General, Marketing with Mansfield

Now’s the Time to “GPS” Your Marketing for a Successful Year

Happy almost-end-of-the-year! What will your marketing resolutions be for 2020? The end of the year is always a good time to reflect on the results of your marketing plan and to consider what changes you might want to make for the upcoming year. They key word is “plan.” Think of it like GPS directions for your marketing. When you need to get somewhere, GPS knows where you are but you have to tell it where you want to go and then it gives you options on how to get there.

Know your final destination

I am willing to bet that when it comes to a marketing plan a lot of people don’t start with the final destination, where they want to be by December, in mind. Instead they start heading off “down the road” – destination to be determined.

Awhile back I spent a weekend at Frequent Traveler University. It’s a convention for people who not only like to travel but they also like learning about how miles and points can enhance their travel experience. It was perfect timing because all my travel and loyalty calculators reset to zero at the end of the year (jut the calculators, not the accumulated points or miles.) This is important because in order for me to achieve my travel-related goals for 2020 and beyond, I need to know by the end of the year how to structure my 2020 travel plan.

For example, if my goal is to acquire a Southwest Airlines Companion pass in 2020 so that I can bring a companion along for free in 2020, then I need to determine what strategy I will use to acquire the required number of Rapid Rewards points in order to receive the pass. The final destination would be 125,000 QUALIFYING points.

Know your starting point

I know what I am starting with in January 2020. That would be zero points. Remember those point calculators reset on December 31st. You might think that there is only one route to get there – not true. The final destination would be 125,000 QUALIFYING points OR 100 QUALIFYING one-way flights . In reality, there are a plethora of routes that will get me to my final destination. Route 1 is flying. Route 2 is a mixture of flying and shopping. Route 3 includes getting a Southwest credit card (with sign up bonuses) and those are just 3 routes. Some might take me all year to get there. Some might take me a matter of months. Some might be cost prohibitive and some will be relatively inexpensive.

Important NOTE – not all Rapid Rewards points are qualifying points and not all flights are qualifying flights.

The two things I know for sure are – where I am right now and where I want to end up. What I also know is that I would really like that pass sooner rather than later and I don’t want to waste money or time getting it.

Know your route options

Back to O&P marketing…if you know that you have 270 newsletter subscribers as of today but that you want 2,499 subscribers by the end of 2020 which route are you going to take? Just like getting the Companion Pass, there are a lot of different routes with different time frames and different costs. I have clear goals. Get the points to get the pass so that my companion can fly for free so that I can save a lot of money. I know most of my travel schedule for 2020 right now so I can actually calculate how much money I will be able to save depending on when I acquire the pass. That is very helpful in determining my route.

In our newsletter subscriber example, we have a clear goal of acquiring 2,229 new subscribers. We want to make sure that all of our new subscribers are people who are relevant to the success of our business and not just “route detours” for the sake of pumping up our numbers.

What’s your marketing GPS route for 2020?

General, Marketing with Mansfield

What Email Newsletter Marketers Know That You Don’t!

I have a collection of “oops” emails that I keep in a folder in my inbox. I would like to share some with you. “Oops – Corrected Date/Time Inside: Best Practices for Content Marketing Webinars” is one. I received it from Chief Marketer, a content marketing company in Connecticut. “We forgot something…” from Magazines.com, a company that believe it or not, sells magazines. “Oops! There’s been a slight mistake” from Thrifty Car Rental. “Oops!” from IKEA. “Oops! 5-Star Cupcakes We Couldn’t Wait to Share” from Betty Crocker. There a lot more, most with some type of “oops” or “apologies” in the subject line.

Mistake? Or No Mistake?

I do not know what you think, but I think that IKEA, Thrifty Car Rental and Betty Crocker have pretty sophisticated marketing departments and consultants. Of course, the people who work there are just that, people, and we all know that humans make mistakes. What if I told you that not all of those “oops” emails were mistakes – would you be surprised?

According to MediaPost, email recipients click on these emails because they are either curious or genuinely interested in figuring out whether the sender’s mistake is going to have an effect on them.

I think it is pretty obvious that a “Best New Cupcake Recipes” email might not appeal to everyone but that an “Oops! 5-Star Cupcakes We Couldn’t Wait to Share” might garner a higher open rate. Either you opened it the first time and are curious what you might have missed the first time, or you saw it, ignored it and are now curious about the mistake Betty made.

I hope you do not think that I am encouraging you to send out digital correspondence with mistakes on purpose. I am not. I hope you do not think that I am advising you to send out these emails if you made a stupid mistake that everyone can clearly see was a mistake. Take the date for example. One of my pet peeves about email newsletter programs is that even though they love to have a date section, one which often stands alone, the section does not update automatically. It seems to me that should be an easy programming fix. Even Microsoft Word knows how to fill in the current date once you start typing. Anyway, my point is that sending out an email newsletter with a November date in the middle of March is clearly a mistake. Especially if everything else in the email is timely. If that happens, you do not waste an “oops.” You just move on. Address it if you want to in the next issue but do not waste people’s time sending them an email over a spelling error.

Reason for sending?

What does constitute a reason for sending an “oops” email? Something that has the potential to have a negative impact on the recipient:

  • Broken link – this is a big deal.
  • Day or date of an event mistake – definitely send one.
  • Venue mistake – of course.
  • Incorrect directions – absolutely.
  • Sent the email to the wrong list – HURRY!

So you made a legitimate, oops-worthy mistake. Do not fret. The silver lining is that your apology email will probably outperform your original email. Just do not be that little boy that cried “Oops!”

Reference:

McDonald L. MediaPost. 2011. Available at www.mediapost.com/publications/article/141444/fake-oops-emails-stop-it-already.html

Marketing with Mansfield

Forest, Meet Trees! Why You Need to Market to Your EXISTING Customers.

SeeingForestI got a call from a salesperson friend of mine in O&P. They had an interesting anecdote they wanted to share. The company they work for had received an unsolicited testimonial regarding a component they sell and the happy customer/patient wanted to know if they’d be able to “be active, like the amputee guy I saw on TV?

The sales-friend was taken aback. The patient’s prosthetist is a well known and respected practitioner. Capable, compassionate and talented. The patient using their component was certainly physically able to be just as active as “TV guy.” Sales-friend’s first thought was “Why are they asking us and not their prosthetist?” Their second thought was “I better call Elizabeth and let her know!” (What a good friend!)

So here we are – getting ready to talk about why it’s so important to market to your existing customers. By market I mean, of course, let them know what services you provide, what products and services there are available, what your other patients are up to. It’s also important to solicit feedback regularly. I wonder if the patient who yearned to do more only realized that it was possible AFTER watching ‘TV guy” do his thing?!?!

Your current customers – referral sources, customers, patients, family and friends – are as close to a captive audience as you can possibly get. Whether they are physically visiting your office or if you are providing them with written or digital communications, they are most likely receptive and interested in information you can share with them. For any business to grow, it needs new customers but it also needs its existing customers to remain and to stay happy and satisfied.

If the yearning-to-do-more patient happened across information, word of mouth or marketing materials for another practitioner, one that they felt offered them something they weren’t able to get, even if it was as simple as encouragement to pursue their dreams, more than likely they’d be a lost customer. People like to feel like they belong! They like to feel like they are understood. Sharing testimonials from a wide range of patients with the rest of your patients is an excellent way of marketing to your existing customers.

I am a big fan of using short, sweet, “in their own words” types of testimonials in marketing materials. Facebook, websites, Instagram and EMAIL NEWSLETTERS are where you want to use these accolades. It’s content you don’t need to create yourself! It’s more authentic. What’s more effective? “We provide our patients with the highest quality orthotic and prosthetic devices.” Or “My prosthetist, J.P., worked with me every single day after school until I was confident enough with my running leg to try out for the track team.”

A lot of people in healthcare professions are in them because they really truly want to help people, to make their lives better. They are uncomfortable doing what they feel is bragging or boasting. “I’m just doing my job” when someone thanks them for changing their life for the better.

As my grandfather used to say when he wanted to change the subjet – “Let’s get off that kick!” You need to work harder at letting your existing customers know how you can make their lives, and the lives of their friends and relatives, even better. Take an active role in communicating your successes to your captive audience and have them help you grow your business. Let’s get ON that kick!

General, Marketing with Mansfield

No Marketing Department? So What!

Any worthwhile marketing plan uses different tools and strategies to achieve its desired outcomes. Advertising, direct mail, email newsletters, education-based marketing, webisodes, tweets, tv commercials, facebook ads, etc., are all used in an attempt to reach the target markets.

But some of them can cost money, sometimes lots and lots of money.  If you don’t have a marketing department or a marketing budget, not to worry. You just need a marketing plan. That plan should include press releases. While the marketing landscape has changed enormously in the recent past, one thing never changes and that is the need for content.

All of the channels – not just your “typical” old-school channels like an actual television channel or radio channel – but ALL the channels need content. So, put your thinking cap on and start brain storming about how you can make someone else’s job easier. Someone whose job is to create content.

Say that you’re the owner of an orthotic & prosthetic patient care facility. Say that you have an adorable puppy or an endangered bird or a miniature horse that required some type of prosthetic or orthotic device. You could post the story on your business facebook page, of course. You could show the before and after photos on your instagram account. You could tweet about it. You could send out updates in your email newsletter. BUT, you could also send a press release with photos to… your college alumni magazine or your hometown newspaper or the humane society where the dog was adopted from or the marketing department of the zoo or… there are so many “content-craving” channels out there that need to be fed. Don’t ignore them just because it’s so very easy to feed your own channels.

People expect that you’re going to be marketing to them, targeting them, utilizing your own content channels – like facebook or instagram – but by sharing your content with others you can boost your credibility. Sure, the zoo magazine or your alumni publication might have a slightly different focus or angle to the story but so what? We all can use help getting (and keeping) the word out there. Don’t be afraid to spend a little more time and effort making someone else’s job easier – you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the results!