How Great is Your Practice? Let Customers be Your Biggest Fans!

It’s a great feeling when you get positive feedback in life.  Whether it’s kudos on a job well done, a compliment on the way you look or a ‘thank you’ for a good deed accomplished.  The same feeling applies to your practice, except it doesn’t have to be a passing note of gratitude.  Testimonials are a great and [semi] permanent way to tell the rest of the world how much your practice is loved, what a wonderful job you do and how satisfied your customers are – and even better, it’s feedback coming right from the consumer for other consumers to see!

If a customer gives you a 'thumbs up,' let the world know!

If a customer gives you a ‘thumbs up,’ let the world know!

Testimonials from customers can be used across various marketing mediums: in direct mailers, newspaper ads, on your website, in flyers [to physicians or the community] – the sky’s the limit!  The fist step is to ask for them.  A satisfied customer will be happy to compliment your practice.  Just ask them to fill out a compliment slip, complete a form on your website, write a recommendation letter or give a verbal testimonial – depending on the best format for them.  Always have the customer sign a release form so you can use said testimonials across all marketing and PR channels.  It’s no time to be modest – if you are providing excellent customer service while enhancing the quality of life for your patients the world has a right to know!

What happens if someone’s not satisfied?  Asking for feedback will eventually result in some negative comments as well.  But that’s okay.  This is an opportunity to find out what is dissatisfying the customer and quickly remedy the problem, turning a negative experience into a positive one for both the customer and you.

And what to do once you have all of these glowing testimonials collected?  Start integrating them into your marketing materials – where appropriate – based on the message.  For instance, in a direct mailer or newspaper ad, you’ll want to focus on the positive feedback regarding service and how long you’ve been serving the community [the mature and Boomers audiences LOVE this type of information]; for web based marketing, you want to show how you can save time for the Boomer audience and a sense of ‘well roundedness’ for the influencer audience; for physician marketing, you’ll want to showcase how important it is to the patient that their doctors work together to provide the best overall care possible.  You can utilize the testimonial in a variety of ways and speak to a number of audiences.

The best part is this is a free tactic that can be integrated into your messaging.  It’s the details in these testimonials that will set you apart from your competitors – positive feedback about your practice from your customers.

Get started today!

Manage Your Online Reputation

Do you know what you’ll see when you conduct a Google search for your own name? Most of us want to know what kind of information is out there about us and what others are saying about us on the Web. While we may chalk it up to curiosity, or even ego, we should be aware of the results.

As a business owner it is not a matter of vanity. It’s not just your own name, either—it’s also your brand. In fact, it is an extremely important part of marketing now, in this, the Google Age. What the search engines reveal about a business matters immeasurably.

Why It Matters

So why does it matter so much? Today consumers turn to the Internet more and more as a way of informing themselves and validating their purchasing decisions. They consult online resources for relevant facts and details, they scan reviews before spending money on products or services, and they keep their eyes open for complaints or negative BBB listings.

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What Business Are You Really In?

Why do your customers come to you? What do they really want when they wake up in the morning? In the early days of Priceline, a group of the founding executives discussed the fact that they were not selling airline tickets for a living. No, they existed to help get you to your sister’s wedding, at a price you could afford.

Think about it. Would you treat your customers differently if your job was to help them get to a sister’s wedding instead of just selling airline tickets? Of course you would.

If the music industry had realized that it existed not to sell records or CDs but simply to find the fastest, easiest way to let you hear the song you want to hear, they would have invented the iPod and iTunes. instead Apple, a company not even in the music industry, did that.

Why? Because the major music store chains never asked the question about why people bought music from them. They thought they knew the answer, after all wasn’t it obvious? “To buy CDs,” they had speculated. In hindsight, it’s easy to respond now with “I don’t think so.”

You can look at it this way, nobody anywhere wants to buy a CD. No one wakes up in the morning thinking to themselves, Wow, I wish I was holding a round piece of plastic with a hole in it right now. They wake up in the morning thinking, I want to hear that new song in my ear!

Those music businesses were trapped by the notion of how many millions of CDs they sell a year. They never made the connection between “They have to buy a CD” and “what they want is to put a song in their ear. ”

What’s the difference? The difference is this: Apple now makes billions of dollars selling music, while record companies and music stores have suffered years of declining sales. More recent innovations in music, like Spotify, an Internet music streaming service, don’t come from the music industry either. The very chain of stores that once led the industry has since filed for bankruptcy liquidation. All because the founders never stopped to think about why their customers really came to them.

So, what business are you really in?

Take this challenge: Ask your customers the real reason they come to you. Is it to get tested or buy a hearing aid? Who really wants a hearing aid? Think about it. More likely, what they really want is to enjoy conversations, not feel left out, or retain their personal relationships with others. Then you should really focus all your efforts on making what they want faster and easier to get.

Want to improve your business? Read.

Because you are reading this, it’s indicative of your passion for information and “knowledge is power” mindset.  It also shows that you understand your competitive advantage!

Many people view themselves as overly busy, stretched-too-thin business owners and leaders, who often don’t allow themselves the luxury of reading for business, pleasure, or at all.  Wouldn’t your time be better spent selling or finalizing payroll?  Not necessarily.

Deep, broad reading habits define great leaders.

Deep, broad reading habits define great leaders and can spark insight, innovation, empathy and personal success.  This translates into better business ideas, effective leadership and stronger organizations. But “Reading has declined among every group of adult Americans,” according to The National Endowment for the Arts – and this includes business people. 

I know what you’re thinking, “You’re telling me to read more?  Is that really the answer?  It seems too simple.”  Well, maybe everything you needed to know you really did learn in kindergarten!  If you’re a business owner, director or manager, you need to be a thought leader and finding inspiration, knowledge, information and trends is paramount.

You need to give yourself permission to stay connected to industry trends and delegate some of the tasks weighing you down in order to find inspiration.  Your employees will thank you for it – by paying attention to the big picture, you can give your direct reports a well-developed strategy, execution plan and follow up/follow through.

So, when you actually get a moment to read, where do you start?  Keeping abreast of the latest trends within your industry again is a wonderful starting point.  Also, consider expanding your knowledge base into other fields such as sociology, economic, psychology, etc. and applying principles to your organization.  This strategy makes you more likely to be innovative, prosperous and an effective leader.

What’s more, reading is actually a way to relax (which we all need!); reading for six minutes can reduce stress by 68%.  It also really does make you smarter, developing “a larger vocabulary and more world knowledge in addition to abstract reasoning skills.  So picking up a book or perusing the web really can’t hurt!

By focusing on expanding your mind and knowledge base, you will actually help your business grow (multi-tasking at its finest!).  Here are some takeaway points to consider:

  • Vary your reading.  If you typically only read the business and financial section of the New York Times, think about broadening your exposure to novels, history, biographies, etc.
  • Apply your reading to your job Using tactics, strategies and tips you’ve read can help you problem solve at work.
  • Encourage your team to read.  With more reading throughout the workplace, your colleagues and direct reports can raise the bar within the organization.
  • Read for pleasure.  Not all reading has to be focused on your profession.  Read for fun to relax and escape.

Source: Harvard Business Review

Your Company Brand

A company’s brand is among its most valuable assets. A strong brand — one known for providing quality products, services and solutions that add value — is essential for your company’s ongoing growth and success.

Many practices do very little to incorporate their brand assets as a prominent component in ALL of their business efforts. Why? Because small business owners often don’t have a brand strategy or believe it can be accomplished on a modest budget. Branding is part of everything you do. The first thing the public (your potential patients) hears or knows about your business is the name of the practice.

What’s in a Brand?

A company’s brand is how it’s perceived by customers, competitors and others outside the company. A well-respected brand with a strong recognition in the marketplace may be the most valuable asset your company owns and is one of the intangible assets that must be managed actively.

Branding is a phenomenon once confined to consumer products. However, branding has gained prevalence as an important factor in services and professional markets too. It is certain to become an increasingly important factor as practices seek ways to differentiate themselves. Are you a “me too” practice, or a unique entity ready to separate yourself from the competition?

Branding Begins at the Front Office

Since branding is all about perception and reputation, the most influential area for the success of your branding approach is right there in front of you each day. The front office staff, be it a receptionist, an office assistant, or any other person engaging with your patients [read: customers] to set appointments, answer calls, greet arrivals, thank exiting patients, or whatever – they are your “brand ambassadors” and must reflect your ideal image consistently. Then there’s marketing and advertising…

Marketing is not Branding (and Branding is not Marketing)

Investing a few thousand dollars into a direct mail program that doesn’t cause people to respond isn’t responsible marketing. Marketing involves an offer, to a select group of targeted individuals, with a specific call to action, and a deadline. In short, marketing is response driven and measurable. Advertising can be marketing, if it includes the key components (offer, call to action, deadline) or it can be purely to create awareness or impart an image – these are branding ads.

Different objectives, different results. Marketing efforts create current opportunities. Branding efforts create a lasting impression. So, the question is: Can marketing also deliver branding?  Yes, and no. To do both equally serves no one well, you need a strategy and a clear understanding of your goals. Creating good marketing that reinforces the brand (not leads with it) is the best solution.  It takes a steady approach to create, and a firm resolve to implement.  And, the results take time to develop through repetition and exposure.

How Do You Get Started?

This is where Consult YHN’s in-house creative services organization’s writers and graphic designers can add value to your business. We know the industry and we know the methods that have generated tried and true results. Working together we can help you define and build your brand while we generate patient opportunities for your practice.