Marketing is critical to running a lucrative hearing care practice. Such initiatives help to spread awareness, find new patients, and keep existing patients coming back. Even more critical is a formal marketing strategy that results in a seamless experience for both current and potential patients. Keep reading to discover how to build a successful marketing program for your clinic.
You may not think of your practice as a “brand,” but at the end of the day it is a business, and branding will help create recognition amongst your audience and inform internal decisions moving forward.
What elements does your brand need? Determine – and document – the following:
Lastly, get employees’ input when developing your brand, and rally the entire team around your finalized brand and mission. They should all exemplify and represent branding while interacting with patients and fulfilling the responsibilities of their roles.
Once you have established your brand, all initiatives should fit within it, including – and especially – marketing. Follow these best practices to get the most out of your marketing program.
Beyond getting your team’s input on branding, involve them in specific marketing initiatives and encourage participation where possible. If you’re a smaller clinic, chances are you don’t have a dedicated team or even single person responsible for marketing efforts. Be open to suggestions from employees and give everyone a role. Perhaps one or two people post to your social media channels, another person creates and sends out emails, and another requests referrals from patients. Try different staff members in different roles to determine who works best where. With marketing a team effort, no individual feels the weight of it on their shoulders.
While it’s certainly easier to send out mass marketing messages to anyone and everyone, it’s important to recognize that you have a niche, rather than broad, patient base. So, who are your patients? Think about how old they are, where they live, and other distinct characteristics – delivering value for this audience should drive all marketing efforts. Build personas around this group and use the channels, language, and imagery that appeals directly to them. This is another area where your staff can be of huge help, since they deal with patients day after day.
Businesses cannot be successful today without using digital outlets to reach their audience. These are the most common:
When was the last time you updated your website? You should make changes to your site regularly to ensure it features the most relevant and up-to-date information for both existing and potential patients. Ensure your website isn’t outdated – this can turn people away before they even take the time to learn more about you. This means an intuitive layout and functionality, as well as responsiveness (i.e., the ability to re-format depending on where the site is being viewed – on a smartphone, tablet, etc.).
In addition to practice and contact information, your site can serve as a way to feature educational content for people experiencing hearing loss. Potential topics include the importance of hearing health, symptoms of hearing loss, what a patient can expect at their hearing care appointment, and how to care for hearing health at home. This content shows your audience that you want to provide value beyond just selling them on your products and services.
It’s not enough to simply have an account on various social media channels. Make sure your profile on each platform is complete with images, contact information, and links to your website and other related pages. You should also be posting regularly; posts can include “behind the scenes” photos of your staff and practice; patient appreciation content; helpful practice, product, and industry information; and promotions. Respond to comments and interact with your social audience when you can. Keep in mind that you don’t have to have a profile on every channel; choose one or two based on where your audience is. It’s better to have high engagement on fewer channels than low engagement on all of them.
Email continues to be a powerful way to reach your audience. If you have enough content to support it, start a newsletter that includes practice information, upcoming events or specials, educational resources, and anything else that might be useful to patients. Develop a cadence that makes sense, whether it’s monthly, bi-monthly, or quarterly.
On top of your newsletter, send other timely emails as needed, like when there’s news about your practice, a product promotion, a special event, etc. Segment your contact list so people only receive messages that are relevant to them. For instance, you wouldn’t send a “new patient special” email to someone who has been a patient for years.
All of this isn’t to say that traditional marketing should be left to the wayside – continue using print if it has worked in the past. Advertising in local newspapers or magazines and sending direct mail pieces ensure you get your practice in front of people in your area.
Consider the purpose of your marketing efforts – are you trying to get more patients in the door, retain patients, or sell more hearing aids? Maybe a little bit of everything? Setting realistic, metric-based goals allows you to determine whether your marketing strategy is working. Depending on what you’re trying to achieve, you can set goals like the following:
Focus only on the metrics that have actionable value; don’t waste time with those that don’t have an impact on your larger business goals. For instance, while social likes and shares demonstrate audience engagement, they aren’t likely having much of an effect on patient acquisition or retention or sales.
While specifics like individual social posts aren’t of greatest importance, you should still evaluate overall performance of each marketing channel and how they are helping you reach your goals. Track all these goals regularly, measuring against past performance. You’ll likely find some winners and some that aren’t living up to expectations. Based on your findings, update your strategy as needed.
The channels listed above may seem like a lot; and you may quickly become overwhelmed if you try to tackle them all at once. Start with a couple of these marketing methods, and once you feel you’ve gotten them to a good place, try out others. On the other hand, if certain channels are not effectively reaching and engaging your audience, give them up. Marketing is not one size fits all, and the right recipe for you will take time to nail down.
Also, remember that you won’t see results right away. It can take weeks or even months to get an idea of how things are working. Be patient and you’re sure to see your efforts pay off!