Top 5 Reasons a Business Plan is Key to Your Success in 2021

Exactly one year ago, my uncle decided to set out for an adventure of a lifetime. He rode his bicycle across the country from Astoria, Oregon to Astoria in Queens, New York. He took his time to research his route, his stops, the equipment he needed, and the different types of terrain he would face. He also enrolled in classes to learn skills in wilderness survival and bike repairs. Once he started his journey, he logged and documented everything, including mileage, and set daily goals for himself.

If he didn’t hit one of his goals, then he looked for alternate ways to make up that time. His path continuously changed and challenged him—he rode on highways, gravel, paved roads, trails, and even over an international bridge in Sarnia, Ontario. With his focus, perseverance, and well laid out plan, he accomplished his goal: he rode 3,410 miles in 48 days.

His journey inspires me in so many ways. His work ethic and methods show that with proper planning and execution, anything is possible. Additionally, we need to spend less time thinking and more time doing.

Running your practice without a business plan or Annual Strategic Action Plan (ASAP) is like bicycling cross-country without a map or GPS and wearing a blindfold—it’s silly, it’s reckless, and it’s probably going to take longer for you to get to your destination.

The purpose of a business plan is to lay out both a short and long-term strategy for growth. It serves as the roadmap from where you are to where you want to be, outlining the individual steps and tools you need along the way. What’s your mission? Where do you see yourself in five, ten, twenty years? Where do you see your business in that same time? A business plan can help you answer these questions by allowing you to take a step back from the day-to-day demands of running the practice and focus on the big picture.

As a Consult YHN Account Manager, I work with Associates across the nation and hear what’s consistently working in their practices. What I’ve found is practices that create and execute a business plan are more successful than those that don’t execute one. Studies show that business planning can help you grow your business as much as 30 percent faster!

There are several key benefits of executing a business plan, including:

#1: It allows you to prioritize and set achievable goals.

Business plans don’t need to be overly complicated, but they do need to be executable and draw a clear connection between your actions and the results you plan to achieve. Goals like increasing revenue by 50 percent won’t seem as daunting when you have a plan that breaks it down into smaller, achievable steps. More specifically, a good business plan outlines SMART goals:

Use your plan to guide your sales and marketing strategies. It will ensure you keep track of what needs to happen, when, and in what order. For example, scheduling marketing strategies to promote a new product launch.

#2: It minimizes your risk.

Establishing a business plan isn’t just about setting goals—it’s about consistently tracking your progress toward those goals and making changes as your business grows and evolves. This will give you peace of mind that your business is heading in the right direction. Or, you’ll know that you need to make adjustments or try a different route altogether. There are two key financial statements you should build and regularly review as part of your business plan: Cash-Flow Analysis and Profit & Loss (P&L) Analysis. These help you to closely monitor the overall financial health of your practice and identify any potential cash flow challenges or opportunities.

There’s always a certain level of risk that comes with starting your own business. Some risks you can see coming from a mile away, but others are impossible to predict (like a global pandemic). Either way, it’s easier to handle issues when you’re actively looking for them. And the sooner you catch them, the less likely they are to snowball into a crisis.

#3: It allows you to make spending decisions with greater confidence.

As your business grows, there are some important spending decisions you’ll need to make: when to hire a new employee, whether you can afford to upgrade your equipment, whether you should open another office, etc. If you have a firm understanding of your practice’s financial health, you will have the information you need to make sound business decisions. A business plan is also invaluable in devising and executing an effective marketing strategy. It will help you determine how much you can/should spend on marketing to achieve your revenue goals.

#4: It’s essential if you’re seeking a loan or investment or want to sell your practice.

Would you ever invest in a business without understanding its business model or financials? Hopefully, not. And, neither would any investor. If one day down the road you decide to sell your practice, it will likely be worth more if you have a plan that shows the business is in good fiscal standing and has the potential to grow.

#5: It can help motivate your team and increase efficiencies.

A business plan that clearly communicates your vision and goals is one of the best ways to ensure your entire team is on the same page. Rallying your staff behind a common goal can also increase your collective efficiency and lead to higher levels of engagement. Knowing how their daily duties and actions relate to the business’s bottom line gives employees a greater sense of purpose and pride in their work. Be sure to regularly review your progress with your team, either during your Daily Huddle or monthly or quarterly staff meetings. This way, everyone knows what’s expected of them and can be held accountable for contributing to the practice’s success.

 

With a solid business plan and the right guidance and resources, any practice can become a million-dollar practice. Let us help you get there! Consult YHN will be hosting several Virtual Managing Business Activities (MBA) workshops to kick off the 2021 business planning process. These workshops help our Associates define their financial and organizational goals through the creation of their Annual Strategic Action Plan (ASAP) and Annual Marketing Plan (AMP).

About the Author

Jessica Shah joined Consult YHN in 2017 and currently serves as an Account Manager in the company’s Inside Sales Division as part of the Account Activation Team (AAT). Her diverse professional background includes sales, marketing, and planning experience, having previously worked in the healthcare industry as well as for the hospitality giant, Marriott-Starwood International. When not working, Jessica enjoys spending time with her husband of 13 years and her two energetic boys. They love to travel, entertain, and spending time with family and friends.

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.

2018 Year in Review

It’s that time again to reflect on the past year, and we probably aren’t alone in saying that 2018 was a whirlwind. We enjoyed a busy, but productive and exciting year.

Take a look at what we were up to and what’s on the horizon for 2019.

Year in Review Slide Slide

Best Practices for Tracking PPC Leads

PPC (pay-per-click) advertising is a great digital marketing option for those looking for fresh prospects, especially if your market is flooded with traditional marketing efforts. The problem is that online marketing efforts can be difficult to track in the office.

Some people will simply say “Google” or “I saw your website” when you ask them how they heard about you, but they may not know to tell you they saw your paid ad—or even realize that they clicked on an ad! Another issue is that there’s an added complexity if you are running other initiatives like direct mail. A patient may say they got the mail piece, but their phone call is tracked to an online initiative.

So what do you do?

There are two sides to the equation: how your digital marketing vendor should be tracking your PPC and how you track it once prospects reach your practice. Let’s start with the first—the best practices when it comes to how a vendor can track their PPC efforts:

  1. Landing Pages – PPC best practices include having a landing page related to your paid ads that feature a contact form that you can track to that specific page. What is a landing page? This is a simplistic stand-alone web page where a visitor “lands” after clicking your ad. This page is designed to have one single focus and for the audiology industry that’s typically to contact your practice. It should include enough information to be relevant to the ad but not a recreation of your entire website; less is more in this case.
  2. Form Submissions – By featuring a contact form on the landing page, visitors can quickly and easily send you their information. This form submission is emailed to the practice and can be translated as that visitor asking your practice to reach out to them. The quicker you can reach out to them, the more likely you’ll book a new appointment.
  3. Google Analytics This tracking effort is typically set up by your PPC provider but may be even more important if you’re managing this effort in-house, especially if you’re not using a PPC-specific contact form or call tracking. Google Analytics tracks an overwhelming amount of data and one of the most helpful tools is the ability to set “goals” which could be contact form submissions or smartphone click-to-calls. If you’re not using a landing page, you can track the number of visitors to the specific page you’re directing your ads to.

Ok, you’ve gotten the lead. Here’s how can you track those prospects in your office:

  1. Office Follow-up – Someone in your practice should be following up on any prospects, both from phone calls and form submissions, within 24 hours of being received during business hours. Checking your voicemail after lunch (if the office breaks for lunch) and first thing in the morning can ensure you’re following up with those who want to hear back from you. Also, often times, you can set up the forms to be sent to multiple people so that an FOP and management can get them. This way the FOP can follow up quickly and management has a “receipt” of the contact and make sure any tracking matches.
  2. Call Tracking – Call tracking can be incorporated on both your website and PPC landing page to optimize tracking. By using different tracking numbers on your website and your landing page, you’ll be able to track PPC-specific leads. Tracking all calls from your website is a generally good idea so that you can understand how many prospects are calling to make appointments and how many are current patients. Some call tracking providers feature a technology called “dynamic number placement” which is great to implement in your tracking. The idea is that the numbers on the website automatically change depending on where the site visitor has come from—meaning organic search, PPC ads, and even social media channels! In other words, you’ll be able to track incoming calls from all of your digital efforts, not just your PPC. Call tracking is also helpful when patients are calling the digital tracking number but indicate that they received a mail piece. You would attribute this call to your digital efforts because it’s the effort that spurred the person to contact the practice.
  3. Practice Management Software – Making sure your front office staff understands that you’re running PPC ads can be very helpful when it comes to tracking in your practice management software. This way, they’ll know to ask callers which initiative they’re calling from as well as which referral source to use. Also, call tracking can help ensure you’re listing the correct referral sources as it can help you differentiate between general “online” activity and PPC-specific activity.

Why is tracking your PPC important? For ROI of course! Because digital marketing is happening in real time and doesn’t feature tangible collateral for someone to save until they’re ready to act (like direct mail), it can provide a shorter buying cycle.

Still not sure how you can track your digital marketing efforts? Consult YHN can help! 

The Consult YHN Marketing team can translate reporting into actionable items and make suggestions on how to improve your current tracking efforts. We can also consult on your overall digital marketing strategy, including reviewing proposals, developing budget suggestions, and more.

Contact marketing@ConsultYHN.com to get started today!

About the Author

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

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.

SERP, Meta Data, SEM, CTR…what does it all mean?

You went to school to be a top-notch hearing healthcare provider, not a top-notch marketing executive, right?

Reaching your customers, however, requires you to engage digital marketing and the language that goes along with it.

Don’t stress yourself if you don’t know your site impressions from your unique visitors, or your bounce rate from your conversion rate — you have Consult YHN’s Marketing Department and this glossary of website/digital marketing terms to help you make sense of the information.

Website Design

Blog

A blog is a site page that features regularly updated content. That content could include office announcements/changes, event invites, and discussions about new device technology or health information.

Content

The copy, images and videos that make up a website.

Domain

The registered name of a website, purchased through a company like GoDaddy. For example, ConsultYHN.com, yourhearingnetwork.com.

Hosting

The “space” you rent on the internet where all the code and content (pictures, videos, copy) that makes up your website lives. A company such as GoDaddy must host your website for it be visible.

Keyword

A word or phrase that people use when searching for something online. Keywords are also the words or phrases included in a site’s content to increase search engine rankings.

Meta Data

Information built into the coded structure of a website that helps tell search engines what the site, individual site pages, images, and video are about. This can include meta-tags and meta-descriptions. Providing this information is part of the site design process and updating it can be a part of an SEO strategy.

Mobile Responsive

A site designed to automatically resize content and adjust to different screen sizes used across devices. The site would automatically resize to accommodate smartphone, tablet and desktop viewing. This is a must-have feature in 2017.

Platform

A reference to how a site was built. WordPress has become a standard platform used by many sites.

Search Engine

Website designed to provide a list of “results” based on the keywords searched. Google, Bing, Yahoo (in that order) are the three most used search engines.

SERP

Search Engine Results Page. The list of sites returned as answers to a search engine search. For example, if you were to search for “women’s suits,” you would want the search engine results page to list sites where you can buy women’s suits.

URL

The full web address of a website that is typed into an internet browser to access the site. For example, www.ConsultYHN.com, www.yourhearingnetwork.com.

Webmaster

The person who manages, and typically can make changes to, a website. If you use a “build-your-own website” platform like Wix, you are the webmaster. If you use a company to build your website or perform ongoing digital marketing, they may be the webmaster. Please Note: If you have a company managing your pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, they may not be managing your website.

Website Analytics

Analytics

The data and statistics about the users of a website and how they interact with the website. This can include the device they’re using, where they are, how long they visit the site, if they perform an action on the site (fill out a form), and some demographics.

Bounce Rate

The percentage of site visitors that leave from the same page they enter. For example, a person visits the home page and exits the site without viewing any other pages.

Conversion Rate

The percentage of unique site visitors who “convert” to leads. For an audiology practice, this would typically be someone who filled out a form on the site or called the office.

Rank

The place in search results where a site appears. This is determined by an algorithm (Google’s is considered the industry standard). The actual factors are secret but include keyword density (how many times keywords are included across a site), mobile responsiveness, content quality, and whether recent and regular content updates are made. The Google algorithm is updated about once a year.

Session

Can be interchanged with “visit.” Each time a site is viewed.

Site Impressions

The number of times a site was shown in search results.

Traffic

A total of how many people visited a website. This is typically broken into three segments:

  • Organic Traffic — Those who visited the site as a result of a web search. E.g., they searched for “hearing aids Philadelphia” and they clicked on your site in the search results.
  • Referral Traffic — Those referred to a site from another website. E.g., a person may visit a site from a Facebook link or clicked on a link to your blog, which you shared on your Facebook page.
  • Paid Traffic — Those who visited the site because they clicked on an ad.

Visitor

A person who visits the site. Analytics software will typically break this count into unique (first time) visitors and total visitors.

Digital Marketing

Ad Impressions

The number of times your paid ad is displayed with search results. This is dictated in part by ad budget and quality of ad (how well Google says it matches a search keyword)..

CPA

Cost per “acquisition.” The average cost per conversion..

CPC

Cost Per Click. The price paid when a person clicks on an ad. This is determined by a bid system and can vary widely based on factors such as geographical location, keyword competition (how many people want to buy a keyword), and time of day.

CTR

Click Through Rate. The percentage of ads that were clicked on.

Display ads

Image ads that are displayed on outside websites to people who have not been to your website.

Landing Page

A page visitors are directed to after they click on a paid ad. These are specifically built to encourage conversions and feature information specifically tied to the ad, a form, and a strong call to action. These pages can have a higher bounce rate than the rest of a site because they are specifically built to capture lead information rather than provide overall education.

Local Listings

A term for online directories that act like phone books, confirming a business’ NAP (name, address, phone number) across the internet. Google Maps is one of hundreds of public local listing resources online that search engines rely on to confirm information.

PPC

Pay Per Click. Ads that appear at the top and bottom of search engine result pages based on searched keywords. The cost is based on a bidding system and you only pay for an ad when someone clicks on it.

Retargeting ads

Also referred to as remarketing ads, they are image-based ads displayed on other websites, shown only to visitors of the original site. Have you ever looked at an item on Amazon, only to have an ad for that item shown on a news website later that day? That is a retargeting ad.

SEM

Search Engine Marketing. The broad term for continuing digital activities like search engine optimization (SEO), social media advertising, and pay-per-click (PPC) advertising.

SEO

Search Engine Optimization. The idea of using design and content to give a visitor the best possible user experience (menu order makes sense, images load correctly, mobile responsive), the most relevant information (developing quality content with relevant keywords throughout the site), and to obtain the best possible search results rank.

Social Media

Sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram that allow users to create and share their own content. These sites now also have their own advertising programs.

If you have questions about any of the terms in our glossary, need guidance to effectively market your practice, or don’t know where to start, please call us at 800-984-3272 or email us at marketing@ConsultYHN.com.

We exist to alleviate the stress and jargon associated with marketing your practice so that you can stay focused on helping individuals hear well.

About the Author

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