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Getting out into the community is one of the best ways to connect with the public, deliver your “why,” and remind people how important hearing is to their quality life. It can be intimidating though—leaving your office, patients, and staff behind to go out into the community and solicit new patients. But I can tell you from experience, once you complete your first community event and you sell your first set of hearing aids from it, you’ll be eager for the next one.
Now, I’m sure you have lots of questions. I led numerous events as the marketing director of a private practice and I, too, had similar questions. How do you plan an entire event that people will actually want to attend? How do you convey your message when people walk up to your table and all they really want is the free candy or to win the raffle prize? How do you build trust with new patients?
So, let’s break down the process and make it easier for you to launch your first event. A Lunch & Learn, also known as a Lunch & Listen, is exactly what it sounds like: you advertise and invite potential patients to join you for an hour or so, impart your wisdom, provide lunch, and voilà!
OK, maybe it’s not that simple, but here are six key steps to planning and running a successful Lunch & Learn:
Step 1: Determine the when and where.
Choose a date approximately six weeks out—you’ll need all that time to prepare. Find a place that’s quiet or has a private space, like a restaurant or a clubhouse. Fun tip: most of the time, a “senior” lunch menu is less expensive, but some practices like to go all out and will book a local steakhouse. You should do what makes the most sense for your vision and budget.
Step 2: Create your guest list.
Anywhere between 10-20 is the ideal number of guests. Pulling patients from your existing database that are out of warranty or tested devices and never purchased is the best place to start. Second, target new patients through direct mail, print ads or digital marketing. Talk to a Consult YHN Account Manager for more details. And, be sure to include your website and your social media profiles on your invitation.
Step 3: Identify your goal and craft your message.
You want to keep your message short and to the point. If you’re able to confidently talk to an audience with only a list of bullet points, go for it. It’s more natural and creates a better overall experience for the audience. If not, use a PowerPoint presentation to help frame your message and guide your recital. Create your own or ask your Account Manager to send you one of Consult YHN’s sample PPT presentations. Either way, you should consider supporting your message with media or pictures, like showing a video that showcases people getting fitted for hearing aids and their reflections on how life is better with these devices.
Remember: you want to tell a story. Illustrate how hearing aids improve a person’s quality of life. It’s much more compelling than just listing off a bunch of facts and statistics.
Step 4: Invite your guests.
Once your mailer or invitation goes out, work with Your Patient Contact Center (YPCC) to personally invite guests. YPCC’s highly-trained patient communication representatives will call your database and encourage them to attend: “We sent you a personal invitation for an informative Lunch & Learn event we’re hosting, and we’d love to add your name to the guest list before it fills up … you’re free on Thursday at noon to join us, right?” A personal call goes a long way and can build up your RSVP list.
Step 5: Gather your supplies.
There are a few key things you want to make sure you have for the event:
- Practice giveaways are always a hit, plus you want your name and number on everything you hand out so that it goes home with your guests.
- Hearing health articles for attendees to read while they wait for the seminar to begin and to take home. Consult’s MarketSource has several informative handouts about the correlation between hearing loss and other diseases such as dementia/Alzheimer’s, a topic that many seniors don’t know much about. These should also have your practice’s information on them.
- Appointment sheets for the next 2 weeks. Don’t take an iPad or laptop—you only have a short window of time with guests and you don’t want to waste it inputting their information into your laptop. Manually schedule appointments and enter patients’ information into your practice management software once you are back in the office.
- A sign-in sheet. If someone RSVP’d but did not attend, call them the next day and invite them in for a personal hearing consultation—they are still a potential patient.
- A survey so you can track your results and make sure that what you’re doing is effective.
- A screen and projector if you are going to use a PowerPoint presentation or show a video and your venue doesn’t have one.
Step 6: Track your appointments.
The tracking work for any community outreach event is as critical as the content in your presentation. Running a report from your system is great and will tell you total number of hearing aids sold, revenue, etc. But consider the patients who booked an appointment and canceled? Or a no-call, no-show appointment? These appointments can make or break an event. Create a spreadsheet with the below information and review it every day, making notes on the following items:
- When is his/her appointment scheduled?
- What happened during the appointment? Hearing aid sale? For how much?
- Did they miss the appointment and a call needs to be made to get them back on the schedule?
Tracking can seem tedious, but if you make it apart of your daily routine, it will become second nature and once you see the benefits of tracking your results, you’ll appreciate the effort.
So, there you have it, folks!
Becoming a staple in your community and sharing your knowledge on how to improve people’s quality of life can be rewarding if you dot all the I’s and cross all the T’s beforehand.
And if you still have any questions about planning a Lunch & Learn or other community event, you can always reach out to your Consult YHN Account Manager for guidance.
About the Author
Julie Gesuale joined Consult YHN in 2010 and currently serves as an Assistant Account Manager in the company’s Hospital and University Division. Her diverse professional background includes customer service, marketing, and project management. When not working, Julie enjoys spending time with her wife of 15 years and her two rescue dogs, Sheldon and Leonard. She’s also been singing in church and community choirs for over 25 years.
One of the most common questions I hear from practice owners is a crucial one:
“What can I do to bring new patients in the door?”
This fundamental question can be the difference between a practice that is thriving with year-over-year growth or one that is simply staying afloat. In the worst of cases, left unsolved, this question can lead to declines in revenue.
With an ever-changing landscape and a widening shift to managed care, practices want to know now more than ever how to specifically get more private pay patients in the door.
Here are the keys to success that I have utilized to help the practices that I work closely with:
1. One of the very first steps in this process is the need to determine the patient types that exist in your practice (i.e. Private Pay, Managed Care, Medicaid, and Workman’s Compensation). You will need to do a thorough analysis of your specific patient mix by tracking sales in your practice management system while simultaneously completing this same level of analysis in your financial management system. This will provide you with a detailed breakdown of your actual sales numbers and you can determine what your specific patient mix has been.
2. Once you have a good handle on how many patients you fit by type, you will need to determine your monthly revenue goal, current device sales by patient type, and current revenue by patient type. These numbers can help you build a forecast for non-private pay vs. private pay revenue based on historical trends. This will allow you to subtract out your non-private pay revenue from your monthly revenue goal in order to determine how many private pay patients you need to fit each month.
3. Now that you know this answer, you will want to determine how many private pay appointments need to be on your schedule to achieve the 22 device sales for the month. This calculation is based on your specific practice’s numbers as each practice has different conversion, return, and cancellation rates. Consult YHN’s Plug & Play Calculator will do the math for you!
4. Once you know the magic number, you should block that many appointments on your schedule and focus on filling them. Now, this is where the answer to the main question lies: How do you fill your schedule? There are many different techniques that practices use, and no single strategy works best since every practice is different.
Some of the most common and beneficial ways to acquire new private pay patients are in the form of marketing. Direct mail, newspaper, and digital advertising are still the leading forms of traditional marketing that lead to patient acquisition. Other ways of attracting new patients are through physician outreach, community outreach, implementing a hearing wellness protocol, and most importantly, mining your own database for patients who may have older technology or originally tested but did not purchase a device. This is great for generating new leads without having to spend money on marketing as you already have the patient’s information and a relationship with them.
5. Once you have your plan in place, you’ll want to look at your schedule on a daily basis and aggressively attempt to fill any openings. One tactic that I normally advise a practice to employ is to meet with your team to customize and prioritize a plan that directs focus on calling individuals to keep your schedule filled. Contacting patients that are scheduled out in the future and bringing those appointments forward will help fill your current schedule vacancies and provide time for your team to contact other patients that may have previously canceled an appointment or been tested but not treated.
Your team can conduct an audit of the current schedule by looking at any non-revenue generating appointments, such as repairs and clean and checks, that are scheduled in the next week to check the age of their hearing devices and last hearing test date to see if they are due for an updated test or technology demonstration.
6. Last, but certainly not least, your team should be properly trained to handle customer calls. Being able to handle an incoming call, qualify these calls to schedule the correct appointment type, and calling current patients plays a vital role. If you and your team stay focused on filling your schedule with the correct amount of appointments needed to meet your revenue goal, I can assure you, growth will follow.
This is just a snippet of what you and your staff can do. If you want to implement these methods throughout your practice, our team is available to ensure the process goes smoothly.
Contact your AM or call us at 800-984-3272 if you do not have a Consult YHN representative.
About the Author
Diana Dobo was as an Account Manager for three years and Divisional Vice President for the West Division for four years before being named Consult YHN’s Vice President of Strategic Accounts. She has nearly 20 years of experience in sales, marketing and business development. Prior to joining Consult YHN, she was a Senior Sales Manager in the healthcare IT industry.
The Consult YHN Marketing Team recently attended the Philadelphia Digital Summit, a 2-day event focused on all things interactive — websites, SEO, PPC, social media, email marketing, and more! We came back energized (much like our Associates do after Consult YHN’s annual Convention) and want to share some core findings to help you refine your digital marketing strategy.
Connecting with customers via content isn’t optional.
Content was one of the main topics discussed during the event because, in today’s world, marketing is all about storytelling. The content that you produce is key to connecting with your customers and establishing a rapport via your digital marketing activities. While it’s important to determine how you’re going to reach customers — through SEO, Social Media, PPC — it’s just as important to plan what you’re going to share so that customers engage with your brand.
Start by assessing the most visited pages on your website — this is intelligent insight that can influence your messaging strategy! Developing content around these pages allows you to generate information based on what your audience is most interested in consuming.
Individuals want information, not simply promotional messages and the most effective way to connect with people is on an emotional level. In fact, 88 percent of consumers say that personally relevant content improves how they feel about a brand. While crafting messaging, ask yourself questions like: What problem is my customer looking to solve? How will my services offer customers a better quality of life? What’s in it for the customer?
Still not sure where to begin? Think about the questions customers ask you and your staff most often and let those drive your editorial calendar for blog posts, social media content, and more. You stand a greater chance of effectively engaging your customers with the information that’s most relevant to them.
Stop sabotaging your email marketing efforts.
Email marketing was another hot-button topic during the conference. Across the board, the focus was on how to strategically influence your email marketing activities for optimal impact, instead of continuing to “batch blast” your entire contact list. It’s so important to pay attention to this activity to engage your customers because email is the preferred method of communication, according to 78 percent of consumers.
Enhance your email marketing game with these top two tips:
1. List Segmentation
Let’s start with your goldmine — your customer list, which is by far the biggest make or break factor in your email marketing strategy. It’s imperative to take the time to understand your customers based on their needs and start thinking about the customer journey for every segment of your list (think Tested Not Sold (TNS), Out of Warranty (OOW), and Wellness). If you spend the time to truly define your list thoughtfully, it will pay off.
2. Relevant Messaging
Put your consumer hat on for a second…do you ignore or delete emails that aren’t relevant to your situation at the time? If you answered “yes,” realize that your customers do the same thing!
Gone are the days when your entire email marketing strategy can consist of blasting out a quarterly newsletter to your full database. Today’s consumers expect more thoughtful, relevant and timely communication than ever before. One way you can appeal to this desire is to personalize content and messaging as much as possible based on what you know about that customer. Start small — in fact, personalized subject lines alone can increase email open rates by 26 percent, so add that one element to your next email communication before you hit “send.”
How much do consumers care about mobile?
Simply put, more people own a mobile phone than a toothbrush. Yes, you read that correctly. The world is more connected via mobile devices than ever before. In fact, mobile connectivity overtook desktop for the first time in 2016.
What does all this mean for your website? Be sure that your site has a responsive and/or mobile design to function smoothly on tablets and smartphones. Since nearly 60 percent of search queries now come from a mobile device, it’s important for customers to be able to easily access your site for research or location information on the go.
The Digital Marketing Wrap-Up: Top 3 Takeaways
- Content is king! If you have an authentic dialogue with your customers frequently — via emotional messaging that focuses on their interests — you’ll build trust and loyalty.
- Focus on your email strategy by developing a plan and mapping out which message will be sent to the different segments of your customer database.
- Accessing information via mobile devices is becoming a way of life for consumers. Be sure that your website is built with responsive and/or mobile in mind.
Digital marketing moves at lightning speed, but Consult YHN is here to help! Contact Consult YHN Marketing at marketing@ConsultYHN.com to discuss the latest digital marketing trends and how you can stay relevant.
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.
As the hearing industry gets more competitive, it is essential to have a marketing communication plan that incorporates streamlined messaging via every medium. The path to device purchase can start or end at any time, in any location or any device for that matter — to be a leader in this market, it is imperative for your business to provide a seamless user experience.
That is where the omni-channel marketing approach comes in to play: Delivering the same message on different platforms, which not only optimizes your advertising dollars, but also better engages your audience.
For example, take a direct mail campaign that you tie to an open house event or, better yet, a community event like a lunch and learn or educational seminar. Instead of relying solely on that direct mail piece, here are a number of other avenues that you can utilize to promote that event:
Follow up phone calls.
Every direct mail vendor that we work with will allow you to obtain a phone list of the individuals you mailed to for a nominal cost — typically about 10 percent of the distribution list. You can also use this as an opportunity to speak to your database as another way to generate event attendance.
When you actively call your OOW, TNS, Cancel/No Show patients, along with your direct mail targets, 1 in 3 will schedule an appointment!
If your practice does not have the staff to make these calls, Your National Call Center can help. They will work as an extension of your practice to bring you quality opportunities and save you time, effort and money.
Promote through digital marketing.
Social Media: Post the event details on any social media page associated with your practice. Upload the PDF of the creative or simply outline the details within the post.
PPC: If you have an existing pay-per-click strategy in place, work with your digital marketing agency to pull the messaging from the direct mail piece, convert it to an online ad, and capture leads.
Email: If you currently have an email marketing strategy, use this event as another way to speak to your patients. Even if they recently purchased, they may know someone who may be interested in attending the event.
Consult YHN Associates who are investing in digital marketing doubled their marketing spend in profit! If you need assistance with your digital marketing strategy, Consult YHN’s Marketing Team can help. We can provide insight on your existing digital marketing strategy or provide recommendations on how to get one in place. We also have free white papers that review how to implement digital marketing and social media tactics.
Run an ad in the local newspaper.
Based on our quarterly Associate marketing ROI analysis, ads drive more opportunities when they are tied to a specific event.
Event-driven ads tend to bring in more qualified leads, which yields a positive ROI. We develop ads for Consult YHN Associates, free of charge! Check out the variety of ad templates available via Marketsource. We can easily adjust the messaging to be consistent with your direct mail piece and work on your behalf to negotiate ad rates, reserve placement, and release the creative.
Utilize your network within the community.
Another idea to consider is speaking to your local network of businesses to see if they would be willing to help promote your event.
For instance, if you have a Practice Development Representative (PDR), your event is another opportunity to speak to local physicians. Print out the direct mail piece or let us help you convert it to a flyer for presentation in their waiting rooms. Apply the same approach to any senior center, supermarket or other local business that has an event board you can post to — they represent other great ways to get your practice’s name out in the community without having to spend money.
At Consult YHN, we have Wellness representatives that can help you implement a physician marketing and/or community outreach strategy that is suitable to your practice. Contact them about your own ideas and any questions you may have.
As a marketer, I am a firm believer in the omni-channel approach in order to generate more leads. By adding one or more of these options to your direct mail campaign, you will decrease your dependency on the success of the piece itself and increase your branding/exposure within the community.
About the Author
Lindsey Pierangeli joined Consult YHN in 2012 and serves as the Marketing Manager. Previously, she held marketing positions with advertising agencies and worked on accounts such as Amazon and Coca-Cola. Lindsey graduated Magna Cum Laude from Johnson and Wales University.