professional gives speech to group

7 Free Marketing Ideas for Your Hearing Practice

Considering that over 48 million Americans would benefit from the use of hearing aids, it can be surprising to learn that hearing practices often struggle with marketing their services. Indeed, marketing an audiology business or hearing aid center is anything but easy. And with over-the-counter hearing aids fast approaching, the challenge hearing practices face will only continue.
The good news is that small businesses like hearing practices have more options than ever when it comes to cost-effective marketing. From the incredible versatility that digital marketing offers, to the many ways to reach people for free, there are several avenues for promoting your services to those who need them most.
To make this easy, we’ve compiled 7 free audiology marketing ideas that you can apply in your office no matter what kind of hearing services you provide. All of these ideas have one thing in common: to reach the people who need hearing care and let them know how you can help. Because the truth is, healthy hearing changes lives. And it’s up to you to show people what’s possible.
Elevator Pitch
Every hearing professional needs a 1-minute elevator pitch ready and waiting. Ideally, you market yourself everywhere you go. In line at the grocery store. At your aunt’s birthday party. Your best friend’s wedding. And everywhere else.
Don’t worry — this doesn’t mean you have to bring up hearing loss wherever you go. But it does mean you’re always on the lookout for a chance to mention how modern hearing technology is transforming people’s lives and the relationships they cherish. Breaking the stigma around hearing loss means people like you find ways to talk about it more. And getting more patients in your office means raising awareness about what modern hearing aids can offer.
Community Outreach
Sharing your knowledge in-person with your patients is a powerful way to overcome resistance to hearing treatment. Misconceptions and stubborn hesitance often melts away when you’re able to address questions and concerns directly.
For this reason, speaking to groups is often a very effective way to bring new patients in. Consider offering a free hearing screening and informational talk at local senior centers, nursing homes, and even company gatherings for relevant industries (i.e. construction, auto shops, arborists, etc). Come prepared to answer common questions and try offering a limited-time offer to encourage people to visit you before the impact of your talk fades over time.
Referral Network
If you have yet to reach out to professionals in your community, you could be missing out on a significant source of patient referrals for your practice. Consider reaching out to other professionals who work with your target population and letting them know what services you provide, along with the kind of success you have with your patients. Including testimonials or actual patient statistics from your office can be a persuasive way to become a reference for professionals who don’t know you. Dropping off this information in person can also be helpful.
Not sure who to reach out to? Begin with those professionals who interact with your target market enough that they might recognize an untreated hearing problem. Consider doctors (especially those with a specialty in geriatrics), any other health professionals (i.e. therapists, chiropractors, and physical therapist) who work with older patients, physical trainers at gyms or tennis clubs where retired populations frequent, and hearing screeners at schools if you work with pediatric hearing loss.
Open House
For the most direct marketing opportunity, schedule an Open House event at your office. Invite the public to visit your office, get a free hearing screening, and try on hearing aids. Put flyers around your community and spread the word for free online through social media. You could even schedule this in October, as an “National Protect Your Hearing Month” event. To make it even more appealing, consider offering limited-time discounts for those who come in.
Write Everywhere
Although marketing is your focus, spreading awareness of hearing health is your effect. And you can do this everywhere, through conversation or through writing. We’ve already emphasized the importance of having an active blog on your website, and the power that guest posting can have on your visibility online.
Now consider reaching out to local publications where you could offer valuable information about hearing health. A free publication for seniors is common in many cities, as well as free health-oriented magazines. Check your nearby senior center or library to discover the kinds of small, free publications available in your area, and then reach out to them to pitch a few ideas of topics you’d be willing to write about for an upcoming issue.
Special Offers
Consumer behavior has been evolving for decades, but one trend has remained strong from its inception: discounts. The power of a limited-time offer of cost-savings is not to be underestimated, even if the offer is not very steep. Even offering a “free hearing aid trial” can be enough to bring those in who might otherwise be putting off caring for their hearing needs.
Stay Connected
Across every healthcare sector, one rule remains true: it’s easier (and cheaper) to keep patients you already have than it is to recruit new ones. Despite this, few hearing professionals make the extra effort to nurture their current patient base with regular communications beyond the typical “It’s time for a check-up” notifications.
You can easily keep your services top-of-mind for patients by sending out a monthly email newsletter. Include a short review of a hearing topic of interest, or just link over to your most recent blog posts, to offer value in each communication you send out. Mention any news coming from your office (i.e. new staff members, upcoming events, etc) to help your patients feel connected to you and your practice.
Marketing doesn’t have to be hard work. And it doesn’t have to be expensive either. With the right mindset and a focus on sharing the results you provide, it quickly becomes a task of simply getting your message in front of the right people at the right time.
We specialize in maximizing our clients’ marketing potential, and we do this through digital marketing. Your potential patients are online, and targeting them is easier (and less costly) than ever before. Contact us to learn how digital marketing can meet your budget and your needs.

Person leaves a rating on tablet

Online Reviews: How to Let Patients Do Your Marketing for You

We’ve entered an era where everyone can voice an opinion online and have it reach literally anyone, anywhere—indefinitely. Everything from cat food to oncologists has been reviewed online and more people are reading those reviews than ever before. With recent studies revealing that 90% of consumers read online reviews before visiting a business (yes, ninety percent), there’s no denying that these public ratings are a critical part of your business’s success.
As a hearing professional, your main focus is self-evident: to help people improve their hearing health. Providing excellent service in this regard is also the most important piece of an effective online review strategy. It’s the foundation of good business, period. But delivering great service is where online review management begins—not ends. The best efforts to take advantage of them for the success of your practice include a blend of proactive and retroactive actions. Consider the strategies detailed below to know if your practice is leveraging online reviews as a free marketing tool, driving new patients your way.
Claim Your Listing
Leaving your practice an online review should be as easy as possible, and ensuring that your business is listed on the most common review websites is an important first step. After all, your business must be found to be reviewed. By listing your business (or claiming your listing if it was automatically generated), you end up with more control over your business information posted on the site, and often have access tools for tracking reviews and responding directly to reviewers.
It’s also important for your practice to have a complete array of accurate business information (i.e. hours, address, phone, etc) on sites like Google, Bing, Yelp, Healthgrades, and social media sites. Include as much information as you can, including any welcoming photos of your staff and office. These listings are often your only chance to sway a potential patient in your direction. Some listings, like Google Business, require multi-step verification to be fully listed. It’s worth taking these steps, as having your business verified helps boost its visibility when searched for online.
Encourage Feedback
Online reviews are one of the few areas in life where quantity is equally as important as quality. Of course, the majority of the reviews you get (no matter how many or how few), need to be positive to reflect favorably on your overall rating, but having many reviews in itself is a boon for business. It silently communicates that there’s a reason so many people have sought your services.
The most effective way to get more online reviews is deceivingly simple: ask for them. This is best done right after an appointment, when your patient is still in your office (and, presumably, happy with his or her experience). Some offices even set up a review station with a tablet or laptop for patients to use before they leave. While offering incentives (like candy or a free pair of batteries, etc) is helpful, it’s important to note that pressuring patients to leave a positive review in exchange for anything is considered bad for business, and eventually comes out in user reviews.
One of the subtle benefits of proactively encouraging reviews onsite is that any patients who might feel disgruntled or unsatisfied after an appointment will have a direct opportunity to raise their concerns in-person, at the time of the event. Instead of trying to delicately respond to that patient’s negative review online, you end up with a chance to make things right before a review even gets published. Direct communication is always helpful when tackling patient satisfaction, and when handled with grace and understanding, even the most frustrated patient can become your practice’s biggest advocate.
Track Reviews
Once you’re present on the most popular directories and encouraging patients to leave you reviews, your next task is to keep track of them. Positive, negative, and neutral—every review you get is an opportunity. Successful online review management has proper review tracking at its core, so don’t overlook this step. Sure, a few unnoticed positive reviews may only present a missed opportunity (to bolster them with a response), but just one negative review slipping past your watch can instantly plummet the number of new patient inquiries you receive.
If tracking reviews manually sounds overwhelming, it’s because it is. Ideally, any review left for your business would get a response within a few days. Negative reviews should get an immediate response to minimize reputation damage. Making this part of your everyday agenda is often not practical, which is why several online tools have surfaced to help monitor your reviews for you (here’s a list of both paid and free options). No matter how you arrange to have your reviews monitored, make sure it’s a top priority for your digital marketing strategy.
Leave a Reply
Every review your practice gets deserves some kind of response, despite the common advice to only focus on responding to negative reviews. Look at this way: your patients are taking the time to leave you a compliment on a public forum, so why skip the opportunity to thank them in a public way? A simple note of appreciation not only communicates the friendly nature of your practice and staff, but also encourages others to leave you a review once they’ve experienced your services. Simply put: people like being appreciated.
That said, it is more important to respond to negative reviews. A negative review without a reply from the business owner can leave a strong impression on readers and directly affect your business. While each situation is different, there are some tried-and-true guidelines to remember when publicly dealing with negative reviews:

  • Make sure you’re in a calm and collected state of mind before replying.
  • Endeavor to make the reviewer felt heard and understood.
  • Focus on the facts, but avoid engaging in a direct debate (unless necessary… see below).
  • If appropriate, offer to “make things right” by giving the reviewer another opportunity to experience the level of service you take pride in, refunding them, or whatever else seems conciliatory.
  • Do confront, in a respectful tone, any abusive or blatantly false claims. Also report these to the review website itself, as they would likely be in violation of the site’s terms of service.
  • Above all, try to look at your response with fresh eyes before publishing it. Asking a friend or colleague to proof it can also be helpful. When dealing with negative reviews, it’s easy for defensiveness to sneak into our replies, undermining the effort to approach them with understanding and professionalism.

A Team Effort
Delivering top-notch service in today’s hearing market means providing warm and professional interactions every step of the way. For many practices, the front desk staff needs to be as committed to this goal as much as the practice owner for patients to receive the level of service they would write a review for.
To encourage your staff to consistently provide excellent patient support, consider offering incentives for receiving a certain number of reviews that mention the staff, or even a staff member by name. At the very least, remind your staff often of the main purpose of your business: to improve people’s lives through healthy hearing (served with a smile, of course).
Running your own practice is hard work, but receiving positive feedback about the difference you’re making in your patients’ lives can be all you need to remember why you do what you do. At AudiologyPlus, we like to encourage this kind of positive feedback through efficient website design. Our custom-built ReviewMe plugin makes leaving a review for your hearing practice a simple two-click process—straight from your website. This removes the confusion patients can face when trying to navigate different review sites online, and greatly increases the odds of them leaving you the 5-star review you deserve. Contact us to learn more.

Person evaluating their marketing data

How to Prepare for Your Best Year Yet

The strength of a business can be measured by its capacity to adapt and rapidly respond to the shifting needs of its market. We see this across every sector, in every era of marketplace history. And it’s no surprise—people choose what they like, and their likes change. These days, in the Digital Age, it seems like consumer preferences change more rapidly than ever.
Fortunately, as a hearing healthcare practice, your services will never be unnecessary. With a record number of people with unmet hearing care needs, you certainly don’t need to worry about your “target market” disappearing anytime soon. But you do need to consider if this large population of potential patients is discovering what you offer—and if they’re being enticed to inquire further. Your practice thrives on a specific threshold of new patients each month, so your main task is to ensure you’re getting in front of fresh eyes on a regular basis.
Yes, this is Marketing 101, and surely comes as no surprise. What is surprising, though, is how few practice owners take the time to thoroughly review their marketing strategies. In fact, many have yet to put a thorough marketing plan together at all. If you fall into either of these camps, but only because your practice is too busy with new patients to afford you the time for such luxuries—well then, you’re doing just fine. For now, that is… as the vast majority of hearing healthcare professionals will attest to the famed “patient plateau” that occurs eventually in most hearing practices. Having a successful marketing strategy in place before that plateau hits means you likely won’t ever see it in your practice.
So what does an effective review of your marketing plan even look like? Perhaps you have already set up specific metrics for tracking the success of various marketing campaigns or tactics you’ve used this past year. If not, there are several simple ways to analyze whether your current strategy is working for you or not. At the end of the day (and certainly by the end of the year) any time, effort, and money you put into spreading the word about your services should be getting paid back to you—in surplus—by the new patients you’re acquiring as a result.
The Past 12 Months
To begin this review, you need to select the time period you want to analyze the strategies you’ve used so far. As the end of the year (and the financial quarter) approaches, this is an excellent time to review the past 12 months. Didn’t have any marketing strategies or plans in place this year? Or maybe you only had them active for part of the year? Lucky for you this 12-month review is useful in either case.
If you haven’t implemented any targeted or intentional marketing tactics (i.e. postcards, special offerings, digital ads, online review management, search engine optimization/SEO for your website, etc), then you will make this review your baseline to compare all future years against. It will provide you with valuable data about what was happening organically in your practice—that is, without any concentrated marketing efforts on your part—to what happens when you do concentrate your attention on marketing your services.
If you’ve only applied marketing strategies for part of the last year, this review is useful because it has you review your patient data month by month. It gives you a chance to begin the comparison process by looking at your data from months without marketing efforts in place and watching for any changes in that data as you applied different strategies or campaigns.
Key Patient Data
While you can get as granular and detailed as you want with analyzing new patient data (depending on how much information you collect from each patient), the most important details you want to gather for each of the past 12 months are:

  1. The number of patient inquiries (by phone, email, or in person) you received
  2. The number of new patients you began seeing

Another very helpful piece of information is how patients (inquiring or new) found your practice in the first place, but not every practice asks this on their intake forms or in their communications. If you have this data, definitely track it. If you don’t, consider making it a standard question for all new patient forms, or emails and calls responding to inquiries. This single metric is the best way for you to track the effectiveness of your outreach efforts.
Lay it All Out
Your approach to laying out your month by month comparison will be largely determined by your own preferences. You can get as fancy and graph or chart oriented as you’d like, but the basic approach is to create a grid (or a spreadsheet). Title each column as a month from the previous year and label the rows below that header with the data categories your practice has been tracking (i.e. New Patients, Patient Inquiries, How They Found Us). Next, simply add the numbers you’ve collected. If you want to look at your conversion trends (the percentage of inquiries converted into new patients), simply divide the number of new patients by the number of inquiries. When finished, your grid will look something like this:
Compare Marketing Streams
Once you have this base data in your grid, you can add information to each month for any marketing efforts you had actively in place. If you sent mailers out in February, you’d mention that in the February column. If you invested in proper SEO for your website in March, you’d place that effort in March and every month thereafter (since it will only continue to increase traffic to your website). Word of mouth (WOM) should always be an organic source of new patients, but if your practice created a referral incentive at some point, you’d definitely want to note that in the month it began, and all months thereafter.
By having your marketing efforts listed alongside your new patient and inquiry data, you’ll get a quick and clear picture of the overall effectiveness of your strategies. You would need information from new and inquiring patients about how they learned about your practice to be able to compare the effectiveness of each marketing avenue independently, so it’s worth collecting that information sooner than later.
Taking the time to clearly lay out your practice’s history of attracting new patients offers a clear picture of the direction your business is heading in. Perhaps your numbers show that a more comprehensive marketing plan would be beneficial. Or maybe this process will encourage you to collect more data for the year ahead. No matter where you’re at right now, having this information gives your practice a launchpad to leap from. The Internet has made reaching a large audience easier (and more cost-effective) than ever. Never before has marketing been so accessible. Why not take advantage of all it has to offer?