Which is it?

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Advertising is the most visible component of a marketing program.

Many people confuse marketing with advertising or vice versa. While both are important — they are very different. Knowing the difference and doing your homework can put your business on the path to substantial growth.

First, a review of the definitions for each and then an explanation of how (and why) marketing and advertising differ from one another:

Advertising: The paid, public, non-personal announcement of a persuasive message by an identified sponsor; the non-personal presentation or promotion by a firm of its products to its existing and potential customers.

Marketing: The systematic planning, implementation and control of a mix of business activities intended to bring together buyers and sellers for the mutually advantageous exchange or transfer of products.

It is easy to understand how these two can be confusing to the point that people think of them as one-in-the same, so let’s dig in a bit deeper.

Advertising is a single element of the marketing process. It’s the part that involves getting the word out concerning your business, a product, or the services you offer. It encompasses the process of developing strategies for ad placement, frequency, etc. Strategically determining the placement (and repetition) of an ad in useful media including newspapers, television, radio, and of course the Internet is part of the process. But, so is creating and using direct mail, or even billboards for that matter. Advertising is the largest expense on most marketing plans.

On the other hand, marketing is everything that the consumer encounters when it comes to  your business, from advertising, to what they hear, to the customer service that they receive, to the follow-up care that you provide. It’s  all marketing. Marketing creates the decision within the consumer whether or not to choose you initially, or again, for their repeat business.

mickey_minnie_disneyland

Marketing isn’t just the art, the logo, the brand – it’s the entire customer experience.

The best way to distinguish between advertising and marketing is to think of marketing as a pie, inside that pie you have slices. The slices consist of advertising, market research, media planning, public relations, product pricing, distribution, customer support, sales strategy, and community involvement. Advertising only equals one piece of the pie in the strategy. All of these elements must not only work independently but they also must work together towards the bigger goal. Marketing is a process that takes time and involves hours of development for a marketing plan to be effective.

You should think of marketing as everything that an organization does to facilitate an exchange between your business and its consumers. Taking into account the bigger picture helps to understand and appreciate the interconnected relationships between the elements that make your business thrive. If you only focus on advertising, you are setting yourself up for frustration and will likely only see the expenses. In this way you can not enjoy the full benefit of a tightly integrated marketing perspective. Think about it — your business may depend on it.

List Generation: Buying vs. Building

With any marketing strategy, it’s imperative to make sure you are targeting the right audience.  Development of target names and addresses, known as list generation, should be a priority in your planning and implementation strategy.  After all, if you don’t reach your intended audience, how will you generate sales?   But when attempting to reach this audience, is it better to buy a list or build your own?

Let’s look at the facts

When marketing, it's important to reach the right audience. Concentrate on your most qualified leads first and your target prospects second.

When marketing, it’s important to reach the correct target audience.

  • Buying a list is quick and easy.
  • Building a list takes time and resources.

So, what’s the best strategy?  The answer is: it depends.  Meaning, it depends   on who you are trying to target and what type of message you are communicating.

Buying a List

When your objective is to reach a new pool of prospects within your area, buying a list is necessary.  Whether that’s for direct mail or telemarketing, you’ll need to reach out to those prospects within the community who don’t yet know about your services.  Be sure that you are reaching the appropriate audience – in this case, the 65+ active senior and Baby Boomers.

While buying a list for the traditional outreach like direct mail and telemarketing will help feed the pipeline with new opportunities, we recommend steering clear of purchasing lists for digital marketing [i.e. email marketing].

Building a List

We all know that retaining a current customer is more cost-effective than bringing in a new customer.  That’s why developing your customer database for future marketing [out of warranty, tested not sold, etc.] is so important.  Your customer database [read more here] includes your most qualified leads – those that are not as price sensitive – and nurturing these relationships will reap continuous rewards.

Reaching out to your current database with targeted messaging across the traditional mediums – direct mail and telemarketing – will result in a higher response rate and more positive return on investment [ROI].  And as mentioned earlier, it’s best to take the time to build an email contact list by collecting email addresses from you customers – let them ‘opt in’ to receiving email communication from your practice.

What’s Next?

Once you have your targets identified [compiled from both your customer database and prospect lists], remember to develop a marketing plan to reach these consumers on a frequent and consistent basis.  Also, think about the communication strategy [i.e. “what you want to say”] in order to convey relevant messages to each segment of your list.  Your target audience will appreciate the time and effort you put into speaking to them based on their needs via the mediums they prefer and you will reap the rewards.

Questions?  Consult YHN Marketing is here to help!  Contact marketing at marketing@ConsultYHN.com

How Great is Your Practice? Let Customers be Your Biggest Fans!

It’s a great feeling when you get positive feedback in life.  Whether it’s kudos on a job well done, a compliment on the way you look or a ‘thank you’ for a good deed accomplished.  The same feeling applies to your practice, except it doesn’t have to be a passing note of gratitude.  Testimonials are a great and [semi] permanent way to tell the rest of the world how much your practice is loved, what a wonderful job you do and how satisfied your customers are – and even better, it’s feedback coming right from the consumer for other consumers to see!

If a customer gives you a 'thumbs up,' let the world know!

If a customer gives you a ‘thumbs up,’ let the world know!

Testimonials from customers can be used across various marketing mediums: in direct mailers, newspaper ads, on your website, in flyers [to physicians or the community] – the sky’s the limit!  The fist step is to ask for them.  A satisfied customer will be happy to compliment your practice.  Just ask them to fill out a compliment slip, complete a form on your website, write a recommendation letter or give a verbal testimonial – depending on the best format for them.  Always have the customer sign a release form so you can use said testimonials across all marketing and PR channels.  It’s no time to be modest – if you are providing excellent customer service while enhancing the quality of life for your patients the world has a right to know!

What happens if someone’s not satisfied?  Asking for feedback will eventually result in some negative comments as well.  But that’s okay.  This is an opportunity to find out what is dissatisfying the customer and quickly remedy the problem, turning a negative experience into a positive one for both the customer and you.

And what to do once you have all of these glowing testimonials collected?  Start integrating them into your marketing materials – where appropriate – based on the message.  For instance, in a direct mailer or newspaper ad, you’ll want to focus on the positive feedback regarding service and how long you’ve been serving the community [the mature and Boomers audiences LOVE this type of information]; for web based marketing, you want to show how you can save time for the Boomer audience and a sense of ‘well roundedness’ for the influencer audience; for physician marketing, you’ll want to showcase how important it is to the patient that their doctors work together to provide the best overall care possible.  You can utilize the testimonial in a variety of ways and speak to a number of audiences.

The best part is this is a free tactic that can be integrated into your messaging.  It’s the details in these testimonials that will set you apart from your competitors – positive feedback about your practice from your customers.

Get started today!

Marketing in 2013: Active vs. Passive Mediums

Welcome to 2013, another year and 365 more opportunities to make marketing work for you.  There are many mediums that compete for your overall budget and with all of the options available from direct mail to print to digital, how do you know which marketing tactics are best for your practice?

We’ll explore the difference between ‘active’ and ‘passive’ mediums and reinforce the importance of planning. Let’s first indulge in an exercise to assess which category you fall into — from a planning perspective.

Have you:

  1. Developed and stuck to a marketing plan in 2012 then reviewed tracking and ROI to put a plan in place to meet goals for 2013?
  2. Gone without a plan in 2012 then subsequently develop one for 2013 – with a calendar in place along with tracking mechanisms to evaluate the response and ROI on all initiatives?
  3. Found yourself panicking, “shooting from the hip,” trying “this and that,” and doing a lot of finger crossing with little or no actual results tracking?

Where do you land?

Obviously scenarios 1 and 2 will set you up for a successful 2013 from a marketing perspective [if you are part of that third group, let’s talk!].  Even after you have your ‘plan’ in place, how do you know which media is best to use?  Or, what the difference is between direct response [active] and branding [passive] mediums, and when to use them?

Direct response mediums are those that have a call-to-action and drive traffic to your practice; i.e. direct mail, print ads and online [in that order].  These are the critical, primary initiatives that will help you meet your opportunity objectives.  Other media, such as TV and radio are considered ‘passive’ mediums, which don’t necessarily drive traffic, but often act as a ‘branding’ exercise instead.  Sometimes this exercise comes at a high budgetary cost without much immediate value apparent — and knowing that beforehand is half the battle.

as seen on TVWhat do we have against TV and radio?  Actually, nothing, when used in conjunction with direct response mediums and when realistic expectations have been set.  One big drawback to both mediums is that they are hard to track [even with a phone number associated with them].  In our industry, it’s difficult for the hearing impaired to hear the phone number over the radio and often times phone numbers on TV flash by too quickly.

We all know that some businesses have thrived on direct response TV [think Ginsu Knives or George Foreman Grills] but they are considered ‘long form’ ads or infomercials. They overcome the challenges of conveying the call to action through repetition, which is made possible by the length of the spot. Or, when in short form, the ads run with great repetition – often multiple times in the same segment.  Either way is extremely costly.

If you are interested in incorporating TV and/or radio into your marketing plan, we recommend doing so in addition to your direct response marketing.  Start with direct mail, print and online, and then if you have marketing dollars left, test TV and/or radio, but remember to set realistic expectations.  You may not be able to track your return on investment as accurately as the other mediums, so you’ll need to be cautious before making additional commitments.

Regardless of what makes up your perfect marketing mix, remember the core marketing tactics that drive success: planning, execution and tracking!

Interested in learning more about the difference between direct response vs. passive mediums? Contact marketing at marketing@ConsultYHN.com.

Direct Mail & Digital: Unlikely Allies

In today’s marketing world, multi-media integration has the potential to be broader, deeper and more powerful than ever before.  Instead of looking for “the next shiny object,” or “the silver bullet” (which don’t exist, by the way), think about how you can build a strong marketing presence by leveraging several media outlets – that have been tested and proven – and making them work together.

The cheese does NOT stand alone

Direct mail and print are integral staples in our Associates’ marketing strategies (because they work!) and integrating

Although direct mail has dipped since 2008, it’s still relevant and it works! What to expect in today’s marketplace: a .25-1% response rate to a prospect list.

these and other initiatives will strengthen the reach and depth of your marketing strategy.  Different media have different strengths and weaknesses; woven together, they help one another succeed.  Consider the cumulative effect of marketing; instead of looking for one magic solution (still doesn’t exist), and focus on maximizing the mediums you do use.

We’ve found through reporting, that for Associates within the Consult YHN network, direct mail is still the #1 response medium, followed by print (newspaper) at #2.  The integration of digital is also important as your next generation of customers turns 65.  Paying attention to what is working currently will help you help more of the hearing impaired population now and planning for the future will ensure you can continue to help the younger Boomers.  So plan for your marketing strategies to work together – direct mail, print and digital – through targeting your current and future audiences, communicating with them properly and scheduling frequent outreaches with them.

Opening the digital doorway

Your next generation of consumers is the fastest growing segment of online users!

Your current target audience of the 65+ can still be reached by direct mail and print, but if integration is a key component of any strong marketing strategy, where does digital fit in?  Because the 55-64 market is the fastest growing segment of online users – and your future target audience – it’s important to allocate funds, plan a strategy and get comfortable with the digital environment.  It will be important to target your next wave of consumers with both print (direct mail and newspaper) and digital.

Why?  Because with print, it’s a tangible, targetable and easily measurable medium; you can’t accidentally “delete” it.  For those customers who have already gone paperless (e.g. bill paying, appointment reminders), they’ll appreciate that you are communicating with them via their preferred medium.  By using both mediums, you’ll cover more ground in less time and keep the revenue streaming in consistently.

Need to find a direct mailer that’s right for you?  Want to learn more about digital marketing?  Contact marketing at marketing@ConsultYHN.com.

 

Source: Direct Marketing

 

 

6 Ways to Improve the Performance of Your Direct Marketing

You should know this term, especially if you’ve worked with the Consult YHN Marketing team, it’s Call to Action.

We are relentless in our push to not only include a call to action (CTA) but to ensure it’s the strongest possible message you can tolerate. Creating a compelling call to action, one that cannot be ignored, prompts customers to act.

Customers (OK, call them patients if you must) need to be prompted into doing something. That is to say, namely, the dependable “order now” and “go online” or “call today” prompts are a fine start. But, you need to do more. And, it’s not easy. In today’s marketing climate—with so many choices, technological devices and brand messages bombarding the senses—it’s more difficult than ever to get customers to do anything, let alone what you want them to do.

Customers are savvy. If the call to action isn’t bold and relevant, customers will read right through it without doing anything. If it isn’t authentic and relevant, they may dismiss it outright. That can’t happen. Here are six steps to developing a strong call to action that will resonate and push customers to take the next step to engagement.

1. Build a Hierarchy

What do you want them to do first? Second? Third? Is it an invitation? Do you want them to order? Plan your message hierarchy accordingly to move customers through the piece and drive them to act.

When you think about your call to action and what it will look like or what it will say, think about what you need it to do. Understand what exactly you’re asking readers to do, but always begin with the goal in mind. For example, if getting them to call for an appointment is the goal, don’t confuse them by prominently featuring your website.

2. Do Your Homework

Spend time in the mind of your customers. Know what compels them and what moves them. Find the “higher order benefit,” the emotional reason they need to do business with you. What are they seeking? Connections with other people? Discreet solutions that aren’t an age tell? A reliable source of information? It’s not just a hearing instrument or your clinical services they’re buying, but solving their emotional need.

Once you know what motivates them, crafting a message allows you to reach them more effectively and will encourage action. Additionally, an emotional appeal moves the cost/price issues out of the way until that discussion is more relevant. (After all, do you really want to compete on price alone?)

3. Make the Call to Action a Call to Arms

The key word is “action.” Ask for what you want, but more importantly, tell customers what’s in it for them. Be direct. Be specific. Look at the difference it makes when you take a few carefully chosen words and aim them straight at your customer’s sense of self-interest:

  • “Want to see how remarkable a nearly invisible device can be? Come in today, we’ll make it easy for you to decide for yourself”
  • “Ready to involve yourself in life’s best moments again? Call to tell us what you’ve been missing!”

In addition to the verbiage of your call to action, incorporate a response mechanism to facilitate follow-through. For the majority of our audience at this point in time, it is critical to emphasize your phone number. Including a web address may add credibility to your business, but too many action options make it unclear what action is expected.

4. Keep It Simple

Make what you’re asking customers to do easy. If the next step to get them engaged is too complicated or not readily apparent, you risk losing them before they can act. Want to use a cool new QR Code? Understand that many people still do not know what they are or how to use them, let alone the lack of smartphones within our typical audience demographic (65+). Same thing for the web. Do you want to take an action-ready customer and send them to your website instead of having them make an appointment? Simplicity rules.

5. Follow Through

Once you’ve asked customers to do something, what’s next? How are you going to move the activity along to get a sale or create another engagement opportunity? If you have an invitation, allow them to RSVP. Do they need to call for more information? Be ready in the office, marketing is a team effort. Once you’ve gotten them to act, what are you doing to move these customers forward to the next level? Once you get them, don’t lose them!

6. Test, Measure, Adapt

Test and measure, if possible. We’ve found the most effective way to track results is by using a unique phone number on each marketing piece. Using a call tracking provider to manage those phone numbers helps in this process, and as an extra benefit gives you access to recorded calls that can be used to assess and train the team that fields your responses.

If something doesn’t work right away, continue playing with the components. Some “mechanisms” may not work now, but as technology and acceptance grows, other tactics will improve. See what works and apply it to the next effort. Repeat the steps above and tweak as needed to get customers engaged, and formulate an even more effective call to action.

Source: Target Marketing