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!
You Need a LinkedIn Strategy
Simple, because as the largest professional network on the Internet you will find anyone who matters to your business on there — from customers to prospects, from business partners to employees. The network adds two new members every second and is home to more than 250 million members worldwide. LinkedIn has become the place for professionals to gather. And, when you have so many interconnected entities gathering in one place, you need to have a plan.
LinkedIn Has Gone Beyond the Job Search
Your employees? They’re all over LinkedIn. From sales reps to the people in the back office. Most are on it weekly, many are on it a few times each day. They check it on their smartphones during breakfast and on their laptops during conference calls.
LinkedIn – Can you afford to ignore it?
Sure, some employees will be job-hunting, yet the majority are using LinkedIn in many other ways. Ways that could benefit your business. They’re getting management advice from business thought leaders. They’re keeping up with industry trends. They’re searching for prospects. They’re building relationships with business professionals who will: buy from you, sell to you,or work for you. LinkedIn is bigger than the recruiting department. It touches all aspects of your business.
The People You Want to Connect with are on LinkedIn
People don’t buy from brands. They buy from people. When a client or prospect searches for people they’ve met, their LinkedIn profiles are likely to come up first. Employees use LinkedIn to represent both themselves and indirectly your company too. From a brand perspective, those profiles should be compelling. Ask your employees and most will reply, “I should do more with LinkedIn.” Yet, most of them are doing it poorly. Their photos aren’t professional looking, their profiles undersell their experience, and their networks are not relevant. These are the people who help create your brand, and they are often part of the first impression others will form of your business.
Help Yourself and Your Employees
There isn’t a simple solution to this issue. Each person’s use of LinkedIn depends on his or her role, as well as the industry, your company go-to-market strategy, and your overall company branding and messaging. For your company to get value from LinkedIn you will need to know what you want to accomplish, how your organization will get there, and how you will measure success. In other words, you’ll need a strategy.
Like all marketing programs (and make no mistake about it, this is also a marketing program) you have to set a strategy, then work toward implementation in a clear and deliberate way. Start small, focus on bang-for-the-buck; create a consistent brand message about your organization then ask your staff to use it in their profile. Develop a company page, so that when other people run across your employees the company information is clickable and exactly how you want it. Encourage your teams to build relevant industry contacts and ensure they are connected to one another right away. These are all solid building blocks.
Also, allow time for exploration and investigation. That time your staff is using to learn a leadership skill will manifest itself positively if you let it. The industry contacts that are cultivated from posting to related groups and interacting with regularity will have long-term value. Even the job hunting activities are beneficial in some ways, as keeping employees happy is often a matter of having a realistic perspective on market conditions.
Regardless of what you do, or how you prioritize it, give LinkedIn the respect it deserves. Craft a strategy then set about making it happen.
There are a handful of excuses that people claim as valid reasons for not creating video.
- I don’t look good on camera or I don’t like my voice.
- I don’t have anything valuable to share.
- I am not popular enough or I am not brave enough
- I cannot afford to buy video equipment.
- I just don’t have enough time.
You don’t need to be a ‘boy band’ to create your own website informational video.
I don’t look good on camera
You probably don’t like having your picture taken either. Some of us are not that comfortable in front of a camera, still or video. However, as a business owner and a Subject Matter Expert [SME] it isn’t a beauty contest, it’s an opportunity to inform and educate prospective patients. Alternatively, you can create screencast videos that do not require you to sit in front of the camera. These are presentations and computer-based videos from screen imagery, with a bit of voice-over added. Which brings us to… I don’t like my voice – Again, you may not relish the idea of hearing yourself speak on camera, but unless it truly is the sound of fingernails on a blackboard you need to objectively consider the goal before succumbing to this excuse. As an SME it’s more about your audience and what you can do for them and less about you, after all there are people who need your help.
I don’t have anything valuable to share
If this were true, you would not be a trained professional. So, sharing this information in spoken form via direct conversations MUST be part of your daily routine…No?Video is just another media to deliver the same information to a wider group of patients who you have not yet met. This is the essence of being an SME, who else could claim Subject Matter Expertise?
I am not popular enough
Video marketing is not about popularity (for the most part), yet we all are aware of some folks who have raised the media to near cult status. For hearing healthcare professionals your reputation will grow as you continue to share relevant information for viewers to consume. So with that in mind do you really mean: I am not brave enough? Go ahead, be afraid. BUT, do it anyway. Your fears will subside as you immerse yourself in the topic and the process. If it helps, have a trusted individual sit just off-camera and direct your conversation toward them instead.
Providing useful information to prospective patients makes the effort worthwhile.
I cannot afford to buy video equipment
If you need to, use a cell phone or iPad. These devices will do just fine for creating a quick 1 or 2-minute video. The effort will get you started, then from there the value of video may become more obvious — and worthy of a modest investment. If you don’t want to capture video with any device, Microsoft PowerPoint provides a presentation platform that is more anonymous. You could also download a copy of OpenOffice, which offers presentation capabilities similar to PowerPoint without the expense of buying the software.
I don’t have enough time
This isnt a task that requires hours on end. Finding an extra 30 minutes to capture the message to video could easily provide more value than many of the tasks we all perform daily out of habit. Push that email sifting back 30 minutes and see for yourself. Another option: get up earlier in the morning to give yourself the gift of time. Waking up 30 minutes earlier to record a short video is reasonable; you may not even miss the extra half hour of sleep and your business may profit from the sacrifice.
Start with a plan
Having a video content strategy is great for building authority, branding your business and gaining loyal followers. Some people prefer to read while others favor content through video. Serve your audience the kind of content they prefer and you will find it much easier to attract a community that likes, trusts and buys from you.
Most of us live our lives on a fairly regimented schedule – waking up at a certain time each weekday for work, getting the family together for dinner around the same time in the evening, trying to attend a workout class at a certain time on the weekends and preparing for upcoming holidays with planning travel, organizing gatherings and decorating with seasonal flair. Sometimes the same schedule we follow in our personal lives can translate into good business practices. Believe it or not, your personal event schedule can be applied to your cyclical marketing plan.
Most marketing plans are developed on a 12-month schedule. Having an organized plan deters last minute scrambling and panicking and promotes consistent traffic and opportunities. However, once that plan is in place, the individual tactics [including messaging and design] like ads, inserts, direct mailers and promotions need to be developed. Think about planning the themes for these initiatives around the usual calendar events – seasons, holidays, etc.
It’s easy to tie the theme of your ad, insert or direct mailer into an upcoming holiday. Let’s use Thanksgiving as an example. You might consider showing an image of a family around the dinner table and including a headline that touches on both the holiday and what the prospective patient might be missing; e.g. “What’s more memorable…the meal or time with the family?”
Sample seasonal themed ad from MarketSource.
What’s powerful about this approach is that your audience is already in that ‘holiday’ mindset so your promotion will be relevant to their needs in that moment. And coupling that with the pain point of ‘missing out’ on family and friend interactions around the holidays is a poignant message.
This same approach can be used for patriotic holidays, changing of seasons and much more! Think about what your prospects will be focused on at a certain time of year. Then, tie your message into their organic thought process at that point in time.
Also, take your 12-month marketing plan one step further by developing a calendar of tactics and messaging focused on upcoming holidays and seasons. This will be the perfect combination of organization and subject matter for successful communication with your prospective patients!
Interested in seeing some seasonal and holiday-themed options with targeted messaging? Visit MarketSource – marketsource.consultyhn.com – and sign up to peruse seasonal marketing samples that you can order with just a few clicks!