Top 3 Ways to Bring in Patients

I have spoken with numerous Associates who turn to Consult YHN for help because their current marketing “isn’t working.” When I ask what they have been doing from a marketing perspective, they typically mention direct
mail, newspaper and digital marketing activities. While these initiatives are certainly important, the strategy that goes into delivering them in a coordinated way is certainly worth your time and consideration.Top 3 Ways to Bring in Patients

In order to have a successful marketing strategy, three important elements need to be integrated into your practice’s approach:

1, Database Outreach

Why is this important?

Some practices only focus on bringing new people in the door, which while important, fails to consider the opportunities that already exist in your database. Consider the marketing dollars and time that you have already invested to build your current database. You’ll want to make sure you focus on existing customers just as often as you try to reach new ones. Current patients (not just those who are OOW) are not only more qualified leads, but they can also help build brand loyalty by being spokespeople for your services. Then there are “prospects,” the names in your database who did not make a purchase, but who responded to one of your previous marketing activities. Prospects have demonstrated some level of interest in either your practice or in addressing hearing loss depending on how they came to be in your system. Think about the different names you have on file – there are likely TNS, TNC and cancel/no shows at a minimum. Make sure you are continuously working on your relationship with all of them, customers and prospects alike!

How to implement?

First, you need to capitalize on EVERY opportunity that comes through your door. It’s important to track where the patient came from (direct mail, phone call, website and referral) and the result of their visit (tested with or without a hearing loss). These “opportunities” can also include referrals that canceled an appointment or those that completed a hearing evaluation and presented with a loss but did not purchase.  Remember, every customer falls into at least one category; and you’ll need to work to keep him or her tethered to your practice.

When analyzing your database and determining how to communicate with the different types of customers, begin by segmenting them into different groups. Develop relevant messaging that’s specific to the needs of each segment and determine the best way or ways to reach them – via letter, phone call, or both! Database marketing tends to be one of the top opportunity drivers – since the customer is already somewhat familiar with your business – and typically results in a higher percentage of hearing aids sold.

2. Referral Programs

Why is this important?

Many practice owners express hesitation about asking for referrals because they don’t want to be thought of as “pushy.” Consider this: if a customer has a positive experience, why wouldn’t you encourage them to tell others about it in order to potentially help more people hear well? Similarly, if a physician is concerned about a patient’s hearing, why not become a trusted referral partner to offer excellent care? Plus, referrals afford your practice the opportunity to educate more of the community on hearing health and conservation.

How to implement?

For patient referrals, the process is fairly straightforward – ask every patient if he/she knows anyone who can benefit from a free hearing screening. Then, obtain contact information and follow up with a phone call to schedule a free hearing screening. We also recommend handing out referral cards to patients and ask that they pass them along to others. This type of outreach – word of mouth – is an age-old form of marketing and it’s free!

Physician referrals, on the other hand, can be more time consuming. We recommend having a dedicated physician liaison on staff to visit local doctors on a consistent basis to establish and maintain relationships. Practices with a personal connection to local physicians enjoy a more active referral program over time. Some support tools for your physician liaison include educational handouts on hearing loss and referral slips for physicians to distribute to patients.

3. Marketing & Advertising

Why is this important?

While I have touched on the value of leveraging your current database, it is also crucial that you continue marketing efforts aimed at getting new people in the door. Before you can acquire those potential customers they have to know your practice exists. Building a content-rich website, sending out direct mailers, employing a telemarketer and running ads in the local newspaper all help to build your brand and encourage new patients to utilize your services (note: including a call-to-action and offers within these tactics increases response rates). This type of advertising also helps educate your community about hearing health and wellness.

How to implement?

Those tactics can get costly, so you’ll want to have a well-planned strategy. Develop a plan that reaches your target audience through a multi-channel approach. As you execute your plan, it is vital that you effectively track the results and review them frequently to course-correct where needed. If you are going to invest time and money in marketing your practice, you’ll want to make sure your budget is maximized! If you don’t know where to start, ask us. Consult YHN has helped many Associates overcome marketing inertia.

When all three approaches – database outreach, referral programs, and marketing & advertising – are integrated into your practice, you will be amazed by the results. Do you want to start driving more opportunities into your practice today? Call your Associate Manager or contact Consult YHN Marketing – we’ll work together to develop a customized plan for your practice.

Low Hanging Fruit

Low Hanging Fruit

Seems too simple, right?

Nearly anything you do in life is subject to the principle that you’ll get 80% of your results from 20% of your input. Often referred to as “low-hanging fruit.”

Said differently…here are five important marketing problems that can be fixed quickly and make everyone look like geniuses.

When you begin using the web to market your business, there are a few important things that most people get wrong initially. Look over this list to see if you have any offenders in your business. Then, this week, work on cleaning them up. 

#1: Where is the call to action?

When you want someone in your audience to take some action (sign up for your email list, buy something, sign a petition, go for a walk, etc.), tell them what to do. Copywriters call this the call to action [CTA], and it’s the fastest way to make your copy more effective. Even huge businesses with massive marketing budgets can miss this one, so don’t feel bad.

Tell them clearly and succinctly. Please, don’t be “clever” with this element! If you want someone to click a link to sign up for your awesome email newsletter, use the words “Click here to sign up for our awesome newsletter.”

Your homework this week: Look critically at the key pages on your site. Do you have a clear call to action on each page? Are they simple and unambiguous? Could they be a little stronger?

#2: No one can figure out what you do

If you prepare taxes, the words Tax Preparation need to be right at the top of your site. Since you’re a hearing healthcare provider, those words should be hearing loss, hearing doctor, Audiology, etc. Make sure the word Hearing is front and center.

Too many businesses get into a marketing exercise of diving deep into what their customers want (which is a good thing to do), and end up with tag lines like “Enriching lives and communication through core auditory treatment strategies.”  That’s fine as your personal mission for how you’ll help people. But it leaves your audience with no idea what you do. Don’t get clever about how you describe what you do. Use the language that your audience uses. (This is particularly helpful  for your SEO copywriting.)

Tax preparer. Copywriter. Zumba instructor. Physical therapist… Audiologist. Hearing Doctor.

Your homework: How does a normal person describe what you do? What specific words do they use?  Go to your home page and your About page right now. Are those words clearly visible?

#3: There’s no benefit in the headline

First, you need to understand that “clever” headlines don’t work nearly as well as headlines that clearly communicate a benefit. Will your audience learn to identify the early signs of hearing loss in their friends and family? That’s what should be in the headline.

There are many techniques for producing a more effective headline, and you should spend the time to learn and master them, or allow those who write yours the license to apply their skills.

Here is one method you can implement right away, and that you can mentally check every time you publish a piece of content:

Your homework: Take a look at any content you’re publishing this week. (Blog posts, email newsletter articles, videos, etc.)  What benefit does the audience get from reading, watching, or listening? Make certain that benefit gets into your headline.

#4: The customer isn’t ready for you

Most businesses don’t work like lemonade stands. If you are walking down the street and  see a lemonade stand, you’ll buy lemonade, assuming you’re thirsty. Very simple. But your business is more complex than that.

Because you’re using “content marketing” to build an audience, you’ll be attracting some people who aren’t thirsty just yet. Some of your audience may have plans to be thirsty at some point in the next 30 days. Some of your audience isn’t ever going to get thirsty, but they interact with a lot of thirsty people, so they may want to refer you later. You need a way to “park” your entire audience, and keep them interested and engaged until they’re ready to make a purchase.

There are a lot of ways to do this, and not all of them fall into the “quick fix” territory. But one that you can implement this week is to add “no obligation” actions to your marketing plan.

For example a sequence of messages that you’ll send to every new subscriber to your newsletter  list. It’s a brilliant way to hold your audience’s interest until they’re ready for what you have to offer.

You don’t need to write an entire sequence this week. But you can get one or two messages written (say, a “Welcome”  and a “Did you know?” message to start.) Then add others to the mix as you get customer feedback, until you’ve got a robust sequence that holds on to your prospect’s attention until they are ready to buy (or refer).

Your homework: If you have a newsletter list in place now, outline a sequence of messages that will keep your audience interested and connected. Then write the first message and add it to your plan. If you don’t have a newsletter list yet, get one in place. Your customer’s attention is a precious commodity. Don’t waste it — capture it so you can continue to benefit them.

#5: You’re ignoring your existing customers

Want to know the smartest, most effective, and least expensive place to find new customers? It’s your database of existing customers. Those existing customers can bring in new business in at least three different ways:

  1. They can buy something else you have to offer.
  2. They can refer their friends.
  3. They can pass along marketing content you create (like blog posts or email newsletters. )
    Of course, that means those content items have to be great – and identify benefits clearly!

You need one important characteristic to make this work: You have to care (a lot) about your customers, and you have to let them know how much you care. Most companies, large and small, make a transaction with a new customer, and that’s the end of it. They might send additional offers at some point, but they rarely do anything to make the relationship tighter and more meaningful.

So while you might think your homework would be to craft some kind of sales pitch to go out to existing customers, you need to do something entirely different instead.

Your homework: Think of a small way to surprise and delight the customers who have already given you money.

–  It might be a free Q&A.
–  It might be a special piece of content, like a newsletter, article, or white paper, that you offer them for free as a thank-you for their business.
–  It might be a convenience discount on a related product they’ve been thinking about picking up or adding on.
–  It might be some special after-purchase information on how to get more out of what they’ve already bought from you.

So, what small “thank-you” gift could you send your customers today, to let them know you think they’re pretty awesome? Then “bake that in” to your sales timeline, so that your future customers have just as great an experience after the sale as they do before the sale.

Want more direction or help with these concepts?

Speak with your Consult YHN Associate Manager today or send an email to AssociateServices@ConsultYHN.com.

Superheroes and Ice Cream Flavors

We live in a world with so many choices. Some are simple, some complex. The beauty of these choices is that we are able to make decisions based on our preferences. Take a moment to decide if you prefer:

Batman or Superman
Chocolate or Vanilla
Coffee or Tea
Dogs or Cats
Mac or PC

All of these options are comparable; it’s simply a matter of a penchant for one over another – plus what’s right for you. The same idea – believe it or not –applies to your marketing.

Your preferences impact your marketing choices

For all intents and purposes, marketing and advertising has become the cost of entry for many businesses. If you are not putting yourself out there, you won’t be in the game. But when faced with the choices of the different messages and offers available, how do you know which one to choose for your business?

Since there are so many marketing options, let’s focus on the #1 response mechanism for Consult YHN Associates: direct mail. As we all know, not all communication is created equal. We believe that in today’s market, direct mail used to target prospect customers fall into two categories – Traditional or Aggressive – with the categorization based on message style. It’s important to determine which category best reflects the type of communication you want to have with your target audience and what type of customer your practice is ready to handle.

Sample of Consult YHN letter packages

Sample of Consult YHN letter packages

Here’s an overview of each ‘type’ of direct mail, so you can determine which approach is right for you:

TRADITIONAL Direct Mail

Messaging
This type of messaging is the obvious or ‘traditional’ offer route; savings on a pair of hearing devices, a free demo, free hearing screening/consultation, etc.

Response Rate
Expect a .25% – .50% response rate with this type of direct mail communication; e.g. if you mail out 5,000 pieces, you should receive between 12-25 calls.

Audience
This type of mailer attracts prospect customers who are closer to making a decision to act on their [semi] recognized hearing loss. Your front office person will have an easier time scheduling the appointment and your Au.D. will have an easier time closing the sale if a hearing loss is present.

Sales
The traffic that this type of mailer brings in to the office typically results in less cancellations and a customer that’s easier to close.

AGGRESSIVE Direct Mail

Messaging
This type of messaging takes on more of a ‘gimmicky’ or ‘aggressive’ angle; offering a giveaway for simply showing up for an appointment.

Response Rate
Expect a .50% – .1+% response rate; e.g. if you mail out 5,000 pieces, you should receive between 25-50+ calls.

Audience
This type of mailer attracts prospect customers who are likely to be a more difficult opportunity. Your front office person will need to be well-trained in overcoming objections when scheduling these candidates for appointments and your Au.D. will need to invoke a different strategy to capture the sale if a hearing loss is present.

Sales
This customer is likely to be more of a challenge, prone to a higher incidence of cancellations.

Sample of Consult YHN folded driect mailer

Sample of Consult YHN folded direct mailer

So which one is right for you? 

Above and beyond your preference lies the factor of preparedness. With either message [but  especially the ‘aggressive’ one], it’s important to have strong processes

in place before a direct mailer is scheduled. From capturing the appointment through closing the sale, the tighter your methods, the more return on investment [ROI] you’ll reap. Depending on which format you gravitate toward coupled with the strengths of your process, will help easily determine the proper direct mail package for your practice.

The bottom line is that you have to feel comfortable with the message you are sending out – just like you want to feel good about any choice you make.

When choosing a marketing initiative, Consult YHN is here to help! Find out more about you direct mail choices by contacting marketing at marketing@ConsultYHN.com.

More of: Do This, Not That (Part 2)

Want to know more of what not to do with your online presence? Here’s the remainder of our list of 10 do’s and 10 don’ts to keep your online activities on the right track in 2013.

Don’t: Hide your contact information away in an obscure spot or buried page.

Do: Present your contact information (address, phone number, email address) and other critical details noticeably on your website. No need to go overboard and plaster it in 60 point type everywhere either – that does not send the message you are looking for, does it? Make certain it is in one primary spot, then use the footer or text-based references to sprinkle it throughout the site. The same thing applies to listings, social media profiles, and any other online space that you have created. Be sure to check for accuracy and consistency across your entire online presence, it will help search engines recognize and elevate your business in local search rankings.

customers

Don’t: Disregard the fact that happy customers are your best promoters.

Do: Share positive reviews and comments from some of your best customers. It is up to you how elaborately you want to do this – whether written or via video clips. Video can be impromptu personal video camera quality, or professionally shot and edited, however you choose and whichever your budget allows. Use them on your website, social media pages, and/or company blog to establish credibility for your practice. This process ensures you are paying attention to feedback from your customers and provides a “voice” of your patients for others to gauge. That voice needs to be authentic and real, not prescribed and contrived – consumers can tell the difference.

Don’t: Assume you are immune to criticism, or take your reputation for granted.

Do: Create a plan for monitoring and managing your online reputation. Set up notifications, like Google Alerts, to be aware of what consumers are saying about you online. Also, follow up on any negative comments in a timely and professional manner. Do not engage in an online debate with an unhappy customer, take your actions offline and address them immediately. Be certain to recognize and thank customers who leave positive feedback.

pushpinsDon’t: Go unlisted online, or fail to extend your presence.

Do: Claim business listings on Google+ Local, Yelp, and other business directories. The term ‘free directory listings’ applies to local search engines, internet yellow pages, local vertical search engines, special directories (like free 800 listings), and consumer review websites that focus on local businesses rather than products,. By claiming your business listings in these places, you can ensure your information is current and accurate. Plus, by updating and optimizing your listings, you increase the chances that consumers will find you as they search online.

Don’t: Ignore or underestimate your online marketing campaigns.

Do: Just like in traditional direct marketing you must create smart, effective ads with strong calls to action (CTAs). In this market an online ad can be part of your customers’ research and possibly the first impression of your business, so make it a strong one. As in offline marketing, you need to actively monitor your campaign performance to see what works. Monitor campaigns frequently to assess the source for the most leads and adjust your efforts in real time. The key benefit of online marketing is the ability to make on-the-fly adjustments. Be sure to keep any online incentives, offers, or specials listed in your ads (or on your website/social media pages) up to date.

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.