig deep. Find out what resonates most with each physician, then bring resources to them for that particular area of interest. Share insights every time you visit the practice and make it a golden rule that whenever you give information, you always try to get information in return. This is how you continue to build a rapport, show value, and become a hearing health expert in their eyes.

    Visibility

    Local physicians need to see you out there serving the community and completing the circle of care for their patients. They don’t know what they don’t know—you must get in front of them so that they know you exist, and you can share your knowledge! Yes, this can be challenging. Doctors certainly don’t have a lot of spare time to dedicate to you—and that’s even if you’re able to visit their office right now with COVID-19-related safety protocols in effect. The physician marketing landscape has changed a lot since the spring of 2020—but not necessarily for the worst.

    While there are areas of the country where community events are still being held and physician offices will allow visitors without appointments, the rise of virtual meetings and community events has actually increased your chances of getting face-time with decision-makers. Physicians who used to say they didn’t have time to meet with you may now be willing to book a ten-minute virtual meeting because of the convenience. Through our exclusive partnership with Vidscrip, Consult is also working on creating a video solution for physician marketing. The future feature would allow doctors to text you when they have a free minute then allow you to reply with a short video explaining how you can work with them to improve their patients’ overall wellness.

    Consistency

    Finally, consistency is key. The most common mistake to avoid is visiting every single doctor in your area once. Sure, you’ll see everyone, but no one will remember you. Be strategic, especially since your time in the field/office is limited. Find the top practices you want to capture referrals from and visit/call on them weekly. Develop a secondary list of practices and see/call on them twice a month. If you have remaining time, develop a third list of practices you’d like to visit and learn more about them. The best-case scenario is you run into a gold mine and need to shift priorities! Whatever you do, just make sure not to overextend yourself—have a feasible target list, and prioritize your visits accordingly.

     
    Unfortunately, there’s no silver bullet for physician marketing. Achieving your desired type of referral flow requires a combination of different approaches and tactics. Ask any practice that does this type of marketing successfully and they’ll tell you there is a myriad of strategies they execute to receive the high volume of referrals that they do. And, they would agree that messaging, visibility, and consistency are necessary to this success.

    So, make sure you have a strong, compelling elevator pitch, present useful information, offer insights and ask questions, create a physician list that you can realistically work through, and visit/call on those offices regularly. If you do this, you’ll be well on your way to becoming THE local expert on hearing health.

    If you need help launching, expanding, or adjusting your physician marketing program, Consult is here to help. Talk to your Account Manager or contact us today!

    About the Author

    Kate Thomas is an Assistant Account Manager and has been with Consult YHN since 2009. Before moving into her current role in 2016, she worked in the company’s Recruiting Department. Kate supports the East division and their accounts through front office and physician marketing trainings, community outreach support, and anything else needed to help practice owners achieve their professional goals. When not working, Kate enjoys gardening, yoga, meditation, running, hiking, cooking, and anything else that allows her to use her creative mind. Whatever she’s doing, it almost always involves her husband and three beautiful children.

    Patient Trust: Why It’s Important and Five Ways to Build It

    According to the FBI, millions of elderly Americans fall victim to some type of financial scam or confidence scheme every year. If that’s not enough cause for concern, they’re being inundated by industry disrupters—managed care, discount plans, big boxes, and OTC (Bose and Apple)—after spending more than a year in isolation, fearing for their health as a result of the pandemic.

    That’s why it’s never been more important for practices to establish credibility and build trust with patients.

    Without the reputation, name recognition, and marketing budget of a major tech company like Bose or Apple, this is a practice’s best defense against growing competition, patient skepticism, and the lingering stigma against hearing aids. Because while we all know how incredible today’s hearing aids are and the profound difference they can make in the lives of those who need them, convincing patients of this is perhaps your greatest challenge.

    So, what can you do to cut through all the noise and earn your patients’ confidence and effectively deliver life-changing hearing healthcare?

    #1. Make a good first impression.

    Because most patients are finding your practice online, that’s where you really need to shine. To establish yourself as the local hearing health expert, engage existing patients, and entice prospects, it’s vital that you have…

    A) A well-designed, user-friendly website that not only highlights your expertise and credentials but also serves as a resource for people seeking hearing health information. Not sure if your site is up to par? Let our in-house marketing experts conduct a website assessment!

    B) An excellent online reputation. Add Vidscrips and video testimonials to your website and Healthy Hearing Premier Profile flex space and make sure you have plenty of positive reviews on Google and Facebook.

    #2. Be consistent.

    Your brand image and messaging need to be consistent from your website to your doorstep, and with every interaction a patient has with one of your staff members. If you have multiple locations, each office should follow the same scripting and best practices in addition to providing the same quality of care. The only way to achieve this kind of uniformity is through regular, ongoing staff meetings and professional development. The Consult Development Programs are designed to ensure everyone in the practice is working together as a team to maintain a positive brand image, provide superior customer service, and support practice growth. Also, make sure that your hours, services, and other practice information is consistent across all of your marketing assets and channels. Even a seemingly minor inconsistency can make a potential patient think twice about choosing your practice.

    #3. Be transparent.

    Ideally, patients should already know who you are and what to expect before they ever step foot in your office. Does your Front Office Professional know how to handle price shoppers and address questions about OTC hearing aids? Do your providers know how to prevent and overcome common objections? Again, this is where regular staff training and meetings can have a major impact. With the right scripting and the right mindset, even the most skeptical customers can become satisfied patients. If you don’t already have a value statement, I encourage you to develop one and share it with your employees along with your business goals. Every member of the practice should be able to articulate why you and why your practice.

    #4. Make strong clinical recommendations.

    When making the recommendation for hearing devices, do you resort to showing patients the full smorgasbord of hearing aids you offer, or do you lead the conversation to a strong clinical recommendation? Patients are coming to you because you are the expert. So, make a clear recommendation and tie it back to their hearing test as well as what you’ve learned during the appointment about their lifestyle, hobbies, career, and budget. That way, patients know you’re not just trying to sell them the premium product but rather there’s a legitimate clinical reason behind your recommendation. It also shows you’ve been listening to them and are committed to finding a solution that meets their individual needs.

    #5. Educate patients.

    Education and exceptional patient care go hand-in-hand. Both inside and outside the practice, you should seize every opportunity to educate patients about the importance of good hearing health. In addition to attending/hosting community health events and creating educational content (blogs, articles, and videos) to promote across your digital channels, you should always have a collection of up-to-date educational materials in your office. You never know—sending a reluctant patient home with a brochure to review with their loved ones could just provide the push they need to move forward in their hearing journey. It’s also important for providers to explain the blank audiogram before putting patients in the booth. This helps patients and their companions understand what to look for, thus creating greater transparency throughout the testing process.

    Industry disruptors and COVID-19 aren’t going away any time soon. But if you and your entire team can openly, honestly, and effectively communicate with patients, then you will lessen their skepticism and increase their trust, leading to greater satisfaction and retention.

    Consult can help.
    Learn more about our Development Programs!

    About the Author

    Leah Breuers is the Director of Vendor Relations and Key Account Manager. She has extensive experience in the medical field selling and managing multi-million dollar businesses with a strong focus on customer service, training, increasing profitability. Before joining Consult in 2009, Leah worked both inside and outside the medical industry for emerging and Fortune 500 companies. In her time with the organization, Leah has worked with some of the largest, most engaged accounts and has routinely grown her portfolio by double digits year over year.

    Tips for Optimizing Your Teleaudiology Techniques & Environment

    Over the last year, businesses have faced the daunting task of trying to keep their doors open while remaining profitable during the pandemic. This has forced many to change their practices to accommodate customers safely in the new environment. A significant change in the hearing healthcare industry has of course been the utilization of remote and virtual appointments.

    These types of appointments are more common than ever. In fact, the number of telehealth visits in the U.S. increased by 50 percent during the first quarter of 2020 compared with the same period in 2019. In the Hearing Review’s second Covid-19 Impact Survey last April, 51 percent of hearing care providers said they have used telehealth for follow-ups and counseling while 45 percent said they have used it for hearing aid adjustments and fine-tuning.

    To clarify, audiology practices have three ways of providing this service to patients:

    1. Virtual appointments via phone or video (Facetime, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, etc.)
    2. Remote programming and/or troubleshooting via a smartphone app
    3. Full-service teleaudiology (such as Your Tele Care)

     These are all great options but may not be suitable for every situation, every type of patient or appointment, or every practice. What’s important is that you figure out how to make these offerings a reality for your patients where appropriate.

    Whether your practice has already implemented teleaudiology or is still considering it, here are some key points to consider as well as tips for enhancing patient care, virtually:

    Wi-Fi:

    If many of your patients live in remote areas with poor Wi-Fi or your practice itself has poor Wi-Fi, you could experience audio and video issues that are not ideal for video-based appointments. Having high-speed internet is critical and should be the first thing you consider before implementing any type of teleaudiology services.

    Comfortability with technology:

    Even if a patient isn’t tech-savvy, a virtual appointment could work if they have someone at home who can assist them such as a child, grandchild, or caregiver. Plan ahead and ask patients to have someone with them during their appointment (just like you’d ask them to bring a third party to an in-person appointment). On the other hand, don’t underestimate your patients—the pandemic has forced many to learn and embrace technology in ways they never have before, especially video chat.

    Camera placement:

    While you cannot control the patient’s camera placement, you can and should make sure the patient is able to clearly see you and anything you may need to demonstrate. Position your camera in a way that provides an up-close view of your head and shoulders and minimizes reflection (e.g., facing a wall instead of a window or mirror). Also, make sure any equipment you may need is within easy reach (tip: hands-free telephone access can maximize both audio and video-based communication).

    Proper lighting

    Conducting video-based appointments in a well-lit space will help to ensure patients aren’t straining to see you. According to American Telemedicine Association’s publication, Let there be Light: A Quick Guide to Telemedicine Lighting, which is a go-to resource for virtual care lighting and techniques, appropriate lighting is linked to greater patient satisfaction, which contributes to clinical engagement and reimbursement.

    Environment and etiquette:

    The ideal environment for any type of virtual appointment is a quiet, private space free of distractions, disruptions, and competing sounds (somewhere you won’t run the risk of people walking past your screen or a conversation or ringing telephone being picked up by your microphone). Remember: experience is still important. Remove any clutter from your desk and choose your backdrop wisely (a wall covered in photos, flyers, and/or artwork might seem nice but could also compete for a patient’s attention). When conducting audio-based appointments, know that pauses will simply be heard as silence, so let patients know when you are stopping to think or take notes. Lastly, if you’re going to be on video, be sure to look presentable and try to avoid clothing with loud colors and prints.

    Test and confirm:

    Before any type of virtual appointment, it’s crucial that you do a trial run (actually, multiple trial runs) to make sure you are comfortable and that your equipment is working properly. Enlist the help of your coworkers—do a few mock appointments and ask for their feedback. In addition, you should check your equipment regularly and confirm at the beginning of every appointment that the patient can see and hear you clearly.

    With the demand for hearing healthcare on the rise, there’s never been a better time to think about ways your practice can grow and evolve to meet the needs of more patients, more efficiently.

    If you’re still on the fence about adopting a multifaceted teleaudiology solution, let’s talk briefly about the benefits. Aside from reducing travel time and related stress for patients—many of whom have mobility issues—teleaudiology allows practices to expand their reach beyond the confines of their physical location to help more people (most importantly, those who may not have access to quality hearing healthcare otherwise). Teleaudiology has also been shown to reduce the cost of hearing care and increase efficiency through better management of patients, shared clinic staff, reduced travel times/expenses, and fewer cases of patient dissatisfaction.

    So, do your research. Listen to what colleagues who have gone virtual have to say. And doggonit, talk to your Account Manager! 

    About the Author

    Diana Dobo joined Consult YHN in 2011 as an Account Manager before being named Divisional Vice President, West in 2014. Since May 2018, she has served as Vice President, Strategic Accounts. Prior to joining Consult, Diana was a Senior Sales Manager in healthcare IT with Acusis and served as an adjunct faculty member for several colleges facilitating business courses. She has over 20 years of experience in sales, marketing, and business development and is passionate about helping her team and her customers achieve outstanding results.