Define a Winning Business Strategy with Our Four Elements of C-A-R-E

Industry influencers are creating a defining moment for hearing healthcare businesses. Will yours be among those that rise to the challenge and thrive?

When you combine the economic decline created by the pandemic last year with the increasing presence and influence of Third Party Administrators (TPAs) and brand-name OTC options, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the threats. So, what should you do about these threats? Well, any business coach worth his/her salt will tell you that the best defense is a good offense. That’s why it’s never more crucial to have a strategy for your business—one that’s focused on C-A-R-E.

Of course, patient care is always at the forefront of everything you do. And we’re all aware of the benefits of self-care (seeing to your own physical and mental needs). Those are both important, but they’re not the types of care to which I’m referring—I’m talking about business care!

How often do you really think about the wellness of your business? I don’t mean the day-to-day operations of working in the business. I’m talking about the strategies that safeguard you from the threats of matters like reduced reimbursements and unexpected shutdowns. I can’t promise an easy, magic solution. But I can give you an easy-to-remember formula that will help you to be more thoughtful about the current health and future of your business:

Let’s break down what it means to C-A-R-E for your business:

Create

Specifically, creating opportunities to help more people hear well. This one is fairly straightforward: it’s about marketing! Let the members of your community know who you are, what you do, why hearing wellness is so important, and why you and your practice are best equipped to serve their hearing healthcare needs. Here are some pointers for how to approach this with your marketing:

  • Establish a budget (as a general rule-of-thumb, we recommend 10-12 percent of your revenue goal)
  • Identify your strategy:
    • Diversify your communication approach, just like you would monetary investments. Direct mail, physician marketing, and community outreach are all still prevalent, among other traditional methods. It’s also more important than ever to have a strong digital presence.
    • Research the demographics of your community and identify target zip codes for mailers.
    • Strategize your reach and frequency with a calendar of marketing events.
  • Use call tracking software to assist in measuring return on investment (ROI) for each campaign.
  • Keep manufacturer co-op funds in mind. I heard a rumor that nearly 75 percent of co-op funds allotted to practices go to waste because they’re not used before they expire. Don’t let this happen to you!

If you’re thinking: “easier said than done,” talk to your Consult Account Manager about utilizing our in-house marketing agency for help with the planning, execution, and measurement of your marketing efforts.

Acquire

Once your marketing plan has created the opportunities, that doesn’t mean that your schedule automatically fills up. The purpose of a marketing plan is simply to get the phone to ring. It’s the responsibility of your front office staff to appropriately coordinate patient care and convert those incoming calls into appointments.

Here are some questions to consider:

  • What is each incoming call worth to your business? For example, I recently did the math with a practice, and we found that based on their average revenue per opportunity appointment, each time their phone rang, it represented a potential $950 in revenue.
  • Does your front office understand the importance of each incoming phone call?
  • Does your front office staff recognize their own importance? Have you told them? Not only do they often shape a patient’s first impression of the practice over the phone, but they set the tone as soon as a patient walks through your door.
  • Is your staff properly trained to triage calls and identify opportunity appointments?
  • Are there scripting and scheduling protocols in place that helps your front office staff set your providers up for success when patients come in for their appointments?

Retain

The typical hearing aid user will purchase an average of 3-4 pairs of devices in their lifetime. Unfortunately, customer loyalty is not a given. According to HubSpot’s research about customer acquisition and loyalty, 50 percent of U.S. consumers have left a brand that they were loyal to for a competitor. My point is that you should never get too comfortable, even when your business has a great number of loyal patients. Don’t underestimate the effort required to retain your existing patients. You should have a strategy for communicating routinely with patients in your database so that they don’t end up going elsewhere when they’re ready to purchase that next pair of hearing aids.

When keeping in touch with these patients, the focus should be on educating them about their options, so that they’re empowered to make informed decisions about their own hearing healthcare. A combination of letters and calls with targeted messaging is the key to success here. You can do it yourself, or opt for more turnkey approaches, like the Consult Database Program or Consult Upgrade. No matter the chosen approach, existing patients should make up approximately half (or more) of a practice’s hearing aids sales if said practice is five years old or over.

Expand

You should get the most out of the opportunities that you already have on your schedule. It’s kind of like working out. Some forms of exercise are more effective than others, depending on your goal. For example, the trainer at my gym taught me that if I only have 30 minutes, I should spend the majority of that time focused on strength training rather than cardio. How does that apply to your business? Well, if your goal is to help more people hear well, but there are limited hours in the week for you to do so, how do you make the most out of that time? Here are some of my recommendations:

  • Consider what you’re saying during your consultations. A study done by Hearing Health Matters found that patients’ perceptions and interest levels in hearing devices were significantly different pre and post-appointment.

  • Is it possible that what you are saying is making your patients uninterested in hearing devices? Are you doing the majority of talking instead of listening? Are you focusing too much on the features of the devices rather than the challenges/needs of the patient and the impact that the devices would have on their quality of communication? Have you considered that there might be a more effective way to conduct your consultations?
  • Improve your likelihood of success by including a companion. Are you making it easier on yourself to get patients to accept help by asking them to bring a loved one to their appointments and also involving those loved ones in the process?
  • Set up your schedule to effectively accommodate your patients. Does your schedule allow you to achieve your financial goals without sacrificing patient care? Do you know how many hours are required to do both?
  • Do you have a strategy for discussing purchasing options for patients who were not referred by a TPA? Do you verify benefits before each appointment to identify patients who are eligible for a discount program? Are your providers well-versed in discussing purchasing options with patients so that they’re providing price transparency and appropriately educating and empowering patients to make the choice that’s in their best interest?

Like personal wellness, one day of exercise a week isn’t going to get you in shape. Getting healthy and fit requires a constant and ongoing commitment. The same goes for your business. It takes continuous effort and some C-A-R-E. Can you get fit on your own? Sure, but it’s a lot easier and faster if you have a personal trainer to show you what to do, remind you how to do it right, and hold you accountable to your goals.

So, why not let Consult’s experienced team of experts act as personal trainers for your business?

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.

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.

Three Easy-to-Keep Resolutions for a Clean Database in 2021

How confident are you that your database is clean? Can you make accurate assessments about your business’s health with the data it contains? If you’re not sure, don’t worry—you’re not alone – not everyone enjoys data crunching, plus, Consult YHN has your back!

The importance of a clean database is that it allows your practice to operate more efficiently. As the leader of the practice, it allows you to set key business goals and effectively benchmark your progress towards achieving them. A clean database will support increased revenue by efficiently spending and/or saving money and improve patient satisfaction.

Think of quality data as the backbone of your business—it’s the central pillar that connects and supports all the facets of your business. With accurate data and reporting, you will confidently make decisions that will move your business forward.

What’s considered “data” within your database? These would be your appointment types, referral sources, revenue sources, etc. For example, are you running a Consult Database Program, Consult Upgrade event, or want to see how well your marketing campaigns are performing? Referral sources play a critical role in capturing your marketing ROI (Return on Investment) and identifying where your revenue-generating leads and sales are coming from. Referral sources should be labeled and updated properly so we can track your results and identify units sold and revenue generated per sale. If referral sources are not updated and tracked, you’re essentially throwing marketing dollars out the window.

There multiple benefits of tracking your marketing initiatives, but it is impossible without clean, consistent data. To run a productive and profitable practice, it’s vital to identify incorrect data, understand the root, fix it, and develop a plan for maintaining a healthy, more reliable database.

As we prepare for 2021, below are three resolutions for cleaning up your database, which will ensure it stays clean even after your other New Year’s resolutions have been forgotten:

1. Data Entry

Of course, it all starts with the data that’s being entered into the system. If there’s one takeaway from this blog post, it should be this: your data is only as good as the data you enter. As the leader, it’s up to you to ensure your employees are properly trained and understand the importance of entering accurate information into your Practice Management System (PMS). Everyone on your team needs to be on the same page when it comes to activities such as labeling opportunity sources and what each referral source represents. Once you have a process in place, don’t assume everyone is following it, day in and day out. Periodically poke around your database to ensure that it’s kept nice and tidy.

2. Data Audit

Second, audit your data to reveal any inconsistencies and/or errors. You might be surprised by the number of inconsistencies and how far they go back. If you and your staff are regularly inputting incorrect or bad data, this will cause a snowball effect—and no one wants a database full of duds! Once corrected, this will establish trust within your data. Our Sales Analytics team can help you get started by performing a PMS Analysis. This will help you get the most out of your PMS software by ensuring accurate tracking reports, patient lists, and QuickBooks integration.

3. Data Upkeep

The last step is upkeep. As previously noted, ultimately, you are accountable for monitoring the accuracy of your data. It’s not a ‘set-and-forget-it’ activity—consistency is key! Luckily, you don’t have to do it all alone. Working closely with your Account Manager, our Sales Analytics team will provide the insights and tools necessary to execute these steps and contribute to your business’s collective success rather than hindering it.

Remember: the more time you spend tracking and auditing your data today, the less you’ll spend correcting errors in the future. The reward for your hard work is a sparkling database that delivers better insights, better reporting, and sound business decisions.

Click here to learn more about Consult YHN’s Business Services and Financial Analyses or talk to your Account Manager today to get started!

About the Author

Laura Kegelman joined Consult YHN in 2018 and currently serves as a Strategic Planning Analyst. Her diverse professional background includes supply chain, forecasting, and marketing. Laura holds a degree in marketing from West Chester University in Pennsylvania. When she’s not working, Laura loves exploring the city she lives in (Philadelphia) as well as traveling to new cities and countries.

Marketing Through COVID-19: Key Considerations to Drive Leads at All Budgets

Communication is essential, especially during this time—and it will be equally important several months from now. Hopefully, you’ve used any downtime during the pandemic to stay connected with your patients.
As the economy opens, it’s important to forge ahead with your marketing efforts, including a specific plan to ramp up your marketing activities.

Practices that act now and adapt to the current environment will capture new patients as well as maintain a high volume of patients after the initial influx of demand has settled. Being proactive with your marketing strategy will ensure the near-term demand you experience won’t drop off in one, three, or six months, allowing you to continuously grow your business.

Consult YHN’s COVID-19 Resources Center provides healthcare professionals with strategic business advice and support, including virtual webinars, financial analyses, articles, marketing collateral, and more. A useful resource is our Cash Flow Analysis tool which determines your current and future months’ liquidity. This information allows you to forecast how much you can spend on marketing each month, with a goal to ramp up spend as your budget and timing allows.

Your messaging today is more significant than ever – it needs to be relevant, clear, and consistent across all of your marketing initiatives. It should address patients’ current needs and concerns, like providing a safe and caring environment as well as acknowledging that those struggling with hearing loss are even more challenged by COVID-19 safety measures.

Whether your practice is operating with a proactive marketing budget, limited budget, or no additional spend budget, we have solutions to help you drive new opportunities. There are many ways to stay top-of-mind with your patients without spending a lot of money. Below are Consult YHN’s marketing recommendations based on your practice’s current budget and timing.

Budget: No Additional Spend
Timing: Now

Planning Considerations:

  • Prioritize your patients and schedule
  • Fill your schedule with revenue-generating opportunities
  • Utilize no/low-cost marketing initiatives
  • Prepare for pent up demand from individuals seeking hearing help
  • Focus on marketing to maintain momentum
  • Depending on the response/how your patients are reacting, move on to higher-cost marketing initiatives

Sample COVID-19 Marketing Collateral, Available for Immediate Use

View More Samples Here  

Budget: Minimal Spend
Timing: ASAP

“No Additional Spend” initiatives +

  • Database Letters
    • Never stop reaching out to your database!
  • Consult Database Program
    • Our turnkey solution for database outreach enables your team to focus on closing more opportunities and helping more patients. We help you implement a consistent strategy, targeting each segment of your database with custom letters and follow-up calls that drive appointments and sales. From designing and printing to mailing and reporting—we handle it all, and at a competitive rate that’s included in your monthly Consult statement.
  • Email Marketing
    • Sending emails to your database is easy and inexpensive. You can check to see who clicked or opened the email in order to prioritize lead follow up via a phone call. For example, people who open and click on your email are the most engaged, so start with them, then work down the list. We recommend ConstantContact because it is easy to use and signs a Business Associate Agreement (BAA).
  • Consult Upgrade Program
    • For over a decade, Consult Upgrade has been the most effective way for practice owners to reach their patients and increase sales. For a one-time flat fee, a dedicated Digital Technology Consultant will work with you on-site to organize and run an Upgrade event that, on average, yields an additional $51,250 in sales for practices. The schedule for 2020 is almost full – act fast to secure your spot!

Planning Considerations:

  • Once you’ve maximized your database outreach efforts, consider:
    • Are people responding?
    • Do you need to make any changes?
    • Have you exhausted all potential?
    • Is revenue ramping up?
  • Based on the answers above, decide on strategy and timing for direct mail drop and digital advertising.
  • Once you’ve seen all of your existing patients as well as all the new patients willing to come in regardless of COVID-19, the next step is crucial – and marketing will be key. Your marketing plan needs to be set now so that you can implement and capture the untapped group of new patients and your demand and revenue can consistently grow.

Budget: Pro-Active Spend
Timing: When Ready (Cash-Flow Dependent)

“No Additional Spend” initiatives + “Minimal Spend” initiatives +

  • Direct Mail
  • Digital Advertising
    • Pay-Per-Click (PPC)
    • Facebook Advertising
    • Display Retargeting
  • Consult Digital Program
    • Drive and convert more quality leads with our industry-leading digital solution! We outperform the competition so that your website dominates the first page of Google for the top hearing healthcare keywords. We also track your results and provide you a return on your investment.

Planning Considerations:

  • Lead time considerations for direct mail: 3.5 weeks ahead of the event
  • If you have the budget, spend it on PPC. Cost per lead is lower right now, meaning your budget will go further than it did pre-COVID-19. For example, based on the current environment there are fewer businesses competing for keywords, etc. This trend will end as business returns to normal. If your budget allows, there’s a significant, yet, temporary opportunity to introduce your practice to as many patients as possible at a lower cost than normal.
Your Account Manager and the Consult YHN team are here to help you develop a comeback plan that’s guaranteed to position your practice for success in 2020 and the years ahead.

Start driving more leads today – contact Consult Marketing!

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.