Social media is today’s version of the corner store. People use Facebook to catch up with each other and provide word-of-mouth recommendations. Champine outlines three components to an effective social media marketing campaign:
1. Original posts. “Open accounts for your business and post something new several times a week. These posts can be tips, industry news, or office news. Encourage people to get to know you and your office staff better.”
2. Listen. “Reading posts and comments to online articles are great ways to keep your finger on the pulse of what your target audience is saying about their hearing, and about their hearing instruments. Save time by setting up automatic keyword searches.”
3. Engage. “Comment on relevant online articles and conversations. Refer people to a related blog or video on your website.”
While paid advertising remains one of the most costly marketing tools, the return on this investment continues to diminish. The power of ads in paper phone books, newspapers and magazines is becoming obsolete. According to a 2010 Pew Internet Study reported in Audiology Online, 78 percent of adults 50-64 and 42 percent of adults ages 65 and older are online. Of those in the 55-64 age range, 57 percent are using online local searches compared to only 37 percent using print. This trend away from print is expected to continue. Fewer people will be influenced to make an appointment because they saw your ad.
“Small business owners are paring down the size of their ad budgets, and re-thinking how these ads are used,” says Champine.
She advises hearing professionals to set very specific goals for their paid advertising. “Advertising is now a reminder instead of a lead generator. For example, ads make it easier for people using the phone book to find your name. Instead of buying large, expensive ads, pay just a little extra for a larger, bold typeface.”
Dr. Finkelstein agrees. “Print ads in local papers, and mailings, are still viable options although their (power) is a little more limited. They sometimes don’t pay off immediately.”
An increasing number of hearing professionals are using public relations to elevate their reputations and enhance their credibility.
“Done well, a consistent public relations campaign can position you as the local hearing expert. When a reporter chooses to interview you for an article or TV segment, it builds the public’s trust and confidence in your abilities,” says Champine.
Reporters and producers are the absolute best filters. They know what their audiences will accept, and they won’t settle for anything less. “That’s why getting your story published in the news can be so difficult. But that’s also why having your story published in the news is so valuable. It gives you third-party affirmation and it puts you directly in front of highly receptive audiences,” she adds.
Engaging in public relations offers a way to build the reputation of your business at a relatively low cost. Finkelstein says that pointing out your unique expertise will help you get noticed:
What do you bring to the table? What establishes you as being different than everyone else? Whether you market through patient events and open houses or you use email blasts to build your patient referrals, you have to figure out how to market yourself