Successfully marketing an NEMT or ambulance company and its’ services is a highly complex undertaking. The sales cycle can be prolonged, the competition fierce and current customers can be fickle.
As company owners or managers, we have to understand our sales process intimately and have a “high touch” marketing plan that is finely tuned for the customer.
High Touch vs. Low Touch Marketing
Let’s compare high touch vs. low touch marketing to see where your ambulance company fits in. For example, how do you shop for a new car?
If you are like most consumers, you start searching for various brands and explore car options, visit various car dealerships, take a test drive and after a relatively long research process you finally decide on the car you want to purchase.
During this sales process, the dealership has a sales team on hand to actively assist you and can spend hours in getting the sale done.
Compare this with buying detergent in a grocery store. It might not take you more than 5 minutes in deciding the purchase and you do not require the assistance of a salesman during the process.
As you can clearly see, purchasing a car is a good example of high touch marketing. In this scenario, the volumes are low and the margins are high.
Customers require a lot of hand-holding and there is a greater degree of brand education involved. In the case of buying detergent, there is a great deal of commoditization and there is less risk associated with the purchase.
Low touch means a sales force doesn’t need to actively pursue the customer and the margins tend be slightly lower.
High Touch Marketing Tips for Your Company
1. In the medical transportation industry, high touch marketing involves cultivating personal relationships at all levels of the facility. As it relates to interfacility contracts, the company depends on a few high-value customers rather a large number of low-value customers.
2. Since the risks of signing a preferred provider contract are high, there must be a focus on Quality Improvement, response time performance and closed loop incident reporting after the contract is signed.
3. A high level of customization and personalization is usually needed to secure a contract. The ambulance marketing team must understand the requirements of each facility and should be able to offer a greater degree of customization in order to differentiate their company.
4. Lead generation should focus on quality and not quantity. The focus of the marketing
not on cold leads. Your associate should know the contract cycle for every facility in the service area and a general feel for what the competitors are offering their customers.
5. Implement a companywide program focused on superior customer service. Since the acquisition costs are so high in high touch segments, attention must be paid by each department (i.e. operations, dispatch, clinical etc.) to retain customers. In my opinion, every employee in the company is a marketing associate.
Referrals are a very important part of high touch marketing and the ongoing success of your company depends on it.
6. In a high touch environment, set your company apart by using inbound and social marketing methods such as high quality websites that provide useful information to facility staff, create a blog focused on trending facility based topics and use social media to highlight your services in detail.
7. Send out an email survey to your current and potential customers and ask them what their biggest struggles are in their facility related to medical transportation services. With the answers they provide you can tailor your services to what they truly need.
8. In an attempt to connect with your key facilities and their decision makers on a personal level, you can also implement video emails into your ambulance marketing efforts. There are several video email providers that offer affordable services.
If you don’t want to invest in a video email system, a simple YouTube video will work as well. By making a video and talking directly to your customers they will feel like they actually know you or your company on a more personal level.
As an example,Facebook has a video update feature that you can use to post video status updates on your wall.
This is a great way to get your company in front of your customers. The human touch goes a long way in marketing your transportation service.
Putting it All Together
The days of handing out pizzas and then waiting for the phone to ring are over. Utilizing just a few of these strategies will begin to quickly build value and trust with your healthcare customers.
Marketing success calls for a plan and a purpose. Building relationships and creating loyalty though a high touch program is the hallmark of many successful and sustainable businesses in today’s unpredictable economic climate.
It is worth the time to think about how you market your services and how your company is keeping up with the emerging trends in the industry.
About the Author
Michael Shabkie has extensive medical transportation experience with companies throughout the U.S. with both the public and private sector.
He has also served as a key collaborator for NEMT and EMS system design, developed winning contracting strategies, managed political and public affairs, and acted as an executive advisor on operational processes for both public and privately held organizations.
For more information visit: http://www.engage911.net.