Community As Commercial Strategy

Can A Sense Of Community Be Brought to Your Patients And Drive Your Commercial Strategy?

By Geoffrey Cooling

I have written before briefly on community and my thoughts on how you can build your Practice’s. I believe that this approach can be a powerful part of your commercial strategy. In brief, I felt that you could build a community around your Practice. I also felt that the community would drive Patient loyalty and referral.

In essence, the sense of belonging would drive advocacy for your Practice. That is what we need from our Patients, Advocacy. A satisfied customer is just not enough, you want an ecstatic customer, an advocate or an evangelist as Shep Hyken calls them.

The steps that I suggested to engender this community where

Coffee Mornings
The coffee mornings are just that, a coffee morning get together that involves no sales. No information other than that which is asked by your Patients on the day. A simple get together to meet and chat.

Mentor Groups
Mentor groups are existing experienced Patients that are willing to help new Patients along with their rehab. Answering questions, giving advice, helping with cleaning and care and just being there to speak to in relation to hearing.

Group events
Group events are an extension of the coffee mornings, if your community builds you can consider group outings.

One of my customers has just undertaken his first coffee morning, it was a rip roaring success. He undertook the morning in his Practice for a charity event. He sent out the invites and was astonished by the response. Many of his Patients wanted to come along, he was surprised by the amount of people that RSVP’d.

The coffee morning itself was a massive success, it was well attended not only by his own customers. But also by friends and relatives that they brought along. He had decided to just take it easy and informal with no sales pitch or informational lecture. Just a pleasant morning with what we Irish love, good tea, coffee and chit chat.

There was indeed plenty of that, but he was surprised by the questions of interest he was asked by both his long term Patients and the people who had come along as one other. The morning finished and the recurring question was when was the next one? My customer did not set out to generate tests or sales from the event, he was more concerned with generating some money for charity.

But that is what the event did, more than a few tests were requested on the day and were booked for later on. He thinks that more than a few sales will also be generated by the morning both in the short term and the long term. He is already planning his next event and is considering the use of Mentor Groups in the Practice.

It worked well for him and might work well for you, what do you think?

About Geoffrey Cooling

my name is Geoffrey Cooling and I am the author here at Just Audiology Stuff. I have been involved in the Hearing Healthcare Profession for several years now. I initially worked as a Hearing Healthcare Professional for a large national retailer in Ireland. After several years in Practice I was approached to work for a manufacturer, where I was employed for five years. I am now the Co Founder of a business called Audiology Engine. We design websites, undertake content marketing and generally look after everything digital for audiological practices. I am also a contributor to many hearing profession periodicals and websites. I have written two commercially available books, The Little Book of Hearing Aids which is written for hearing aid consumers and Audiology Marketing in a Digital World which is written for Audiology Practice Owners. They are both available in Paperback and Kindle versions on Amazon. I also write for consumers on the website Hearing Aid Know, which is a website with the mission of demystifying hearing aids, their types and their technology. I have a great interest in commercial strategy as it applies to Healthcare in general and specifically to Hearing Healthcare. I also have a great interest in the psychology of sales and human interaction. I have been involved with social media for some time, both personally and professionally. I find the engagement and discourse on some social media channels fascinating. I instituted social media strategy for the company I worked for as an experiment. That experiment soon spread throughout the company and I am proud to say that the company is probably one of the most active in the industry. I would like to point out that all views, opinions and thoughts here are mine own. Unless of course they have been planted by the pod people, you just can’t take your eyes off the pod people. Those views do not necessarily reflect upon any views or opinions held by my employer, if I ever get another one. I think that our industry is in the middle of a time of huge change, I think that the change will be forced by both internal and external pressure. I think that private Independent Healthcare Practices will have to be smart and lithe of feet in order to meet these changes. I hope that some of my blatherings are of benefit to those Practices, Independent Hearing Healthcare Practices need to survive. I believe that if that occurs it will be of real benefit to Patients. I hope that I, and my writings will play a small part in their continued success.

3 Comments

  1. Hi Geoff
    Great article as usual.Just thought I’d give you another example of this type of patient involvement.We had a small “garden”at the back of our practice that was made up entirely of 4ft tall weeds. During the summer we had the window open and I realised that it gave the impression that we didn’t care about it (bear in mind it is our first year here and was not an immediate priority).
    It took many hours just to clear it (after work) during which time I formulated a plan. Many of our patients love gardening and gardens,so I started asking for donations of seeds,plants,cuttings etc for OUR garden. This emotional connection with the branch has had an amazing effect. People now come in with plants,with friends offering their time to help with the garden and potential tests of their hearing every time. People who have donated plants who can’t get to the branch can have a monthly email with a photo update,a calendar is being considered and a list of donors is on the reception wall to encourage others. My branch is called Acusis,so the strap line “Acusis are in Bloom” works great too (for reasons you will know).
    Why would these people want to leave THEIR branch and THEIR garden? It works beautifully.
    Keep posting,you know I read em all.
    Hope to see you soon
    Kind regards
    Martin

    • Geoffrey Cooling

      Now that Martin is a great story, I can imagine how well that worked. You are dead right about the sense of ownership and sense of community engendered by such a fantastic idea. I always knew it would work but never really got the chance to use it in my Practice. But like you I have heard from others that had put the concept to use previously in differing ways with great results. Thanks for the kind comments.

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