About Robbie Bright-Poole

Robbie Ann Bright-Poole is currently the President and one of the founders of Oracle Hearing Group. Mrs. Poole opened her Audiology practice, Bright Hearing Center, in 1989. The success of her practice afforded her the opportunity to mentor others seeking a similar measure of success. She sold her practice and decided to make mentoring others in the field of Audiology a full-time business. Oracle Hearing Group obtained its first client in 2004. In addition to overseeing the day to day running of the Oracle she is the primarily responsible for the creation of the enormous amount of content that is at the disposal of each Oracle client.

How Digital Marketing Can Improve the Results of Healthcare Ad Campaigns

While digital marketing has become a mainstay in many different industries, healthcare has been hesitant to adopt digital strategies. But now that more and more medical professionals are seeing the advantages of digital healthcare marketing, many see that it’s high time to embrace a more digital direction. To show healthcare marketers the value of diving into digital marketing, HealthworksCollective.com treated them to these nine key reasons.

1. Reduces Cost per Patient Acquisition (CPA)
Did you know that digital outreach can slash overall costs by as much as 50%, down to $149 per patient? Compare this to the cost of TV media, which averages $348 per patient. In addition, digital marketing consistently reduces total marketing spend and increases ROI in practically every industry.

2. Targets Patients with Certain Conditions
Digital marketing lets physicians target patients in a variety of ways, including by their condition, gender, age, and zip code. And BIA Kelsey research shows that 97% of consumers use the Internet for local shopping. By optimizing search terms in real time, physicians can yield better results and ROI.

3. It’s Modern Medicine
According to McKinsey research, 75% of people want to use digital healthcare services. With patients spending more time online and using mobile resources on a daily basis, digital is the modern way for physicians to practice medicine.

4. Brings Better Decisions with Better Data
While traditional marketing methods tend to be hard to track, digital strategies are rather easy to monitor and measure, thanks to a wealth of data-driven technologies. This data allows physicians to make more effective and efficient marketing decisions.

5. Helps Brands Stand Out in Search Engines
Marketing Land reports that around 20% of Google searches are health related and more than 70% of these searches result in a first-page click. But ensuring that your brand appears on the first page demands savvy SEO strategies and well-placed paid advertising campaigns targeted to your audience.

6. Allows for Personalized Marketing Messages
Digital marketing allows for personally targeting people, rather than sending a general message to the mass media audience. This lets physicians target prospective patients with just the right message, in the right context, at the right time.

7. Improves Patient Retention
Having a digital presence makes it faster and easier for patients to locate and reach a physician’s website, digital patient portals, and important information. Patients appreciate this convenience when taking control of their healthcare. In addition, patients also value a physician’s social media presence. In fact, PwC research showed that 41% of patients said that social media engagement will determine their choice of physician and medical treatment facility.

8. Increases Patient Referrals
More and more physicians are finding that digital marketing strategies help increase their number of prospective patients, as well as lower the cost of connecting and engaging with them. Plus, digital options make it easy for patients to access and engage physicians, which increases their satisfaction and frequency of referral.

9. Enhances the Patient Experience
Along with easing and expediting patient access, digital marketing improves the patient experience at every step and stage of their journey. Digital tracking systems make it simple to send regular appointment reminders, as well as respond to patient needs with relevant blog articles, and enhance their overall experience with patient satisfaction surveys.

By using digital healthcare marketing strategies, physicians can treat both their patients and their practice to a superior level of care.

What to Consider When Marketing Hearing Aids

When it comes to the marketing, advertising and sale of hearing aids, the senior market is the one that matters most. This may provoke a “duh” moment from many reading this article. However, it’s important to understand how seniors think, what turns them off and what hearing aid marketing and advertising concepts they are drawn to.

Let’s start with the term “seniors”. After the 12th grade no one ever wants to be referred to as a senior anything again…ever. Ultimately it could mean the difference between substantial business growth and the loss of a sizable chunk of market share.

Hearing Aid Marketing Do’s and Don’ts

  • Target women, they make the decisions.
  • Don’t use humor about aging. Getting old is not funny.
  • Don’t use scare tactics. Discouraging news about aging will not motivate your patient to respond to your ad or to purchase hearing aids.
  • When using photos in promotions and communications remember the following. As a group, senior citizens see themselves as seven to ten years younger than they really are. Think of it this way 50 is the new 40 and 60 is the new 50.
  • Use words in copy that hold out the promise of youthfulness and independence. Both are concepts that patients will identify with.
  • Remember your demographic (I know I’ve said that before, but it does get forgotten). Understand that just like the auditory system, the visual system changes as we age. Use larger fonts and brighter colors.
  • Trust is a major issue for seniors. Use experiences of real people to communicate with them. Testimonials about the benefits of hearing aids can be a beneficial advertising concept.
  • Make sure real people answer your phones as much as possible. Don’t subject potential patients to answering system decision trees when they call.
  • Refine the way in which you track marketing results to include demographics such as age, gender, degree of loss, discrimination score. Who is actually responding to your ad and who is purchasing hearing aids?
  • And lastly, do not reject the old mediums for the new. Print advertising and word of mouth still work.

The most important one on the list is….

Tracking

And here’s why,

Marketing and advertising are regionalized, what works in New York City is most likely not what will work in Atlanta, GA. One of the costliest items in the expense section of your P&L is advertising and marketing. You should constantly refine the way in which you track marketing results to better understand your demographic and how they are responding to your marketing attempts.

Ideally you want to spend as little as possible to garner the number of patients who are candidates for hearing aids that your practice needs on a monthly basis. Too often we run ads and inserts, or host open houses and consumer seminars, etc. with little thought as to why a prior ad or event was or wasn’t successful.

A minor change to an ad, for example, an ad run on a Monday may have a better or worse response from the public than the identical ad run on a Friday. Patterns will develop. Carefully cultivate and store information from the patients who respond to your advertising/marketing, particularly those who purchase hearing aids. After all, they’re the ones you want to make sure keep coming in your door.

Experience may teach you how to better manage hearing aid marketing and advertising events, but tracking the results in as many ways as possible will allow you to make better decisions about where to put your marketing dollars.

Giving Gifts to Referral Sources

It’s that time of year. You’ve been busy, extremely busy. As a small business owner you not only handle or at a minimum oversee everything going on in your business you also have a personal life. And this time of year is extra crazy both personally and professionally. You’ve started to panic because you have yet to think about gifts for employees or send out gifts to clients or to referral sources.

Step One, Stop Panicking

You don’t have to wait for the traditional holiday season to give gifts to associates and clients. In fact there’s an argument to be made for choosing an alternate time of the year. Chances are your gift is one of many they’ll be receiving during this time of the year. A thank you that appears in the middle of February all by itself is much more likely to be remembered. Or send a birthday gift instead of a traditional thank you. It’s bound to impress, since it show’s that you’ve bothered to learn a thing or two about the recipient.

Still Want to Send Something in Time For the Holidays?

Opt for food.  It’s easy to give and it’s easy to receive.  If it’s an assortment of food the recipient is bound to like something in the basket.  Take into consideration any dietary and/or religious restrictions (i.e. a kosher office).  Harry and David’s offers kosher baskets.  And cut yourself some slack.  A creative gift while great in theory, unless you know the recipient extremely well will often miss the mark.  Leaving the recipient with really no gift at all.

Remember, Gift Giving is Marketing

Any interaction with a client or referral source should be considered marketing and this should mostly definitely extend to gift giving.

From R. McKenna, Harvard Business Review

There is a paradigm for marketing, a model that depends on the marketer’s knowledge, experience, and ability to integrate the customer and the company. Six principles are at the heart of the new marketing. The first, “Marketing is everything and everything is marketing,” suggests that marketing is like quality. It is not a function but an all-pervasive way of doing business.
Thinking carefully about a gift for your client or referral has the potential to strengthen the relationship you already have so choose wisely.

The Patient’s Journey to a Purchase

photo from sales management.com

The patient’s journey to a purchase has changed significantly in the past 10 years…ignore that fact and your business will suffer the consequences.

Every day, people form impressions of brands from touch points such as:

  •      Advertisements (both offline ex. print newspaper and online ex. PPC, paid social ads)
  •      Marketing (blogs are a good online example)
  •      Conversations with family and friends both online (social media) and offline  
  •      Product Experiences (hearing aid trials).

Unless consumers are actively shopping, much of that exposure appears wasted. But what happens when something triggers the impulse to buy?

Those accumulated impressions then become crucial because they shape the initial-consideration set: the small number of choices consumers regard at the outset as potential purchasing options.

What Are You Selling?

Speaking in generic terms, the sale of a hearing aid falls into the following categories:

  • The product is high value based. – Sold primarily by small business with a high average cost per sale (ASP).
  • The product has a long research or sales cycle. – A sales cycle is the series of predictable phases required to sell a product or a service.
  • It is a knowledge-based product. – The product requires the customer to understand a significant amount of new information prior to the purchase of the product.

In other words you are not selling a pizza (low value based, short sales cycle, little knowledge required).

When you think of it in those terms you’ll begin to understand why your advertising and marketing efforts need to ensure that your business is in the patient or significant others mind long before they’re ready to pick up the phone and call for an appointment.

How Patients Make Decisions

Consumers/Patients no longer take a linear approach when making a purchasing decision.  In the pre-digital age decisions followed a typical continuum –

Awareness, Familiarity, Consideration, Purchase, Loyalty… Repeat

The decision-making process is now more of a circular journey, battlegrounds where marketers can win or lose:

  • Problem/Need Recognition – This is often identified as the first and most important step in the customer’s decision process. A purchase cannot take place without the recognition of the need. In the case of a hearing impaired this step is often initiated by a significant other.
  • Initial Consideration – Brands based on touch-points (contact between a buyer and a seller) such as an advertisement, previous experience or personal recommendation.  This is pretty much a set of products and/or business that are already on the patient’s radar.
  • Active Evaluation – The process of researching potential purchases and gathering information.  This is the buyer’s effort to broaden their knowledge base and add to brands from the “initial consideration”.  The potential patient will search to identify and evaluate information sources related to the central buying decision.
  • Closure – when patients buy what you’re selling (the appointment). The final purchase decision may be ‘disrupted’ by two factors: negative feedback from other customers/patients and the level of motivation to continue the process.
  • Post Purchase – When consumers experience the product. Patients will compare products with their previous expectations and will be either satisfied or dissatisfied. These stages are critical in retaining customers. This can greatly affect the decision process for similar purchases from the same company in the future. If your customer is satisfied, this will result in brand loyalty.  On the basis of being either satisfied or dissatisfied, it is common for customers to distribute their positive or negative feedback about the product. This may be through reviews on website, social media networks or word of mouth. Companies should be very careful to create positive post-purchase communication, in order to engage customers and make the process as efficient as possible.

How the consumer chooses one provider over another is a much more complicated process than ever before.  To have continued success in your practice it’s imperative that you understand the buying behaviors of your demographic and how much those behaviors have changed over the past decade.

In This Market Your Patients Should Feel Like a VIP

The pool of patient’s willing to buy your product is already small.  Outside influences (big box discount stores, online retailers, 3rd party insurer’s) are cutting into not only your profitability but the number of potential candidates for your services.  What should you do?

I was made a VIP for a company that I frequent quite often.  As a VIP I’m now entitled to:

  • Free next day shipping
  • Advanced access to new styles
  • My own special phone number to call
  • And so on…

Did I feel special? Well maybe not special, but I had an immediate positive reaction that my business was important to them. More importantly, not only did they appreciate my business, they were willing to reward me for my effort.

What Do You Do to Make Your Patient’s Feel Special?

Do you offer a VIP service for your patients?

  • A walk in time for repairs.
  • A hotline number for existing patients.
  • Free battery tester with a card on their birthday
  • New cleaning tools every six months

My entire years worth of purchases from this store doesn’t come close to cost of the average set of hearing aids so it isn’t just a matter of how much I’m spending with their company. They’re rewarding me because they know I can shop anywhere I want to and they want to make sure I come back to them.

Your patients may not be purchasing anything new for a few years, but they will at some point buy again. And they probably know someone who’s in the market for hearing aids right now.

Provide your patients with VIP services. And make sure your patients know that these VIP services are being provided to them in appreciate for the business they’ve done with you.

Time to Get Back to the Basics….Customer Service

You’ve attracted a new patient to your office. They are ready to be called into the back so you can begin the hearing test. How do you provide “High End Customer Service” at this point in the visit?

According to Malcolm Gladwell, author of “Blink, your mind takes about two seconds to jump to a series of conclusions. Those conclusions are important and occasionally spot on, but more importantly we all make them. Sub-consciously, your patient has already made a series of conclusions about you before you open your mouth.

Without knowing it, this is often a make or break moment. The first two seconds can set the tone for the entire visit. What you are trying to accomplish is to let the patient, who is at this point feeling very vulnerable, know that they can trust you.

5 Things You Can Do to Establish Trust

  • Do not be late. Being on time conveys reliability and if people know you’re reliable, they are more willing to trust you.
  • Make eye contact. This takes practice for some people. Too little can be just as bad as too much.
    Monitor how you feel. If you’re anxious about a personal matter, your patient will pick up on the anxiety. They have no idea why you’re anxious but they assume it relates to them.
  • Dress appropriately – this should be a no brainer, but we ‘ll include it anyway. A lab coat may be cliché, but if you’re fresh out of graduate school and look 18 years old, you could use all the help you can get to not look any younger than you already are. Remember, if you are 26 years old you are decades to a half a century or more, younger than your demographic.
  • Watch your body language. Smile. Smiling forces you to relax which in turn should help your patient to relax. Do not cross your arms in front of you or hold a patient’s chart in front of you. Everyone has nervous habits when meeting someone for the first time. Know what yours are and learn to control them.

What is the point of all this? You are trying to sell a hearing aid. The cliché, you never get a second chance to make a first impression is accurate. Overcoming objections is difficult enough. Don’t make it worse but needing to overcome both the patients reasons why they don’t need or want a hearing aid and their bad first impression of you.

4th Quarter Advertising and Marketing

We’re well into the 4th quarter of 2015. If you don’t have your advertising plan set through the end of the year (and a little bit beyond that) you better get started.

Timing

Advertising around the holiday season can sometimes before confusing. Should you advertise immediately before or immediately after the holiday? Too close and no one may be interested in coming in but if you aren’t running any ads, chances are no one is calling for an appointment either.

Generally speaking, any time in October up until the week in which Thanksgiving occurs is a good time to advertise. Historically our clients have found that advertising during Thanksgiving week has a less than desirable return on investment. Typically your customers are gearing up for the holiday and beginning to contemplate the holiday shopping season.

Resume advertising the week following Thanksgiving…excluding the Monday (Cyber Monday) immediately following Thanksgiving.

Themes

The upcoming holidays are all about spending time with friends and family. Here are a few ideas that center around that theme.

“This Holiday Season Give the Gift of Better Hearing.”

“The Perfect Gift for You This Year? Better Hearing”

Planning for the New Year

The end of the first week of January thru the end of January are great times to focus on

“Make Better Hearing Your New Year’s Resolution.”

The 4th quarter of every year tends to be a hectic time for everyone. But you still need to advertise. Take the next week to establish a game plan that will take you though the end of January. You’ll be glad you did.

Age 65+ Statistics You Should Know

How much do you really know about the finances of your potential demographic?

Median Income Levels

The median income of older persons (65+) in 2013 was $29,327 for males and $16,301 for females.

 

A Few Sobering Facts About Social Security

 

In 2015, over 59 million Americans will receive almost $870 billion in Social Security benefits.  Social Security is the major source of income for most individuals over the age of 65.

  • Social Security benefits represent about 39% of the income of the elderly.
  • The average monthly benefit for retired workers is $1,335.
  • 53% of married couples and 74% of unmarried persons receive 50% or more of their income from Social Security.
  • 22% of married couples and about 47% of unmarried persons rely on Social Security for 90% or more of their income.

Economic Measures Courtesy of the National Council on Aging

Click here for a direct link to the National Council on Aging

Income & Employment

  • Older women typically receive about $4,000 less annually in Social Security than older men due to lower lifetime earnings, time taken off for caregiving, occupational segregation into lower wage work, and other issues. Older women of color fare even worse. (Wider Opportunities for Women)
  • By January 2012, older workers displaced in the years following the recession were half as likely to have regained employment as the nationwide average. (Bureau of Labor Statistics)
  • Older workers of color are most at risk for unemployment, with older African American men twice as likely to be unemployed as older white men. (Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Debt & Savings

  • One-third of senior households has no money left over each month or is in debt after meeting essential expenses. (Institute on Assets and Social Policy)
  • In 2012, the average credit card debt among adults aged 65+ was $9,283. (Demos)
  • 14% of adults aged 65+ face retirement with negative net worth. (Aging and Bankruptcy, U.S. Courts)

Health & Nutrition

  • Over 27% of older adults living in poverty were at risk for hunger in 2011. (National Foundation to End Senior Hunger)
  • Only one-third of eligible older adults (age 60+) are enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly Food Stamps).

Housing

  • As of December 2011, 16% of older homeowners owed more on their house than it was worth. (AARP)
  • A majority of older adults have unsustainable housing costs, with 59% of older renters and 33% of homeowners with mortgages spending more than 30% of their income on housing costs. (AARP)

 

If you don’t offer your patients payment options other than cash or credit, now might be a good time to start.

 

 

 

 

 

Can You Prepare Your Business for the Future?

Death and taxes….the only certainties in life. Why anyone thinks its going to be any different when you decide to open a small business is not clear to me.

John Boitnott wrote a great article that was published recently in Inc. magazine, and it’s worth sharing.

There’s just no way to completely prepare for the future of your business. All you can do is stay up to date on current trends, forge quality relationships and above all, never assume.

If you’ve been in business for decades, you understand that circumstances change and unforeseeable events occur. While you can’t read the future, you can make smart choices to prepare well for it. Not only will this provide you peace of mind, but you’re more likely to respond quickly and effectively when trouble strikes.

What Causes Uncertainty?

As much as we desire control and predictability, uncertainty is a permanent fixture in business. While conditions may seem unfair at times, it’s important to remember that most people are exposed to the same effects. A brief look at various facets of business shows that at least three uncontrollable factors can have a profound effect on your operations:

Economic conditions

If the recent recession taught us anything, it’s that small mistakes compounded over time and across the nation can have drastic consequences. When an entire nation’s economy hits a rough patch, this may require companies to cut back on resources, hiring, and expenditures. Have a plan in place.

Illness

Whether it’s a flu bug traveling through the office or a more serious global issue like the Ebola outbreak, illness is something you can’t plan for but it can lead to serious consequences.

Shifts in consumer behavior

One reason many businesses eventually have to close up shop is that consumers demand change. A product that satisfies a need or addresses a pain point in the present may not do the same in six months, a year, or five years.

Preparing for Uncertainty: Practical Tips

By nature, not all future events can be fully prepared for, but you can equip your company with the tools necessary to fend off potential threats by developing specific plans for certain situations. Here are some practical tips designed to help your company prepare for the unknown:

Stay in the know.

It’s easy to get caught up in your own little world or bubble, but that’s an important trap to avoid. One of the best ways to combat financial uncertainty is to stay abreast of economic indicators. By educating yourself on the general state of the economy, what decisions are being made at the national level, and how economic forecasts might affect your industry, you can put yourself a step ahead of others.

Prepare for multiple outcomes.

It’s wise to stop assuming the most likely outcome will turn up at the conclusion of every situation. A successful company prepares for multiple outcomes regardless of what’s expected. Foresight enables you to respond effectively in all circumstances. The best way to prepare is to include all departments and employees in the planning process. You’ll get fresh, unique perspectives that are more likely to result in critical and innovative thinking.

Consistently review.

A forward-thinking company understands the value of analysis. Are you consistently reviewing your business plan to ensure it is current? This is a particularly helpful way to combat changes in consumer demands. If your business plan is still addressing the needs of customers as they were five years ago, the odds are it’s out of date and in danger of extinction.

Build relationships.

In times of real trouble, is a computer going to help you regain solid footing? It’s possible, but unlikely. What you really need is support from peers and partners. The best investment you can make for future stability is relationship building. Whether it’s tough times in a struggling economy, a lack of resources, or changes in demand, healthy business relationships can help you weather the rough patches.

You’ve heard it said many times: the only certainty in life is change. This is particularly true in business, where unpredictably has been at an all-time high in the past decade. Are you properly prepared for the uncertainty into which your company is surely headed?

4 Myths About Marketing to Baby Boomers Debunked

By the end of 2015, Americans 50 and older will represent 45% of the population and control approximately 70% of the wealth. But only 10% of marketing and 5% of advertising dollars are aimed at this sector. As marketers, we are missing out on a vital, untapped marketing that has the time, interest, and money to really make an impact on a company’s bottom line. But there are common myths that still persist about these elusive baby boomer creatures, which keep marketers away. We’ve identified the top four most common myths, debunked them for you, and provided you with tips to successfully market to baby boomers.

Myth #1: Boomers are all the same.

Just because they’re all in the same age range and have mostly gone through the same milestones, doesn’t mean they all have the same wants and needs. While many baby boomers worry about money & health, others are excited about their newfound freedom, encore careers, and having grandchildren.

Marketing Tip: Understand that not all boomers are alike. Target those most likely to purchase your product or service and identify which communication channels will most effectively reach them.

Myth #2: Boomers are technologically challenged.

Truth is, boomers are the fastest growing technology sector! 89% of baby boomers have cell phone, 70% of boomers are on Facebook, 66% buy from online retailers, and 31% are on Twitter. We may make a lot of jokes about helping our parents or grandparents with new technological crazes like SnapChat and Instagram , but baby boomers are a lot more adept with technology and social media than we give them credit for. This gives marketers many digital channels to connect with boomers.

Marketing Tip: Create holistic strategies with SEO, social media, mobile, engagement, and powerful images of baby boomers. Make your online sales process easier and more secure. Make it easy for boomers to find what they need on your site and purchase it with just a few clicks, while letting them know that their credit card and personal information is safe and secure.

Not sure if marketing to baby boomers are social media is smart? Read our blog all about why you should be marketing to boomers on social media!

Myth #3: Boomers are brand loyal.

It is true that baby boomers stick with what is tried and true, which is what most of us do once we find a product or service proven to produce results. But boomers are willing to jump ship if something better comes along, but convincing them to make the leap is harder than younger generations. New product adoption typically only comes with hard facts, data, testimonials, and referrals. They have questions about new products and services that they want answered directly. If a product or service catches their eye, they are willing to do thorough research before the purchase but they are also willing to spend their money in new places.

Marketing Tip: Skip the hard sell. Boomers don’t want to feel like they’re being sold, they like to do their research before making an informed decision. They also want to ask questions and get answers, so make it clear you are available to answer any questions they have. Lastly, build a referral program. Boomers are much more likely to come from a referral. Do a great job for your customers and ask them to spread the word through their personal networks. Make it easy to share your product or service via email and through social media. You can also consider rewarding customers for referrals.

Myth #4: Boomers are captured with mainstream advertising.

Data actually shows that 66% of baby boomers believe that ads have gotten cruder in recent years. Another 67% report being less likely to purchase a product if the advertising is perceived as offensive. Using the same marketing gimmicks or strategies for boomers as you do millennials just won’t cut it.

Marketing Tip: Boomers are smart, know what they want, and are willing to pay for it. Focus on the benefits of your product or services, not just the features or specs. Focus your messaging on how what you’re offering solves a problem. Tell the story of how your product or service makes life easier, better or more enjoyable.