Community Outreach: Do It Right & Drive More Sales

Hopefully, you’ve spent 2019 focusing on your practice. Not just making sure you’re selling hearing aids but working on the internal health of the business: You’ve completed a pricing analysis, ensured every employee has the right training to be successful, and you’re executing a marketing plan (hopefully with Consult YHN managing it!).

But you haven’t brought yourself to do community outreach.

Why not?

Relationship
Even if your marketing is driving new leads and helping to grow your practice, more than two-thirds (69 percent) of the American public trust doctors’ honesty and integrity and want to have a relationship with their provider.

Whether it’s a health fair or the monthly hearing seminar you hold at your local active-living community, meeting potential patients at a community event starts the patient/provider relationship before the appointment. It’s always better to have an established relationship with someone before you ask them to spend money. It can also make asking for the sale easier during the appointment because they are not considered a stranger. You’ve learned personal details about this person (the voice and laugh they miss hearing or how long they’ve missed out on calls with their grandkids, etc.).

Public Speaking
A fear of public speaking often keeps providers from starting a community outreach strategy. The first step to getting out of that mindset is: to believe in yourself! If you don’t like standing in front of a group and teaching, consider attending a health fair where the atmosphere may be more casual, and you don’t have to prepare a speech or slides. Remember that you’re the professional and you’re there to educate the public on what healthy hearing means to their life—from missing out on their favorite songs to how it can relate to comorbidities, like heart disease or diabetes. By reinforcing that you’re the local expert, you can win over potential patients who may be receiving your marketing materials, but didn’t respond because they don’t know you.

Physician & Patient Referrals
Community outreach events can also help strengthen your physician and patient referral programs. You may not be the only health professional at a particular health fair, so by making connections with related exhibitors, you can work together and refer leads to one another’s booths. You may also reach a person who’s loved one is experiencing hearing loss and can provide them collateral to review at home.

Local Partnerships
If you’re still not sure about finding or hosting community events on your own, link up with local societies with service-minded missions. Did you know Lions Club International has a hearing aid program for its members? The organization accepts old hearing devices for recycling and will typically work with local providers to offer screening events for members! There is also the Walk4Hearing, a national program that focuses on raising awareness about hearing loss and hearing health. Fundraising for a local walk sends the message that you are a provider who cares about helping your community—not one who’s just looking to sell hearing aids. It also gives you easy talking points related to general hearing health.

Another great resource is Sertoma, Inc. (formerly known as Sertoma International), which is an organization of service clubs across the country dedicated to improving the quality of life for those impacted by hearing loss. Their website offers a wealth of community events help, from accepting donated hearing aids to information about how to start your own local Sertoma Club (if there isn’t already one in your area). Being the hearing practice that opens a local chapter of the Sertoma Club may be the best way to make yourself the local hearing health expert, regardless of the level of competition you have in your area.

Not sure how often to host or participate in community events? We recommend our Associates do (at least) quarterly events. This provides enough time for event collateral and/or presentations to be developed without stressing about deadlines. You’ll also have enough time after each event to follow-up with any leads. You should call everyone you meet within 24 hours after each event to thank them for attending and to schedule a time to come in for their free screening (if you didn’t offer one on-site). You also want to ensure that every name that you collect gets entered into your practice management system using relevant referral sources. This will allow you to build the “prospect” segment within your database so you can reach out on a regular basis. Even if they’re not ready to address their hearing health right now, you want to ensure that your practice is the first one they call the moment they are ready.

The Importance of Customer Surveys

Most of us start the day raring to go – energized after our first cup of coffee, ready to tackle the day’s activities and anything that comes our way! Even though we may have the best of intentions and believe that we are expressing ourselves positively in front of customers, plus offering the best in class service, often, there’s a disconnect between perception and reality. What we believe to be true may not necessarily align with our customers’ viewpoint. That’s why it’s so important to solicit feedback from our customers – candid commentary regarding their experience on every visit.

Why Customer Surveys?

Beyond being a courtesy to customers – truly caring about their interaction with personnel by asking for their overall satisfaction – surveys gauge customer loyalty in real time. We all know that the records in the patient database are a primary key to business success, but did you know that businesses are fourteen times more likely to sell to an existing customer than a new one? This means intimately understanding the patient journey and correcting any bumps along the way. Administering surveys and reviewing feedback regularly allows insight into any systemic issues within the business that need attention. Also, if there are any unhappy customers, reaching out ASAP to remedy their grievance is the best practice and may turn a soured customer into a champion.

The Net Promoter Score

Net Promoter Score IconsOne way to measure customer engagement is by establishing a business’ Net Promotor Score (NPS), a leading indicator of customer loyalty that has been adopted by more than two-thirds of Fortune 1000 companies. The NPS, measured on a scale of zero to one hundred, establishes how connected a customer is to a business. Ultimately, every business’ score should be upwards of seventy, which equals “world class” service. The only way to evaluate whether a business’ NPS is on the “world class” level is to first understand the current NPS score and then make strides to improve customer experience, if needed.

As a consumer yourself, you likely know more about the NPS rating than you think. If you’ve ever rated a business via an online survey by answering the question “How likely is it that you would recommend this company to a friend or colleague?” then you’ve helped a business better understand their own NPS rating!

By soliciting your customers’ opinions about their experiences, you are not only extending them a courtesy, but you’re actively evaluating how connected they are to your business. Your overall profit can benefit in a big way from keeping customers loyal to your practice – and that requires asking how satisfied every patient is with his or her experience after leaving your office.

Interested in learning more about customer surveys? Contact Consult YHN’s Marketing department for details about our exclusive Consumer Survey Program – 800.984.3272, option 8 or marketing@consultyhn.com.

About the Author

Keara M. Piekanski joined Consult YHN in 2010 and serves as Director, Product Management. She has over 13 years of marketing experience and develops products and services for Associates. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Pittsburgh, is Lean Six Sigma Green Belt certified, and is pursuing an MBA at Villanova University.

Increasing Engagement and Strengthening Patient Relationships

email_marketingA reliable marketing strategy relies on the use of multiple media resources. One of the best ways to reach the baby boomer generation (who may not even be home checking their traditional mail) is through email. Email is highly portable and as such can be checked from wherever they are, even via their smartphone.

In order to begin email marketing you must make sure you’ve been gathering email addresses. If you’re not already doing this, update your patient intake form or simply have your front desk ask every patient for their email address. One point of clarification before you begin–don’t send marketing related messages through your office email system (this includes Outlook or Gmail). These systems weren’t built for marketing purposes and your account will be marked as sending spam which will present business challenges for sending transaction related messages.

Here are some key points to consider as you start incorporating email into your marketing approach:

  • What is the purpose? The overarching intent for your email marketing program should be to build and maintain relationships with people in your database. If you aren’t actively engaging your database, you’re missing out on a major opportunity! Current patients, TNS/TNC, and those who have had an interaction with your brand but not come into the office yet (like those from a health fair) are all typically more receptive to your messaging.
  • Who is the target audience? Figuring out how to best segment your database is an essential first step of strong email planning.. Sending a “We Miss You” message may not be well received by your most active patients and you don’t want to alienate anyone. Consider your objectives first –monthly newsletters are a way to strengthen your position in the community and as a thought leader. Is there a benefit to your business by re-engaging your TNS and Cancelled/No Show prospects? Reaching the correct audience will ensure your success. If you’re using a practice management system like Sycle, your rep will be able to help you pull correctly segmented lists that include email addresses.
  • What is the message? And, how does it relate to your target audience? For example, do you want to send a birthday message with a small gift offer or are you trying to reengage TNS patients with a ‘quality of life’ message? One key to successful email messaging is to make sure that your emails sound like they’re coming from a friend, someone you trust. Tailoring the message to your recipients, developing relevant content for each database segment, and making sure your message isn’t too clinical or too sales-y is the best way to make sure your desired call to action is completed. You also want to make sure the subject line account is well thought out too. You want to aim for something between a very generic and boring “Office Newsletter” and the highly promotional “50% OFF TODAY ONLY” (which may end up in their spam folder). Subject lines are critical to your message and ensure your emails are well received.
  • Who is doing the work? There are a multitude of options when it comes to commercial email marketing platforms such as MailChimp (mailchimp.com) and Constant Contact (constantcontact.com). While these applications are generally user-friendly, someone still has to take the time to design, write, send, and track them. For a business owner trying to juggle all aspects of their practice, this may be one marketing initiative that source to a professional partner
  • How will it be measured? Tracking results is important for any marketing initiative but especially for email! By regularly tracking all of the behavior, like opens and clicks, related to your email campaigns, you can learn which emails are working and which list segments are receptive to the messages you’re sending. Also, since each email address is tied to a person in your database, your office staff can follow up with people who may have read a newsletter article then clicked through to your “Contact Us” page yet didn’t submit the contact form.

Email marketing offers a unique way to tailor your marketing messaging to the patients and prospects in your database and strengthen your current provider-patient relationship. As a hearing health provider who specializes in high-end, personalized technology, incorporating personalized email marketing just makes sense as part of your digital marketing strategy.

Consult YHN recently rolled out an email marketing program that features preloaded content and is executed by a digital marketing vendor and is something the Consult YHN Marketing team is happy to help you with!  We can also look over any proposals you may receive from local vendors to help evaluate exactly what you’re getting, what information you may have to provide, and how well it fits with your overall marketing needs.

Your Newsletter: 30 Informal and Amusing Ideas

newsletter-artwork-1-846x846

Newsletters keep subscribers informed about your business and brand while building a trusted relationship.  Many companies produce and distribute newsletters either printed or thru email on a consistent basis. While people understand the importance of it, it’s not always easy to come up with content ideas for them.

Content that’s helpful to the subscriber

Your newsletter should contain content that’s valuable to its subscribers. Your newsletter is a way to communicate with your customers and build a relationship, so you don’t want to fill your newsletter with promotional material. However, once in a while it’s okay to add promotional messages.

To help you create customer-focused newsletters no matter how you distribute them, we’ve compiled a list of 30 ideas for your newsletter that you can use to inspire fresh and fun content.  Here are some ideas to get you started:

1. How-to articles

Create content that’s relevant to your audience and helps them accomplish something with step-by-step instructions. Try using content from the list of frequently asked questions your office gets from customers to solve routine challenges.

2. Product maintenance advice

Does your product require maintenance? If so, provide maintenance tips in your newsletter.

3. Top 10 lists

Top 10 lists are popular because they’re easy to read. Create a list of valuable tips, most popular articles on your blog or ideas that refer to your business.

4. Add an infographic

Use online tools to create an infographic for your newsletter. Turn industry numbers into an eye-catching chart, or provide customer satisfaction ratings in a visual way.

5. Roundup

Create a post that offers a roundup of your company’s best blog topics or most popular social posts. It’s a great way to repackage content that already exists.

6. Customer reviews

Collect a few customer reviews on a specific product and share them in your newsletter. Start out by explaining the product, offer a picture of it and show subscribers what others are saying about it.

7. Events

Use your newsletter to invite or remind subscribers about upcoming events.

8. Invitations

Tell customers about events, charity drives and exclusive sales. Create an event on Facebook so guests can RSVP and include the link in your newsletter.

9. Upcoming health fairs or community shows

Planning to attend a health fair or even a local craft show? Share the details in your newsletter. Explain why you’ll be there, what’s new this year, or provide valuable information like the most affordable place to park.

10. Business history

Tell customers a piece of your company’s history. You can add a tidbit in each newsletter, create a timeline or write a longer piece on the company’s anniversary that covers the big milestones.

11. A letter from the owner

Have the owner craft a letter for the newsletter. The letter could thank customers for their support, provide goals for the upcoming year or talk about a new product the company is about to offer. Customers need to hear from those in charge now and then; it helps maintain a trusted relationship.

12. Employee of the week/month/quarter

Pay tribute to a special employee by highlighting him or her in your newsletter. Keep it short and sweet, but provide enough information to show customers that your staff is top-notch. Always include a picture of the employee.

13. Frequently asked questions

What are the top five questions that your staff receives each week? Use the information to create a frequently asked questions post for your newsletter.

14. Updates on changes

If the company has a new boss, a renovation is taking place or the company is changing the way it does something, use your newsletter to update customers.

15. Business video tours

Break out a video camera and provide a short tour of your business for customers to check out in your newsletter.

16. Discuss partnerships

Whether you’re teaming up with a local charity of the business next door, tell customers how the partnership benefits them in your newsletter.

17. Behind-the-scenes photos

Give customers a look behind the scenes by posting pictures of employees moving massive inventory for the holiday season, or a shot of your team stocking shelves.

18. Be Social

You can promote social initiatives in your newsletters too. It’s a great opportunity to cross-promote your business and encourage subscribers to become part of your social family.

19. Tell subscribers about giveaways

Are you giving away something cool on Facebook? Remind your customers about it in your newsletter. Provide participation details and a link to enter.

20. Encourage subscribers to follow you

Add a brief “Follow Us” section to your newsletter that includes all of your social links.

21. Tell subscribers about a social competition

Ask subscribers to submit photos of them using your product, or submit a short essay about a loved one that should be considered for a special prize. Launch the competition in your newsletter and remind subscribers to participate. This creates a wealth of testimonials and positive reviews!

22. A special coupon

Offer a coupon just to your newsletter readers. Provide a coupon code to use online, or a printable coupon that can be used in-store.

23. Mention a new product launch

When you have a new product coming in, tell your customers about it. Build the hype by providing availability, release dates and options like sizes and colors that are available.

24. Refer-a-friend promotion

Allow subscribers to forward your newsletter to a friend, and if they subscribe to your list, send the customers a special thank you (gift, deal or discount) for helping you grow your list.

25. Make a connection to a unique holiday

When an odd holiday rolls around that’s connected to your business, use it to spark a small post in your article. For example, you can can write an article on Senior Citizen’s Day and offer a discount. Here’s a list of odd holidays to use.

26. Cute or wacky photos of your employees

Did your company host a Halloween custom party? Are you hosting an Evening with Santa? If so, use a few of the pictures in your newsletter to give subscribers an “insider’s look.” Be sure to get permission to use the photos first, and use good judgment. Pictures from the 11th hour of the holiday party aren’t a good idea. Don’t overdo this one, it gets old fast!

27. What’s the deal with the weather?

At some point, the crazy weather will impact your area. Consider writing about it and how it impacted your business. Be careful, you don’t want to write about any storms or weather that hurt someone. Instead, stick to interesting weather topics like the lack of snow in cold weather spots.

28. Pictures of pets or mascots

Does your business have a pet or a mascot? Use a picture of your furry creature to liven up your newsletter. Put the company cat in a cute holiday sweater, or give it a birthday crown when the business hits its anniversary. Again, use your best judgment here, be careful not to let the content become the primary focus or a distraction from the important stuff.

29. Digital holiday card

Use online tools to create an e-card. You can create one for the holidays or the company’s birthday. ‘Punchbowl’ offers traditional options or try ‘JibJab’ for something a little more out of the ordinary.

30. Make a pop culture connection

Use pop culture references to spark an article about your company. For example, “5 things the hit show Scandal has taught us about business.” Make a connection to a hot TV show, a celebrity mishap or musical fads.

If you are interested in sending out a newsletter to your database, contact the marketing team to help you get started.

Building Relationships Will Build Your Business

business-conversation

All too often, business owners make the mistake of focusing solely on transactional marketing. This form of marketing takes a “one and done” approach and emphasizes the short-term goal of a single sale. Some business owners fall into the routine of running an ad or dropping a mailer with the sole intent of attracting “new” customers in order to meet short-term goals. However, when you exist in this transactional state, you may lose sight of the strategies needed to sustain your business over the long-run. There was a time not long ago when we could get by with this approach, but competitive forces have changed the marketing landscape. Let us help you shift your mindset to also embrace customer engagement and become a relationship marketer.

What is relationship marketing?

Relationship marketing is the practice of nurturing personal connections with your customers in order to build long-term brand loyalty. While implementing traditional marketing initiatives – direct mailers, ads, inserts, etc. – will get the conversation started, building relationships with your audience will keep that conversation going. Customers who are loyal to your practice will become your brand advocates. They will be using the most effective form of marketing for your business for FREE – word of mouth. Fostering relations with your brand advocates through relationship marketing is key in growing your referral program through word of mouth, social media interactions and online reviews.

 How do I practice relationship marketing?

Relationship marketing is essential in the healthcare industry – patients want to know that they are truly being cared for, and not just seen as a potential sale. The best approach to strengthen connections with current patients is to continually reach out to them with relevant messaging in the media they prefer. Staying in touch with patients through phone calls, birthday cards, and personalized letters makes them feel they are getting special attention. These efforts help to create a connection that moves you beyond a transactional relationship.  Some great ways to stay connected are through your tested-not sold and out-of-warranty patients or by following up with other specific segments of your database.

Additionally, the patient experience is impacted by every member of your staff. Consider each contact with customers a single touch point within a larger experience. Every interaction is a chance to enhance the customer experience and build upon that coveted relationship. A positive principle to remember: build relationships first, transactions will follow!

If you are interested in learning more about how Consult YHN can help your practice grow through relationship marketing, contact your Associate Manager or Consult YHN Marketing.