Tag Archives: sales

Superheroes and Ice Cream Flavors

20 May

We live in a world with so many choices. Some are simple, some complex. The beauty of these choices is that we are able to make decisions based on our preferences. Take a moment to decide if you prefer:

Batman or Superman
Chocolate or Vanilla
Coffee or Tea
Dogs or Cats
Mac or PC

All of these options are comparable; it’s simply a matter of a penchant for one over another – plus what’s right for you. The same idea – believe it or not –applies to your marketing.

Your preferences impact your marketing choices

For all intents and purposes, marketing and advertising has become the cost of entry for many businesses. If you are not putting yourself out there, you won’t be in the game. But when faced with the choices of the different messages and offers available, how do you know which one to choose for your business?

Since there are so many marketing options, let’s focus on the #1 response mechanism for AHAA Associates: direct mail. As we all know, not all communication is created equal. We believe that in today’s market, direct mail used to target prospect customers fall into two categories – Traditional or Aggressive – with the categorization based on message style. It’s important to determine which category best reflects the type of communication you want to have with your target audience and what type of customer your practice is ready to handle.

Sample of AHAA letter packages

Sample of AHAA letter packages

Here’s an overview of each ‘type’ of direct mail, so you can determine which approach is right for you:


This type of messaging is the obvious or ‘traditional’ offer route; savings on a pair of hearing devices, a free demo, free hearing screening/consultation, etc.

Response Rate
Expect a .25% – .50% response rate with this type of direct mail communication; e.g. if you mail out 5,000 pieces, you should receive between 12-25 calls.

This type of mailer attracts prospect customers who are closer to making a decision to act on their [semi] recognized hearing loss. Your front office person will have an easier time scheduling the appointment and your Au.D. will have an easier time closing the sale if a hearing loss is present.

The traffic that this type of mailer brings in to the office typically results in less cancellations and a customer that’s easier to close.


This type of messaging takes on more of a ‘gimmicky’ or ‘aggressive’ angle; offering a giveaway for simply showing up for an appointment.

Response Rate
Expect a .50% – .1+% response rate; e.g. if you mail out 5,000 pieces, you should receive between 25-50+ calls.

This type of mailer attracts prospect customers who are likely to be a more difficult opportunity. Your front office person will need to be well-trained in overcoming objections when scheduling these candidates for appointments and your Au.D. will need to invoke a different strategy to capture the sale if a hearing loss is present.

This customer is likely to be more of a challenge, prone to a higher incidence of cancellations.

Sample of AHAA folded driect mailer

Sample of AHAA folded direct mailer

So which one is right for you? 

Above and beyond your preference lies the factor of preparedness. With either message [but  especially the ‘aggressive’ one], it’s important to have strong processes

in place before a direct mailer is scheduled. From capturing the appointment through closing the sale, the tighter your methods, the more return on investment [ROI] you’ll reap. Depending on which format you gravitate toward coupled with the strengths of your process, will help easily determine the proper direct mail package for your practice.

The bottom line is that you have to feel comfortable with the message you are sending out – just like you want to feel good about any choice you make.

When choosing a marketing initiative, AHAA is here to help! Find out more about you direct mail choices by contacting Keara M. Piekanski at kpiekanski@ahaanet.com.

Building Your Brand or Building Business

17 Aug

Ask JC Penney if they got it right. For the last 8 months they’ve invested buckets of cash on “re-establishing their brand” – whatever that entails. Call it an experiment, call it ill-advised, call it what you will, there’s a lesson in this experience for us. Focus your marketing investments on those activities that will drive results first, everything else should follow. It really is THAT simple.

Here’s What Happened

They brought on a new CEO, Ron Johnson, who had previously led the retail group at Apple. On February 1st the company introduced a new logo and a new retail strategy. According to their press release “the new JCPenney logo, combines the elements that have made JCPenney an enduring American brand, by evoking the nation’s flag and JCPenney’s commitment to treating customers fair and square.”  Lofty goals for a logo. Things were looking optimistically rosy. Then reality hit. Sales plummeted, traffic was down, and merchandise was sitting in inventory. President Michael Francis, left after only a few months on the job. JC Penney advertising ‘went dark’ in mid-June — the same time Mr. Francis departed — turning off TV ads and canceling the July catalog (that was already printed). The bottom line: the upbeat, colorful marketing rolled out during Mr. Francis’ short tenure “made people rethink JC Penney and was entertaining,” Mr. Johnson admitted, “but it didn’t reach the core customer and didn’t build the business.”

So, What’s Next?

They aren’t changing their retail philosophy focusing instead on the real culprit, their marketing program. Initially they had expected to reduce promotional efforts from 590 events (at about $2 million per promotion in 2011) to just 12 promotional “months” this year (where the company will spend $80 million monthly). As a result, JCP expected to save $300 million on their overall advertising over the next four years.  Now, JCP will look to newspapers in a much revamped traditional marketing push. By pulling back on ‘branded’ TV spending the retailer has shifted their expense toward 30 newspaper inserts planned for the last half of 2012, including eight in August alone. Wisely, JC Penney is investing much more heavily in what Mr. Johnson calls “traditional traffic-driving means.”

Their Pain is Our Gain

The highly visible failure of an experiment this large in the public’s eye serves us some good as marketers and private practices. We can take away some valuable lessons without spending a dime. Our goal should be to incorporate this learning into our approach and try to remember that experience trumps theory and supposition every time. Meaning, it is important to keep these key points top of mind:

  • Brand development is more than just a nifty logo
  • Customers will tell you what they want from your business — listen to them
  • Spending money on the core media is your fist priority if you want to drive opportunities
  • Sales keep the lights on and everything else should support that objective
  • Advertising may be seductive, but marketing is about driving business
What do you think?

Here at AHAA we’ve been saying this for a while… to be successful in this business we need to create opportunities to help patients (customers) first. That affords the business the chance to treat people with exceptional care and good service. Branding follows, and its a nothing more than a reflection of your ability to reach customers and provide them your care. THAT is why you got in this field to begin with, isn’t it?

Source: AdAge

Aligning Sales and Marketing for Success

31 Jul

92% of businesses surveyed recently by Forrester reported their Sales and Marketing efforts are not tightly aligned. That is, the two efforts do not explicitly share the same goals and strategies within the organization. Couple this insight with an Aberdeen report which reveals that those businesses who claimed tightly aligned Sales and Marketing efforts experienced a 32% annual revenue growth as compared to just 7% for those less aligned (and no growth for those without any alignment).

Collaboration between Sales and Marketing has never been accomplished simply by creating good advertising or generating response. Its about producing sales opportunities more effectively with the tools and processes you know, and connecting in unexpected ways with experts and techniques that you never knew you needed. It means understanding customers in ways they themselves don’t even recognize. Lastly, it requires all staff to interact with each other on a regular basis as though you were standing at a water cooler.

Improving the sales performance of your team is a critical factor in driving growth. Likewise, using marketing materials that perform well and generate response is equally important.  However, the intersection of these two activities, if tightly aligned, creates an environment where success can be sustained at a much higher level. For example, weaknesses in sales closure become more obvious when marketing techniques are applied that generate high response levels of customers less predisposed to treat their hearing loss. Similarly, advanced sales staff will suffer if your marketing efforts can not provide enough opportunities for them to close on.

Aligning your marketing effort with the business’ sales capability is a constant concern.  One that must be managed closely. Attending Owners meetings and Sales Training help to keep these issues in the forefront of your operation. Developing a business plan, a marketing plan, tracking your results, and then measuring your performance as an organization ensures you can adapt as needed.  Conducting company meetings provides the venue for sharing the vision and the results of everyone’s efforts.

We believe that this way of doing business is not just the latest trend – it will become the way all successful businesses operate. So, are you aligned within your company? Tell us your stories!

Interested in learning more about alignment?  Ready to participate in an Owners Meeting, Sales Training classes, review your business or marketing plans?  Contact AHAA Customer Management at 800.984.3272 or by email at customermanagement@ahaanet.com.