For hearing care professionals running a business in an increasingly competitive marketplace, getting referrals and providing good service are simply not enough to keep up a consistent patient flow. A marketing plan is key to attract, retain and engage more patients. Luckily, you do not need to spend a massive budget on marketing services to make your practice stand out. In this article, we share ideas on how digital marketing and more traditional marketing efforts can help grow your business.
1. Use social media to engage new and existing patients
Social media is a very efficient way of attracting new patients and keeping existing patients engaged with your audiology practice. Depending on your audience and location, creating a company page for your practice on channels such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn gives potential patients an easy way to communicate with you. By providing them with helpful information and sharing your own content as well as articles from other relevant sources, you can establish yourself as a specialist within your field.
One of the most engaging content formats is video and you don’t need professional video equipment to create it. Consider using your smartphone to record video tutorials on your patients’ most frequently asked questions or everyday situations from your practice like: "We just received a package of newly launched hearing aids. Come visit our clinic if you’d like to see them and learn about the new features". This kind of personal approach can help potential patients build trust in you as an expert.
Another way of leveraging social media is to use the advertising tools, such as Facebook Ads Manager, to promote your services or events. With social media ads, you can reach a very specific target audience based on demographic and interest-based parameters that the users share on their personal profile. Watch the video below to see how audiologist Peter Byrom grew his business by utilizing Facebook ads to make over 500 people interested in his opening day event where he showcased the quick and clean 3D scanning process using Otoscan.
2. Boost word-of-mouth with personal references from current patients
Even in today’s digital world, the most effective form of marketing is word-of-mouth. A personal reference from a current patient is a great way to get people talking and to attract new patients. In addition to providing excellent service in a timely manner and making sure that patients have a good experience at your practice, you need to impress them.
This can be achieved by showing something completely new and different – something memorable that they can see or hear and talk about when meeting with family and friends. It could be a video of their own ear canal made with an otoscope, a demonstration of amplification using real ear/speech mapping or the newest and most advanced technology within hearing care counseling. The time it takes to do either will pay off – and increase referrals down the road.
3. Generate positive feedback with online reviews
When patients have had a good experience at your practice, why not ask them if they would be willing to leave feedback on review sites like TrustPilot or Yelp? In addition to a Google search, people looking for a new healthcare professional mainly turn to review sites for suggestions simply because they trust what existing patients say about their experiences. This is an effective way to build a good reputation and attract new patients.
However, not all reviews are good as people are often more inclined to leave a review if they have had a bad experience. For this reason, you need to manage your reputation by responding to both good and bad reviews. This way, you show potential patients that you care about their satisfaction and that you are willing to listen and solve any problems that may arise.
4. Follow up on services with email marketing to existing patients
It is crucial to establish strong relationships with your existing patients to keep them coming back. One of the ways you can do that is by keeping in touch with people through email marketing. Ask patients if they want to be added to your mailing list when they visit your practice or your website and make sure to be informative, helpful and professional in your communications.
Most email marketing platforms enable automated “check-ins” with previous patients. This makes it easy for you to follow up on services and let your patients know that their past experiences matter so that they return for their future audiology needs. You can also use email marketing to send out a short customer survey with questions on how to improve your service and at the end of the survey ask them to leave online reviews.
5. Build a website for patients to find your practice in search engines
When looking for a new hearing care provider, many people will use Google or other search engines to find an “audiologist near me” or simply ask: “where can I get a hearing test in Seattle?'' To increase the likelihood of your practice appearing in a potential patient's search result, it is necessary for your audiology practice to have a search engine friendly website.
SEO is short for Search Engine Optimization and is the process of building a website with relevant content around specific keywords that potential new patients are searching for. The website content should not be limited to your audiology services but can also be insightful articles, for instance your take on new hearing aid technology such as 3D ear scanning, AI or hearing devices apps. By making your website become a useful source of information, you can position yourself as an expert and increase your practices’ online visibility.
How do you get started? Listing your practice’s information on Google My Business and building a website on one of these 8 content management systems can help you rank on search engines and thereby attract new patients.
6. Get involved in your community to boost your practice’s local presence
Getting involved in your community is an effective way to boost your practice’s local presence and attract new patients. As a hearing care specialist, you are not just a hearing aid provider. Consider offering hearing care protection at your clinic or participating in a health fair at the community center by giving a presentation about the importance of hearing protection. You can even contact the music department at a local high school or university and offer to introduce students to the importance of hearing protection. This will have a very positive effect on your practice's image.
You can also become a sponsor for a community event, such as a charity run and offer promotions or a free screening for potential new patients. It is a great way to start building awareness of your clinic and your services, as well as build your referral base.
7. Cultivate relationships with ENTs to make them refer patients
As a business owner, a strong network is one of the greatest assets you can have. If you cultivate relationships with local and regional ear, nose and throat (ENT) professionals, they can refer patients to your clinic to determine the best way to help patients with hearing loss. And if the hearing loss is accompanied by other symptoms such as tinnitus, loss of balance and nausea, collaboration with the ENT may be necessary to ensure a good patient experience. It takes time to build a solid network, but it will be worth the investment.
8. Build trust with counseling and discuss patient expectations
Counseling can help your patients feel that you are the right professional to help them. Listening to your patients’ specific needs and basing your testing and treatment around them is an effective way to build connections. Counseling also helps patients become confident that an appropriately fitted hearing aid or hearing care product will improve their lives. An important part of counseling is discussing and aligning expectations - the sooner the better. The patients need to understand what to expect upfront rather than at the tail end of the consultation process. Conduct all the assessments required for a professional counseling process to uncover any unknowns early in the process. Discussing expectations early on increases the likelihood that your patients will wear their hearing aids consistently and be happier with them and the care they received in the end.
9. Ensure patients will return for adjustments for a successful fitting
Working with patients to fine-tune their hearing aids to suit their preferences and lifestyle is part of every successful fitting. Make sure they know and understand that returning to your clinic for adjustments is not only allowed, but strongly encouraged. If they do not purchase a hearing aid on the first visit, it is important for you to establish loyalty and trust through counseling. A personalized experience with the hearing care professional helps to anchor your patients to your clinic and makes it more likely that they will return.
10. Offer personalized service with new hearing care technologies
Providing a personalized experience for your patients not only increases patient satisfaction, but it can also help differentiate your clinic from the one down the street. Look for new ways you can make your patients feel special as soon as they walk through your door. New and advanced hearing care technologies can help demonstrate that you take your patients and their challenges seriously, and a more personalized experience creates trust and confidence in you for more effective counseling.
Watch the video below to learn how audiologist Peter Byrom uses Otoscan to address the patients’ concerns by showing the 3D ear scan image building up on screen in front of them.