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.

Seven Tips for Hosting Virtual Community Events

We’ve learned a lot since the start of the pandemic. One thing I learned is that we can do virtually anything and almost everything virtually. From grocery shopping and doctor’s appointments to classes and meetings, we can do it all from the comfort of our homes, without ever having to put on shoes…or even pants.

Even though it’s mostly business as usual, you might find it difficult to fill your schedule over the summer since many skip town and some community events are still canceled due to the pandemic. Since it’s important to remain active in your community and top of mind with patients, it’s the perfect time to host a virtual outreach event.

Hosting events virtually allows you to educate your community about the importance of hearing health without the cost and time commitment of commuting and booth setup. They’re safer and more convenient for your patients, considering some might have mobility issues and/or some might not be comfortable gathering in large groups, yet.

Demonstrate what the latest hearing aid technology has to offer during a virtual Lunch & Learn, educate local seniors about the comorbidities linked to untreated hearing loss with a virtual seminar, or show patients how to effectively clean and care for their hearing aids with a live, “how-to” and Q&A session. If you’ve already conducted telehealth appointments or created videos for your website and social media, then you’ve already had good practice for any type of virtual event.

Once you’ve planned out the type of event you want to do, focus on getting the word out. The best way to do that is to promote it across all of your marketing channels—social media, email, direct mail, etc. To boost attendance, consider having a call center make outbound phone calls to invite patients. Post flyers in your office and distribute them around town (starting with the offices of your referring physicians and any assisted living/retirement communities you have connections with). Pen a related blog post and highlight the event details at the bottom and be sure to mention it in your newsletter.

Finally, here are some tips to help ensure your event runs smoothly and successfully:

1. Do a test run and equipment check.
Make sure you’re comfortable with and fully understand the features of the video chat software or program you intend to use. It’s never a bad idea to do a test run in advance. Also, check that any piece of equipment you might need is working properly to avoid encountering technical difficulties. Oh, and of course, this is all moot if you don’t have excellent, high-speed internet.

2. Choose the best environment.
Remember that you’re likely presenting to a group of people who may have difficulty seeing and hearing. Thus, you want to conduct your event in a well-lit space where there will be absolutely no background noise or distractions. Ask if everyone can see and hear you clearly before you begin and if using an external microphone, make sure it’s positioned close to your face. To prevent attendees from creating any distractions, it’s best to mute the audience then unmute them only when they have questions.

3. Smile, you’re on camera!
Even though you might not need to wear shoes, you should still dress appropriately and conduct yourself with the same level of professionalism that you would if the event were in person. It’s equally important that you come across as energetic and excited. If you or a fellow presenter need notes, limit them to talking points—do NOT read from a script. Also, keep these notes on the screen and not beside you so that you’re never looking down and away from the audience.

4. Engage your audience.
One of the biggest drawbacks of virtual meetings is that there are so many more things competing for the audience’s attention. To maximize engagement, it’s best to ask participants to keep their cameras on during the presentation so that you can see their beautiful faces and reactions (no one likes talking to a computer screen). In addition, periodically ask questions and/or poll the audience.

5. Control the conversation.
Unfortunately, despite all your best efforts, there still may be times when you’re left with crickets. Give your audience a little more time to respond to questions than normal (awkward silence has a way of prying people out of their shells). If that doesn’t do it, either rephrase the question, ask a particular person you know is willing to answer, or answer it yourself but have another one on hand to ask in a few minutes. As a last resort, consider planting a staff member in the audience who can ask a question to kick off the Q&A portion.

6. Be nimble.
Anything is possible live—just ask any local news reporter who has gone viral. Should something go wrong (you forget to unmute yourself before speaking, someone walks into the room, your computer freezes, etc.), quickly acknowledge it, apologize, show humility by making light of the situation, then move on.

7. Always follow-up!
You gave attendees a lot of information to digest. So, send them an email, or, even better, call them and send an email a day after the event to thank them, ask if they have any questions, and help them schedule an appointment.

If you have any questions about how to organize and/or promote your virtual event, reach out to your Consult Account Manager or Marketing Account Executive. We’d be happy to set up a virtual meeting to help you with your virtual event. As a full-service marketing agency with over 25 years of experience in the industry, you bet we can do virtually anything and everything virtually.

 

Take advantage of Consult’s full-service, in-house marketing agency!

About the Author

Vikki Edmond joined Consult YHN in 2021 and currently serves as a Marketing Account Executive. Vikki earned her bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies from West Chester University and completed graduate coursework in Digital Communications and Advertising at the Newhouse School for Communications at Syracuse University. Her background is in healthcare marketing and public relations. When she’s not dreaming up marketing plans or coordinating calendars, Vikki enjoys spending time with her family, yoga, and lounging in the sun.

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.

Your Biggest Health Fair Questions Answered

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.

6 Steps for Hosting a Successful Lunch & Learn

Getting out into the community is one of the best ways to connect with the public, deliver your “why,” and remind people how important hearing is to their quality life. It can be intimidating though—leaving your office, patients, and staff behind to go out into the community and solicit new patients. But I can tell you from experience, once you complete your first community event and you sell your first set of hearing aids from it, you’ll be eager for the next one.

Now, I’m sure you have lots of questions. I led numerous events as the marketing director of a private practice and I, too, had similar questions. How do you plan an entire event that people will actually want to attend? How do you convey your message when people walk up to your table and all they really want is the free candy or to win the raffle prize? How do you build trust with new patients?

So, let’s break down the process and make it easier for you to launch your first event. A Lunch & Learn, also known as a Lunch & Listen, is exactly what it sounds like: you advertise and invite potential patients to join you for an hour or so, impart your wisdom, provide lunch, and voilà!

OK, maybe it’s not that simple, but here are six key steps to planning and running a successful Lunch & Learn:

Step 1: Determine the when and where.

Choose a date approximately six weeks out—you’ll need all that time to prepare. Find a place that’s quiet or has a private space, like a restaurant or a clubhouse. Fun tip: most of the time, a “senior” lunch menu is less expensive, but some practices like to go all out and will book a local steakhouse. You should do what makes the most sense for your vision and budget. 

Step 2: Create your guest list.

Anywhere between 10-20 is the ideal number of guests. Pulling patients from your existing database that are out of warranty or tested devices and never purchased is the best place to start. Second, target new patients through direct mail, print ads or digital marketing. Talk to a Consult YHN Account Manager for more details. And, be sure to include your website and your social media profiles on your invitation.

Step 3: Identify your goal and craft your message.

You want to keep your message short and to the point. If you’re able to confidently talk to an audience with only a list of bullet points, go for it. It’s more natural and creates a better overall experience for the audience. If not, use a PowerPoint presentation to help frame your message and guide your recital. Create your own or ask your Account Manager to send you one of Consult YHN’s sample PPT presentations. Either way, you should consider supporting your message with media or pictures, like showing a video that showcases people getting fitted for hearing aids and their reflections on how life is better with these devices.

Remember: you want to tell a story. Illustrate how hearing aids improve a person’s quality of life. It’s much more compelling than just listing off a bunch of facts and statistics.

Step 4: Invite your guests.

Once your mailer or invitation goes out, work with Your Patient Contact Center (YPCC) to personally invite guests. YPCC’s highly-trained patient communication representatives will call your database and encourage them to attend: “We sent you a personal invitation for an informative Lunch & Learn event we’re hosting, and we’d love to add your name to the guest list before it fills up … you’re free on Thursday at noon to join us, right?” A personal call goes a long way and can build up your RSVP list.

Step 5: Gather your supplies.

There are a few key things you want to make sure you have for the event:

  • Practice giveaways are always a hit, plus you want your name and number on everything you hand out so that it goes home with your guests.
  • Hearing health articles for attendees to read while they wait for the seminar to begin and to take home. Consult’s MarketSource has several informative handouts about the correlation between hearing loss and other diseases such as dementia/Alzheimer’s, a topic that many seniors don’t know much about. These should also have your practice’s information on them.
  • Appointment sheets for the next 2 weeks. Don’t take an iPad or laptop—you only have a short window of time with guests and you don’t want to waste it inputting their information into your laptop. Manually schedule appointments and enter patients’ information into your practice management software once you are back in the office.
  • A sign-in sheet. If someone RSVP’d but did not attend, call them the next day and invite them in for a personal hearing consultation—they are still a potential patient.
  • A survey so you can track your results and make sure that what you’re doing is effective.
  • A screen and projector if you are going to use a PowerPoint presentation or show a video and your venue doesn’t have one.

Step 6: Track your appointments.

The tracking work for any community outreach event is as critical as the content in your presentation. Running a report from your system is great and will tell you total number of hearing aids sold, revenue, etc. But consider the patients who booked an appointment and canceled? Or a no-call, no-show appointment? These appointments can make or break an event. Create a spreadsheet with the below information and review it every day, making notes on the following items:

  • When is his/her appointment scheduled?
  • What happened during the appointment? Hearing aid sale? For how much?
  • Did they miss the appointment and a call needs to be made to get them back on the schedule?

Tracking can seem tedious, but if you make it apart of your daily routine, it will become second nature and once you see the benefits of tracking your results, you’ll appreciate the effort.

So, there you have it, folks!

Becoming a staple in your community and sharing your knowledge on how to improve people’s quality of life can be rewarding if you dot all the I’s and cross all the T’s beforehand.

And if you still have any questions about planning a Lunch & Learn or other community event, you can always reach out to your Consult YHN Account Manager for guidance.

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.