It has been said that if you don't like change you're going to like irrelevancy even less. The hearing care industry is in the midst of some exciting changes - some of which bring new opportunities (aging baby boomers) while others can bring cold sweats and sleepless nights (the burgeoning PSAPs market, for example). New technologies, increased number of choices, the looming big box store threat, and shrinking insurance coverage add to the heartburn.
So what are hearing professionals to do in light of these challenges?
First of all, keep calm and know that you can meet the challenges of today's hearing care marketplace. Many take the approach of focusing marketing efforts at attracting new patients. While attracting new patients is certainly a path to pursue, successful practices grow through reaching out to the patients they have already seen. This is where marketing to "TNS" (tested not sold) and "Resell" patients becomes the life blood of success. The question is how to identify these opportunities and what to say to them. When marketing directly to patients, it is important to be specific and personal while reaching out to as many of your patients as possible.
This is where the value of your current database of patients cannot be overstated. You already have patients with whom you've developed some level of trust and who may have already purchased from you. These patients are far more likely to open your direct mail and emails or answer phone calls from your office; they're more likely to schedule appointments and refer others to you. All of this presents a cost-effective marketing opportunity and all you have to do to take advantage of it is craft a marketing plan and execute it!
3 key components to successful patient marketing campaigns include:
1. Understand the basic 5 stages in the hearing aid sales cycle.
- 2-ears Aidable (no audiogram, no hearing aids)
- Tested Not Sold (tested, shown to have aidable hearing loss, no purchase yet)
- No Opportunity (tested with no aidable loss)
- Current User (wears hearing aids within your resale threshold)
- Resell (wears aids that are older than your resale threshold)
Obviously, the "gold" in these stages is your TNS and Resell opportunities, but be sure to remember the patients that have already contributed to your success and keep them informed about new products, invite them in for regular check-ups, and have the courage to ask for referrals.
2. Develop a marketing strategy to reach out to patients at each stage of the sales cycle.
- Connect with new referrals to establish strong relationships.
- Keep in touch with TNS patients or they will go somewhere else when they are ready.
- Remember your current users and routinely thank them for their trust and business - and ask for referrals.
- Reach out to your Resell patients with specific, relevant information - don't just sell, communicate!
Each piece of your marketing strategy needs to be specific and relevant to the individual patient - make sure you know to whom you're sending and for what reason! Being able to accurately assess a patient's opportunity status is an absolute must of your office management system.
3. Archive marketing pieces and track responses.
- Ensure sent marketing pieces are easily retrieved.
- Track the marketing sources that create appointments.
- Determine ROI (Return On investment) for marketing campaigns and stop doing what isn't working.
There's nothing more frustrating for a patient than having a provider have no idea why you're there, so make sure that your providers are aware of what is being sent and can quickly retrieve it before the visit. An office management system with robust imaging and archiving capabilities will ensure that your providers are providing top-notch care to your patients.
Sounds simple, right? Well, it's not as hard as you think, and utilizing the right marketing tools will make your marketing efforts easier from the start.
Change is inevitable - irrelevancy is a choice.