It’s seems everything about our industry is changing. Third Party companies are taking a huge chunk of margin out of our sales. Over the counter hearing aids are looming. Large retailers are getting into the hearing aid market. All in all, there is a lot going on that’s unsettling.
There are two ways of dealing with these changes. One is to wish for things to go back to the use to be. The other is to evaluate every aspect of your practice with the goal of finding things you can do better. The first approach will lead to sleepless nights and a pit in your stomach. The second can help you succeed or even flourish in this changing environment.
One of the best examples of this would be Blockbuster Video and Netflix. Both started out by renting DVDs to consumers. Though their model differed slightly, as the market started to change Netflix moved away from renting DVDs and developed their video streaming model while Blockbuster clung to their original way of doing business. One evolved and the other did not which led to one flourishing and the other fading away.
If you decide that you want to make your practice better, please realize that the goal should not be to make your practice better. It’s hard to come up with a plan to make your practice better. What you can do is make the individual parts of your practice better. Instead of focusing on the whole practice, pick a piece of it and figure out how to do it better. Get creative. Don’t think about what you use to do. Think about what you have to do to today compete. A prime example of that would be advertising.
A growing trend is online advertising. The reason for the shift is simple. Traditional Advertising doesn’t work like it use to. The days of doing a 5000-piece direct mail campaign or a full-page newspaper ad and getting 10 to 15 appointments are over. There are many reasons for that, such as market saturation or readership being down. The reality is that today’s cost per lead for advertising that worked in the past is almost becoming prohibitive. This is why creative practice owners are turning to new advertising mediums and marketing activities to attract new patients into their practices. Their medium of choice is online advertising.
Why haven’t all practices embraced online advertising? The simple answer is: it’s different. Our industry doesn’t embrace change all that well. It also creates more work, which explains why some practices do better with it than others.
Why is online advertising different from mediums you have used in the past? The most significant difference is that people respond to online advertising much sooner in the purchasing process than other mediums. When a person responds to a direct mail piece either they or a significant other wants them to move forward in the process. They see the ad and they call to make an appointment. With online advertising, a few may be ready to move forward with the process but most are just starting to gather information. For those people to move to action they have to be “sold” on making an appointment. This fact, in particular, means your response time to online leads and who makes contact with them is crucial.
When Should You Contact a Lead?
When someone sends in the “Contact Us” form from your website, they should be contacted as soon as possible. The more time that passes, the more likely they are to lose their enthusiasm. Try and contact them within the hour. Remember, the average person waits seven years after developing hearing problems before contacting a hearing healthcare provider.
Who Should Contact the Lead?
The person making the call should have some sales experience and training. Remember, their motivation for contacting your practice was probably to obtain information. But the reason they want information is that they or someone they know has hearing loss.
How to Contact the Lead
Start by identifying yourself and where you are calling from. Ask to speak to the person on the contact form. If you are asked “what is this is in reference to?” let them know that the person who filled out the contact form has requested information from your practice. You have a couple of questions so you can make sure you are sending the appropriate information.
Once you have the person on the phone, start by thanking them for reaching out to you. Remember, their goal is to get information and your goal is for them to make an appointment. That will only happen if you develop a rapport with them and then sell them on having their hearing tested.
In this example, the patient’s name is Mr. Jones.
Hi Mr. Jones,
This is Linda from Advanced Audiology and Hearing. You contacted our office via an online form looking for information. Thank you for reaching out to us. I have a few questions so I can make sure I send you the right information.
- Were you looking for information for yourself or someone close to you?
- Have you recently noticed a change in your hearing or is this something that has been happening over time?
- Have you ever had your hearing tested? If yes, what was the date of your last hearing test?
- Do you notice some voices are easier to hear than others?
- Do you struggle to hear voices if there is a lot of competing background noise such as restaurants or large groups of people?
- Do you currently use anything to help your hearing, such as an amplified phone, TV amplifier, Hearing Aids, etc.?
Now address their original reason for contacting the practice. This will vary based on the advertising message you were running.
- I see from your form that you were looking for information on hearing and we will certainly send you information that will be helpful. But based on your answers to the questions I asked, it would appear that you have some degree of hearing loss. I am going to suggest that we have you come in and do a hearing test. (The owner of the practice) is considered the local expert on hearing loss. (The owner of the practice) can check your hearing and sit and answer any questions you have about your specific hearing issues. I can promise you this is not a sales pitch. (The owner of the practice) has been practicing in this town for ___ years. They are dedicated to making sure that people with hearing problems have somewhere they can go to get information and not feel pressured. I think part of that philosophy comes from the fact that studies now show hearing loss can impact a person’s health in areas unrelated to hearing. Would you like to come in and meet (The owner of the practice) and have your hearing tested?
Hopefully they will make an appointment. If they are not willing to do so make sure that:
- You get them the information they are looking for.
- Make sure that they are put on list that periodically gets information from the practice
- They are on a list for any type of educational seminar or event so you can invite them to it.