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!
Welcome to 2016!
The world has become a show-me-you-know-me marketplace. Meaning, if companies want to keep customers happy and loyal they must first prove just how valuable customers are by making every interaction personal and relevant to their needs. The same is true for prospective customers and your database is full of those!
Locating prospects within your database offers huge opportunities.
So, how do you reach those prospects in an efficient and effective manner? The best messages are driven by customer insights that enable extremely relevant communications. In other words, the answer is right there in your own patient database. You already know more about your prospective customers than you may think.
Poor data quality may be a common barrier, but there are strategies for optimizing the data you have to reach prospects wherever they are in the customer cycle.
Consult YHN has examined the basic steps to increasing your marketing efficiency and how to create messaging that truly stands out. This strategy will be discussed at Convention 2016 coming up in February along with a presentation on the tactics and tools we suggest for getting started.
Attendees will be able to:
- Identify and understand more precisely who your high-value prospects (and customers) are
- Create customer profiles for select target audiences
- Improve business results by identifying and segmenting customers and prospects within the database
- Deliver more personalized and relevant messages to high-value prospects
Join us in February; be ready to face the continuing changes within the hearing healthcare marketplace by meeting the challenges head-on! Register today if you haven’t already, there’s plenty of time to sign up. For more event info go to AHAAconvention.com or to register for the event you can go directly here.
I have spoken with numerous Associates who turn to Consult YHN for help because their current marketing “isn’t working.” When I ask what they have been doing from a marketing perspective, they typically mention direct
mail, newspaper and digital marketing activities. While these initiatives are certainly important, the strategy that goes into delivering them in a coordinated way is certainly worth your time and consideration.
In order to have a successful marketing strategy, three important elements need to be integrated into your practice’s approach:
1, Database Outreach
Why is this important?
Some practices only focus on bringing new people in the door, which while important, fails to consider the opportunities that already exist in your database. Consider the marketing dollars and time that you have already invested to build your current database. You’ll want to make sure you focus on existing customers just as often as you try to reach new ones. Current patients (not just those who are OOW) are not only more qualified leads, but they can also help build brand loyalty by being spokespeople for your services. Then there are “prospects,” the names in your database who did not make a purchase, but who responded to one of your previous marketing activities. Prospects have demonstrated some level of interest in either your practice or in addressing hearing loss depending on how they came to be in your system. Think about the different names you have on file – there are likely TNS, TNC and cancel/no shows at a minimum. Make sure you are continuously working on your relationship with all of them, customers and prospects alike!
How to implement?
First, you need to capitalize on EVERY opportunity that comes through your door. It’s important to track where the patient came from (direct mail, phone call, website and referral) and the result of their visit (tested with or without a hearing loss). These “opportunities” can also include referrals that canceled an appointment or those that completed a hearing evaluation and presented with a loss but did not purchase. Remember, every customer falls into at least one category; and you’ll need to work to keep him or her tethered to your practice.
When analyzing your database and determining how to communicate with the different types of customers, begin by segmenting them into different groups. Develop relevant messaging that’s specific to the needs of each segment and determine the best way or ways to reach them – via letter, phone call, or both! Database marketing tends to be one of the top opportunity drivers – since the customer is already somewhat familiar with your business – and typically results in a higher percentage of hearing aids sold.
2. Referral Programs
Why is this important?
Many practice owners express hesitation about asking for referrals because they don’t want to be thought of as “pushy.” Consider this: if a customer has a positive experience, why wouldn’t you encourage them to tell others about it in order to potentially help more people hear well? Similarly, if a physician is concerned about a patient’s hearing, why not become a trusted referral partner to offer excellent care? Plus, referrals afford your practice the opportunity to educate more of the community on hearing health and conservation.
How to implement?
For patient referrals, the process is fairly straightforward – ask every patient if he/she knows anyone who can benefit from a free hearing screening. Then, obtain contact information and follow up with a phone call to schedule a free hearing screening. We also recommend handing out referral cards to patients and ask that they pass them along to others. This type of outreach – word of mouth – is an age-old form of marketing and it’s free!
Physician referrals, on the other hand, can be more time consuming. We recommend having a dedicated physician liaison on staff to visit local doctors on a consistent basis to establish and maintain relationships. Practices with a personal connection to local physicians enjoy a more active referral program over time. Some support tools for your physician liaison include educational handouts on hearing loss and referral slips for physicians to distribute to patients.
3. Marketing & Advertising
Why is this important?
While I have touched on the value of leveraging your current database, it is also crucial that you continue marketing efforts aimed at getting new people in the door. Before you can acquire those potential customers they have to know your practice exists. Building a content-rich website, sending out direct mailers, employing a telemarketer and running ads in the local newspaper all help to build your brand and encourage new patients to utilize your services (note: including a call-to-action and offers within these tactics increases response rates). This type of advertising also helps educate your community about hearing health and wellness.
How to implement?
Those tactics can get costly, so you’ll want to have a well-planned strategy. Develop a plan that reaches your target audience through a multi-channel approach. As you execute your plan, it is vital that you effectively track the results and review them frequently to course-correct where needed. If you are going to invest time and money in marketing your practice, you’ll want to make sure your budget is maximized! If you don’t know where to start, ask us. Consult YHN has helped many Associates overcome marketing inertia.
When all three approaches – database outreach, referral programs, and marketing & advertising – are integrated into your practice, you will be amazed by the results. Do you want to start driving more opportunities into your practice today? Call your Associate Manager or contact Consult YHN Marketing – we’ll work together to develop a customized plan for your practice.
All too often, business owners make the mistake of focusing solely on transactional marketing. This form of marketing takes a “one and done” approach and emphasizes the short-term goal of a single sale. Some business owners fall into the routine of running an ad or dropping a mailer with the sole intent of attracting “new” customers in order to meet short-term goals. However, when you exist in this transactional state, you may lose sight of the strategies needed to sustain your business over the long-run. There was a time not long ago when we could get by with this approach, but competitive forces have changed the marketing landscape. Let us help you shift your mindset to also embrace customer engagement and become a relationship marketer.
What is relationship marketing?
Relationship marketing is the practice of nurturing personal connections with your customers in order to build long-term brand loyalty. While implementing traditional marketing initiatives – direct mailers, ads, inserts, etc. – will get the conversation started, building relationships with your audience will keep that conversation going. Customers who are loyal to your practice will become your brand advocates. They will be using the most effective form of marketing for your business for FREE – word of mouth. Fostering relations with your brand advocates through relationship marketing is key in growing your referral program through word of mouth, social media interactions and online reviews.
How do I practice relationship marketing?
Relationship marketing is essential in the healthcare industry – patients want to know that they are truly being cared for, and not just seen as a potential sale. The best approach to strengthen connections with current patients is to continually reach out to them with relevant messaging in the media they prefer. Staying in touch with patients through phone calls, birthday cards, and personalized letters makes them feel they are getting special attention. These efforts help to create a connection that moves you beyond a transactional relationship. Some great ways to stay connected are through your tested-not sold and out-of-warranty patients or by following up with other specific segments of your database.
Additionally, the patient experience is impacted by every member of your staff. Consider each contact with customers a single touch point within a larger experience. Every interaction is a chance to enhance the customer experience and build upon that coveted relationship. A positive principle to remember: build relationships first, transactions will follow!
If you are interested in learning more about how Consult YHN can help your practice grow through relationship marketing, contact your Associate Manager or Consult YHN Marketing.
When I began my career in marketing over a decade ago, my world was very different. Reflecting upon this time with what I now know, I admit that there was a lot of guesswork, trial and error was often a “strategy,” and the concept of tracking was a “nice to have.” It wasn’t just because it was early in my own career; it’s just how things were done. At the time, most of my clients were focused on their newspaper and direct mail efforts and were obsessed with the creative side of things. They reluctantly dabbled in digital media [which was barely a “thing”] with a “state-of-the-art” HTML website – and this was only when they had a few dollars left in the budget and were told ad nauseam it was a good idea. These approaches were acceptable for the time, but there’s been a LOT of evolution at a breakneck pace over the past decade. As a marketer, I’ve continued to run to keep up [and have enjoyed every minute of it]!
Truth be told, during the early 2000’s it was a bit of a “churn and burn” approach to marketing – which campaign can we implement now to obtain a few new customers, never to think about them again after purchase? Since there wasn’t much data analysis, when a client “felt” like something didn’t work, they’d pull the plug and often prematurely abort an otherwise successful program. Plus, social media was in its infancy and you were lucky if you carried the latest flip phone…
Fast forward to [almost] 2015 and it’s truly a different world. There are many things I’m grateful for – the focus on segmented, targeted messaging, a high level of importance placed on tracking and analytics and the power of the consumer. The last point might be the most significant switch – as marketers we need to constantly focus on customer experience, retention and communication preference. This concept is a wonderful touchstone to consider when planning and implementing marketing strategies. We now find ourselves continuously asking: What resonates with the customer? How do they like to be reached [via text, email, direct mail, etc.]? What does “great” look like to them? How can we better reach, speak with and connect with our customer?
Successful communication with the customer is hinged upon targeted messaging via the appropriate medium, not just about the creative campaign – this is a significant cultural shift in the world of marketing. The mass messaging approach of yester year is a waste of time, energy and resources. Today’s consumer is highly educated and motivated to purchase based on their needs and preferred buying habits. Understanding these preferences – and communicating to each consumer in a relevant way – is the key to capturing their business, making them a repeat buyer and [hopefully] obtaining referrals for your business and/or product.
The main way today’s consumers become so informed and savvy is through online research, including price shopping, product reviews, and referrals from peer-to-peer interactions [social media]. These are the main reasons that today’s marketing strategies and tactics are so digitally focused. It’s important for potential clients to be able to find your business via online mediums. You’ll want to ensure that you’re online reputation is stellar; this is accomplished through online reviews, social media exposure and ongoing content [regular blog postings].
Regardless of the industry, times change and marketing is often a significant driving force. I know that both my professional and personal experiences have changed because of marketing. Those who pay attention to the changes, embrace the journey and transform along the way are the ones who’ll have the most success!