Lead Generation: What is it and where do I start?

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Generating a steady supply of patients and maintaining a full schedule is a critical part in developing a profitable practice. However, we all know it can be a challenging process. Now is the time to reevaluate your business to determine what initiatives are effectively driving traffic to your office and what things you can be doing differently to generate more leads. This methodology is what marketers call “lead generation”.

In order to diversify your pipeline, you’ll want to attract, nurture and retain a combination of new acquisitions, prospects and customers. To accomplish this, create a plan that communicates messaging to each segment of your target audience via a multi-channel approach; aka your lead generation strategy.

Here are some tips to consider when you’re developing a lead generation strategy:

–  Identify your target audience

Begin by focusing on two major target segments. One type includes the residents within our community who you’ve never met; people won’t visit your location if they don’t know the practice exists. Consider targeting areas within a close proximity to your office, possibly where the majority of your patients are already travelling from.

The other audience segment includes the people already in your database. These leads are uniquely qualified because you have established a connection with them; now all it takes is nurturing that existing relationship. Consider not only your current patients, but also contacts in your database who haven’t physically visited your office. These leads could have been connections from a lunch and learn or health fair; however, these contacts never took the next step to schedule an appointment with your practice. This group tends to get overlooked, yet they are one of the strongest prospect segments.

–  Identify your messaging

Your practice’s selling point is a key message that needs to be communicated to all audience segments. Consider which of your products or services are different or better than what your competitors are marketing in the community. Put yourself in your patient’s shoes and think about what motivates their behavior and buying decisions.  Try to uncover the real reasons why your patients came to your practice and purchased, instead of patronizing one of your competitors.

If you are having trouble identifying your differentiator, ask your patients directly why they chose your practice.  Encourage patients to rate your practice on things like atmosphere, staff, and services; it will not only help you identify your unique selling point, but it will also determine how you can improve your customer service as well.

The other option is to think about your “why” statement. Why did you become a hearing health provider and/or start your business? Integrating this personal statement about your practice helps you stand out among your competitors.

–  Identify goals and objectives

It’s essential to have goals and objectives established when developing a successful strategy. Identifying these benchmarks and milestones allow you to evaluate the success of your outcomes. Make sure your practice’s goals are aspirational, yet attainable, and ultimately support the purpose of your current business strategy. When you are developing your goals, determine if you want to measure by quantity, quality, or both. Examples include growing overall profitably by a certain dollar amount or percentage, achieving or increasing measurable ROI, obtaining more qualified leads, or gaining additional insight into what makes your target audience tick.

–  Determine what to offer

Think about what you can offer your audience that will entice them to convert into a lead. While price is important, it’s not the only reason why people will express interest. If your competition is beating you on price, you have to present the target audience with a relevant benefit that addresses their needs. Then, build your sales and promotional material around that “pain point.” You can create an offering with less perceived obligation and more perceived value (for your leads) and provide it free of charge. This could be a booklet, gift, demonstration or anything else related to your product or service. Think of it like a door opener; something to discover interested individuals and get the conversation started.

Once you have determined what offer(s) you want to promote, you should include a call-to-action (CTA) to support it. This CTA is an instruction to the audience to provoke an immediate response. Something as simple as a “call today” or “call to schedule an appointment” will suffice – and remember to include contact information. Creating this type of urgency will entice consumers to reach out to the practice.

–  Determine the best multi-media approach 

The lead generation techniques of the past look quite different then the modern version. The methods for generating leads in today’s marketplace need to feed your sales pipeline from various channels. This year at AHAA’s Convention, our team will be presenting a multi-faceted lead generation strategy that introduces you to new products and strategies you can employ right away to reach beyond traditional efforts.  Decide which approach offers your practice the most promise after hearing from the business owners who have already boldly embraced today’s lead generation strategies.

Lead generation is the backbone of an effective marketing campaign for your practice. Without a continuous flow of fresh leads, your practice could have difficulties thriving in today’s competitive arena.  If you can’t make it to Convention this year, reach out to your Associate Manager; he or she will help you develop your lead generation strategy and diversify your approach to customer acquisition and retention!

 

 

 

 

The Value of the Experience

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A forgettable experience won’t bring customers back through your doors – an unforgettable positive one will.

All of today’s shopping, dining and entertainment experiences are just that – experiences.  It’s more important than ever to engage customers and tether them to your distinct brand – what makes you different from your competition down the street or a purchase made online?  The answer to this question – and the way it’s conveyed to your current customers – will keep them coming back for more.

Let’s face it, in today’s marketplace, it takes more work to make [and keep] the sale.  Consumers have higher expectations, expect more value, look for discounts and demand better service – so your business has to focus on how to integrate or improve upon these factors.  Use these influencers to your advantage by enticing customers to buy from you based on what they want, not what you think they should be getting.  Maybe you can’t offer the best price, but you can give excellent service and you sell an amazing product – focus on your strengths and what makes your business unique to the customer so they’ll want to purchase from you.

Remember that the consumer experience does not end with the purchase; that’s just the beginning.  Large and small ‘follow ups’ post-purchase are necessary to keep your business top-of-mind with the consumer.  The establishment and retention of these types of relationships are becoming almost as critical as the actual product itself.  We know that your current customers are your most qualified leads, but just because they purchase from you once doesn’t guarantee repeat business.  So it’s up to you to nurture these relationships and create a strong connection between these customers and your business.  This can be accomplished via targeted direct response [email and direct mail], personal phone calls, yearly birthday messages, etc.  Stay connected to these customers to keep your business top-of-mind.

Businesses [especially privately owned ones] need to concentrate on selling the experience and differentiating themselves from the competition.  It’s the positive and unique experience that will fuse a customer to your business – not the device they take with them.  A forgettable experience won’t bring customers back through your doors – an unforgettable positive one will.

In this industry, our Associates are selling a lifestyle improvement, not merely a device.  The device is the solution, but the customers’ journey is actually more important.  Focus on the journey, the factors that are important to the customer and encouraging them to always travel back through your doors!

Remember these tips:

  • How is your business unique?  What differentiates you from the competition?   Use the answers to these questions to help your business stand out.
  • Raise the bar [especially related to service] to meet consumers’ increasing expectations.
  • Keep current customers connected to your business to encourage loyalty and repeat sales.

Superheroes and Ice Cream Flavors

We live in a world with so many choices. Some are simple, some complex. The beauty of these choices is that we are able to make decisions based on our preferences. Take a moment to decide if you prefer:

Batman or Superman
Chocolate or Vanilla
Coffee or Tea
Dogs or Cats
Mac or PC

All of these options are comparable; it’s simply a matter of a penchant for one over another – plus what’s right for you. The same idea – believe it or not –applies to your marketing.

Your preferences impact your marketing choices

For all intents and purposes, marketing and advertising has become the cost of entry for many businesses. If you are not putting yourself out there, you won’t be in the game. But when faced with the choices of the different messages and offers available, how do you know which one to choose for your business?

Since there are so many marketing options, let’s focus on the #1 response mechanism for Consult YHN Associates: direct mail. As we all know, not all communication is created equal. We believe that in today’s market, direct mail used to target prospect customers fall into two categories – Traditional or Aggressive – with the categorization based on message style. It’s important to determine which category best reflects the type of communication you want to have with your target audience and what type of customer your practice is ready to handle.

Sample of Consult YHN letter packages

Sample of Consult YHN letter packages

Here’s an overview of each ‘type’ of direct mail, so you can determine which approach is right for you:

TRADITIONAL Direct Mail

Messaging
This type of messaging is the obvious or ‘traditional’ offer route; savings on a pair of hearing devices, a free demo, free hearing screening/consultation, etc.

Response Rate
Expect a .25% – .50% response rate with this type of direct mail communication; e.g. if you mail out 5,000 pieces, you should receive between 12-25 calls.

Audience
This type of mailer attracts prospect customers who are closer to making a decision to act on their [semi] recognized hearing loss. Your front office person will have an easier time scheduling the appointment and your Au.D. will have an easier time closing the sale if a hearing loss is present.

Sales
The traffic that this type of mailer brings in to the office typically results in less cancellations and a customer that’s easier to close.

AGGRESSIVE Direct Mail

Messaging
This type of messaging takes on more of a ‘gimmicky’ or ‘aggressive’ angle; offering a giveaway for simply showing up for an appointment.

Response Rate
Expect a .50% – .1+% response rate; e.g. if you mail out 5,000 pieces, you should receive between 25-50+ calls.

Audience
This type of mailer attracts prospect customers who are likely to be a more difficult opportunity. Your front office person will need to be well-trained in overcoming objections when scheduling these candidates for appointments and your Au.D. will need to invoke a different strategy to capture the sale if a hearing loss is present.

Sales
This customer is likely to be more of a challenge, prone to a higher incidence of cancellations.

Sample of Consult YHN folded driect mailer

Sample of Consult YHN folded direct mailer

So which one is right for you? 

Above and beyond your preference lies the factor of preparedness. With either message [but  especially the ‘aggressive’ one], it’s important to have strong processes

in place before a direct mailer is scheduled. From capturing the appointment through closing the sale, the tighter your methods, the more return on investment [ROI] you’ll reap. Depending on which format you gravitate toward coupled with the strengths of your process, will help easily determine the proper direct mail package for your practice.

The bottom line is that you have to feel comfortable with the message you are sending out – just like you want to feel good about any choice you make.

When choosing a marketing initiative, Consult YHN is here to help! Find out more about you direct mail choices by contacting marketing at marketing@ConsultYHN.com.

6 Ways to Improve the Performance of Your Direct Marketing

You should know this term, especially if you’ve worked with the Consult YHN Marketing team, it’s Call to Action.

We are relentless in our push to not only include a call to action (CTA) but to ensure it’s the strongest possible message you can tolerate. Creating a compelling call to action, one that cannot be ignored, prompts customers to act.

Customers (OK, call them patients if you must) need to be prompted into doing something. That is to say, namely, the dependable “order now” and “go online” or “call today” prompts are a fine start. But, you need to do more. And, it’s not easy. In today’s marketing climate—with so many choices, technological devices and brand messages bombarding the senses—it’s more difficult than ever to get customers to do anything, let alone what you want them to do.

Customers are savvy. If the call to action isn’t bold and relevant, customers will read right through it without doing anything. If it isn’t authentic and relevant, they may dismiss it outright. That can’t happen. Here are six steps to developing a strong call to action that will resonate and push customers to take the next step to engagement.

1. Build a Hierarchy

What do you want them to do first? Second? Third? Is it an invitation? Do you want them to order? Plan your message hierarchy accordingly to move customers through the piece and drive them to act.

When you think about your call to action and what it will look like or what it will say, think about what you need it to do. Understand what exactly you’re asking readers to do, but always begin with the goal in mind. For example, if getting them to call for an appointment is the goal, don’t confuse them by prominently featuring your website.

2. Do Your Homework

Spend time in the mind of your customers. Know what compels them and what moves them. Find the “higher order benefit,” the emotional reason they need to do business with you. What are they seeking? Connections with other people? Discreet solutions that aren’t an age tell? A reliable source of information? It’s not just a hearing instrument or your clinical services they’re buying, but solving their emotional need.

Once you know what motivates them, crafting a message allows you to reach them more effectively and will encourage action. Additionally, an emotional appeal moves the cost/price issues out of the way until that discussion is more relevant. (After all, do you really want to compete on price alone?)

3. Make the Call to Action a Call to Arms

The key word is “action.” Ask for what you want, but more importantly, tell customers what’s in it for them. Be direct. Be specific. Look at the difference it makes when you take a few carefully chosen words and aim them straight at your customer’s sense of self-interest:

  • “Want to see how remarkable a nearly invisible device can be? Come in today, we’ll make it easy for you to decide for yourself”
  • “Ready to involve yourself in life’s best moments again? Call to tell us what you’ve been missing!”

In addition to the verbiage of your call to action, incorporate a response mechanism to facilitate follow-through. For the majority of our audience at this point in time, it is critical to emphasize your phone number. Including a web address may add credibility to your business, but too many action options make it unclear what action is expected.

4. Keep It Simple

Make what you’re asking customers to do easy. If the next step to get them engaged is too complicated or not readily apparent, you risk losing them before they can act. Want to use a cool new QR Code? Understand that many people still do not know what they are or how to use them, let alone the lack of smartphones within our typical audience demographic (65+). Same thing for the web. Do you want to take an action-ready customer and send them to your website instead of having them make an appointment? Simplicity rules.

5. Follow Through

Once you’ve asked customers to do something, what’s next? How are you going to move the activity along to get a sale or create another engagement opportunity? If you have an invitation, allow them to RSVP. Do they need to call for more information? Be ready in the office, marketing is a team effort. Once you’ve gotten them to act, what are you doing to move these customers forward to the next level? Once you get them, don’t lose them!

6. Test, Measure, Adapt

Test and measure, if possible. We’ve found the most effective way to track results is by using a unique phone number on each marketing piece. Using a call tracking provider to manage those phone numbers helps in this process, and as an extra benefit gives you access to recorded calls that can be used to assess and train the team that fields your responses.

If something doesn’t work right away, continue playing with the components. Some “mechanisms” may not work now, but as technology and acceptance grows, other tactics will improve. See what works and apply it to the next effort. Repeat the steps above and tweak as needed to get customers engaged, and formulate an even more effective call to action.

Source: Target Marketing

Rumor: Direct Mail is Dead

Is direct mail dead?

No, but you need to follow some basic rules to ensure proper care and feeding. There’s a lot you can do to increase the likelihood of getting consistently solid results.

Some guidelines for effective direct mail:

  • Write to the people most likely to respond. Your top priority is to present your message to the right people. Who are they? Just take a look at your existing customers for the answer. Ask yourself questions like: Where do they live? How old are they? Carefully reviewing your database will give you some important insight.
    Of course, mailing to your existing customers will be the best list of all, but we’ll save that discussion for another post.
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  • Use a marketing formula known to work. The AIDA model of marketing is one example. AIDA consists of 4 different phases: Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action. Attention is the phase that sparks the interest of a consumer. It could be a unique design, special pricing, or a great offer. The Interest phase creates a desire for the product or service. Consumers want to know more about the product/service, its functions and features. Stimulating an action to buy is the Desire phase. After considering the functions and features of the product/service, desire may grow. Leading to the final phase, Action, where the consumer purchases the product/service. Since desire triggers action, the consumer will only buy when they finally conclude the product/service fulfills their desire.
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  • Mail constantly. Frequency of marketing, especially in direct mail, leads to awareness and response. People are in different stages of acceptance regarding their hearing loss. The chances of you sending a mailing to someone, at precisely the time they are contemplating a solution to their difficulties are exceptionally slim. It takes numerous “touches” for a potential patient to warm up to the idea they need to act on their situation. The good news is they are seeing messages like yours frequently; the bad news is they are seeing messages like yours frequently. If you aren’t keeping your messages in front of them they will have no choice but to act on your competitors offer.
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  • Test! Most people send just one mailing out and then base their conclusions about direct mail on that one result. You should develop an annual plan, then review it quarterly. Analyze the response, for sure, but also be certain to look closely at the target mailing area, the offer, the call-to-action (CTA), and the frequency of your efforts. Try new messages and packages until you find a combination that works. As long as you’re not sinking your last dollar into your marketing, a poor response is no big deal, because you learn something with each effort. When you identify a winning solution, stick with it. Don’t jump around to other things simply because you are bored with the material, let the results drive the process. Use that winning formula for the majority of your volume and continue to try other options to improve on the results.  If something does better, then switch.
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  • Pay attention to details. There’s an order things have to happen in for your mail to generate responses: it has to be delivered, then opened, then read, then acted upon. Consider your efforts with each stage in mind — make sure your list selection is well-tuned, an attention-getting tactic is obvious, there is a compelling offer that jumps out, and finally end with a strong call-to-action to close.  The majority of consumers who respond to direct mail prefer to be told specifically what to do next, don’t leave them hanging with a soft close!

So, to conclude… is direct mail dead?

No, the fact is, direct mail still works. Any problems you may be experiencing are likely to be caused by faulty implementation or poor execution, not the strategy. It isn’t rocket science and the biggest thing stopping most business owners from using direct mail successfully is an irrational fear of failure. While it might not be the stronghold that it once was, due to cost escalation and falling response rates, it is still an effective channel for hearing healthcare marketers to reach out directly to key prospects (and customers) in a robust marketing program that generates positive ROI.