July 2, 2008
Oticon Inc, recently challenged 165 hearing care professionals to take part in the company’s marketing boot camp, described as "an intensive 2-day gathering designed to equip practitioners with practical, actionable marketing strategies and tools." The event reported used a series of drills, exercises and workshops, guest ‘trainers’, including marketing personalities Brian Gibson, Lindsay Zaltman and Jan Fraser, to participants heighten their marketing capabilities.
Oticon reports its marketing team chose a ‘boot camp’ theme to reflect the intensity of the 2-day training session and the transformation it sought to foster in practitioners’ confidence and readiness to put their acquired skills into action. “We wanted to provide a well-rounded view of how marketing touches all aspects of a hearing care practices,” states Gordon Wilson, vice president of marketing, Oticon Inc. “Our program addressed not only the key skills needed to prepare ads, brochures and other merchandising materials but also explored how to insure that the way their practice is perceived by their clients – the ‘outside perception’ — is an accurate reflection of the ‘inside reality’ of their services, staff, product offerings and patient care.”
Seminar participants represented a variety of practice types from large multi-office practices to single office practitioners. All were reported by Oticon as retail-oriented practitioners who wanted to grow their practices, find a way to distinguish themselves from the competition and motivate clients to purchase more frequently. For some attendees, the event was designed to offer an opportunity to quickly learn new skills, techniques and strategies to “jump start” marketing plans. The boot camp also was designed to provide guidance on how to up-sell clients.
Keynote speaker Brian Gibson, senior partner and founder of Monopolize Marketing, focused on breaking down common misconceptions about marketing a hearing care practice. “It’s not about building your image or making people aware of who you are or glossy tri-fold brochures or going to meetings and handing out business cards,” he explains. “It’s a carefully planned system that pre-sorts, pre-screens, pre-qualifies, pre-disposes and increases the desire of clients to do business with you on an ongoing basis.” Gibson shared insights on competitive reconnaissance – scouting out the competition in a community to determine how to best position a practice to give it a competitive advantage. He also asked participants to stop thinking of marketing as another form of selling and to begin thinking of marketing as client education. “If marketing is done correctly, by the time clients contact you, there is little or no selling on your behalf. Your marketing system has already educated them and primed them to be receptive to what you are offering,” he notes.
“This was an important message for our participants to hear,” said Wilson. “Long before they contact a hearing care professional, many people with hearing loss are actively seeking information about hearing loss and hearing solutions. A well executed marketing program enables practitioners to reach out to potential clients and provide them with the information and motivation they need to take action.”
Jan Fraser, founder of Womens Conferences.org and author of the Women’s Success Journal, offered practical tools for communicating a practice’s unique value. Fraser recommended writing scripts — short, prepared communications that articulate the key services practitioners most wanted to promote — and practicing and using them on a regular basis. She advised providing customized scripts that could be used whenever staff interacted with clients including: receptionist scripts, telephone scripts, on-hold message scripts, first meeting scripts (new clients), and returning client scripts. “Never underestimate how much of a client’s impression of your qualifications is based on the way they are treated by your staff,” stated Fraser. “It begins with the first call to inquire about services and continues through every interaction that follows, right up to their most recent appointment.”
Sessions also took practitioners through basic training on email and web marketing. Brian Gibson shared advice on how to grow an email list to tailoring messages to “hot buttons” for patients and tips for incorporating a call to action in every web communication. “People visiting your website come with a variety of mindsets. Some will be in a hunting mode; others will be looking to solve a problem. Still others will want to learn more about something and others may want to buy immediately,” explained Gibson. “Your website should have something for all of them.”
Oticon reports it plans to conduct another session later in the year. “Our goal is to help hearing care professionals develop the marketing strategies needed to attract potential clients who will benefit from their expert care and to build loyalty, satisfaction and referrals among existing clients,” said Wilson.