Hearing professional is surprised by marketing results

Top Marketing Mistakes to Avoid in Your Hearing Practice

The hearing healthcare industry is experiencing rapid growth, with expansion expected to continue for at least another 6-8 years. Many factors account for this growth, including a rising awareness of hearing loss detection and treatment options, but much of it can be attributed to the increasing size of older populations throughout the country. As more Baby Boomers gain official “senior” status, more hearing professionals are being sought for restorative services.
In other words, if you thought the hearing marketplace was already a competitive one—it’s in the process of becoming ever more so. Practices who’ve been developing a strong presence in their communities, by way of a combination of quality service, time, and effective marketing, tend to welcome new hearing practices to their area. Their offices are already so full of patients that there’s no sense of competition, but instead one of cooperation. After all, they’re well aware of the staggering number of individuals in need of hearing care that aren’t getting it, and more practices translate to more help.
If this describes your hearing practice—bravo! You’ve likely been making strong marketing moves for years and we’re glad it’s paying off the way it should. The truth is, however, your practice is in the minority. With the shift in recent years to a more digitized culture (where everyone from toddlers to seniors are adept with a touchscreen), getting found as a small business is in some ways harder. The routes of traditional marketing, such as mailers and print ads, are less effective as more eyes are pinned to a screen and distracted from other published materials. This situation has left many hearing practices feeling left behind and lost in a crowded sea of local competitors, websites, and patient options.
Luckily, it doesn’t have to be that way. There are many clear paths to getting seen and getting new patients, and with more people needing hearing help, a prime opportunity exists to reach your practice’s highest potential. And yes, effective marketing is definitely the best (and fastest) path there.
So where do you start? Begin by avoiding some common marketing pitfalls that healthcare providers, in general, tend to fall prey to. Taking note of these mistakes can save you time, money, and the discouragement that failed marketing attempts create.
Starting with the Wrong Perspective
Many business owners make a big mistake before they even begin creating their marketing plan: they view marketing as an expense instead of an investment. Of course, any marketing endeavor will end up as a line item on your outgoing expenses sheet, but there could (and should) just as easily be a line item for it on your revenue sheet as well. This may seem subtle, but shifting your perspective towards marketing as an investment can be a huge game-changer.
When you invest in your business, just like you invested in your education, innumerable boundaries begin to lift. Investing in and of itself offers you permission to spend, because there is a clear understanding that it will eventually be returned to you. When viewed only from the expense perspective, marketing suddenly becomes a drain, even a gamble, with your resources. And it actually can be a gamble when this perspective is paired with the following mistake…
Lacking in Tracking
Another glaring error across the hearing healthcare industry is the lack of proper results tracking for each marketing effort. Perhaps the result of hearing professionals being too busy to dig into these kinds of back-office details, this error can quickly spell the death of even the best marketing plans. Why? Because a well-designed marketing strategy is dynamic, not static. It’s set up to initially get a sense of what your local market responds to—what catches their eye, what prompts them to inquire more—and then to pivot when an effort isn’t performing well enough. The best marketers aren’t mind-readers, they’re data-analyzers. And the only way to successfully refine your marketing to your specific market’s needs is to collect information about each and every campaign you put out.
Having a Backwards Focus
The most effective marketing ads these days don’t just give information, they give sensation. People respond more to messages that evoke a feeling, especially when that feeling is one they’ve been longing for. Food retailers have seized on this idea for decades, spawning an entire industry of “food styling” in an effort to create the exact kind of image (of a burger, for instance) that simultaneously reminds people of how delicious burgers are (sensation), and also how hungry they suddenly are (motivation).
This kind of approach translates well for hearing practices because your services are directly aimed at relieving a huge need for people: to stay connected to those they love, to hear the world around them, and for easy living in general. Just consider the difference between an ad that describes your broad range of services and hard-earned credentials and one that reminds readers how enjoyable family gatherings are when you can hear everyone from your grandkids to your husband across the table. Or imagine an ad that shares a succinct story about a patient who hadn’t had shared an intimate conversation with his wife in 10 years before visiting your office, but now their marriage is rekindled and feels like it did when they first met. The possibilities are endless, and with some creative ingenuity (and diligent results tracking), you can quickly discover which messages engage your local audience the best.
Believing There is an End
In sales marketing, a “lead” has successfully “closed” once a purchase is made. The deal is done and marketers quickly move on to the next lead. In hearing healthcare, however, it’s not so cut-and-dry. New patients make that initial purchase by selecting your office, but the relationship certainly doesn’t end there. Thus, new patients never technically lose that “lead” status. They’re always in a position to either keep you as their provider, or to move on and find another office. Considering the investment of time and money it takes to acquire new patients, it’s important to realize that keeping them in your office is just as relevant to your marketing strategy as getting them there is.
Patient retention is a large topic involving many factors (which we explore in more detail here), but at its core will always be quality of service. For this reason, ensuring that your entire office is committed to providing exceptional patient care is a critical element of your overall marketing strategy. Your front office, especially, needs to be adequately trained in the difference between patient-centered service and provider-centered service. The former ensures that patients are leaving your office feeling respected, valued, and cared for. It’s this subtle difference that can mean everything when your patients are solicited with enticing offers from other local hearing professionals. It’s your level of service that either creates loyalty or squanders it.
Under-plan and Underperform
Creating a complete marketing plan from scratch can seem overwhelming at first, but it certainly doesn’t need to be. And no matter how it seems—it’s a critical first step for your marketing success. Only planning out parts of your plan, or worse, not creating one at all, is like trying to drive somewhere new without directions and just a vague notion of your destination. Defined marketing aims, targets, metrics, and a timeline for different campaign efforts is critical to a strong start and a rewarding finish.
Many practices decide to hire marketing firms or professionals for this initial planning task, and while that is often a worthwhile investment, it’s still important that you as the business owner stay involved in the details of your marketing strategies—especially as they’re being planned out. Nobody knows your patient base better than you. And only you can decipher the subtle qualities that really make your patient care unique and attractive. These details are invaluable when crafting the angle of your marketing campaigns, and for deciding which marketing avenues would best reach your target market.
Whether you hire out or decide to craft a marketing plan yourself, be sure to spend some time evaluating what your local competitors are offering and advertising—online and in print. It’s also worthwhile to look into current demographic data for your particular region to get a broad picture of where people are at in terms of age, household status, and median incomes. Beyond this preliminary data, you’ll gain the most information about your market once you actually begin producing ads and tracking their responses. Your marketing plan should include a detailed timeline for when you intend to produce each campaign, and a rough idea of the content each campaign will contain. When finished, a comprehensive marketing plan lays out a blueprint for the different angles your ads will try out, when each will be launched, how results will be measured, and the various budget thresholds for all marketing channels and campaigns.
 
As you endeavor to increase your practice’s marketing strength and commit to seeing the results you know your services deserve, you need to stay mindful of this fact: your future patients are waiting to hear from you. Many of them likely don’t even realize what kind of life is possible with proper hearing loss treatment. Others are suffering in silence out of shame or frustration. Your marketing efforts aren’t sales tactics—they’re public service announcements. As a hearing care provider, you have a valuable service to offer and it’s helpful to remember that your ads are a gift for those who may be losing hope.
If you think your practice would benefit from professional marketing services, we’ve created solutions to meet every stage of growth. Contact us to learn more.

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