Creative Instinct Blog – Branding & Marketing Tips for Busy Professionals

Informative articles and tips on marketing for small businesses.


Lead Patients To Your Door

Several years ago, a Chicago-based internist wrote a letter to “Dear Abby.” She was responding to advice the columnist had given to a woman who said she couldn’t make or keep friends because she was a crashingly dull conversationalist.

“Abby recommended that Miss Boring take classes to develop some interests so she’d have something to say,” she recalls. “I suggested to Abby that Ms. B. might be depressed and once she was successfully treated, she’d be more outgoing and fun to be with. I used my own name and city. After the letter ran, I got calls from ‘conversationally challenged’ patients all over the US and wound up seeing a number of them. That experience opened my eyes to the power of promoting my practice and the specific services we provide to patients.”

It also represents thinking outside the box in the tricky milieu of practice building. Self-promotion is something that many physicians find distasteful, but you’re probably already doing some basic marketing — sponsoring a Little League team, say, or speaking at seminars. So why not go a step further and look for other ways to make your practice stand out and help patients to find and remember you?

Where To Start
Consultants advise to begin with a professionally-designed logo for your practice. Your logo is essential to your brand. It helps elevate the visibility of your practice making you memorable to patients. Next, depending on your budget, you might consider a promotional campaign that includes newspaper ads, direct mail and email campaigns. But even little touches can go a long way toward attracting patients. At many practices, the doctors appear at health fairs, or give medical advice on a local TV station.

Even that old standby, Yellow Pages advertising, has options that you can use to your advantage. But be that the design of your ad casts a tasteful light on your practice. Too often, the in-house designer of a publication is too rushed by deadlines and unfamiliar with your services to produce an effective ad. You’ve invested in the advertising space… make sure the design is the best it can be. Hire a designer to create your ad.

The Benefits of Going Where You’re Needed
Sometimes a practice-expanding opportunity sneaks up on you. Recognizing it and capitalizing on it is more of an art than a science. As a case point, the following experience comes from a physician who ran a neuromuscular electrical stimulation program for people with sore backs. Two thirds of the patients seeing him for back therapy were obese. So he launched a medically supervised fasting program as an adjunct therapy. He promoted the program through advertising and direct mail, driving traffic to his website where patients could get more information and enroll
in the program. Because potential patients for such a program were already familiar with the practice, he was able to develop the biggest medically supervised fasting program in his state’s region.

A Maryland internist, on the other hand, builds his practice the old-fashioned way. “I make house calls on bedridden patients for routine non-urgent care,” he says. “They tell their friends; every new house-call patient has led to at least two or more office patients.” In this instance, good leave-behind item would be your practice brochure. A professional brochure not only relays information, but appeals to the emotions of your patients and focuses on the strengths and services of your practice. It’s a versatile communication tool that may be used in a variety of ways: to generate referrals, office display, direct mail, and distribution at health fairs and industry events.

Marketing To Established Patients
Your existing patients can be your biggest cheerleaders. Marketing to them not only keeps them in the fold; it increases the likelihood that they’ll send their friends, relatives, and associates to you. Focus on keeping your patients happy. Offer coffee, tea or juice in the reception area. Provide each new patient with a New Patient Orientation Kit including: a personalized welcome letter, practice brochure, business cards, and any cross promotions that you may wish to include. Another patient-pleaser is making — and referencing — notes in the chart about the patient’s family.

Giving Patients Something To Remember You By
For years, a chiropractor in Atlanta had talked to community groups. “I figure that when Chevy or Ford is coming out with a new car,” she said, “they make commercials for the people who are going to buy the car, not the dealers. So that’s what I do. I go to patients.” And she hands them his business card. She adds, “I had my logo, business card and office stationery professionally designed. It always makes a great impression.”

You might prefer to give potential patients a practice brochure or patient education literature. To reinforce your brand, be sure all of your literature has a consistent style and features your logo, name and phone number on the front.

A dentist in Mississippi took to the streets when he started started his practice.  He went door-to-door, visiting local businesses, churches, day care centers, and home-owners, handing out brochures and engaging people in conversation. “Our practice grew — and continues to grow — by three or four patients per day,” he says. “I also noticed that my website now receives more hits. So I always keep updated and looking fresh.”

Give your practice a competitive edge by ensuring that your brand differentiates you from your competition. Need help with your branding, marketing or website design? Call Creative Instinct. We specialize in visual branding and website design for health care organizations and physician practices. Our goal is to enhance your professional edge and increase your community visibility. Email owner Gwen Canfield at gwen@creativeinstinct.biz, or call 501-244-0573. Visit us online at www.creativeinstinct.biz.

Advertisements


Brand Packaging: Are You Reflecting the Visual Image?

Article by Laura Lake, About.com Guide

Branding is your identity in the marketplace. Is yours saying what it should? Your business image is all about the appearance of your “packaging.” What is your brand image saying to the marketplace?

brand-comparison

It’s important to realize that packaging always either has a negative or positive influence on the purchaser. A negative impression can detour a potential client, just as a positive reaction can influence a client to visit you. A time to pay special attention to your packaging is when you are in the launch of a “new” brand. If you’ve already built a strong brand that others recognize often people may not pay as close attention to the packaging.

How can you package your brand so that it is an integral part of your business and represents a strong identity? Keep in mind that I am not speaking of packaging as only a box that contains a product, but as a vehicle that reflects your company’s brand and professional image. Packaging can be judged and represented by the following common business tools:

  • LOGO
  • BUSINESS CARDS & STATIONERY
  • BROCHURES
  • WEBSITE
  • ANSWERING SYSTEM
  • EMAIL ADDRESS

What image are you putting across with these business tools that you use everyday? What are they saying about your company? Take a few moments and lets look at each one of these.

What are your business cards and stationery saying? Are they saying we are strong, we are confident, and we can succeed in helping you? Or does it reflect an image that says we are flimsy, our dynamics are minimal, and we will try but we cannot guarantee continuity?

What does your website say about your business? Does it reflect professionalism, clarity, and show them that you respect and care about them? Or does your website confuse viewers, project an untrustworthy image of your business and ultimately drive potential clients away?

What does your answering system and call return policy say about your business? Does it say we are here to help and will do what it takes? Or is it putting across the message that you are too busy to cater to new clients, don’t care about their needs, and wish they would just quit calling?

What does your email address say about your practice? Is it easy to remember, and does it say something about you and your business? Or does it project a meaningless or generic emptiness? If you are using the email address bizman72@hotmail.com for your business dealings…………….it’s time to change!!!!!

As you can see all these things speak volumes about your image and they either strengthen or weaken your brand. Your image is all in the packaging. Would potential clients take a second look or is your message getting lost? If you thought these things were not worth the investment or didn’t matter, you were wrong. Clients will make assessments of your business based on these things and while not always conscious, that appraisal says much about your company, your attitude and your priorities.

Need some help with your visual brand? Call Creative Instinct at 501-244-0573 for a free estimate on branding, logo, brochure or website design. Or, send an email to Gwen Canfield: gwen@creativeinstinct.biz. To see samples of our work, visit www.creativeinstinct.biz.  (Website pictured at top-right of article: Distinctive Dentistry in Hendersonville, TN (www.taniahunterdds.com) designed Creative Instinct.)


Healthcare Marketing – A Tasteful Approach

Article by Marshall Clark

There is an intellectual conflict that is fairly common among medical practices and healthcare providers; The Business of Medicine Conflict.

THE CONFLICT – Marketing Viewed As Distasteful
Healthcare providers rightly feel that their primary purpose is the provision of medical services. Conflict however seems to arise from the idea that providing care is their only purpose and that attending to the details necessary to successfully provide this care, namely promotion and advertising of the practice, is not only unnecessary – but actually contrary to the ideals of practicing medicine.

Healthcare providers operate on a classic fee-for-service business model, however it can distasteful to some physicians to view their “care” as a “business”.

This fundamental business/medicine conflict underlies poor business and marketing decisions that negatively impact the success many healthcare practices:

  • No Advertising – “We provide excellent care – people find us by word of mouth.”
  • Insufficient Marketing Budget – “Advertising cuts into our bottom line.”
  • Weak Practice Branding – “I’m a physician, not a product.”

THE REALITY – Patient’s Choice Depends on Their Perception
From an emotional viewpoint these statements are understandable – they stem from a common desire by the physician to view their work as something unique that should be recognized on it’s own merits. The pragmatic reality however is that medical care is almost entirely a commoditized service; outside of instances of medical malpractice, there is very little to differentiate one physician’s care versus any other’s.

In the end a patient’s choice of one physician over another often comes down to a name in the phonebook, the results of an online search, or personal recommendations from friends and family. It is the patient’s perception of the healthcare provider that governs their decision.

Healthcare Marketing – A Tasteful Approach
Based on experiences with the coercive tactics of pharmaceutical companies, it’s perhaps not surprising that many physicians view advertising as distasteful. Advertising however takes many forms and there is an important distinction to be made between manipulating public perception and simply publicizing an honest and useful service.  (Article written by Marshall Clark)

Are you a healthcare organization wishing to promote your services in a tasteful and professional way? Call Creative Instinct at 501-244-0573 for a free consultation. We specialize in visual branding and website design for health care organizations and physician practices. Call today, or email owner Gwen Canfield: gwen@creativeinstinct.biz. To see samples of our work, visit www.creativeinstinct.biz. We look forward to collaborating with you on your next project!


How To Effectively Promote Your Green Business or Program

(Article from the Green Business Bureau)

To help boost your business in line with the growing demand for eco-friendly products and services, green marketing should be a part of your plans or green programs. As you know, Internet marketing has become a trend among business owners and promoters. And the results prove to benefiting for their businesses. Take for example the likes of Toyota and Starbucks. These are just a few of considered large and popular companies that have successfully used Internet marketing to reach green consumers.

But this is not to say that only large companies can manage to reach vast market through the Internet. Orange Glo and Green Mountain Coffee Roasters are among those who have gone extra miles to market their green product.

Green may be an “in” concept but it does not automatically ensure that your product or program will be get immediate buy-in. Marketing will play a critical role in your green promotions. There are still a lot of businesses and non profit organizations that have little to no knowledge and capability to use the Internet to market directly to a target audience.

Here are a few tips to help your green organization reach your target green conscious consumers.

1. Use search engines capability. You can place ads on popular search engines such as Google and Yahoo! You can make use of Google Adwords or Yahoo Search Marketing. By carefully choosing keywords that match your product or service with high ranking green keyword search, you will definitely reach a vast number of prospective customers. The benefit of marketing in these search engines is that you will only need to pay when someone clicks your advertisement. A research also indicates that green clients uses the Internet more often to search for green products and/or services. You or your staff will have to research the best keywords that will generate the right clients upon typing in search boxes. You would not want to choose keywords that are not usually searched by Internet users. It will pay to learn the details about Internet marketing process so that your business can maximize sales potential.

2. Narrow down your Internet marketing strategy. There are a lot of websites that you can choose from to advertise your product. However, the rule of marketing indicates that you should always identify your target market before you launch any marketing approach. Conduct an extensive research to find out the type of consumers that usually patronize your product type. Look for green Web portals for both B2B and B2C audiences. Here is a simple definition of these concepts taken from www.askstrategic.com:

“B2B or Business to Business are portals that allow businesses to deal directly with their distributors and suppliers online which allows electronic transfer of orders, invoicing and even payments. B2C or Business to Customers are intermediary portals to link customers to suppliers. Some of the major ones are eBay, Yell and ZDNet.

Find out which websites and email newsletters have the most number of clients that falls under your target category. There are a lot of green web portals that offers B2B and B2C to clients involved in green businesses as well as green customers. These portals usually reach thousands of clients every day.

3. Work on your email list. Avoid spam as much as possible. Before you offer any product, make sure to build relationship with potential clients first. Make your messages personal and credible as possible. Provide information about green benefits, green practices and green products among others.

Email is an effective way to make sales. Include a squeeze page on your website so that clients will provide their personal information particularly email addresses in exchange of valuable information that you offer. These offers may come in the forms of newsletters, brochure etc. This way, you create your own email list. Offer them information that they cannot refuse. Once you have built a strong relationship with them, you can promote the benefits of your product as if you sell to them on a one on one basis and they will most likely buy from you than someone else.

4. Your website design and functionality will decide whether visitors will click other pages within your site or click away confused and frustrated. Create a landing page that will look as someone is actually talking to them. Keep your offer as simple as possible and easy to comprehend. Do away with overcrowding as it will distract visitors from your actual offer. Create a privacy policy, contact information and if possible, refund guarantee. Above all, relate to them the benefit of your product to their health, their community and the society.

5. Create an after sales marketing strategy. Satisfied clients are more than willing to recommend product to others. As you know, the best selling tool is still word of mouth. A simple email with “is there anything I can help you with” that you send a week after sales will surely make your customers feel important.

No matter how productive or environmentally friendly your product or service may be, it will not be sellable unless you promote your business effectively. A well thought out marketing strategy is sure to create an impact to clients. Pilot a target client base to at least 50-100 persons before you launch your sales campaign in the worldwide web. Lastly, make sure to state facts and not exaggerate inputs to clients. You may sell a good number of units at the startup but it will definitely dwindle down as soon as clients find out about your misleading information.

Happy green promoting!

For more information on this topic, or for assistance in promoting your green initiatives, contact gwen@creativeinstinct.biz. Whether you’re a business promoting green products, or a government agency planning an energy awareness public outreach program, we can help. With sustainability and energy efficiency as our focus, we design programs, promotional communications and outreach materials for green businesses, government and non-profit organizations. Call us at 501-244-0573, or email gwen@creativeinstinct.biz. To learn more about our services, visit our website at www.creativeinstinct.biz.


5 Ways To Bring Traffic To Your Website Without Spending A Dime

Your website can, and should be, one of the top ways you bring patients into your practice. That can be a pretty bold statement for someone who doesn’t use the internet very much or doesn’t get ANY new business from the internet.

Many practitioners tell us that most of their clients come from referrals. That is exactly how it should be – word of mouth referrals should be your number one way to attract new patients. Your website should be number two. No matter what industry you are in, the fact is that most consumers are searching for health related information online.

In fact, 86% of online adults are searching for health related information an average of six times a month. Is your practice reaching this online healthcare consumer? If you’re not sure, here’s where you start…

The first step is to have a professional website that meets some of the basics for attracting patients.

  • Your contact information is readily accessible from all pages.
  • Your website has a professional look and feel, with a logo/brand that patients will remember.
  • You clearly educate visitors on who you are and what you do… the basics.

After fulfilling “the basic” needs, your goal is to create ongoing methods for attracting visitors to your site. One easy way to do that is to have your site changing all the time. Search engines like Google are attracted to sites that change frequently rather than sites that are put up and then stay static for several years. So if someone with poor vision goes to Google and types in “eye care Tennessee” your website will pop up. Here are five easy and inexpensive ways to make this happen:

1)  Write short articles about “pains” your patients experience and how your services help them. For example, if you are an acupuncturist you may write a short article (400-800 words) that talks about how acupuncture can cure migraines. Or how acupuncture can help with infertility issues is that is your specialty. Post each of these article on your website with a short “about the author” section at the bottom. This section should have a short description about your practice, a link to your website, and contact information. Also, consider putting your logo on the article somewhere. Post these articles on your website,  creating a new web page each time.

2)  Leverage the articles you’ve written by distributing them across the internet. Distribute them to strategic newsletters and websites that your target audience reads. You can also use subscriptions services that distribute to hundreds of online newsletters and portals such as http://www.submityourarticle.com.

3)  Write press releases and post them through some of the free services online. You may be able to take some of the information from articles you’ve written and turn them into a press release. Some of the free or inexpensive places to post press releases include http://www.prweb.com, http://www.press-base.com, and http://www.express-press-release.com. Also post the press releases you write to a “press” page on your website.

4)  Start a blog and have it be a part of your website. By doing this every time you post to your blog, you will show a change or an update to your site – which the search engines like to see. When you start a blog you may get the option to have a stand-alone blog or one that is a part of your website. Choose the one that is part of your website. We use http://www.wordpress.com, but there are several other options out there.

5)  Leaving comments on other people’s blog is also a great way to bring visitors to your site. Similar to finding newsletters your target market reads, finding blogs your target audience participates in can be just as lucrative – if not more so. Leave professional comments on these blogs and be sure to link back to your website. It’s amazing how many people are nosey and will check to see who you are. We recommend setting aside a certain amount so time for blogging each week, it’s easy to get carried away and blog too much. We recommend no more than one hour.

These are just a few of the ways to bring traffic to your website. In reality your website should be an always changing, consistent source of information and education for visitors. Your site should allows them to get to know you and what you stand for without taking a big “risk” and giving out their personal information. Are you getting the most out of your website?

Let Creative Instinct help you ensure you’re getting the most out of your website. Call us at 501-244-0573, or send an email to owner Gwen Canfield. To see healthcare websites we’ve designed for health care practices – visit our website at www.creativeinstinct.biz.


Energy Efficiency Outreach – Motivate Your Audience

(Article from “Creating An Energy Awareness Program” Handbook)

When planning an energy awareness program strategy, first decide how to convey the desired behaviors you want. It is important to consider what motivates your public audience to change their behaviors.

A common mistake is to assume that people will adopt energy-efficient practices simply if they understand the need to conserve energy, believe that energy efficiency is important, and know what actions to take. Many studies conducted over the last 30 years have shown that these factors alone are not enough to change behavior. If your program is based solely on giving information to people, it will almost certainly fail.

Changing people’s energy-use behaviors must go beyond one-way education. The campaign must address barriers to change, as well as making the behaviors easy, convenient, relevant, and socially desirable. Research and case studies have revealed some factors that have proven effective:

Make your contacts personal and interactive.
Face-to-face, back-and-forth communication is one of the most effective motivators in energy education. When people are personally confronted with an opportunity to adopt more energy-efficient behavior, as opposed to having the opportunity presented through information materials or the media, their participation rises dramatically.

Use vivid, relevant, personalized information.
Information that is presented in a vivid way is more likely to prompt action than a standard list of tips or numbers. If the desired behaviors are pictured, people are more likely to visualize themselves doing them. Videotapes of people taking energy-efficient actions in their homes and offices have prompted similar actions by viewers, even after only one viewing.

Emphasize a positive gain, not deprivation.
People naturally avoid and resent hardship and the implication that they are being asked to sacrifice their comfort to save energy. Therefore, emphasize what they will gain from adopting certain behaviors. For example, the most important factor in energy-related activities is thermal comfort. People resist doing things that make them feel uncomfortably cold or hot, even if they save energy, but are more receptive to things that will improve their comfort and health and give them a sense of control over their environment. Make it clear how certain activities, such as adjusting the temperature to be more seasonal and using daylight instead of electric lights will improve their well-being and convenience.

Promote social interaction.
Community meetings and other events may be used to conduct focus groups that design and evaluate the program, but also to help foster exchanges of information. Workshops, kids’ events, fairs, and other activities can be the means to promote energy-efficient behaviors.

Provide feedback.
Feedback provides the community with results and successes, and actually shows how much energy they have saved over certain periods of time. Feedback also helps people visualize the results of their actions, which is important because energy-saving results are often invisible or difficult for communities to evaluate.

For more information on this topic, or for assistance in designing and promoting your green program, contact Creative Instinct. Whether you’re a business promoting green products, or a government agency planning an energy awareness public outreach program, we can help. With sustainability and energy efficiency as our focus, we design programs, promotional communications and outreach materials for green businesses, government and non-profit organizations. Call us at 501-244-0573, or email gwen@creativeinstinct.biz. To learn more about our services, visit our website at www.creativeinstinct.biz.


3 Keys to Successful Green Marketing

Article by Susan Ward (www.about.com)


Green marketing isn’t just a catchphrase; it’s a marketing strategy that can help you get more customers and make more money. But only if you do it right.

For green marketing to be effective, you have to do three things; be genuine, educate your customers, and give them the opportunity to participate.

1) Being genuine means that
a) that you are actually doing what you claim to be doing in your green marketing campaign and
b) that the rest of your business policies are consistent with whatever you are doing that’s environmentally friendly. Both these conditions have to be met for your business to establish the kind of environmental credentials that will allow a green marketing campaign to succeed.

2) Educating your customers isn’t just a matter of letting people know you’re doing whatever you’re doing to protect the environment, but also a matter of letting them know why it matters. Otherwise, for a significant portion of your target market, it’s a case of “So what?” and your green marketing campaign goes nowhere.

3) Giving your customers an opportunity to participate means personalizing the benefits of your environmentally friendly actions, normally through letting the customer take part in positive environmental action.

Let’s put the three essential elements of a successful green marketing campaign together by looking at an example.

Suppose that you have decided that your business will no longer use plastic bags to wrap customer purchases. You know that the traditional plastic bag takes about one thousand years to decompose (cbc.ca) and want to do your part to stop the proliferation of plastic bags in landfills. You feel that this is the kind of environmental action that will be popular with potential customers and a good opportunity to do some green marketing.

To be genuine, you have to ensure that none of your business practices contradict your decision not to use plastic bags. What if customers who happen to walk behind your store see an overflowing trash bin filled with paper, cardboard and plastic bottles? Obviously, he or she will decide that you don’t care as much about recycling as you say you do in your green marketing.

Not using plastic bags appears to be environmental no-brainer, but you will still need to educate your target market. Did you know that a single use plastic bag takes about one thousand years to decompose? I didn’t until I researched this article and probably a fair number of otherwise environmentally conscious people don’t either. This one little factoid about plastic bags could be used as part of your green marketing campaign – all by itself it lets the public know why single use plastic bags are environmentally disastrous and that you and your business care about the environment.

And the third element? By shopping at your store, the customer is taking action to protect the environment by preventing at least one single use plastic bag from going into a landfill. It doesn’t sound like much, but he or she gets the satisfaction of physically doing something that fulfills their beliefs. You can also reinforce your customers’ green decisions and increase their participation by offering them additional related actions, such as buying cloth bags to use for future purchases.

Sometimes the best thing to do with a bandwagon is jump on it. You have to walk the talk and actually implement green policies and act in environmentally friendly ways for green marketing to work, but if you do, you’ve got a powerful selling point with those who are environmentally conscious and want to act to make the world a greener place – a market that’s growing exponentially right now.

Need help with your green marketing?

Contact Creative Instinct graphic design service. We are passionate about energy efficiency and what it can do for families, communities, businesses, and the environment. With sustainability as our focus, we will design effective promotional communications for your green business, government or non-profit organization. To arrange a free consulation, call 501-244-0573-9296. Or, send an email to Gwen Canfield: gwen@creativeinstinct.biz. To learn more about Creative Instinct, and see samples of our work, visit our website at www.creativeinstinct.biz.