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.

Which is it?

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Advertising is the most visible component of a marketing program.

Many people confuse marketing with advertising or vice versa. While both are important — they are very different. Knowing the difference and doing your homework can put your business on the path to substantial growth.

First, a review of the definitions for each and then an explanation of how (and why) marketing and advertising differ from one another:

Advertising: The paid, public, non-personal announcement of a persuasive message by an identified sponsor; the non-personal presentation or promotion by a firm of its products to its existing and potential customers.

Marketing: The systematic planning, implementation and control of a mix of business activities intended to bring together buyers and sellers for the mutually advantageous exchange or transfer of products.

It is easy to understand how these two can be confusing to the point that people think of them as one-in-the same, so let’s dig in a bit deeper.

Advertising is a single element of the marketing process. It’s the part that involves getting the word out concerning your business, a product, or the services you offer. It encompasses the process of developing strategies for ad placement, frequency, etc. Strategically determining the placement (and repetition) of an ad in useful media including newspapers, television, radio, and of course the Internet is part of the process. But, so is creating and using direct mail, or even billboards for that matter. Advertising is the largest expense on most marketing plans.

On the other hand, marketing is everything that the consumer encounters when it comes to  your business, from advertising, to what they hear, to the customer service that they receive, to the follow-up care that you provide. It’s  all marketing. Marketing creates the decision within the consumer whether or not to choose you initially, or again, for their repeat business.

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Marketing isn’t just the art, the logo, the brand – it’s the entire customer experience.

The best way to distinguish between advertising and marketing is to think of marketing as a pie, inside that pie you have slices. The slices consist of advertising, market research, media planning, public relations, product pricing, distribution, customer support, sales strategy, and community involvement. Advertising only equals one piece of the pie in the strategy. All of these elements must not only work independently but they also must work together towards the bigger goal. Marketing is a process that takes time and involves hours of development for a marketing plan to be effective.

You should think of marketing as everything that an organization does to facilitate an exchange between your business and its consumers. Taking into account the bigger picture helps to understand and appreciate the interconnected relationships between the elements that make your business thrive. If you only focus on advertising, you are setting yourself up for frustration and will likely only see the expenses. In this way you can not enjoy the full benefit of a tightly integrated marketing perspective. Think about it — your business may depend on it.

List Generation: Buying vs. Building

With any marketing strategy, it’s imperative to make sure you are targeting the right audience.  Development of target names and addresses, known as list generation, should be a priority in your planning and implementation strategy.  After all, if you don’t reach your intended audience, how will you generate sales?   But when attempting to reach this audience, is it better to buy a list or build your own?

Let’s look at the facts

When marketing, it's important to reach the right audience. Concentrate on your most qualified leads first and your target prospects second.

When marketing, it’s important to reach the correct target audience.

  • Buying a list is quick and easy.
  • Building a list takes time and resources.

So, what’s the best strategy?  The answer is: it depends.  Meaning, it depends   on who you are trying to target and what type of message you are communicating.

Buying a List

When your objective is to reach a new pool of prospects within your area, buying a list is necessary.  Whether that’s for direct mail or telemarketing, you’ll need to reach out to those prospects within the community who don’t yet know about your services.  Be sure that you are reaching the appropriate audience – in this case, the 65+ active senior and Baby Boomers.

While buying a list for the traditional outreach like direct mail and telemarketing will help feed the pipeline with new opportunities, we recommend steering clear of purchasing lists for digital marketing [i.e. email marketing].

Building a List

We all know that retaining a current customer is more cost-effective than bringing in a new customer.  That’s why developing your customer database for future marketing [out of warranty, tested not sold, etc.] is so important.  Your customer database [read more here] includes your most qualified leads – those that are not as price sensitive – and nurturing these relationships will reap continuous rewards.

Reaching out to your current database with targeted messaging across the traditional mediums – direct mail and telemarketing – will result in a higher response rate and more positive return on investment [ROI].  And as mentioned earlier, it’s best to take the time to build an email contact list by collecting email addresses from you customers – let them ‘opt in’ to receiving email communication from your practice.

What’s Next?

Once you have your targets identified [compiled from both your customer database and prospect lists], remember to develop a marketing plan to reach these consumers on a frequent and consistent basis.  Also, think about the communication strategy [i.e. “what you want to say”] in order to convey relevant messages to each segment of your list.  Your target audience will appreciate the time and effort you put into speaking to them based on their needs via the mediums they prefer and you will reap the rewards.

Questions?  Consult YHN Marketing is here to help!  Contact marketing at marketing@ConsultYHN.com

What Is Public Relations and Why Should I Implement It Into My Marketing Plan?

What Can Public Relations Do For Me?

A strong and effective public relations plan can build your practice’s reputation and position you in the best light with your community/target audience. With a competitive market especially in the hearing device industry, you need to determine strategies to stand out among your competitors. Incorporating public relations into your marketing plan increases awareness and highlights why your hearing healthcare services are the best.

Successful Public Relations is the development and telling of a good “story.” You may be curious as to how you can turn industry news or clinical information into a compelling story? The key is finding the hook.

For example:

Oticon recently unveiled its new Alta hearing device. Ask yourself:

  • How can this hearing aid make a difference in the lives of my current and prospective customers?
  • What new technologies does it feature?
  • How can it improve the quality of life for customers?

The stronger you develop the “story,” the greater the acceptance by the media and public, which will add to the success of your public relations strategy.

Positioning Yourself as an Industry Expert

The importance of integrating public relations into your overall marketing strategy continues to evolve. According to The Fall of Advertising and the Rise of PR (Harper Business) – American marketing strategists argue that public relations has become the most effective way to build a brand. Business owners, like you, become known in their respective fields of concentration through public relations and the associated media generated.  Therefore, integrating a public relations strategy into your overall business plan will help solidify you as an industry leader while bringing focus to your individual services.

Explore the Benefits of PR

Public Relations, if done right, can reach a large audience without the traditional expense associated with advertising and marketing. A few of the significant public relations benefits include the following:

  • An economical way to reach your target audience in masses
  • The awareness of, and the demand for, your company’s products or services
  • Strengthening your company image and perception
  • Painting the picture of a company that is active and innovative
  • Creating additional credibility within your community
  • Giving you an advantage over competitors that are not utilizing PR effectively
  • Increasing online visibility, when integrated into your digital marketing strategy

If PR is not a part of your marketing plan currently, it may be time to consider implementing a public relations campaign to complement your existing initiatives. PR is an influential and cost-effective way to reach key audiences and influencers. PR focuses on promoting your company, establishing your business’ identity, and maintaining credibility – all with the end result of building an engaged and happy customer base!

For additional information on getting a PR campaign started, please check out our other PR blog post here: Public Relations: Beyond the Parties & On a Budget or contact marketing at marketing@consultyhn.com to explore Consult YHN’s PR archives and ‘How Tos.’

More of: Do This, Not That (Part 2)

Want to know more of what not to do with your online presence? Here’s the remainder of our list of 10 do’s and 10 don’ts to keep your online activities on the right track in 2013.

Don’t: Hide your contact information away in an obscure spot or buried page.

Do: Present your contact information (address, phone number, email address) and other critical details noticeably on your website. No need to go overboard and plaster it in 60 point type everywhere either – that does not send the message you are looking for, does it? Make certain it is in one primary spot, then use the footer or text-based references to sprinkle it throughout the site. The same thing applies to listings, social media profiles, and any other online space that you have created. Be sure to check for accuracy and consistency across your entire online presence, it will help search engines recognize and elevate your business in local search rankings.

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Don’t: Disregard the fact that happy customers are your best promoters.

Do: Share positive reviews and comments from some of your best customers. It is up to you how elaborately you want to do this – whether written or via video clips. Video can be impromptu personal video camera quality, or professionally shot and edited, however you choose and whichever your budget allows. Use them on your website, social media pages, and/or company blog to establish credibility for your practice. This process ensures you are paying attention to feedback from your customers and provides a “voice” of your patients for others to gauge. That voice needs to be authentic and real, not prescribed and contrived – consumers can tell the difference.

Don’t: Assume you are immune to criticism, or take your reputation for granted.

Do: Create a plan for monitoring and managing your online reputation. Set up notifications, like Google Alerts, to be aware of what consumers are saying about you online. Also, follow up on any negative comments in a timely and professional manner. Do not engage in an online debate with an unhappy customer, take your actions offline and address them immediately. Be certain to recognize and thank customers who leave positive feedback.

pushpinsDon’t: Go unlisted online, or fail to extend your presence.

Do: Claim business listings on Google+ Local, Yelp, and other business directories. The term ‘free directory listings’ applies to local search engines, internet yellow pages, local vertical search engines, special directories (like free 800 listings), and consumer review websites that focus on local businesses rather than products,. By claiming your business listings in these places, you can ensure your information is current and accurate. Plus, by updating and optimizing your listings, you increase the chances that consumers will find you as they search online.

Don’t: Ignore or underestimate your online marketing campaigns.

Do: Just like in traditional direct marketing you must create smart, effective ads with strong calls to action (CTAs). In this market an online ad can be part of your customers’ research and possibly the first impression of your business, so make it a strong one. As in offline marketing, you need to actively monitor your campaign performance to see what works. Monitor campaigns frequently to assess the source for the most leads and adjust your efforts in real time. The key benefit of online marketing is the ability to make on-the-fly adjustments. Be sure to keep any online incentives, offers, or specials listed in your ads (or on your website/social media pages) up to date.