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.

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

Rumor: Direct Mail is Dead

Is direct mail dead?

No, but you need to follow some basic rules to ensure proper care and feeding. There’s a lot you can do to increase the likelihood of getting consistently solid results.

Some guidelines for effective direct mail:

  • Write to the people most likely to respond. Your top priority is to present your message to the right people. Who are they? Just take a look at your existing customers for the answer. Ask yourself questions like: Where do they live? How old are they? Carefully reviewing your database will give you some important insight.
    Of course, mailing to your existing customers will be the best list of all, but we’ll save that discussion for another post.
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  • Use a marketing formula known to work. The AIDA model of marketing is one example. AIDA consists of 4 different phases: Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action. Attention is the phase that sparks the interest of a consumer. It could be a unique design, special pricing, or a great offer. The Interest phase creates a desire for the product or service. Consumers want to know more about the product/service, its functions and features. Stimulating an action to buy is the Desire phase. After considering the functions and features of the product/service, desire may grow. Leading to the final phase, Action, where the consumer purchases the product/service. Since desire triggers action, the consumer will only buy when they finally conclude the product/service fulfills their desire.
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  • Mail constantly. Frequency of marketing, especially in direct mail, leads to awareness and response. People are in different stages of acceptance regarding their hearing loss. The chances of you sending a mailing to someone, at precisely the time they are contemplating a solution to their difficulties are exceptionally slim. It takes numerous “touches” for a potential patient to warm up to the idea they need to act on their situation. The good news is they are seeing messages like yours frequently; the bad news is they are seeing messages like yours frequently. If you aren’t keeping your messages in front of them they will have no choice but to act on your competitors offer.
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  • Test! Most people send just one mailing out and then base their conclusions about direct mail on that one result. You should develop an annual plan, then review it quarterly. Analyze the response, for sure, but also be certain to look closely at the target mailing area, the offer, the call-to-action (CTA), and the frequency of your efforts. Try new messages and packages until you find a combination that works. As long as you’re not sinking your last dollar into your marketing, a poor response is no big deal, because you learn something with each effort. When you identify a winning solution, stick with it. Don’t jump around to other things simply because you are bored with the material, let the results drive the process. Use that winning formula for the majority of your volume and continue to try other options to improve on the results.  If something does better, then switch.
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  • Pay attention to details. There’s an order things have to happen in for your mail to generate responses: it has to be delivered, then opened, then read, then acted upon. Consider your efforts with each stage in mind — make sure your list selection is well-tuned, an attention-getting tactic is obvious, there is a compelling offer that jumps out, and finally end with a strong call-to-action to close.  The majority of consumers who respond to direct mail prefer to be told specifically what to do next, don’t leave them hanging with a soft close!

So, to conclude… is direct mail dead?

No, the fact is, direct mail still works. Any problems you may be experiencing are likely to be caused by faulty implementation or poor execution, not the strategy. It isn’t rocket science and the biggest thing stopping most business owners from using direct mail successfully is an irrational fear of failure. While it might not be the stronghold that it once was, due to cost escalation and falling response rates, it is still an effective channel for hearing healthcare marketers to reach out directly to key prospects (and customers) in a robust marketing program that generates positive ROI.