Are You Engaged…To Your Business?

Did you know that seven of the ten most popular days to get engaged all fall in December? Perhaps not surprising given the pandemic’s impact on practically everything in our lives, the traditional engagement season (Thanksgiving to New Year’s) looked a little different last year. In fact, Valentine’s Day dethroned Christmas as the most popular day to pop the question in 2020 (most likely because it took place pre-COVID).

So, what does this mean to your business? Did you get engaged there as well? Do you have plans or are you alone? Are you feeling stressed or uncommitted? For the unattached or unengaged, the future can seem lonely. That’s why below, we outline the steps you can take to get engaged, plan the perfect spring wedding, then ultimately marry your plan for success!

Step 1: Meet someone.

Are you lonely? Can you meaningfully discuss your profit and loss statement (P&L) with your employee(s)? Office “romances” don’t work – find someone outside of your practice. A trusted business advisor like your Consult Account Manager brings perspective from the industry, shares what similar practices are doing right (and wrong), and minimizes the trial-and-error method of running a business. This was particularly true during the COVID crisis. Many of our members have reported that the sense of belonging and knowing someone cared—about them, their staff, and their business—were some of the most appreciated services of 2020. Talking to yourself in the mirror, brainstorming ideas, and trying to convince yourself everything was going to be “ok” probably did little to actually relieve any of the loneliness or confusion you may have been feeling. Fortunately, you don’t need to be alone.

Step 2: Pick out your ring.

A clear sign that you’re getting engaged soon is the conversation about what the ring will look like – the shape, the style, the size, and, of course, the price tag? Have you picked out your business’ “ring” yet? Think about the following:
  • Will you sell more private hearing aids or participate in more third-party administrator plans?
  • Are you expanding your business or selling it?
  • Do you have enough space?
  • Are you fully staffed?
  • Do you have the right employees in the right positions?
  • Do you want to be a low-cost/low-value or high-cost/high-value provider or emphasize diagnostic care?
  • Do you have a revenue goal for 2021, 2022, 2023, and beyond?
  • If someone came in and offered to buy your practice tomorrow, do you have a price in mind?
Asking yourself these questions will help you define the kind of business you have, the kind you want to run, and what you want its future to look like.

Step 3: Make a plan.

Did you look at your calendar on February 13th and realize you didn’t have plans for Valentine’s Day? Do you operate your business each day without plans for the next day? Despite the many industry changes, too many practice owners fail to adjust accordingly. For example:
  • Have you seen your marketing become less effective? Make plans to adjust your marketing budget and strategy to focus on more effective messaging and mediums.
  • Tired of shifting piles of paper charts off your desk? Make plans to convert to a practice management system (PMS).
Don’t just sit in your office hoping tomorrow will look different—decide to actually do something today! Define a goal then list out the steps required to make it a reality. Resolve that the stress of doing nothing can only be ameliorated by acting. Why sit idle watching other businesses marry their plans for success? Set a date and start planning!

Step 4: Commit.

An engagement is a commitment, so treat it accordingly. Define your business lifecycle. Make plans to attain any goals you set. Work with someone outside the business but commit to the people in your business as well. Are they being developed? Are they reaching their goals? Review your business regularly—you should study your financials monthly, not just at tax time. Spend time understanding the relationship with your business and make it work. Successful marriages don’t just happen—they take a continuous, concerted effort.

Don’t wait for the next engagement season—
get engaged today!

About the Author

Scott Berger joined Consult YHN in 2010 and currently serves as our Regional Sales Manager - Inside Sales/Hospital. Previously, he spent nine years leading our Sales Analytics department. Scott holds an MBA in finance from Hofstra University and has several years of experience working in operations, analytics, and supply chain in the medical device industry. He is passionate about working directly with customers in an entrepreneurial setting.

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.

Top 5 Reasons a Business Plan is Key to Your Success in 2021

Exactly one year ago, my uncle decided to set out for an adventure of a lifetime. He rode his bicycle across the country from Astoria, Oregon to Astoria in Queens, New York. He took his time to research his route, his stops, the equipment he needed, and the different types of terrain he would face. He also enrolled in classes to learn skills in wilderness survival and bike repairs. Once he started his journey, he logged and documented everything, including mileage, and set daily goals for himself.

If he didn’t hit one of his goals, then he looked for alternate ways to make up that time. His path continuously changed and challenged him—he rode on highways, gravel, paved roads, trails, and even over an international bridge in Sarnia, Ontario. With his focus, perseverance, and well laid out plan, he accomplished his goal: he rode 3,410 miles in 48 days.

His journey inspires me in so many ways. His work ethic and methods show that with proper planning and execution, anything is possible. Additionally, we need to spend less time thinking and more time doing.

Running your practice without a business plan or Annual Strategic Action Plan (ASAP) is like bicycling cross-country without a map or GPS and wearing a blindfold—it’s silly, it’s reckless, and it’s probably going to take longer for you to get to your destination.

The purpose of a business plan is to lay out both a short and long-term strategy for growth. It serves as the roadmap from where you are to where you want to be, outlining the individual steps and tools you need along the way. What’s your mission? Where do you see yourself in five, ten, twenty years? Where do you see your business in that same time? A business plan can help you answer these questions by allowing you to take a step back from the day-to-day demands of running the practice and focus on the big picture.

As a Consult YHN Account Manager, I work with Associates across the nation and hear what’s consistently working in their practices. What I’ve found is practices that create and execute a business plan are more successful than those that don’t execute one. Studies show that business planning can help you grow your business as much as 30 percent faster!

There are several key benefits of executing a business plan, including:

#1: It allows you to prioritize and set achievable goals.

Business plans don’t need to be overly complicated, but they do need to be executable and draw a clear connection between your actions and the results you plan to achieve. Goals like increasing revenue by 50 percent won’t seem as daunting when you have a plan that breaks it down into smaller, achievable steps. More specifically, a good business plan outlines SMART goals:

Use your plan to guide your sales and marketing strategies. It will ensure you keep track of what needs to happen, when, and in what order. For example, scheduling marketing strategies to promote a new product launch.

#2: It minimizes your risk.

Establishing a business plan isn’t just about setting goals—it’s about consistently tracking your progress toward those goals and making changes as your business grows and evolves. This will give you peace of mind that your business is heading in the right direction. Or, you’ll know that you need to make adjustments or try a different route altogether. There are two key financial statements you should build and regularly review as part of your business plan: Cash-Flow Analysis and Profit & Loss (P&L) Analysis. These help you to closely monitor the overall financial health of your practice and identify any potential cash flow challenges or opportunities.

There’s always a certain level of risk that comes with starting your own business. Some risks you can see coming from a mile away, but others are impossible to predict (like a global pandemic). Either way, it’s easier to handle issues when you’re actively looking for them. And the sooner you catch them, the less likely they are to snowball into a crisis.

#3: It allows you to make spending decisions with greater confidence.

As your business grows, there are some important spending decisions you’ll need to make: when to hire a new employee, whether you can afford to upgrade your equipment, whether you should open another office, etc. If you have a firm understanding of your practice’s financial health, you will have the information you need to make sound business decisions. A business plan is also invaluable in devising and executing an effective marketing strategy. It will help you determine how much you can/should spend on marketing to achieve your revenue goals.

#4: It’s essential if you’re seeking a loan or investment or want to sell your practice.

Would you ever invest in a business without understanding its business model or financials? Hopefully, not. And, neither would any investor. If one day down the road you decide to sell your practice, it will likely be worth more if you have a plan that shows the business is in good fiscal standing and has the potential to grow.

#5: It can help motivate your team and increase efficiencies.

A business plan that clearly communicates your vision and goals is one of the best ways to ensure your entire team is on the same page. Rallying your staff behind a common goal can also increase your collective efficiency and lead to higher levels of engagement. Knowing how their daily duties and actions relate to the business’s bottom line gives employees a greater sense of purpose and pride in their work. Be sure to regularly review your progress with your team, either during your Daily Huddle or monthly or quarterly staff meetings. This way, everyone knows what’s expected of them and can be held accountable for contributing to the practice’s success.

 

With a solid business plan and the right guidance and resources, any practice can become a million-dollar practice. Let us help you get there! Consult YHN will be hosting several Virtual Managing Business Activities (MBA) workshops to kick off the 2021 business planning process. These workshops help our Associates define their financial and organizational goals through the creation of their Annual Strategic Action Plan (ASAP) and Annual Marketing Plan (AMP).

About the Author

Jessica Shah joined Consult YHN in 2017 and currently serves as an Account Manager in the company’s Inside Sales Division as part of the Account Activation Team (AAT). Her diverse professional background includes sales, marketing, and planning experience, having previously worked in the healthcare industry as well as for the hospitality giant, Marriott-Starwood International. When not working, Jessica enjoys spending time with her husband of 13 years and her two energetic boys. They love to travel, entertain, and spending time with family and friends.

Is Your Website Ready for the Surge in Digital Traffic and Leads?

It’s no surprise that the digital world and its role in communication has changed dramatically since the start of the Coronavirus pandemic. Many of us have adjusted to working from home and relying more heavily on technology to communicate with coworkers, friends, and family.
According to The New York Times, website usage for sites like Facebook and YouTube have skyrocketed since February 29. Video chatting platforms like Google Duo and popular remote work apps like Zoom and Microsoft Teams have also reported record usage spikes.

People look to connect and entertain themselves

This trend isn’t going away anytime soon. While the days of social distancing and continuous handwashing will eventually fade – the need for a strong digital presence will not.

Your website is your most valuable digital asset; therefore, the time is now to assess its performance. In other words, does your website have what it takes to engage and convert the influx of people seeking help with their hearing loss?

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Nearly 90% of consumers conduct online research before making a purchase, which includes visiting a business’s website

Hopefully, your site is updated to reflect the safety precautions your practice is implementing to protect patients and staff, as well as pertinent information on any Telehealth or curbside services being provided. Patients care about and want to know how your practice is responding to COVID-19 and adhering to CDC guidelines. This information should be posted prominently on your homepage and any social media profiles, like Facebook and Healthy Hearing. Don’t forget to update your Google My Business profile to reflect any changes or updates you make to your services or hours.

Now, let’s discuss the specific items you should focus on when evaluating the performance and success of your website:

Search Engine Optimization (SEO):

Check whether your website dominates the first page of Google for the top hearing healthcare keywords. There are free online tools that will show you top competitive SEO metrics. Ultimately, your website provider/digital partner should manage your site’s SEO performance regularly and make the necessary updates. This is vital to maintaining a prominent rank in search results, which drives more quality leads, appointments, and sales.

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55% of search engine clicks come from the top 3 listings

Content:

Good SEO and good content go hand-in-hand. Fresh, relevant, and engaging content on your site will boost its SEO. It will also increase the amount of time visitors spend on your site and, in turn, your conversion rate (the percentage of unique site visitors who “convert” to leads by calling your office or filling out an online form). Adding unique content like videos, infographics, and weekly or monthly blog posts will help differentiate your brand from the competition. Timely articles about the effects of untreated hearing loss are great, but they’re even better when mixed with more personable and creative posts that will resonate with readers—tips for summer hearing aid care, how to choose the right hearing aid for your lifestyle, etc.

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52% of consumers say blogs have impacted purchasing decisions

Upgrades:

Features like click-to-call, online scheduling, chatbots, contact forms, and mobile-responsiveness are no longer optional—they’re essential.

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additional leads
On average, online scheduling tools generate 4 additional leads per month for hearing healthcare providers

User Experience (UX):

Users’ experience with a website is determined by how easy or difficult it is for them to navigate and interact with it. One broken link or slow-to-load page can create a bad experience for users. Your site needs to fulfill visitors’ needs, wants, and expectations both quickly and easily. While UX testing is a complex process, there are several simple things you can do yourself to enhance your site’s usability, including:

  • Check every link and app/widget to ensure they work.
  • Add internal links between relevant content and pages.
  • Shorten long paragraphs of text and/or break them up.
  • Create more white space around text and titles.
  • Use strong CTAs (Call-To-Actions) to guide users to convert.
  • Make sure all images and pages load quickly.

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Better UX design could raise your website’s conversion rate by 400%

Design & Layout:

Your website is most often your patients’ first impression of your brand. If it looks outdated or unappealing, visitors will have a negative perception of your practice. Everything from your fonts and spacing to your colors and design elements needs to be clean and cohesive across your entire site. There should be a consistent header and footer on every page that includes your logo, practice information, and social icons.

Of course, you want your website to stand out from your competitors. But that doesn’t mean you have to reinvent the wheel when it comes to its layout and design. Despite a common misconception, “templated” websites are not “basic” and are not going to make your site look exactly like other audiology websites. To start, they’re 100 percent customizable – using your brand, color schemes, unique assets (logo, photos, videos, more). Second, website “templates” exist for a reason: they work! Keep in mind, website site design is part art – but primarily science. Most developers use behavioral science and best practices to design websites for optimal usability and most importantly – conversion. Some tools developers use to test the merit of a website include:

  • User Testing: A platform for obtaining rapid customer feedback on any customer experience, including websites, mobile apps, and real-world experiences.
  • Heat Mapping: A graphical representation of data that uses a system of color-coding to represent different values. While used in various forms of analytics, most often they’re used to show user behavior on specific webpages and determine where the most important content should be placed on a page.
  • Conversion Tracking: A powerful tool in Google Ads (formerly known as AdWords) that lets you identify how well your ad campaign is generating leads, sales, downloads, email sign-ups, and other key actions.

Through these methods, developers know what the target demographic expects to see and how they can best be encouraged to convert. For example, most websites have a horizontal top navigation, left-aligned logo, and right-aligned contact information because heat mapping shows this is the best structure for usability and entices users to travel deeper into the site.

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People form 75% of their judgment on a website’s credibility purely on its aesthetics

Website Provider/Digital Partner:

If your internet-savvy nephew is managing your site, it may be time to consider making a change. A reliable and highly-skilled digital partner will make all the difference—a partner you can hold accountable to manage all your online marketing needs, not just your website. Your digital partner should oversee ongoing website maintenance, performance, results, and provide you ownership over your domain and other digital properties. Click here to find out the most important questions to ask your website provider or reach out to your Consult Marketing Account Executive for assistance. The Consult Digital Program offers engaged Associates a comprehensive digital solution proven to drive leads and sales.

Questioning if your website delivers the results it should? Consult YHN’s in-house experts will conduct a personalized website and digital marketing assessment, including a geographic and competitive analysis.

Increase your digital traffic and drive more patient appointments –
contact Consult Marketing today!

About the Author

Genevieve Amabile joined Consult YHN in 2019 and serves as a Marketing Account Coordinator. Prior to Consult YHN, she worked as a Social Media Coordinator for a staffing agency and interned with Seven Mile Publishing & Creative in Avalon, NJ. Genevieve graduated from Pennsylvania State University with a Bachelor’s degree in Communications in 2018. In her free time, she enjoys baking, reading, and listening to her favorite true crime podcasts.