Tag Archives: Facebook

Empowering Your Customers with Instant Connections

By Lisa Wells
President, Get Social Consulting
[This article originally ran on 1/26/15 in Medtrade Monday.]

In our line of work, one of the most heartbreaking moments we face is when we meet a customer who feels powerless because of their condition.

It hurts our hearts to talk with those customers who feel like they can’t live the life they want because of physical limitations.   You hear it in the voice of parents who would give or do anything to heal their child or help them walk.   Or now-adult children who are faced with the hard fact that their parents need daily help at what is quickly becoming the end stage of life.  Or patients who struggle to simply breathe, manage their blood sugar or heart rate, or control their pain.

Thankfully, one of the most rewarding moments in our line of work comes when we give those people a spark of hope, a moment of relief, a path to independence or a plan to keep them healthy and safe.

You may not consciously realize it, but when you connect your customers with the medical supplies or equipment they need, you also give them back the individual power and security that so many feel they have lost. 

As an HME provider, you don’t just sell products. You help people feel better.  You help people feel whole.  You help people feel self-reliant and self-confident again.

Knowing that on a personal level is the very thing that keeps many of us fighting to stay in this game — no matter what the government or private insurances throw at us next.

Our Power as an Industry Strengthens Through Our Customers’ Connections

You may not realize either that the literal key to our survival as an industry lies in finding more ways to give our customers the power to:

  • Voice their thoughts on the importance and value of their healthcare, without fear of repercussion for demanding better quality or access to care.
  • Actively seek and find more ways to stay connected with other people who understand their needs and conditions, and to be able to educate those who don’t.
  • Pursue lifestyle options and activities that improve and extend their individual lives.

When we connect our customers with these avenues for self-reliance and support, we are also simultaneously creating:

  • An educated, empowered customer base demanding better healthcare policy and programs.
  • A network of like-minded people who depend on HME and gladly tell others about us.
  • A longer lifespan for people who use our services.

Become Their Connection Point for More than Just Products

So many industry conversations about the woes and mishaps of competitive bidding generally boil down to one central complaint – “the government cannot deliver quality care through spreadsheet/line item analysis alone.” (Agreed!)

Knowing that we all do so much more for our community then solely selling products, let’s take a minute to look at the picture we project as an industry to the outside world looking in.  Where is the first place the outside world will go to learn more about HME?

The Google, that’s where.
And “the Google” will take them to your website.

What’s the first thing people see when they land on your site?  Products?  Are you asking people to buy something?  Yes, of course you are.  You should be – that’s your business.

Beyond that, what else is there in plain view on your home page?

  • Are you giving people instant connections online to more than just products?
  • Are you sharing the tangible contributions you make to your community?
    (I’m not talking about money here.)
  • Are you passing along personal stories of people who are living successful lives in spite of their conditions because of your support and help?

If you’re not, then you can’t blame them when the uninformed masses come away with the impression that all you do as an HME provider is sell widgets for a profit at their expense.  Their opinion is based on something we all struggle to convey — perceived value.

REMEMBER THIS: If they’re perceiving less, it’s because the message you’re projecting isn’t more.

Raise Your Value by Raising the [Navigational] Bar

You can improve your perceived value as a care provider by expanding your message online through the empowering connections you provide to customers.

Here’s how:

  • Give your customers an avenue to voice their thoughts on the importance and value of their healthcare, without fear of repercussion for demanding better quality or access to care.

The easiest way to do this is to provide links on your website to organizations that advocate for your customers on Capitol Hill.  Share the links to the advocacy resources from non-profits that represent your customers’ conditions.

Introduce your customers to groups that fight for better Medicare reform by sharing www.SaveMyMedicalSupplies.org and People for Quality Care.  And don’t just share the link – explain WHY your customer needs to connect on this level to advocate for their own health.

  • Help your customers actively seek and find more ways to stay connected with other people who understand their needs and conditions, and to be able to educate those who don’t.

What are the social communities online that provide peer support or information for your customers’ conditions?  Many of these are likely managed by the abovementioned non-profits.  If there is a gap in this area, consider filling it. Create your own online support group or partner with an existing one.

Some examples of well-received, highly-engaged online support communities created by industry players include:

  1. Quantum Rehab Owner’s Club [ www.facebook.com/QuantumRehab ]
  2. Ottobock US C-Leg and Prosthetic Legs on Facebook [ www.facebook.com/ottobockus ]
  3. Life After Spinal Cord Injury by UroMed/Edgepark [ www.facebook.com/LASCIonline ]
  • Encourage your customers to pursue lifestyle options and activities that improve and extend their individual lives.

It is common for HME specialty providers to create a link page on their website, listing the URLs of non-profit associations that support the conditions their customers have.  Don’t stop there. Also provide the links for lifestyle magazines published by these associations to instantly connect your customers with the point that the non-profit intersects in their daily lives.

For example, don’t just list a link to the National Spinal Cord Injury Association.  Also include a link to New Mobility, their lifestyle publication, as well as other leading magazines in the space like SPORTS ‘N SPOKES [wheelchair sports] and PN Online – both published by Paralyzed Veterans of America.

When you take your customers directly to the crossroads of lifestyle activities and sports geared around their condition, you are re-introducing them to outlets for socialization, physical recreation and ongoing opportunities to get out of the house and back into life.

The Most Powerful Message You Can Give

When you provide your customers with instant connection points like those above, you are conveying that you care more about them as a person than just what they buy. You’re also showing you care about how well they live.

That’s the true heart of our industry, and it’s the powerful message we ALL need to share – instantly, online, every day — with as many people as possible.

medtrade

Additional Resources:
Learn more about digital marketing best practices at Medtrade Spring!  Plan to attend Matching HME Growth Opportunities with Successful Marketing Strategies that Incorporate Traditional & Digital Skills presented by Lisa Wells of Get Social Consulting, Justin Racine of Geriatric Medical and Rick Glass of Steven Richards & Associates. These three industry experts have combined their respective financial analysis and marketing talents to create a roadmap for HME success in 2015!  www.medtrade.com

About Lisa Wells
Lisa Wells is a veteran of online marketing and e-commerce, with more than 20 years of experience in public relations, marketing communications and web-based product management at medical device, medical supply and health technology companies. As a consultant, she has advised on the development of numerous online marketing programs and strategic marketing plans for HME providers and medical device companies worldwide.  Visit her consulting website at www.getsocialconsulting.com.

Using LinkedIn to Connect with Referral Sources

Social media is all the rage these days as a source of “instant gratification” in connecting with your customers.  While plenty of marketing resources exist to help guide your consumer-focused social media efforts, very few exist to guide your online marketing efforts toward referral sources – clinicians, non-profit organizations and other professional connections.

LinkedIn is well-known for being a place to network, and especially as a place to polish up and promote your resume.  But did you know that  you can use LinkedIn to position your business with referral sources as well?  With 200 million members worldwide, and 2 people joining LinkedIn every second, [yes, every second!] the odds are more than good that your referral sources are part of LinkedIn too.

Here’s a few quick tips to creating a referral-focused marketing campaign on LinkedIn.

Create Your Company Page
A LinkedIn Company Page is a fantastic way to promote your business, products & services, and job opportunities.  Your company page serves as a connecting point where LinkedIn members can stay in the loop about what your company is doing.  Learn more about how a LinkedIn company page can help your business here.

Join The Conversation
Now that your company has a presence on LinkedIn, it’s time to get social!  The best way to do this is by publishing content that will engage your followers [not just an ongoing commercial about your business] and by taking part in discussion groups that have members who may refer patients to your business.

You can find discussion groups for just about any business topic or business focus area on LinkedIn. Here’s an example of just a few that I found the other day related to buyers/group purchasing managers for healthcare organizations.

discussiongroups

Advertise to Gain Followers & Collect Leads
Setting up an ad on LinkedIn to promote your company page or website is a very similar process to creating ads on Facebook or Google Adwords.  If you know how to create an ad there, you can do it on LinkedIn too.

However, one of the most compelling reasons to use LinkedIn advertising is because of a unique feature they offer that Facebook and Google ads do not.  You can collect business leads from LinkedIn users.

leadcollectionlinkedin

Another unique feature of LinkedIn advertising is that you can run video ads and not just those with static text.  So if you have a YouTube channel or even iPhone footage of your latest community event, you can serve it up for referral sources to see here on LinkedIn.

Budget Considerations
LinkedIn must realize the value of their lead generation tool, as I’m sure you do, because the average cost per click for LinkedIn ad is relatively high compared to other social media platforms.  You can expect to pay upwards of $4-$5 per click if you go the CPC route. In this case, I would serve your ad up first using impressions rather than clicks as the baseline measurement, as the cost per impression is considerably less.

Here’s a sample of the LinkedIn ad creation form that shows you where to choose the budget option that’s right for your campaign:
budgetlinkedin

Either way, keep in mind that once you connect with a referral source – the lifetime value of that lead is greater than that of an individual consumer.  Referral sources, as they say, are the gift that keeps on giving!

This article was originally published on Medtrade 365: http://blog.medtrade.com/2013/07/using-linkedin-to-connect-with-referral-sources/#sthash.0VrpNYCK.dpuf

 

Ways Video Can Personalize Your Customers’ Online Experience

Get ready to throw away your TV.

According to comScore’s 2012 US Digital Future In Focus report released earlier this year, 105.1 million Americans now watch videos online each day, up 43% from 73.7 million in 2010.

And comScore isn’t talking about “Americans” that no one knows.  Think about your own online behavior.  When was the last time you watched a YouTube video or one that your friend forwarded on Facebook?  I’m willing to bet it was a least once in the last week.  Tell me if I’m wrong!

So let’s apply your own behavior to that of your customers. How many videos would you guess they’re watching online every day or each week?

Now here’s the million dollar question: How many of those videos are about your business?
How many videos are posted on your own website?  How many do you have on your blog or your social media page?  Do you have a blog or social media page?

If you aren’t using video to promote your business or the services you provide, you might as well be waiting on your customers to read about you in their daily newspaper.  [You know, the one that now only publishes three days a week due to declining ad sales.]  But don’t hold your breath while you do.

Great news!  We can help you solve that problem pretty easily with the options below.

Filming Your Own Videos

Admit it, we all have a family member who is a freak with a camcorder, or nowadays, an iPhone.  If that’s not you, don’t despair.

Video footage doesn’t have to be Emmy-nominated to be well-received by your customers.

How about  recording the fun while your company team takes part in a local Walk-N-Roll? Or, consider leading viewers on an impromptu tour of your store.  Just make sure that whatever the occasion is for filming, that you are dressed appropriately and the environment reflects the image you want to portray.

One of the worst “homemade” videos I ever saw posted on a business site was a How-To clip that a store owner filmed in his conference room.  He hung a sheet, lopsided, over the window, and taped cardboard over the peephole on the conference room door.  You can be low-budget, for sure, without looking cut-rate.  Common sense prevails, but when in doubt, please let your spouse or your most stylish friend take a look at the background and your outfit before you hit RECORD.

Leveraging Your TV Footage

If you’ve run commercials on local TV channels, why not post those online?  They can be just as effective via your YouTube channel as they were when you ran them on cable, at a fraction of the cost.  Plus, all the heavy lifting is already done – and paid for!

So ask your video producers to help you upload a web-friendly version online. Embed those videos on your home page, or your product pages to help guide viewers through the buying experience on your site.

Sharing Other Video Resources

Do you have a resource section on your site that explains medical conditions or how to use the products you sell?  Why not share videos from some of the non-profit associations that serve your target audience?  When you do, you’ll be sharing a resource from a credible source, and giving them an endorsement at the same time.

If your non-profits have shared their videos via YouTube or offer a share tool on their own site for viewers to pass the video on, feel free to give them a plug on your page too.  Be sure to let them know when you plan to share their footage, your relationships are bound to improve and your referrals might as well.

Creating Video Announcements

Not in the mood to direct your own cinematic features?  That’s understandable. There are experts out there who can create video announcements for you, and it’s not nearly as expensive as you might anticipate.

Video announcements are custom weekly videos that you can use within email blasts, websites and social networks.  Does your church play video announcements before the service starts? If you’ve seen these before, think about what kinds of announcements you could make to update customers about what’s going on this week in your store?

A friend of mine, Scott Ross, offers a video production service that caters to a variety of industries and focus topics for announcements.  Here’s a quick video [no pun intended] that explains how their process works:

If you’d like to learn more, visit their business site for details.

Need a hand with your video outreach efforts?
Get Social is glad to help, give us a shout!

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