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.

customers

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.

Marketing in 2013: Active vs. Passive Mediums

Welcome to 2013, another year and 365 more opportunities to make marketing work for you.  There are many mediums that compete for your overall budget and with all of the options available from direct mail to print to digital, how do you know which marketing tactics are best for your practice?

We’ll explore the difference between ‘active’ and ‘passive’ mediums and reinforce the importance of planning. Let’s first indulge in an exercise to assess which category you fall into — from a planning perspective.

Have you:

  1. Developed and stuck to a marketing plan in 2012 then reviewed tracking and ROI to put a plan in place to meet goals for 2013?
  2. Gone without a plan in 2012 then subsequently develop one for 2013 – with a calendar in place along with tracking mechanisms to evaluate the response and ROI on all initiatives?
  3. Found yourself panicking, “shooting from the hip,” trying “this and that,” and doing a lot of finger crossing with little or no actual results tracking?

Where do you land?

Obviously scenarios 1 and 2 will set you up for a successful 2013 from a marketing perspective [if you are part of that third group, let’s talk!].  Even after you have your ‘plan’ in place, how do you know which media is best to use?  Or, what the difference is between direct response [active] and branding [passive] mediums, and when to use them?

Direct response mediums are those that have a call-to-action and drive traffic to your practice; i.e. direct mail, print ads and online [in that order].  These are the critical, primary initiatives that will help you meet your opportunity objectives.  Other media, such as TV and radio are considered ‘passive’ mediums, which don’t necessarily drive traffic, but often act as a ‘branding’ exercise instead.  Sometimes this exercise comes at a high budgetary cost without much immediate value apparent — and knowing that beforehand is half the battle.

as seen on TVWhat do we have against TV and radio?  Actually, nothing, when used in conjunction with direct response mediums and when realistic expectations have been set.  One big drawback to both mediums is that they are hard to track [even with a phone number associated with them].  In our industry, it’s difficult for the hearing impaired to hear the phone number over the radio and often times phone numbers on TV flash by too quickly.

We all know that some businesses have thrived on direct response TV [think Ginsu Knives or George Foreman Grills] but they are considered ‘long form’ ads or infomercials. They overcome the challenges of conveying the call to action through repetition, which is made possible by the length of the spot. Or, when in short form, the ads run with great repetition – often multiple times in the same segment.  Either way is extremely costly.

If you are interested in incorporating TV and/or radio into your marketing plan, we recommend doing so in addition to your direct response marketing.  Start with direct mail, print and online, and then if you have marketing dollars left, test TV and/or radio, but remember to set realistic expectations.  You may not be able to track your return on investment as accurately as the other mediums, so you’ll need to be cautious before making additional commitments.

Regardless of what makes up your perfect marketing mix, remember the core marketing tactics that drive success: planning, execution and tracking!

Interested in learning more about the difference between direct response vs. passive mediums? Contact marketing at marketing@ConsultYHN.com.

Direct Mail & Digital: Unlikely Allies

In today’s marketing world, multi-media integration has the potential to be broader, deeper and more powerful than ever before.  Instead of looking for “the next shiny object,” or “the silver bullet” (which don’t exist, by the way), think about how you can build a strong marketing presence by leveraging several media outlets – that have been tested and proven – and making them work together.

The cheese does NOT stand alone

Direct mail and print are integral staples in our Associates’ marketing strategies (because they work!) and integrating

Although direct mail has dipped since 2008, it’s still relevant and it works! What to expect in today’s marketplace: a .25-1% response rate to a prospect list.

these and other initiatives will strengthen the reach and depth of your marketing strategy.  Different media have different strengths and weaknesses; woven together, they help one another succeed.  Consider the cumulative effect of marketing; instead of looking for one magic solution (still doesn’t exist), and focus on maximizing the mediums you do use.

We’ve found through reporting, that for Associates within the Consult YHN network, direct mail is still the #1 response medium, followed by print (newspaper) at #2.  The integration of digital is also important as your next generation of customers turns 65.  Paying attention to what is working currently will help you help more of the hearing impaired population now and planning for the future will ensure you can continue to help the younger Boomers.  So plan for your marketing strategies to work together – direct mail, print and digital – through targeting your current and future audiences, communicating with them properly and scheduling frequent outreaches with them.

Opening the digital doorway

Your next generation of consumers is the fastest growing segment of online users!

Your current target audience of the 65+ can still be reached by direct mail and print, but if integration is a key component of any strong marketing strategy, where does digital fit in?  Because the 55-64 market is the fastest growing segment of online users – and your future target audience – it’s important to allocate funds, plan a strategy and get comfortable with the digital environment.  It will be important to target your next wave of consumers with both print (direct mail and newspaper) and digital.

Why?  Because with print, it’s a tangible, targetable and easily measurable medium; you can’t accidentally “delete” it.  For those customers who have already gone paperless (e.g. bill paying, appointment reminders), they’ll appreciate that you are communicating with them via their preferred medium.  By using both mediums, you’ll cover more ground in less time and keep the revenue streaming in consistently.

Need to find a direct mailer that’s right for you?  Want to learn more about digital marketing?  Contact marketing at marketing@ConsultYHN.com.

 

Source: Direct Marketing

 

 

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

Social Media 101

Welcome to a crash course in social media!  This post is an exercise in defining social media and some of the popular outlets playing together in the cyber sandbox.  Let’s begin with some definitions:

Social media includes web- and mobile-based technologies which are used to turn communication into interactive dialogue among organizations, communities, and individuals.

Simply stated, it helps people (and businesses) stay in touch with each other via interactive mediums.

 So what’s even out there?

There are many existing social mediums with more popping up every day.  Not all are appropriate for business purposes, but it’s good to keep an eye on what’s available to the public and how it impacts consumers in your current and future target audiences:

Facebook: [www.facebook.com] is a social network service and website with more than 500 million active users, which is about one person for every fourteen in the world.  Users may create a personal profile, add other users as friends and exchange messages, including automatic notifications when they update their profile. Additionally, users may join common interest user groups, organized by workplace, school, or college, or other characteristics.

Twitter: [www.twitter.com] is a website which offers a social networking and microblogging service, enabling its users to send and read other users’ messages called tweets. Tweets are text-based posts of up to 140 characters displayed on the user’s profile page.  Users may subscribe to other author tweets—this is known as following and subscribers are known as followers.

You Tube: [www.youtube.com] is a video-sharing website on which users can upload, share, and view videos.

LinkedIn: [www.linkedin.com] is a social networking website for people in professional occupations.  LinkedIn reports more than 150 million registered users in more than 200 countries and territories.

foursquare: [www.foursquare.com] is a location-based social networking website for mobile devices, such as smartphones. Users “check in” at venues using a mobile websitetext messaging or a device-specific application by selecting from a list of venues the application locates nearby.  Each check-in awards the user points and sometimes “badges”.

Instagram: [www.instagram.com] is a free photo sharing program that allows users to take a photo, apply a digital filter to it and then share it on a variety of social networking services, including Instagram’s own site. A distinctive feature is that it confines photos to a square shape, similar to Kodak Instamatic and Polaroid images.

Pinterest: [www.pinterest.com] is a pinboard-style social photo sharing website that allows users to create and manage theme-based image collections such as events, interests, hobbies, and more. Users can browse other pinboards for inspiration, ‘re-pin’ images to their own collections or ‘like’ photos. Pinterest’s mission is to “connect everyone in the world through the ‘things’ they find interesting” via a global platform of inspiration and idea sharing.

How do I connect with my customers?

So now that you can pass a social media quiz, how will you integrate the appropriate mediums into your current or future marketing mix?  Since there are so many social media sites available, which ones are best suited to reach your target audience?  For the audiological industry, 35% of your target audiences of 65+ are already using social media, but to interact with their friends and family, not necessarily businesses – just yet.  As a business owner, this gives you time to research and develop a targeted strategy.

Remember, traditional direct response channels (direct mail, newspaper and telemarketing) are still producing positive ROI, so the majority of your marketing budget should be earmarked for these efforts.  The next step, if you haven’t already begun, is to develop/refine your digital marketing strategy, including a strong website presence with SEO/SEM integrated.  While moving forward with your current marketing tactics and working on your website, start thinking ahead about how social media can benefit your business!

Have questions or interested in learning if integrating social media into your marketing mix is right for you?  Contact marketing at marketing@ConsultYHN.com.