Community Outreach: Do It Right & Drive More Sales

Hopefully, you’ve spent 2019 focusing on your practice. Not just making sure you’re selling hearing aids but working on the internal health of the business: You’ve completed a pricing analysis, ensured every employee has the right training to be successful, and you’re executing a marketing plan (hopefully with Consult YHN managing it!).

But you haven’t brought yourself to do community outreach.

Why not?

Relationship
Even if your marketing is driving new leads and helping to grow your practice, more than two-thirds (69 percent) of the American public trust doctors’ honesty and integrity and want to have a relationship with their provider.

Whether it’s a health fair or the monthly hearing seminar you hold at your local active-living community, meeting potential patients at a community event starts the patient/provider relationship before the appointment. It’s always better to have an established relationship with someone before you ask them to spend money. It can also make asking for the sale easier during the appointment because they are not considered a stranger. You’ve learned personal details about this person (the voice and laugh they miss hearing or how long they’ve missed out on calls with their grandkids, etc.).

Public Speaking
A fear of public speaking often keeps providers from starting a community outreach strategy. The first step to getting out of that mindset is: to believe in yourself! If you don’t like standing in front of a group and teaching, consider attending a health fair where the atmosphere may be more casual, and you don’t have to prepare a speech or slides. Remember that you’re the professional and you’re there to educate the public on what healthy hearing means to their life—from missing out on their favorite songs to how it can relate to comorbidities, like heart disease or diabetes. By reinforcing that you’re the local expert, you can win over potential patients who may be receiving your marketing materials, but didn’t respond because they don’t know you.

Physician & Patient Referrals
Community outreach events can also help strengthen your physician and patient referral programs. You may not be the only health professional at a particular health fair, so by making connections with related exhibitors, you can work together and refer leads to one another’s booths. You may also reach a person who’s loved one is experiencing hearing loss and can provide them collateral to review at home.

Local Partnerships
If you’re still not sure about finding or hosting community events on your own, link up with local societies with service-minded missions. Did you know Lions Club International has a hearing aid program for its members? The organization accepts old hearing devices for recycling and will typically work with local providers to offer screening events for members! There is also the Walk4Hearing, a national program that focuses on raising awareness about hearing loss and hearing health. Fundraising for a local walk sends the message that you are a provider who cares about helping your community—not one who’s just looking to sell hearing aids. It also gives you easy talking points related to general hearing health.

Another great resource is Sertoma, Inc. (formerly known as Sertoma International), which is an organization of service clubs across the country dedicated to improving the quality of life for those impacted by hearing loss. Their website offers a wealth of community events help, from accepting donated hearing aids to information about how to start your own local Sertoma Club (if there isn’t already one in your area). Being the hearing practice that opens a local chapter of the Sertoma Club may be the best way to make yourself the local hearing health expert, regardless of the level of competition you have in your area.

Not sure how often to host or participate in community events? We recommend our Associates do (at least) quarterly events. This provides enough time for event collateral and/or presentations to be developed without stressing about deadlines. You’ll also have enough time after each event to follow-up with any leads. You should call everyone you meet within 24 hours after each event to thank them for attending and to schedule a time to come in for their free screening (if you didn’t offer one on-site). You also want to ensure that every name that you collect gets entered into your practice management system using relevant referral sources. This will allow you to build the “prospect” segment within your database so you can reach out on a regular basis. Even if they’re not ready to address their hearing health right now, you want to ensure that your practice is the first one they call the moment they are ready.

Three Reasons Why You Should Mine Your Data

You’ve been practicing for years and everyone in town knows who you are, but you’re not increasing the number of patients you help each year. If this describes your practice, you’re not alone! In fact, this is a common concern we hear from our Associates—they’re working hard, feel busy, and yet, the number of patients helped, and revenue generated is not increasing.

So, what can you do to reach more quality people? If you’re thinking the answer is “marketing,” you’re correct. However, it’s important not to get so focused on marketing to new patients that you forget – you’re already sitting on a patient gold mine: your database!

Whether it’s through a sophisticated practice management system or less sophisticated paper folders in a metal cabinet, you’re already keeping great records of your patients and tracking everything. Obviously, organization is key. But what you do with the data makes all the difference, especially with patient touchpoints.

We call this data mining and here are three reasons you should mine your data regularly:

#1. Stay Connected with Your Patients

If you’ve been on an airplane lately, then you’ve probably heard the flight attendant say something along the lines of: “We know you have many options for your air travel needs.” This is a very true statement and it’s not limited to the airline business—it applies to every business, even yours. Touching base with your patients regularly (at least twice a year) gives you a chance to show you’re thinking about their well-being and thank them for choosing you as their trusted hearing healthcare provider. This will also remind patients of the wonderful experience they had with you, making them less likely to go to one of your competitors.

#2. Help More Patients

Based on Consult YHN’s studies, 60 percent of patients with hearing loss will not purchase hearing aids during their first visit. That means, if you’re seeing 300 patients a year, 180 are leaving your office without accepting help. When you reach out to those patients, you can restate the impact hearing loss has on their overall health and remind them how you can help (yearly check-ups and cleanings, hearing aid troubleshooting, upgraded technology, etc.). This will fill your schedule with quality opportunities.

For example: If you’re a five-year-old practice seeing 25 patients per month, then you are helping 10 patients while 15 patients leave untreated. At this point, you could have about 900 patients that were tested but didn’t accept help as well as a database of about 600 patients whose technology is out of warranty. Over the next 3-4 years, you want to stay connected with those patients so that when new and improved technology is released, you can fit them with an even better device.

Our tracked data shows that for every 38 letters sent to patients for either new or upgraded technology, one appointment is scheduled. For every appointment scheduled, we see one hearing aid sold. From a business standpoint, think about what that can do for your revenue: if you reach out to 300 patients a year, you could possibly sell eight hearing aids for an additional $16,000 in revenue (assuming an Average Selling Price of $2,100 per device). The Consult Upgrade program is by far one of the most effective ways to reach your patients, with the average event yielding more than $51,000 in revenue.

#3. Minimal Effort and Costs

You’re already spending the right amount on your annual marketing, so what’s the cost associated with sending letters to patients? Minimal at best, especially compared to the average cost of a new patient: $760.

You can find several customizable database letters on Consult’s MarketSource that are proven to drive appointments. All you need to do is export well-constructed lists from your database and perform a simple mail merge to personalize the letters for each patient. Or, you can let Consult YHN’s marketing professionals handle all of this for you. From designing to mailing to reporting, we can execute a 12-month strategy for you so that you and your staff can focus on other important responsibilities, like follow-up calls, scheduling appointments, and more.

Starting mining for gold today! Reach out to your Account Manager to learn how Consult YHN can help you implement a database mailer strategy that drives results.  

About the Author

Kimberly Costanzo joined Consult YHN in 2017 and currently serves as a Business Analyst. Her diverse professional background includes revenue accounting, internal audit, system support, and project management. She holds an MBA from Stockton University in New Jersey. When not working, Kimberly enjoys spending time with her husband Chris and her daughter, Gianna, either at the local playground or playing competitive matches of Go Fish. She also serves on her daughter’s school board and volunteers in the community to promote emergency awareness.

Marketing New Technology: How to Ensure Your Patients Purchase from You & Not Your Competitor

As we all know, hearing technology is rapidly advancing, and new products are hitting the market every few months. From a marketing perspective, it’s important for providers to understand their patients’ relationship with technology adoption.

Remember, everyone’s relationship with technology is different. Take the iPhone for example: some people will camp outside of an Apple Store just to be the first to own the latest model, some wait for their techie friends to try it first, and others refuse to upgrade their phone until they absolutely have to do it. 

But what about hearing devices?

Interestingly enough, there’s a very similar application of how patients adopt new hearing technologies. Below is Consult YHN’s take on the technology adoption curve applied to the hearing industry.

Based on nearly seven years of data and a sample size of over 70,000 patients, this curve points to insights on the different segments of your database, their relationship to new technologies, and the marketing touchpoints to drive conversions.

As a practice owner, how often do you think patients upgrade their hearing devices? Every 5 or 10 years? Our data shows that on average, patients upgrade their hearing devices every 3.6 years. If you want to ensure patients don’t go somewhere else to purchase their next set of hearing aids (which 40 percent of patients do), the below graph illustrates the number of times you need to contact your patient to ensure your patients remain loyal to your practice and purchase their next set of hearing aids from you.

 

FIRST ADAPTERS – Innovators

Also referred to as techies and visionaries, these are the patients who are eagerly awaiting the next hot device to hit the market. There are no sensitivities to price or technology for these folks. They are current users with a hearing aid that may even be less than a year old. Because of their readiness to purchase new technology, they only require a couple of touchpoints or marketing interactions to drive conversion.

Focus on the bells and whistles of the technology – what are the latest and greatest features that are really going to wow this audience? Remember, the first adapters may be the first to kick off sales of a new product, but they only represent five percent of current hearing aid users.

EARLY ADAPTERS – Enthusiasts

Although very similar, there are some key differentiators between first and early adapters. This group of customers value new technology but have purposely waited to make a purchase. They’re more hesitant to test drive new products and will most likely look to resources and reviews to consult first before purchasing. Gathering testimonials from your innovators (first adapters) will help move the early adapters along in their purchase decision.

1st MAJORITY – Pragmatists & 2nd MAJORITY – Conservatives

This is where a new device really gains momentum – it has now been road-tested and has built some credibility in the marketplace. The first and second mainstream customers are the peak of our contact curve, representing the majority of untapped opportunities. So, you want to make sure you are hitting this audience with the necessary touchpoints and the right messaging to convert them.

At this point in their hearing health journey, they are hovering around that 3.6-year mark of average device replacement. It’s important to tout the proven applications of your technology – not just the bells and whistles – how these new applications will impact real-life users in everyday situations.

This segment requires more nurturing – between 3-5 touchpoints for first mainstreamers and 5-7 for second mainstreamers. But making up 50 percent of hearing aid users, they’re worth it!

 

LATE ADAPTER – Skeptics

By this point, the newest technology has been on the market for some time. Anyone making a purchase after a product’s introduction is considered a late adapter or a skeptic. They are risk-averse and price-sensitive, so these individuals need the benefits of upgrading their hearing aid devices to significantly outweigh the cost.

If you can afford to offer discounts, value-added services, and/or accessories with a hearing aid purchase, this may be the only thing to entice this group. Be mindful though of the number of touchpoints required to convert skeptics: between 7-9 interactions.

RESISTANT ADAPTER – Resisters

Finally, the resisters. This is a group who are, yep, you guessed it: resistant to change! More often than not, this group of customers will only upgrade when they absolutely have to. Because they represent a small percentage of hearing aid users and require constant nurturing to convert, they are too costly (of your time, money, and energy) to build a separate marketing strategy around.

Of course, these patients are no less deserving of better hearing and can still benefit from your care – we just recommend focusing on other motivations outside of tech, like wellness, when marketing to this group.

If you want to learn about more ways to engage with your database, reach out to your Account Manager and schedule an appointment with the Consult YHN Marketing Team.

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.

Handling Price Inquiries – What FOPs & Providers Need to Know

On occasion, patients call asking about the price of hearing devices. They may ask for a price range or the price of a specific product. Nowadays, most patients have already done some extent of online research and are merely looking for you to confirm the information they have found.

From a customer service standpoint, of course, you want to answer the patient’s pricing questions over the phone. But here’s why you shouldn’t and how to handle it as a Front Office Professional (FOP) or Hearing Healthcare Provider.

 

Front Office Professionals

  1. If the patient hasn’t had his hearing tested, then you don’t know if he could benefit from amplification. The first thing you should do is find out if he’s had a hearing test and been told he could benefit from hearing devices.
  2. Regardless of the patient’s response, the device recommendation will still be based on hearing loss, lifestyle, and budget. So, without consulting with the provider, you don’t know what will be recommended as a solution. The best thing you can do for the patient is to schedule a consultation with the provider who is the hearing expert. Most important, communicate these reasons to the patient on your call. Don’t just say, “we don’t provide pricing over the phone.” Instead, provide the reasoning and emphasize how each patient requires individual testing and recommendations in order to provide the best solution based on hearing loss, lifestyle, and budget.
  3. Let the patient know that your practice works with a variety of manufacturers with a range of prices to fit their needs. If absolutely necessary, offer to have the provider contact the patient to further advise them on their options.

Hearing Health Providers

  1. Find out what’s important to patients and why they are inquiring about price. Are they asking about price because they have a preconceived notion about the cost of hearing devices? Are they getting second-hand information from a friend or loved one? Are they trying to sort through mailers, newspaper ads, and/or the internet to make sense of the price?
  2. Explain how the influx of information from the above sources can be confusing and how you can help them make sense of it all by being their trusted advisor. Let them know that although hearing devices can look alike, it doesn’t mean they all have the same functionality, and it’s important to understand how their ongoing hearing healthcare needs will be handled. Let them know why patients choose to come to you. 
  3. Invite the patient to visit your practice for a free consultation with you. Patients choose providers they trust. So be the provider they need.

Reach out!

Talk to your Account Manager today if you have any questions about how you and your staff can better handle price shoppers or cost objections.

You and your team may benefit from our Employee Development Program (EDP), which offers regional classes on a variety of topics, from increasing customer satisfaction to closing sales. We also provide weekly teletrainings which give practice owners the opportunity to openly discuss the challenges their personnel are facing and learn how to overcome them.

And don’t forget that there’s a wealth of information and free materials available to Consult members via Navigator, including scripts your staff can use as a guide for handling incoming calls, requesting patient referrals, asking for a Third Party, and more.

About the Author

Diana Dobo was as an Account Manager for three years and Divisional Vice President for the West Division for four years before being named Consult YHN’s Vice President of Strategic Accounts. She has nearly 20 years of experience in sales, marketing and business development. Prior to joining Consult YHN, she was a Senior Sales Manager in the healthcare IT industry.

Take Your Website from Good to Great with These 10 Tips

You have a website. Today, everyone has a website. So, now what?

Does your website blow your competitors’ websites out of the water?

Almost every patient journey begins with or includes a Google search. Hopefully, your PPC (Paid Per Click) and SEO game is on point and driving prospects to your website. But how many prospects is your website driving through your front door? And, is it good enough that it would motivate someone to drive 10 extra miles to your practice over another?

It’s an ambitious goal, but certainly possible with the right tweaks…

  1. Optimize your page speed
    According to Google Analytics, 40 percent of web users leave pages that take more than three seconds to load. Meanwhile, another study has shown that even a five-second delay in page response can increase your bounce rate by more than 20 percent. Find out just how fast or slow your site is with Google’s free PageSpeed tools. Since image file size is one of the biggest culprits of lagging web pages, make sure the images on your site are compressed. There are several free applications you can use to compress your own images.
  1. Be smart about your layout and design
    Design is the main reason people don’t trust certain websites or the businesses behind them. For example, low-quality images or design inconsistencies between pages can be giant red flags to a visitor. That’s why everything from your spacing, fonts, and heading sizes to your colors, button styles, and design elements need to be consistent, cohesive, and clean. A consistent header and footer on every page that includes your logo, practice information, and social icons is equally important. And while we’re on the topic, have you ever thought about how your website’s colors might impact the user experience? 
  1. Check your mobile responsiveness
    With mobile searches finally surpassing desktop searches last year, Google recently announced that it is now indexing websites based on their mobile version instead of their desktop version. In other words, the content, links, speed, etc. of your mobile site are now the key drivers of your search engine visibility. Before you panic, know that Google has a number of tools to test how mobile-friendly your site really is and Search Console has a mobile usability report that outlines problems on a page-by-page level. One must-have feature of your mobile site: Click-To-Call. Why? Because 76% of consumers say they use mobile call features to schedule appointments for local services.
  1. Offer rich content
    For search purposes, Google recommends having a minimum of 250-300 words per page. But your content should go above and beyond providing basic information about your practice—it should engage and educate visitors. Hearing health tips, hearing loss facts, a “Frequently Asked Questions” section, a list of the devices you offer with details about the different styles, and a blog (that’s regularly updated!) are all great examples of rich content. Creating content with legitimate value not only helps to present your practice as the local expert, but it inevitably supports your SEO efforts. 
  1. Make your content easier to digest
    Step one: trim the excess fat. Did you know that white space around text and titles can increase user attention by 20 percent? Create that extra room by keeping your paragraphs as concise as possible. Step two: make sections of text easier to scan by adding headings and subheadings, choosing clear fonts, and breaking down key points, features, or services into bulleted lists. You can get more creative with your layout by replacing traditional bullet points with icons or using lines, borders, or different shading to visually isolate related content.
  1. Reconsider your images
    We all know a stock photo when we see one. Although stock images aren’t inherently bad, they are inherently generic and impersonal, which can reduce trust. If your website relies heavily on stock imagery, it’s okay, many websites do. However, consider replacing a few stock images with actual photos of your practice and staff. We promise that prospects will want to see you and your staff members’ smiling faces. Any stock images that you do use, should complement the content, not distract from it.
  1. Use calls to action and buttons to guide visitors
    Your website should provide a customer journey that is clearly mapped out and fluid from page to page. Visitors should always see a next step or action to take as they browse. That’s why every page should feature a distinct call to action (CTA), accompanied by a phone number, contact form, and/or button. A strong CTA is 2-5 words that urge visitors to take an immediate action, whether it’s “Click Here” for more information or “Call Today” to schedule an appointment.
  1. Add a contact form
    Current and potential patients alike need to be able to contact your practice when it’s most convenient for them. Contact form submissions are also a great lead generation tool. Any visitor that completes a form on your site is a prospect and should be contacted as quickly as possible. Some website forms can automatically send a thank you email to your new prospect and let them know the timeframe in which they can expect to receive a follow-up phone call. Now, this prospect can be added to your practice management system and to future marketing initiatives.
  1. Add patient reviews
    A 2018 survey found that 72 percent of patients used online reviews as their first step in finding a new doctor and 88 percent trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation. Boost your digital presence and reputation by including links to review sites, a dedicated testimonial page, or even better, using our Online Review Builder which gathers your positive online reviews in real-time and displays them on your website for you.
  1. Boost your SEO!
    You didn’t think we’d write an entire blog post about websites without mentioning SEO, did you? Simply put, ranking in the top positions on search engine result pages means significantly more traffic to your website, and then through your front door. Similar to PPC, SEO is an efficient marketing strategy because it targets online users who are actively seeking out your services.

While digital marketing trends come and go and change constantly, a solid website that entices potential patients, engages current patients, and reinforces your brand will never go out of style.

 

Think it’s time to give your website a makeover or even a complete overhaul? Consult YHN’s Marketing team provides website assessments to members.

About the Author

Nicole Finkbiner joined Consult YHN as the Marketing Communications Specialist in 2018 with nearly a decade of communications experience. Over the course of her career, Nicole has created a wide array of different content for various mediums and outlets—news articles, press releases, arts features, product descriptions, small business websites, e-blasts, social media posts, promotional materials, and more. In her free time, the Philadelphia native enjoys soaking up the city’s culture and binge-watching TV shows.

Database = More Qualified Leads: The Who, Why & How

Many of the practices that I speak to assume marketing is centered around bringing in new people. While that is a key component, that is not all that marketing is. The definition of marketing provided by the American Marketing Association states: “Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.”

Notice how “customers” are the first audience they call out? They are the easiest people to market to, yet practices tend to leave them by the waist-side.

Here are three reasons why you should be marketing to your patients:

  1. You have an established relationship with them. You already invested the time (and money) to get them in the door. Regardless if they purchased or not, you should want to maintain that relationship with them, so they continue to come back.
  2. Out of sight, out of mind. The hearing industry has evolved into a heavily competitive environment, so your patients are bombarded with advertisements from the larger, big box competitors that have the million-dollar marketing budgets. If you aren’t communicating with them on a consistent basis, they are more likely to go elsewhere.
  3. It is less costly. As opposed to marketing to the whole 65+ community, it won’t cost you nearly as much to mail something to your patients. It would be even cheaper if you sent them an email! The ROI is also much higher because you are marketing to more qualified leads.

Here are the facts*:

  • Compared to ads, inserts, digital marketing and traditional direct mail results, database marketing had the highest ROI – 99%!
  • 68% of completed appointments that came from a database initiative, converted to units sold.
  • Practices who ran an Consult YHN Upgrade event where they targeted their TNS and OOW patients, on average made almost $31K in profit – just from one 3-day event!

Here is what you can do:

  • Document where your patients came from and what the result was from their appointment. This will help you tailor your messages to those specific audiences. It will also provide insight into whether your marketing is working appropriately.
  • Devote 10% of your marketing budget to database marketing and implement it. This can consist of letters, birthday cards, postcards, newsletters, etc. These messages can either be delivered through the mail or the internet.
  • Execute fun events to get patients to come back into the office. You can do different things like a patient appreciation week, a wine & cheese night or even host Q&A sessions with both hearing aid and non-hearing aid users.

Here is how Consult YHN can help:

  • We can organize your database by establishing the correct referral sources and working with your practice management software on developing segmentation lists.
  • We can design any marketing piece that you want to send out to your database.
  • We can host your next Upgrade event.

All you need to do is contact your Consult YHN representative or the marketing team to get started. We will work with you to make your practice profitable by keeping it top of mind with your patients.

 

*These facts are based on the data that our Associates provide to us that is captured in Consult YHN’s quarterly marketing ROI report.

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.