Once you have finally immersed yourself in the digital world with a strong web presence, the next step is to develop a strategy that will drive traffic to your website. Your website represents your practice online and the goal is to get customers from the web to your door. As with every marketing strategy – traditional or otherwise – in order to be successful, you will need to implement various tactics that will engage your target audience online.
In the past few years, the scope of social media and its evolution of tactics have grown tremendously, revolutionizing the digital landscape through the ability to connect people via online communities. If done strategically and on a frequent basis, any business – including those in the hearing healthcare arena – can take advantage of social media to increase their online presence and foster customer interaction.
Here are some tips on how to move the digital needle in the right direction.
Identify Feasible Platforms
Focus on two social media platforms at one time, determining which ones are best for your business.
The biggest challenge that many face is determining how to incorporate a social media strategy into their marketing plan. Research shows that for independent business owners it is more effective to only focus on two social media platforms at one time [e.g. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter] in order to build a strong online reputation. The best way to determine what platforms might work well for you is to check out what others are doing in the industry. By reviewing the competitions’ activity and monitoring relevant conversations, it is easier to determine what your audience is interested in.
Develop Strong Content
Once the platforms have been established, the next big step is developing strong content on a consistent basis that people will want to read and share with others, in order to generate viral content. Getting your branding or other marketing messages out there to be shared within and among online communities is key. Although there are various types of online content, the most effective are ones with a simplistic approach. These will engage your target audience and will help you to build credibility as a knowledgeable expert in the hearing healthcare field.
Monitor Content Consistently
Having a social media strategy is imperative: know your audience, post relevant messages frequently and monitor your social sites.
It is also important to monitor the content once it is developed and posted. It is one thing to have a presence, but it is essential to be engaged. One way to achieve this is to monitor comments on your social media sites and then follow up with responses in a timely manner. Encouraging the audience to “like” or “share” the content is also a valid tactic, depending on which metrics you are measuring.
Promote Platforms Process
In order to promote these social media platforms, it is important to talk to your patients and encourage online sharing and reviewing. This process can be implemented into your process, where applicable, to encourage staff to ask patients after they had their appointment or made a purchase to submit an online review about their [positive] experience. Developing a handout with instructions on how to review via Yelp or Google+ to remind customers to go online is one idea to boost participation. Reviews help establish business credibility online.
Interested in learning about social media and other digital marketing tactics? Contact marketing at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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
Here’s an overview of each ‘type’ of direct mail, so you can determine which approach is right for you:
TRADITIONAL Direct Mail
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
This customer is likely to be more of a challenge, prone to a higher incidence of cancellations.
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.
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 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.
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
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.