Tag Archives: planning

Digital Marketing is more than just cool tools

8 Apr

In today’s business environment we’re fortunate to have access to a variety of marketing tools that let us communicate easier with our customers and prospects, observe competitors, and scrutinize the market. Many small business owners are competing more effectively using digital media (and extending the value of their traditional marketing efforts). These newer digital tools foster greater competition by enabling our businesses to reach interested prospects with highly relevant real-time communications and get measurable feedback almost immediately.

Successfully acquiring new customers through digital marketing is best handled by employing inbound marketing channels to obtain visibility and leads. These channels include search, social media and email marketing, all fueled by content marketing.

This post outlines the best types of tools and the most popular tactics in each category based on our experience.

digi mktg infographic

We’ll start with a concept known as Content Marketing. Content marketing is the primary focus for business owners seeking to use digital marketing to increase reach, leads and sales. So, what is Content Marketing? Content marketing is the process of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and well understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.

Content marketing fuels:
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • Email marketing
  • Social media marketing
  • Event marketing (in person events as well as Webinars)
  • Paid media including Pay per click and display advertising
  • Lead generation and conversion rate optimization (through landing pages)

How do you go about developing a content marketing strategy?

Here is a quick checklist to get you started:

  • Define business opportunity for content marketing
    • Define key segments or target audiences
    • Review current content marketing
    • Review competitor content marketing
  • Define your content marketing strategy
    • Define content marketing plan
    • Prioritize audiences and personas
    • Prioritize content assets for audience
    • Define content marketing resources
    • Create communications timeline
  • Implement and manage your content marketing strategy
    • Update your editorial calendar
    • Manage social media distribution
    • Manage email marketing distribution
    • Manage SEO effectiveness of content marketing
    • Review analytics for content effectiveness

Great. Now what? Time to consider the tools.

One of the tools your likely to be using in your content efforts is social media. In our case, we strongly recommend Facebook as the starting place, but use the platform you are most confident in to get started. (More on social media selection in an upcoming post).

Why focus on social? Leverage social to help find ideal prospects and accelerate list growth. The adage that birds of a feather flock together sums it up nicely. People with similar issues, concerns, challenges, and life experiences typically are connected to others much like themselves. Social is all about connections. Go on, engage your audience.

Online reviews

Today’s consumers check out online reviews before making in-store purchase! Reviews are known as ‘user generated content’ or UGC.

But remember, you must craft content that does more than just ask contacts to buy. Your customers aren’t always in the market to purchase. If all they hear from you is “buy this,” can you blame them for tuning you out? To avoid this predicament, try creating content that helps your contacts solve problems, buy better, and even find interesting things they wouldn’t have uncovered any other way.

Here are a few topics to talk about besides “buy this”:
  • Present information that helps customers use your products correctly.
  • Go behind the scenes by introducing customers to key employees. Show off your offices or factories. Talk about your company philosophy.
  • Add customer voices to your emails by featuring reviews, endorsements, photos and other user-generated content (UGC).
  • Become the authority in your market niche by sharing “insider” news and information.
  • Improve onboarding for new customers with information that helps them find what they want faster or navigate better around your website.

What about email?

Do you collect email addresses? From whom – everyone that you meet, just customers, all appointments, third parties? Think it through. Why not collect them all if they’ll share them with you? Above we discussed the use of social media to interact and extend the reach of your audience. Those names are gold, email address gold to be exact.

Now that you have defined the ways you’ll collect email addresses, let’s turn to what to do with them. First, and this is a critical component, you have to keep track of where the names came from! Two reasons for this – first, to be CAN-SPAM compliant you must have permission to use the addresses (if you’ve been given the information freely, you’re good here – no buying or renting email addresses!). The second reason is more practical, since you absolutely want to tailor your messages to each type of audience you identified in the first step of the checklist.

What emails will you send? You really need to ask yourself what messages will resonate with the audience I am targeting. What do they want to know, what is important to them? This is not about your agenda, it must be content that is relevant to them first – then when you have their attention you can ask them to act a certain way, or react to your content. The opportunities are endless, and they are similar in nature to the list of content topics we explored for social media. This is all very connected. In fact, the more connected the content and media, the more effective you will be.

Time to jump in

That’s enough to get started, but remember, the foundation of any digital marketing plan is your website. All of the other digital tools and efforts rely on your website as the central element for customer and prospect communication and an informational base. Don’t overlook the importance of investing time and effort into shoring up your website from the content perspective!

AHAA Marketing has turnkey programs and solutions to get you started, just give us a call and we’ll review your situation with you and offer recommendations to get you digitally marketing in no time.

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Lead Generation: What is it and where do I start?

5 Feb

LeadGen2

Generating a steady supply of patients and maintaining a full schedule is a critical part in developing a profitable practice. However, we all know it can be a challenging process. Now is the time to reevaluate your business to determine what initiatives are effectively driving traffic to your office and what things you can be doing differently to generate more leads. This methodology is what marketers call “lead generation”.

In order to diversify your pipeline, you’ll want to attract, nurture and retain a combination of new acquisitions, prospects and customers. To accomplish this, create a plan that communicates messaging to each segment of your target audience via a multi-channel approach; aka your lead generation strategy.

Here are some tips to consider when you’re developing a lead generation strategy:

–  Identify your target audience

Begin by focusing on two major target segments. One type includes the residents within our community who you’ve never met; people won’t visit your location if they don’t know the practice exists. Consider targeting areas within a close proximity to your office, possibly where the majority of your patients are already travelling from.

The other audience segment includes the people already in your database. These leads are uniquely qualified because you have established a connection with them; now all it takes is nurturing that existing relationship. Consider not only your current patients, but also contacts in your database who haven’t physically visited your office. These leads could have been connections from a lunch and learn or health fair; however, these contacts never took the next step to schedule an appointment with your practice. This group tends to get overlooked, yet they are one of the strongest prospect segments.

–  Identify your messaging

Your practice’s selling point is a key message that needs to be communicated to all audience segments. Consider which of your products or services are different or better than what your competitors are marketing in the community. Put yourself in your patient’s shoes and think about what motivates their behavior and buying decisions.  Try to uncover the real reasons why your patients came to your practice and purchased, instead of patronizing one of your competitors.

If you are having trouble identifying your differentiator, ask your patients directly why they chose your practice.  Encourage patients to rate your practice on things like atmosphere, staff, and services; it will not only help you identify your unique selling point, but it will also determine how you can improve your customer service as well.

The other option is to think about your “why” statement. Why did you become a hearing health provider and/or start your business? Integrating this personal statement about your practice helps you stand out among your competitors.

–  Identify goals and objectives

It’s essential to have goals and objectives established when developing a successful strategy. Identifying these benchmarks and milestones allow you to evaluate the success of your outcomes. Make sure your practice’s goals are aspirational, yet attainable, and ultimately support the purpose of your current business strategy. When you are developing your goals, determine if you want to measure by quantity, quality, or both. Examples include growing overall profitably by a certain dollar amount or percentage, achieving or increasing measurable ROI, obtaining more qualified leads, or gaining additional insight into what makes your target audience tick.

–  Determine what to offer

Think about what you can offer your audience that will entice them to convert into a lead. While price is important, it’s not the only reason why people will express interest. If your competition is beating you on price, you have to present the target audience with a relevant benefit that addresses their needs. Then, build your sales and promotional material around that “pain point.” You can create an offering with less perceived obligation and more perceived value (for your leads) and provide it free of charge. This could be a booklet, gift, demonstration or anything else related to your product or service. Think of it like a door opener; something to discover interested individuals and get the conversation started.

Once you have determined what offer(s) you want to promote, you should include a call-to-action (CTA) to support it. This CTA is an instruction to the audience to provoke an immediate response. Something as simple as a “call today” or “call to schedule an appointment” will suffice – and remember to include contact information. Creating this type of urgency will entice consumers to reach out to the practice.

–  Determine the best multi-media approach 

The lead generation techniques of the past look quite different then the modern version. The methods for generating leads in today’s marketplace need to feed your sales pipeline from various channels. This year at AHAA’s Convention, our team will be presenting a multi-faceted lead generation strategy that introduces you to new products and strategies you can employ right away to reach beyond traditional efforts.  Decide which approach offers your practice the most promise after hearing from the business owners who have already boldly embraced today’s lead generation strategies.

Lead generation is the backbone of an effective marketing campaign for your practice. Without a continuous flow of fresh leads, your practice could have difficulties thriving in today’s competitive arena.  If you can’t make it to Convention this year, reach out to your Associate Manager; he or she will help you develop your lead generation strategy and diversify your approach to customer acquisition and retention!

 

 

 

 

Plan to Measure & Measure the Plan

18 Nov

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As 2014 is coming to a close (we can tell by the plethora of holiday décor in every retail store), we want you to seriously consider your marketing strategy for 2015.  If you don’t already have your plan in place – and some do – you may not be sure where to begin.  Our number one recommendation is to look backward before looking forward, meaning assess your marketing efforts from 2014 and how each one contributed to the bottom line before embarking on a plan for the next 12-months.

Two AHAA colleagues recently co-authored an article in Hearing Review that sums up this idea perfectly: Know Your Marketing; Know Your ROI.  By having a defined marketing plan and tracking its efficacy (plus course correcting along the way), you’ll be able to capture beneficial trends from your data and eliminate wasteful spending.

But first, you have to actually develop the plan.  After allocating 10-12% of your overall budget towards marketing, we recommend:

  • Using a targeted multi-media approach with frequency and consistency (including direct mail, print and digital media)
  • Ensuring you are communicating with both your current customers and prospects via mail, telemarketing, etc.
  • Creating messaging that resonates with your target audiences; i.e. speak to individuals about what matters to them via their preferred communication channels – email, print, text, etc.

Once your plan is up and running, track the results.  As recommended in Know Your Marketing; Know Your ROI, many computer programs are available to facilitate and simplify tracking (AHAA has one), but typically a person(s) in your office must physically input the response data.  It’s important to consistently gather this data because you will use it to calculate your return on investment, or ROI.

Once you gather the data, then what?  AHAA recommends a quarterly assessment of all marketing initiatives to analyze trends, assess the performance of the plan, and ensure marketing dollars are being spent wisely.  Some key metrics to pay attention to: number of calls (how many times did the phone ring from each initiative), number of appointments set and number of hearing devices sold.  The aggregate of these metrics will contribute to your ROI calculation.  To discover how to properly calculate ROI, click here.

Remember, marketing 101 tells us that developing a plan and working that plan frequently and consistently yields success; couple that with tracking your results, calculating ROI and analyzing those results in order to tweak your plan will put you on a successful marketing trajectory.

 

For questions or a free 30 minute marketing consultation, contact Keara M. Piekanski, AHAA Marketing Manager at kpiekanski@AHAAnet.com.