The Biggest Marketing Pitfall and How to Avoid It

I’ve worked in the hearing industry for over 16 years, and there’s so much that’s changed in that time. Technology has advanced by leaps and bounds. The population of patients seeking help is growing faster than ever, and the connection between hearing health and overall wellness is indisputable.

On the flip side, there are countless new threats in the industry. The economy has gone through its cycles, COVID-19 has turned everything on its head, and patients are acting more like retail consumers than ever before.

Yet despite all these changes, there’s one thing that’s remained consistent. No matter the location, size, or type of business, when I talk to business owners or clinic administrators, they’re still asking the same two questions they asked 16 years ago: How do I generate more leads and how do I get more people through the door and on my schedule?

The marketing pitfall

The biggest mistake that practices make when trying to generate more leads is that they’re going about marketing all wrong. But before I can address that, you need to understand the traditional marketing pyramid.

At the bottom of the pyramid are the largest groups of people who are also the most competitive and most price sensitive. What I mean by that is that these people are the least connected to your practice, are least likely to identify having a problem with their hearing, and are more likely to be price shoppers because they don’t know what else is important in terms of hearing health.

As we go up the pyramid, the audience gets smaller, but they become more likely to be aware of your practice, have a hearing loss, be motivated to do something about it, and see the value in the services and care that accompany the hearing devices. Therefore, they’re less competitive and less price sensitive.

So back to the biggest mistake: it’s that most businesses rely too much on the bottom of the pyramid by focusing on traditional marketing efforts that drive NEW patients in the door. Don’t get me wrong, that should still be part of your strategy, but you must also make a significant effort to get your message to the people higher up in the pyramid. I see many practices taking those top four groups for granted and not mining their database to ensure that those people who have already been referred to you or seen in the practice have equal attention from a marketing standpoint.

Why providers neglect their database

I know, you feel like you’re bothering them, right? You think patients will come back to your practice when they’re ready to upgrade their devices because they already know and trust you and that patient recall feels too salesy.

But have you ever tried to see it through a different lens? Perhaps you’re not bothering patients but rather demonstrating to them that you care. Yes, some may return to you when it’s time for them to upgrade their devices. But if you haven’t kept in touch, many won’t. Instead, they’re more likely to respond to someone else’s marketing campaign and go elsewhere to purchase their next set of hearing aids (45 percent, in fact).

I’d argue that maintaining contact with your existing patients and the prospects in your database is actually the opposite of salesy—it’s the ultimate demonstration of caring. We can all agree that hearing health is a critical component of a patient’s overall wellness. If you as a hearing professional aren’t fanatical about getting this across to your patients, then I guarantee no one else will convince them of it for you.

Getting started with strategic database marketing

Why recreate the wheel when you can let Consult help you develop and implement your entire database marketing strategy? We have tried and true processes, programs, templates, and strategic partnerships to help you avoid the pitfall of ignoring the most important section of the traditional marketing pyramid.

Just to name a few…

But you don’t have to adopt it all at once. Pick one or two new strategies to try, then utilize Consult’s Account Management team to take on the planning, implementation, training, and tracking right along with you. We can help you minimize the workload and maximize your return on investment!

Reach Out to Your Patients Today!

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.

Real Mistakes Audiologists Have Made & How to Avoid Them

We talk a lot about patient satisfaction and how to ensure that the next patient who walks through your door leaves happy. But what if they don’t? Have you really helped them?

We spoke to two different patients about their first audiology experiences and uncovered several mistakes that should not be done by an audiologist or practice. Note: names have been changed to protect their privacy.

Patient #1: Rocco

Rocco is in his mid-eighties and very healthy. He likes to take long walks, watches what he eats, even plays basketball with the men’s club from church twice a week. Rocco’s wife visits an ENT at least twice a year for cerumen removal and thought that because she can’t hear until her ears are cleaned out, that that must be Rocco’s problem as well. The otolaryngologist ran a few tests, didn’t find excess wax in Rocco’s ears, but decided to send him down the hall to the audiologist for a hearing test.

After a quick “hello,” the audiologist sent him into the booth. Afterward, the audiologist showed Rocco his audiogram and informed him he had “a significant problem” with his hearing. She then told him to “come back in six months for another test and we’ll see where we go from there.” Rocco learned nothing about his hearing loss or hearing aids. The audiologist simply handed him a copy of his audiogram and walked him out. Over a year later, Rocco still hasn’t gone back to the audiologist for another test. His family continues to struggle to communicate with him and vice versa.

What to do instead:

  • Tell patients about yourself.
    You can’t expect patients to trust you if they don’t know who you are. A 30-second video introducing yourself, outlining your credentials, and explaining why you became an audiologist can go a long way in reassuring patients they’ve chosen the right person to trust with their hearing health. Be sure to have this information on your website as well. Share your WHY with patients—they want to hear from you! Prepare a quick statement as to why you do what you do and why they are in the right place.
  • Educate them.
    Seize every opportunity to share your knowledge about hearing health and its importance on one’s overall wellness. The more you educate those who don’t know what you do, the more your business (and our industry) will benefit. Patients should know what to expect before they step foot in your office and definitely before you put them in the booth. Explaining the testing process and the audiogram in advance creates greater transparency not to mention easing the fears patients might have.
  • Focus on the patient.
    No matter how busy your schedule might be, it’s crucial that you give each patient the time and attention they deserve. Making patient counseling a priority can result in greater patient satisfaction and better clinical outcomes. Encourage patients to share their stories by asking opened-ended questions during the intake interview. Knowing how hearing loss affects their lives and relationships will give you a better feel for their readiness and motivation for treatment. You can’t provide patient-centric care if you don’t understand each patient’s unique journey.
  • Don’t pre-judge.
    Give every patient who is a candidate for hearing aids the opportunity to listen to or “demo” the technology. By educating patients and giving them a chance to listen to what’s new, you are empowering them to make the best decision for their hearing health. Don’t assume that a patient’s hearing loss “doesn’t seem bad enough” or that he/she “isn’t ready.” Instead, educate the patient so they can make the most informed decision.

Patient #2: Grace

Grace is a 94-year-old grandmother who’s been wearing hearing aids for more than two decades. She needed to upgrade her devices and called the practice she’d been going to for many years, but the phone was disconnected, and her granddaughter couldn’t find any information about them online anymore. Begrudgingly, Grace found a new practice and purchased new hearing aids, but the hearing aids are still not right and she’s not happy.

What to do instead:

  • Keep in touch!
    Your relationship with a patient should never end after they leave your office, regardless of the outcome of their appointment. Following up with patients after their appointment will reduce the chances of them going elsewhere when it comes time to upgrade. In addition to scheduling a follow-up appointment two weeks after the fitting, we recommend our practices call the patient one to two days after the fitting to check-in and ask a positive question like “What’s the best thing you’ve heard with your new hearing aids?” to get immediate feedback, start a positive dialogue, and address any immediate issues/concerns. Also, this should go without saying, but if you move, someone buys your clinic, or you retire, you should notify your patients.
  • Continue to educate.
    Even if a patient’s hearing aids are functioning properly, he/she may not be hearing at their best potential. Continue to invite your patients in for annual evaluations and consistently notify them of updates in hearing aid technology. Who knows—they may be ready for an upgrade before you realize! Another great way to use Vidscrip is to create a series of tutorial videos that educate patients on how to care for and get the most out of their new devices. Remember: a satisfied patient is a loyal one.

    The Consult Development Programs offer ongoing professional growth opportunities for providers, including procedural best practices and increasing help rates.

    Talk to your Account Manager to learn more!

    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.

    Physician Marketing: Expert Tips for Boosting Referrals

    Physician marketing is essential in today’s increasingly competitive landscape. There are many ways to bring new patients through your door, but when they come from a physician referral, they are that much more ready and willing to take the critical next step in their hearing healthcare journey. That’s because their provider—the person they trust with their health—has recommended that they go to you for treatment.

    So, it makes sense why the goal becomes to not only attract more patients but also build and maintain lasting relationships with physicians. How do you get that relationship off the ground? The answer is actually quite simple—it’s all about messaging, visibility, and consistency.

    Messaging

    Becoming a trusted resource to your local physicians is the first step in establishing a mutually beneficial relationship. Of course, finding the right message can be overwhelming because there’s a lot to say. New studies are being released all the time linking untreated hearing loss to copious other social, psychological, cognitive, and physical health issues. Fortunately, you can find a variety of physician marketing collateral on Consult MarketSource, all of which can be customized with your practice logo and information.

    So how do you know exactly what information and data will be most helpful? You have to ask questions! Dig deep. Find out what resonates most with each physician, then bring resources to them for that particular area of interest. Share insights every time you visit the practice and make it a golden rule that whenever you give information, you always try to get information in return. This is how you continue to build a rapport, show value, and become a hearing health expert in their eyes.

    Visibility

    Local physicians need to see you out there serving the community and completing the circle of care for their patients. They don’t know what they don’t know—you must get in front of them so that they know you exist, and you can share your knowledge! Yes, this can be challenging. Doctors certainly don’t have a lot of spare time to dedicate to you—and that’s even if you’re able to visit their office right now with COVID-19-related safety protocols in effect. The physician marketing landscape has changed a lot since the spring of 2020—but not necessarily for the worst.

    While there are areas of the country where community events are still being held and physician offices will allow visitors without appointments, the rise of virtual meetings and community events has actually increased your chances of getting face-time with decision-makers. Physicians who used to say they didn’t have time to meet with you may now be willing to book a ten-minute virtual meeting because of the convenience. Through our exclusive partnership with Vidscrip, Consult is also working on creating a video solution for physician marketing. The future feature would allow doctors to text you when they have a free minute then allow you to reply with a short video explaining how you can work with them to improve their patients’ overall wellness.

    Consistency

    Finally, consistency is key. The most common mistake to avoid is visiting every single doctor in your area once. Sure, you’ll see everyone, but no one will remember you. Be strategic, especially since your time in the field/office is limited. Find the top practices you want to capture referrals from and visit/call on them weekly. Develop a secondary list of practices and see/call on them twice a month. If you have remaining time, develop a third list of practices you’d like to visit and learn more about them. The best-case scenario is you run into a gold mine and need to shift priorities! Whatever you do, just make sure not to overextend yourself—have a feasible target list, and prioritize your visits accordingly.

     
    Unfortunately, there’s no silver bullet for physician marketing. Achieving your desired type of referral flow requires a combination of different approaches and tactics. Ask any practice that does this type of marketing successfully and they’ll tell you there is a myriad of strategies they execute to receive the high volume of referrals that they do. And, they would agree that messaging, visibility, and consistency are necessary to this success.

    So, make sure you have a strong, compelling elevator pitch, present useful information, offer insights and ask questions, create a physician list that you can realistically work through, and visit/call on those offices regularly. If you do this, you’ll be well on your way to becoming THE local expert on hearing health.

    If you need help launching, expanding, or adjusting your physician marketing program, Consult is here to help. Talk to your Account Manager or contact us today!

    About the Author

    Kate Thomas is an Assistant Account Manager and has been with Consult YHN since 2009. Before moving into her current role in 2016, she worked in the company’s Recruiting Department. Kate supports the East division and their accounts through front office and physician marketing trainings, community outreach support, and anything else needed to help practice owners achieve their professional goals. When not working, Kate enjoys gardening, yoga, meditation, running, hiking, cooking, and anything else that allows her to use her creative mind. Whatever she’s doing, it almost always involves her husband and three beautiful children.

    Six Tips for Building & Maintaining a Stellar Online Reputation

    We live in an age when a business’s online reputation can either be one of its strongest assets or a major liability. The modern patient has more options than ever when it comes to their healthcare, not to mention a plethora of information at their fingertips at all times. And you can bet they are doing their due diligence before choosing a new doctor.

    Not only are prospective patients reading your online reviews (8 out of 10), but they’re reading more than just one or two (more like 10+), and an overwhelming majority (85 percent) trust them as much as personal recommendations.

    We all want healthcare providers we can trust. And in 2021, nothing is more powerful in building that trust than positive online word-of-mouth. If your practice has a poor overall review score, it could be driving away hundreds of leads a year into the arms of your competitor.

    Aside from attracting new patients, online reviews can also help your practice retain more existing patients, increase patient satisfaction, and improve your Google search rank. Google uses more than 15 percent of review “signals” (i.e., review quantity, velocity, diversity, positive vs. negative sentiment, etc.) as one of the most important local organic search ranking factors. It also displays review information in its listing when someone searches for a specific provider.

    So, how do you build and maintain a stellar online reputation? Below are six tips guaranteed to help you obtain more five-star reviews as well as boost the overall credibility and visibility of your brand online.

    1. Ask patients for online reviews.

    Soliciting patients for reviews makes many healthcare providers uncomfortable. Being open to feedback is essential to building a loyal and satisfied patient base. Patients can provide tremendous insight about your practice and the level of care and service provided. As for the different ways to ask patients to review your practice…

    • Automated emails and/or text messages: In 2021, sending review requests via text or email through your marketing automation software is a must. Not only does it require very little work from you, but it simplifies the process for patients. It’s best to personalize these requests with the patient’s name and send them one to three days following their appointment. Thank them for their visit, let them know how much you value patient feedback, then ask them to share their experience and include a link to one or more of your review websites. To comply with HIPPA when asking patients for reviews, be sure to let them know they can post anonymously and don’t need to include any personal health information or details about their visit.
    • Marketing collateral: Essentially, any materials your practice is already giving or sending patients following appointments are ideal places to ask them for reviews—appointment cards, after-care instructions, letters, postcards, etc. Include instructions on how and where they can review your practice and a link or use a QR code they can scan with their smartphone. Two other great places to request reviews: your newsletter and on flyers throughout your office.
    • On your website: While you want prospects to find your practice on the top review websites they might be checking (more on that later), it’s worth noting that you don’t own any reviews that are posted through a third-party site. Having a landing page on your own website dedicated to patient reviews will ensure you have plenty of great testimonials to use for marketing purposes. You do, however, want to include links to your third-party review sites on that page.
    • On social media: Social media is perfect for sharing all the amazing reviews you receive as well as asking for new ones. You can post the link to your website’s reviews/testimonials page or ask followers to leave a review right there on your Facebook page.
    • Ask during appointments: Over 70 percent of consumers say they’ll leave a business a review when asked. So, directly asking patients face-to-face while they’re in the office could very well be the best strategy if you want your number of online reviews to soar. Have your front office staff mention it to patients on their way out, perhaps while handing them a postcard with instructions. There’s also plenty of ways providers can bring it up casually as they’re wrapping up with patients. Here are two examples:
      • “It was great seeing you today, Suzie! When you get a chance, would you mind leaving the practice a review on our website or Google? A lot of people look at online reviews nowadays and I want to help as many great patients like you as possible.”
      • “In a day or so, you’ll be receiving an email with instructions on how to leave us a review online and I’d appreciate it if you could take a minute to do that because I really value the feedback I receive from patients.”

    7 out of 10 people will provide an online review if they are asked

    2. Make it easy for patients to leave reviews.

    The more options you can give patients on how and where to leave your practice reviews online, the more likely they are to follow through. It should be easy for them to review your practice whenever it’s convenient for them, on any device (smartphone, tablet, or desktop), and on whichever platform they prefer and can easily access at that moment. To decide which of the many review sites you should be on, check which ones your competitors use and ask patients which ones they visit most often. While your website, Google, Facebook, and Healthy Hearing are the top platforms we recommend, others may also be worthwhile—Yelp, Healthgrades, YellowPages, ZocDoc, etc. Google’s algorithm favors businesses that have reviews on multiple, credible third-party sites but looks at the number and quality of the reviews on your Google My Business profile first.

    88% of patients use a Google search to find a physician or treatment center while only 30% search directly on a review site

    3. Respond to every review—positive or negative.

    If a patient takes the time to sing your praises, the polite thing to do is to acknowledge it and thank them. It gives patients the instant gratification of being “seen” and heard online and, more importantly, shows them you value their time and opinion. Your response doesn’t need to be lengthy—a simple, “Thank you for your feedback” or “We’re so happy to hear you had a positive experience at our practice,” will do.

    So, what do you do when you receive the dreaded one-star review? Before you respond, take a moment to think back to that patient’s appointment. Maybe even share the review with your staff and have them collectively reflect on every touchpoint they had with that patient. Think about why he/she could have felt compelled to leave such a review. Don’t react right away but do try to respond within 24-48 hours. Also, avoid a generic response that doesn’t address any of the specific complaints/issues raised in the review. When possible, it’s best to personalize your responses by including the person’s name and details about their experience. Apologize then thank them for their feedback and communicate that you plan to make improvements based on their interaction. For example:

    • “We set a high standard for our practice, and we are so sorry that this was not met in your interaction with us.”
    • “We always aim to deliver a great experience, and we are gutted when we don’t meet expectations. Thanks for taking the time to bring this to our attention. We will use your feedback to improve our procedures to ensure this doesn’t happen again.”

    Will your response be enough to convince that dissatisfied reviewer to give you a second chance? Maybe. At the very least, it leaves room for the possibility. Whereas an aggressive or insincere response or no response at all almost certainly ensures they’ll be getting their hearing health needs met elsewhere in the future (not to mention potentially turning other potential patients away). Lastly, try not to dwell too much on negative reviews—no business can expect to receive five stars every time. Instead, use them as a learning opportunity and focus on getting more positive reviews.

    53% of customers expect businesses to respond to their online review within 7 days and 20% expect a response within 24 hours

    4. Share your successes and positive reviews.

    Highlighting your expertise and achievements as well as the positive experiences of your patients can do wonders to set your practice apart online. Share rave reviews regularly on your social media pages in addition to displaying them on your website. The same goes for the rest of your successes. Recently received an award or made a local “Best Of” list? Featured in an article or local news broadcast? Celebrating an anniversary or expanding to a new location? Involved in a local organization or cause? Shout it from the rooftops! Don’t be so modest. We all expect businesses to brag from time to time and are instinctively more trusting of businesses with accolades worth bragging about.

    94% of consumers say that positive reviews make them trust a local business more

    5. Make sure your website is up-to-date and user-friendly.

    Simply put: people (as well as Google) are less trusting of businesses that have outdated, messy, and/or poor-performing websites. Today’s consumers expect and demand a seamless browsing experience. That said, you should periodically check to make sure the links on your site work, its pages load fast (under 3 seconds), and the information most visitors are seeking (your contact info, hearing aid information, hearing health tips, etc.) can be found quickly and easily. One of the most important characteristics of a user-friendly website is mobile compatibility/responsiveness. If your practice uses postcards or flyers with QR codes to request and collect online reviews, that means patients will be writing reviews on their mobile devices. Thus, your site needs to be as easy to access and use via smartphone as it is on a desktop.  

    60% of consumers read online reviews on their mobile device in 2020

    6. Be consistent.

    Just because you’ve amassed hundreds of reviews and have a perfect, five-star rating, that doesn’t mean you should take your foot off the gas. While top-rated reviews are great, consumers only look at a business’s most recent reviews. If your best review is from five years ago, it’s not going to be as relevant in their mind (a lot can change in five years!). You want to make sure you always have a consistent flow of fresh reviews coming in. Fresh reviews provide new content for the search engines to discover, thus helping more potential patients find you. Updating your website and social media pages frequently with new reviews can also increase the number of reviews you receive.

    73% of consumers only pay attention to reviews written in the last month

    In conclusion, your practice’s online reviews have a direct impact on its bottom line. The easiest and most effective way to gain more reviews and manage your online reputation is to use a review generation tool like Consult’s Online Review Builder. This simple software add-on sends automated review requests and reminders to patients, flags, and filters out negative responses (allowing you to respond to them discreetly), gathers reviews from several popular websites, and displays them on your website’s reviews page. Talk to your digital partner—even if it’s not us, chances are they have a similar service that will integrate seamlessly with your existing software and systems. Lastly, make sure you know what people are saying about your practice online. It only takes a few minutes but by ignoring your reviews, you could be missing out on hundreds of new patients every year.

    Find out how Consult’s in-house marketing agency can take your digital marketing to the next level!

    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.

    Patient Recall: The Key to a Successful Comeback Plan

    During the COVID-19 shutdowns this spring, many practices struggled with finding the right way to communicate with patients. Overwhelmingly, practices that followed a plan and stayed connected to their database and/or used a service like Your Patient Contact Center (YPCC) to make calls to patients realized two great benefits.

    First, those practices reassured patients that they were still there for them and would continue to serve their hearing healthcare needs moving forward. As business returned to normal, those practices kept patients informed about the additional safety procedures they put in place as well as any changes to their hours and services. A remarkably large percentage of practices were quick to implement curbside service and offer remote care options to patients who couldn’t come into the office.

    Second, but equally important, it was their existing customers who felt most comfortable coming back into their clinics and purchasing new devices. Whether it was a result of pent up demand or increased family interaction placing a greater value on hearing healthcare in general, it was these patients and their purchases that led to the recovery of many practices.

    Of course, this didn’t just happen overnight—it was the practices that put a concerted effort into patient recall that saw the quickest recovery to their business. These practices strengthened their patient relationships and stayed top-of-mind because they took the time to pick up the phone and call their patients. They checked to see if their patient’s existing devices were working optimally or upgraded them to newer technology.

    In addition to being a smart business strategy, patient recall is and always has been founded in good healthcare. You need to remain in contact with patients—before, during, and after each sale—to maintain a loyal database. Now, more than ever, it’s vital to invest in patient recall. Not only is new customer acquisition expensive, but the industry is becoming more competitive every year. Leveraging your relationships with existing patients is simply the most cost-effective way to build brand loyalty, drive awareness, and increase patient referrals.

    Finally, let’s consider another challenge practices face in maintaining patient relationships: rechargeability. For many years, practices have relied on free or low-cost batteries to keep their patients coming back. While certainly a great innovation, rechargeable hearing aids have significantly reduced the number of office visits patients need to make. That’s why practices need to put greater emphasis on outbound calls to engage their database. At Consult YHN, our most successful Associates make patient outreach a priority and are rewarded because of it.

    When it comes down to it, you have two choices: hire an additional staff member to handle your outbound dialing or outsource it to a service like YPCC. The good news is that we can help you with either decision. We hear a lot of practice owners express initial concern about the cost of patient recall. What many don’t realize is that it’s actually an incredible bargain when you consider the end result: a more loyal patient database, increased sales, and most importantly, better patient care.

    Click here to learn more about Your Patient Contact Center or talk to your Account Manager today to get started!

    About the Author

    Bill Connerton is the National Vice President of Sales at Consult YHN. Bill has been with the company since 2011 and has worked extensively with some of the largest practices in the country. He has developed and lead a team of Account Managers that drive behavior change in practices, including the development of business owners who partner with Consult YHN.