As the O&P industry grows, so does the competitive nature of the marketplace. It is becoming more and more imperative to get in front of your target market, stand out from the rest, and spread the word about your services.
Cascade welcomes Elizabeth Mansfield as our guest blogger, helping us understand why traditional marketing approaches should still play an active role in your business model.
I live on the North Fork of Long Island. There’s a horse farm at the end of my street. Not just any horse farm. It’s the North Shore Horse Rescue at Gold Rush Farms. In all the years I lived there and in all the times I’ve driven, walked or run past it, they’ve never had a sign. A sign. Out of the blue, a sign appeared at the entrance to the farm. The sign has the name of the organization, a brochure holder, and states the following:
ALL VISITORS WELCOME
- Meet our horses and know their stories
- Feed the horses – treats available
- Inquire about volunteer opportunities
- Inquire about upcoming events
- Purchase cage-free eggs
What a GREAT marketing tool! I mean, sure, you’ve got the horses themselves. They definitely attract attention. People pull over and stop all the time. I can’t begin to count the number of times I’ve wondered whether the farm welcomes visitors; whether we’re allowed to feed the horses; whether they need volunteers. I’ll be honest, I never wondered about eggs, but that’s just because I’ve never, ever seen or even heard a chicken there. So, bam! All my questions were answered, right there, on the sign.
I didn’t have to bother anyone in the barn. I didn’t have to wonder. I didn’t have to go online and search for North Shore Horse Rescue FAQs. Everything I needed to know was right there on a big old easy to read sign. I’d like to point out that the questions they answered were truly FAQs not a bunch of PR spin. I know because I’d asked all those questions for years. I’d also like to point out that the sign highlights that the horses have stories! What a great idea it was to list that first on the sign. Entice people to come in, meet the horses and learn their stories.
Do you have a sign? Orthotics, prosthetics, pedorthics, mastectomy. Those are words that can be hard to spell, difficult to pronounce and often times confusing. What about a simple sign that defines the services you provide? Do you accept donations of old/used devices? Do you provide afterhours care? Do you sell “eggs”? By “eggs” I mean things that people have no idea that you sell. Canes, crutches, walkers, wheelchairs, ramps? Do you give tours or presentations? Back in the day, when my kids were little, my dad (a now-retired prosthetist) would go to school with them for “show and tell.” These days with the abundance of easy to use social media tools, you can virtually “show and tell” anything and everything, but there’s something to be said for a good, old-fashioned, physical, in-your-face sign. Are you using your sign like you should?
Elizabeth Mansfield is the President of Outsource Marketing Solutions, LLC. She is the Marketing 101 columnist for the O & P Almanac and the Marketing Best Business Practices columnist for the O & P Business News and is a frequent presenter at O & P meetings. She is a member of the American Board for Certification in Prosthetics and Orthotics, Inc. (ABC) Public Relations and Marketing Committee. She is President-elect of the Orthotic and Prosthetic Assistance Fund (OPAF) and on the Advisory Board of Amputees In Motion (AIM), NYC and on the Advisory Panel of The LIVE Event, Stamford, CT. Mansfield has a degree in Communications from Boston College and was president and CEO of Altman Prosthetic and Orthotic Center from 1996-2001. Elizabeth is a former consultant to the ACA and represented the ACA at national, regional and state prosthetic meetings to build awareness of the ACA’s Action Plan for People with Limb Loss (APPLL). She is a frequent speaker to amputee support groups on issues with insurance coverage.