The Biggest Marketing Pitfall and How to Avoid It

I’ve worked in the hearing industry for over 16 years, and there’s so much that’s changed in that time. Technology has advanced by leaps and bounds. The population of patients seeking help is growing faster than ever, and the connection between hearing health and overall wellness is indisputable.

On the flip side, there are countless new threats in the industry. The economy has gone through its cycles, COVID-19 has turned everything on its head, and patients are acting more like retail consumers than ever before.

Yet despite all these changes, there’s one thing that’s remained consistent. No matter the location, size, or type of business, when I talk to business owners or clinic administrators, they’re still asking the same two questions they asked 16 years ago: How do I generate more leads and how do I get more people through the door and on my schedule?

The marketing pitfall

The biggest mistake that practices make when trying to generate more leads is that they’re going about marketing all wrong. But before I can address that, you need to understand the traditional marketing pyramid.

At the bottom of the pyramid are the largest groups of people who are also the most competitive and most price sensitive. What I mean by that is that these people are the least connected to your practice, are least likely to identify having a problem with their hearing, and are more likely to be price shoppers because they don’t know what else is important in terms of hearing health.

As we go up the pyramid, the audience gets smaller, but they become more likely to be aware of your practice, have a hearing loss, be motivated to do something about it, and see the value in the services and care that accompany the hearing devices. Therefore, they’re less competitive and less price sensitive.

So back to the biggest mistake: it’s that most businesses rely too much on the bottom of the pyramid by focusing on traditional marketing efforts that drive NEW patients in the door. Don’t get me wrong, that should still be part of your strategy, but you must also make a significant effort to get your message to the people higher up in the pyramid. I see many practices taking those top four groups for granted and not mining their database to ensure that those people who have already been referred to you or seen in the practice have equal attention from a marketing standpoint.

Why providers neglect their database

I know, you feel like you’re bothering them, right? You think patients will come back to your practice when they’re ready to upgrade their devices because they already know and trust you and that patient recall feels too salesy.

But have you ever tried to see it through a different lens? Perhaps you’re not bothering patients but rather demonstrating to them that you care. Yes, some may return to you when it’s time for them to upgrade their devices. But if you haven’t kept in touch, many won’t. Instead, they’re more likely to respond to someone else’s marketing campaign and go elsewhere to purchase their next set of hearing aids (45 percent, in fact).

I’d argue that maintaining contact with your existing patients and the prospects in your database is actually the opposite of salesy—it’s the ultimate demonstration of caring. We can all agree that hearing health is a critical component of a patient’s overall wellness. If you as a hearing professional aren’t fanatical about getting this across to your patients, then I guarantee no one else will convince them of it for you.

Getting started with strategic database marketing

Why recreate the wheel when you can let Consult help you develop and implement your entire database marketing strategy? We have tried and true processes, programs, templates, and strategic partnerships to help you avoid the pitfall of ignoring the most important section of the traditional marketing pyramid.

Just to name a few…

But you don’t have to adopt it all at once. Pick one or two new strategies to try, then utilize Consult’s Account Management team to take on the planning, implementation, training, and tracking right along with you. We can help you minimize the workload and maximize your return on investment!

Reach Out to Your Patients Today!

About the Author

Ridgely Samuel joined Consult YHN in 2005. She has held several positions within the sales and operations teams but has found her passion for developing others in her current role as a Training Manager. Ridgely has experience working as a financial analyst for a former Fortune 500 company, holds a degree in Business Administration from Wake Forest University, and is a certified Six Sigma Green Belt. When she’s not working or acting as a chauffeur for her two daughters, Ridgely can be found relaxing in a hammock with a novel, tossing tennis balls for her dog, or paddleboarding on the lake.

Real Mistakes Audiologists Have Made & How to Avoid Them

We talk a lot about patient satisfaction and how to ensure that the next patient who walks through your door leaves happy. But what if they don’t? Have you really helped them?

We spoke to two different patients about their first audiology experiences and uncovered several mistakes that should not be done by an audiologist or practice. Note: names have been changed to protect their privacy.

Patient #1: Rocco

Rocco is in his mid-eighties and very healthy. He likes to take long walks, watches what he eats, even plays basketball with the men’s club from church twice a week. Rocco’s wife visits an ENT at least twice a year for cerumen removal and thought that because she can’t hear until her ears are cleaned out, that that must be Rocco’s problem as well. The otolaryngologist ran a few tests, didn’t find excess wax in Rocco’s ears, but decided to send him down the hall to the audiologist for a hearing test.

After a quick “hello,” the audiologist sent him into the booth. Afterward, the audiologist showed Rocco his audiogram and informed him he had “a significant problem” with his hearing. She then told him to “come back in six months for another test and we’ll see where we go from there.” Rocco learned nothing about his hearing loss or hearing aids. The audiologist simply handed him a copy of his audiogram and walked him out. Over a year later, Rocco still hasn’t gone back to the audiologist for another test. His family continues to struggle to communicate with him and vice versa.

What to do instead:

  • Tell patients about yourself.
    You can’t expect patients to trust you if they don’t know who you are. A 30-second video introducing yourself, outlining your credentials, and explaining why you became an audiologist can go a long way in reassuring patients they’ve chosen the right person to trust with their hearing health. Be sure to have this information on your website as well. Share your WHY with patients—they want to hear from you! Prepare a quick statement as to why you do what you do and why they are in the right place.
  • Educate them.
    Seize every opportunity to share your knowledge about hearing health and its importance on one’s overall wellness. The more you educate those who don’t know what you do, the more your business (and our industry) will benefit. Patients should know what to expect before they step foot in your office and definitely before you put them in the booth. Explaining the testing process and the audiogram in advance creates greater transparency not to mention easing the fears patients might have.
  • Focus on the patient.
    No matter how busy your schedule might be, it’s crucial that you give each patient the time and attention they deserve. Making patient counseling a priority can result in greater patient satisfaction and better clinical outcomes. Encourage patients to share their stories by asking opened-ended questions during the intake interview. Knowing how hearing loss affects their lives and relationships will give you a better feel for their readiness and motivation for treatment. You can’t provide patient-centric care if you don’t understand each patient’s unique journey.
  • Don’t pre-judge.
    Give every patient who is a candidate for hearing aids the opportunity to listen to or “demo” the technology. By educating patients and giving them a chance to listen to what’s new, you are empowering them to make the best decision for their hearing health. Don’t assume that a patient’s hearing loss “doesn’t seem bad enough” or that he/she “isn’t ready.” Instead, educate the patient so they can make the most informed decision.

Patient #2: Grace

Grace is a 94-year-old grandmother who’s been wearing hearing aids for more than two decades. She needed to upgrade her devices and called the practice she’d been going to for many years, but the phone was disconnected, and her granddaughter couldn’t find any information about them online anymore. Begrudgingly, Grace found a new practice and purchased new hearing aids, but the hearing aids are still not right and she’s not happy.

What to do instead:

  • Keep in touch!
    Your relationship with a patient should never end after they leave your office, regardless of the outcome of their appointment. Following up with patients after their appointment will reduce the chances of them going elsewhere when it comes time to upgrade. In addition to scheduling a follow-up appointment two weeks after the fitting, we recommend our practices call the patient one to two days after the fitting to check-in and ask a positive question like “What’s the best thing you’ve heard with your new hearing aids?” to get immediate feedback, start a positive dialogue, and address any immediate issues/concerns. Also, this should go without saying, but if you move, someone buys your clinic, or you retire, you should notify your patients.
  • Continue to educate.
    Even if a patient’s hearing aids are functioning properly, he/she may not be hearing at their best potential. Continue to invite your patients in for annual evaluations and consistently notify them of updates in hearing aid technology. Who knows—they may be ready for an upgrade before you realize! Another great way to use Vidscrip is to create a series of tutorial videos that educate patients on how to care for and get the most out of their new devices. Remember: a satisfied patient is a loyal one.

    The Consult Development Programs offer ongoing professional growth opportunities for providers, including procedural best practices and increasing help rates.

    Talk to your Account Manager to learn more!

    About the Author

    Julie Gesuale joined Consult YHN in 2010 and currently serves as an Assistant Account Manager in the company’s Hospital and University Division. Her diverse professional background includes customer service, marketing, and project management. When not working, Julie enjoys spending time with her wife of 15 years and her two rescue dogs, Sheldon and Leonard. She’s also been singing in church and community choirs for over 25 years.

    Seven Tips for Hosting Virtual Community Events

    We’ve learned a lot since the start of the pandemic. One thing I learned is that we can do virtually anything and almost everything virtually. From grocery shopping and doctor’s appointments to classes and meetings, we can do it all from the comfort of our homes, without ever having to put on shoes…or even pants.

    Even though it’s mostly business as usual, you might find it difficult to fill your schedule over the summer since many skip town and some community events are still canceled due to the pandemic. Since it’s important to remain active in your community and top of mind with patients, it’s the perfect time to host a virtual outreach event.

    Hosting events virtually allows you to educate your community about the importance of hearing health without the cost and time commitment of commuting and booth setup. They’re safer and more convenient for your patients, considering some might have mobility issues and/or some might not be comfortable gathering in large groups, yet.

    Demonstrate what the latest hearing aid technology has to offer during a virtual Lunch & Learn, educate local seniors about the comorbidities linked to untreated hearing loss with a virtual seminar, or show patients how to effectively clean and care for their hearing aids with a live, “how-to” and Q&A session. If you’ve already conducted telehealth appointments or created videos for your website and social media, then you’ve already had good practice for any type of virtual event.

    Once you’ve planned out the type of event you want to do, focus on getting the word out. The best way to do that is to promote it across all of your marketing channels—social media, email, direct mail, etc. To boost attendance, consider having a call center make outbound phone calls to invite patients. Post flyers in your office and distribute them around town (starting with the offices of your referring physicians and any assisted living/retirement communities you have connections with). Pen a related blog post and highlight the event details at the bottom and be sure to mention it in your newsletter.

    Finally, here are some tips to help ensure your event runs smoothly and successfully:

    1. Do a test run and equipment check.
    Make sure you’re comfortable with and fully understand the features of the video chat software or program you intend to use. It’s never a bad idea to do a test run in advance. Also, check that any piece of equipment you might need is working properly to avoid encountering technical difficulties. Oh, and of course, this is all moot if you don’t have excellent, high-speed internet.

    2. Choose the best environment.
    Remember that you’re likely presenting to a group of people who may have difficulty seeing and hearing. Thus, you want to conduct your event in a well-lit space where there will be absolutely no background noise or distractions. Ask if everyone can see and hear you clearly before you begin and if using an external microphone, make sure it’s positioned close to your face. To prevent attendees from creating any distractions, it’s best to mute the audience then unmute them only when they have questions.

    3. Smile, you’re on camera!
    Even though you might not need to wear shoes, you should still dress appropriately and conduct yourself with the same level of professionalism that you would if the event were in person. It’s equally important that you come across as energetic and excited. If you or a fellow presenter need notes, limit them to talking points—do NOT read from a script. Also, keep these notes on the screen and not beside you so that you’re never looking down and away from the audience.

    4. Engage your audience.
    One of the biggest drawbacks of virtual meetings is that there are so many more things competing for the audience’s attention. To maximize engagement, it’s best to ask participants to keep their cameras on during the presentation so that you can see their beautiful faces and reactions (no one likes talking to a computer screen). In addition, periodically ask questions and/or poll the audience.

    5. Control the conversation.
    Unfortunately, despite all your best efforts, there still may be times when you’re left with crickets. Give your audience a little more time to respond to questions than normal (awkward silence has a way of prying people out of their shells). If that doesn’t do it, either rephrase the question, ask a particular person you know is willing to answer, or answer it yourself but have another one on hand to ask in a few minutes. As a last resort, consider planting a staff member in the audience who can ask a question to kick off the Q&A portion.

    6. Be nimble.
    Anything is possible live—just ask any local news reporter who has gone viral. Should something go wrong (you forget to unmute yourself before speaking, someone walks into the room, your computer freezes, etc.), quickly acknowledge it, apologize, show humility by making light of the situation, then move on.

    7. Always follow-up!
    You gave attendees a lot of information to digest. So, send them an email, or, even better, call them and send an email a day after the event to thank them, ask if they have any questions, and help them schedule an appointment.

    If you have any questions about how to organize and/or promote your virtual event, reach out to your Consult Account Manager or Marketing Account Executive. We’d be happy to set up a virtual meeting to help you with your virtual event. As a full-service marketing agency with over 25 years of experience in the industry, you bet we can do virtually anything and everything virtually.

     

    Take advantage of Consult’s full-service, in-house marketing agency!

    About the Author

    Vikki Edmond joined Consult YHN in 2021 and currently serves as a Marketing Account Executive. Vikki earned her bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies from West Chester University and completed graduate coursework in Digital Communications and Advertising at the Newhouse School for Communications at Syracuse University. Her background is in healthcare marketing and public relations. When she’s not dreaming up marketing plans or coordinating calendars, Vikki enjoys spending time with her family, yoga, and lounging in the sun.

    Top 7 Marketing Trends of 2021 – Our Industry Partners Weigh In

    We can’t predict the future; however, we can rely on experience, expertise and, leaders in the industry to help guide us with our biggest questions about marketing in 2021.

    The pandemic has impacted many components of our lives, including how we stay connected and communicate. Muffled sounds from masks, isolation, and Zoom calls have compelled individuals with hearing loss to be more receptive to seeking or improving treatment. This provides a unique opportunity for hearing healthcare professionals to build greater trust with current and new patients, requiring a plan for consistent communication and marketing.

     As you plan and execute your marketing strategy, we turned to our valued partners for their expertise and insights on the top trends to keep an eye on in 2021.

    Trend #1: Ensure your website is mobile-responsive

    Mandy Mroz, Au.D. | President | Healthy Hearing

    If you haven’t done so already, 2021 is the year to make your practice website as functional and impressive on mobile as it is on desktop. According to Google, 94 percent of people with smartphones search for local information (“hearing clinics near me”) on their phones.

    You can test the mobile experience of your practice’s website in three easy steps:

    1. Search for your practice using different web browsers (e.g., Safari, Chrome) on your smartphone. Is your main website one of the top results? If not, there may be an issue with your mobile site.
    2. Using your smartphone, view your website in different browsers. Is your phone number easy to find and clickable for consumers ready to call?
    3. From your desktop computer, visit this website for a quick, objective test of your mobile site performance.

    If you’re concerned about your mobile website, contact your web developer right away. Google will start ranking sites based on mobile performance in March 2021. Review your other web assets too, like your Healthy Hearing profile. We’ve been prioritizing mobile for years, but we’re always open to feedback on your experience.

    Trend #2: Boost your credibility to rank higher on Google

    Kevin St. Clergy | MedPB Partner, Chief Business Development Officer | MedPB

    Medical marketing has become much stricter because of the pandemic. Some older marketing practices are now even getting banned. In addition to a push towards greater transparency in marketing, Google and other major marketing platforms are looking for cues that you are a reliable source of medical information. Some of the trust factors they look for are very technical and should be baked into the structure of your website. Others come from social media, online reviews, and other external factors. What a lot of business owners don’t realize, is that there were significant changes last year and more coming in 2021. These changes ultimately affect your cost per lead and the number and quality of your new patient leads. They also open the door for the competition to steal your patients.

    Trend #3: Prioritize database marketing

    Tom Flage | Sales and Marketing Manager | Blueprint Solutions

    Did you know that 47 percent of patients will purchase their next set of hearing aids from a different clinic? Maintaining communication with your patients is essential to avoid becoming part of this statistic. Effectively marketing to your existing patients will help you consistently grow your business, drive revenue, and establish a presence in your local community. One of the most cost-effective ways of doing this is through email marketing. While it may not be as flashy as social media or TV ads, it’s significantly less expensive and allows for a more careful, targeted approach in delivering the right message to the right patients at the right time.

    Automating email marketing through your office management system can turn a time-consuming process of collecting emails, drafting content, and identifying the right patients into just a few clicks. Some office management systems will allow for sending custom marketing emails automatically to help you capture missed opportunities. Track your email campaign’s read/open rate via reporting in your OMS to help you identify the most effective messaging.

    Trend #4: Enhance your clinic’s online reputation

    Meghan Pendley | Business Development Director | Audiology Design

    Online reviews are the new word of mouth. In fact, more than 80 percent of consumers read reviews before visiting a business or using a service, and 48 percent only pay attention to reviews left in the past two weeks. In today’s culture, positive online reviews equal trust. Patients look to them as a snapshot view of your practice.

    Adding patient reviews to your Google Business listing (aka. Google My Business profile) can also help with your overall search ranking on Google. The more robust your online presence, the easier it is for people to find you! It’s also important to give patients multiple platforms on which to leave their feedback, especially Google, Facebook, and Healthy Hearing. This will ensure you cover the sites that provide an easily accessible log-in or simply one they prefer. Utilizing a review generation service that helps your practice obtain more patient reviews and also automates with your Practice Management Software (PMS) should also be a key component of your digital marketing strategy in 2021.

    Trend #5: Find creative ways to engage new and existing patients

    Brian Urban, Au.D. | President | CounselEAR

    As the last 12 months have clearly shown, maintaining a consistent connection with your current patients and finding creative ways to engage with new ones is not only beneficial but essential. In times when new patients may be reluctant to seek care and existing patients may neglect routine follow-ups, we need to be creative, flexible, and consistent in our approaches to engagement. For me, this brings two main areas to mind:

    Telehealth: Telehealth is a fantastic tool for connecting with new and existing patients, establishing/maintaining rapport, and ensuring that they’re receiving high-quality care. For new patients that simply have questions and would like to speak face-to-face before an in-person visit, telehealth consultations can help ensure they move forward with an evaluation when they’re comfortable. For existing patients, routine follow-ups can often be managed via telehealth, thereby reducing exposure and improving convenience for them as well as your team.

    Email Marketing Automation: Utilizing an email marketing automation system enables you to take a “set and forget” approach to reaching out to patients based on specific criteria. For example, patient birthdays, upgrade notices, and more. 

    Emails are automatically sent to patients based on your specific criteria and contain your preferred images/text. They can also contain a link to your online scheduling tool. In this way, you’re able to reach out to patients at the right time with the right message and provide them with a seamless experience. As we work our way through the COVID world into what’s hopefully a post-COVID world very soon, telehealth and marketing automation can help you conveniently deliver a new and engaging level of care to current and prospective patients.

    Trend #6: Embrace technology to stay connected to patients

    Bryce Colacurcio | Chief Strategy Officer | ROC Advertising

    For many of us, the list of things we thought were vital in life is much shorter today than it was pre-pandemic. At the very top of that list is our relationships with our friends and family. Whether it’s hearing the conversation going on around us, the laughter in the other room, or the grandkids over a FaceTime call, people want (and need!) to connect with loved ones, now more than ever. The ability to hear in loud or noisy environments affects one’s health, well-being, and family memories, and we should be mindful of this. As business owners continue to navigate these challenging times, reducing expenses has become a necessity. That means prioritizing how marketing dollars are spent is just as essential. By focusing marketing efforts on a tried-and-true approach that brings a strong response, we can reach those who feel isolated and bring them to the conversation, both virtually and in-person.

    The meteoric rise in telehealth and video chat/conferencing platforms like FaceTime, Zoom, and Skype shows that your patients are becoming increasingly tech-savvy and adopting digital technology. You need to meet them where they are, which means embracing tools like online scheduling, text message appointment reminders, and chatbots. And, creating short, engaging videos to post on your website and social media. Lastly, don’t shy away from explaining the benefits and advanced features of today’s high-end hearing aids to older patients—while they may not have understood Bluetooth before, there’s a good chance they do now.

    Trend #7: Differentiate your practice in a competitive market

    Robert M. Traynor, Ed.D., MBA | Clinical & Forensic Audiologist | Robert Traynor Audiology

    If you’ve never heard of recreational audiology, it’s been defined by the Academy of Doctors of Audiology (ADA) as “the practice of hearing conservation and consumer education regarding products and services used to enhance and preserve hearing occupations and environments that may not be regulated by governmental agencies.”

    Although virtually ignored by most practitioners, there are some, including Garry G. Gordon, owner of EAR, Inc., who concur that the market for hearing protection in industrial and recreational markets such as, manufacturing, aviation, musicians, law enforcement, auto racing, motorcycles, hunting and shooting sports, is more than 60 million individuals.

    Approximately, 47 percent of consumers seeking hearing protection admit to a noticeable hearing loss. While some of these patients will eventually present themselves for hearing care on their own, specializing in industrial and recreational hearing impairment could have incredibly positive results that could revitalize even the most struggling practice. This might be just the method to differentiate a practice in competitive markets, where competitors are all marketing to the same population.

    Altogether, some great advice and to summarize: continue to use the most cost-effective channels to stay connected to patients—email, snail mail, phone calls, and social media. Develop and follow a marketing plan, monitor it regularly, track results and adjust it as needed. Boost your search engine ranking by maintaining a strong online presence and reputation. Continue to emphasize your safety precautions in all of your communications. Ensure you’re using the features of your PMS that simplify and support your marketing efforts. Take advantage of our team of marketing experts at Consult and our partners.

    Last but not least, remember the profound impact you have on the lives of your patients – and ensure your passion comes through in your marketing.

     

    What 2021 trend are you most excited about? Let us know in the comments below! I’ll get the ball rolling: sweatpants remaining acceptable work attire.

    Learn how Consult Marketing can help you drive more leads and sales in 2021!

    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.