Archives - March, 2012



31 Mar 12

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When Comcast was looking to decrease the number of customer service calls it was getting, it turned to Facebook to better engage with its customers.

When Giant Glass wanted to reach out to university students to expand its automotive glass market, it chose Twitter to help connect with them.

What works best about these strategies, according to local social media researcher Dr. Nora Ganim Barnes, is not the site chosen but the fact that both companies began by identifying their goals first and only then selected the best social media tool to use.

Many businesses try to do it the other way around, said Barnes, director of UMass Dartmouth’s Center for Marketing Research.

“Everyone has it backwards asking, ‘How can I use Facebook better?’ ” she said. Instead, “I ask ‘What is it you want to do?’ “

With the growing number of social media options available to small businesses, it’s increasingly important for companies to know what they want to achieve before they start opening accounts. Doing anything else is a little like running around with a screwdriver in your hand, looking for something to fix, Barnes said.

“The goal is square one,” she said. “Once you define those, then you start looking at the tools.”

For example, Barnes said, it makes sense for some companies to establish the business as a thought leader in their industry. If so, she said, blogs are the tried and true method to do that.

“If your objective is to be a thought leader in your industry or to create a niche, I think that is the best tool to do it.”

But for others, spending the resources on creating original blog content just doesn’t make sense. Wal-Mart, for example, doesn’t need or want to be a thought leader, said Barnes. It just wants to be known as having the best prices.

For Emma Jean’s Cupcake Factory Ice Cream Shoppe in Fairhaven, a social media strategy developed with SouthCoast Media Group digital consultants helped the business create a buzz that led to 500 Facebook “likes” by its grand opening in October and a line of customers that stretched around the building. The day was so successful that the bakery sold its entire stock of 700 cupcakes in the first three hours.

Social media “has helped me immensely,” said Emma Jean’s owner, Cathy Melanson, about the experience.

SouthCoast Media Group helped Emma Jean’s build out social media pages with special features like a welcome screen and a custom profile image. One of the strategies the small business used was making a donation of $1 to the March of Dimes for every “like” that Emma Jean’s received.

“Cathy worked with our Be Interactive package where our social media expert makes Facebook posts, tweets and writes a monthly blog on behalf of the business,” said Meghan Feeney, Regional Digital Sales Manager for SCMG and Cape Cod Media Group. “She knew social networking would be too much to handle while she was focused on opening the business, so she relied on our team to make strategic posts on her behalf. Cathy and her staff also added some postings and fantastic pictures as the store was opening, in addition to the efforts of our social media team.”

So while Emma Jean’s is also on other social sites, Facebook continues to be its go-to tool for reaching cupcake fans.

Social media consultant Elizabeth Cincotta agreed with Emma Jean’s strategy. Like Barnes, Cincotta believes using social media to achieve specific goals is important. It isn’t necessarily the quantity of sites a business is on that works, she said, but the quality.

“I think it’s important to know which ones work for your type of business and how to use (them) correctly,” said Cincotta.

Cincotta is the social media consultant for The Celtic Coffee House in downtown New Bedford, where she has developed some creative options to help the business reach new and existing customers. One of these strategies uses the coffee house’s Twitter account to let customers place orders for in-store pickup.

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Cincotta also registered the business with KangoGifts.com, a Cambridge-based company that allows customers to purchase “microgifts” from vendors. For The Celtic Coffee House, that gift might be a cup of coffee or a muffin that gets delivered via text message to recipients. The text message acts as a virtual gift certificate to redeem the gift.

Both of these local businesses were looking to reach and engage customers with their social media efforts. That’s one goal among many possibilities, and according to a recently released study by The Center for Marketing Research, the Inc. 500 firms surveyed said social media is important to them for several reasons, including enhancing reputation and brand awareness (90 percent of respondents), increasing web traffic (88 percent), and lead generation (81 percent).

The data came from the CMR study, authored by Barnes and fellow researcher Ava Lescault, that has tracked social media use among the Inc. 500 for the past five years. Thirty-four percent of Inc. 500 companies, the fastest-growing private companies in the U.S. as reported by Inc. magazine, participated in the survey.

This year, for the first time, some social media sites appeared to hit a plateau in terms of usage or even saw declines, according to Barnes. In contrast, new sites, like Twitter and LinkedIn, showed huge usage rates.

Fewer firms used blogging, for example, dropping from 50 percent the previous year to 37 percent, after having made steady annual gains in all previous reports.

“Blogging was the only game in town for a long time,” said Barnes about the shift. “But it’s no longer the first choice because it’s not as fast and easy (as newer tools) and not everybody wants to be a thought leader in their industry.”

In contrast, usage of tools like Twitter and LinkedIn, tracked for the first year, was much higher. The study found 74 percent of respondents used Facebook, 73 percent used LinkedIn, and 64 percent used Twitter.

From there, users dropped to 45 percent for YouTube and 24 percent for online video. At the bottom of the pack were podcasting, discount sites, and MySpace, all well below 10 percent.

While social media platforms are important, social media consultant and columnist for the New England Business Bulletin John Theriault strongly recommends that businesses also pay attention to the growing mobile media scene.

In addition to staking a claim for the company on sites like Google Places, Foursquare and others, Theriault suggests taking a look at the business’ mobile site through the eyes of a customer. Make sure the site is easily accessed on mobile devices and tablets, he recommends, and make sure the kinds of information customers typically look for can be easily and quickly found.

“People use these sites from their phones to find businesses and information such as hours, phone number, services and menus, and more,” Theriault wrote in this month’s column. “Take the time to enter the information you know customers will be looking for when on the go.”

If you don’t know what your site looks like on a mobile device, Theriault suggests checking out a Google service called GOMO, which not only offers a mobile view but also has additional tools to help determine the site’s effectiveness.

Like Barnes, Theriault advises knowing what you want to accomplish on mobile and talking to customers before investing in mobile advertising or creating an app for your business.

“We’ve seen a lot “vanity apps” that look nice but don’t get much use,” he wrote. “Make sure your customers will use and love it before spending the time and money.”

Beth Perdue is the editor of the New England Business Bulletin. To read about these business topics and more, see the New England Business Bulletin on news stands this week. Or, go to www.nebulletin.com today. To subscribe to The Bulletin, email Kati Sorensen at [email protected]

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31 Mar 12

The Knowledge Conglomerate will host Prasanna Perera, renowned consultant and trainer on Blue Ocean Marketing, a breakthrough marketing strategy. The event will be held on April 5, 2012, at the Lotus D, Regency Wing, Galle Face Hotel, from 9am to 5pm.
The Training programme will help understand principles and concepts relating to Blue Ocean Marketing and to be able to effectively apply the concept in a business environment.

Given the lack of untargeted marketing in most organisations globally and locally, value creation becomes questionable in the longer run. In view of this, the training programme will elaborate on the Blue Ocean Marketing Strategy and gives an overview of identifying markets that are feasible to move into. The training programme will also help identify cluttered markets or Red Oceans which are comparatively riskier. 

The Knowledge Conglomerate is an independent business entity that intents in looking into business planning and process establishment. The operating domains in the Knowledge Conglomerate are, BPO, KPO, higher education and vocational training.


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31 Mar 12

MedForward recently combined their search engine marketing and search engine optimization campaign methods into a single integrated strategy, increasing success rates for private practice physician advertising.

Baltimore, MD (PRWEB) March 31, 2012

MedForward recently combined their search engine marketing and search engine optimization campaign methods into a single integrated strategy, increasing success rates for private practice physician advertising.

MedForward has always provided web marketing and optimization services for private practice physicians. Their new all-in-one strategy tailors efforts and directs advertising funds to the keywords where they will be most effective. Keywords that are highly ranked organically no longer divert paid clicks away from more competitive keywords, which enables marketing budgets to stretch further and attract more new patient s.

“We were working with many practices that were using two or three different companies to manage their marketing campaigns and seeing so much money lost to redundant overlap,” says Michael Weiss, CEO and President of MedForward, “By having one company manage all aspects of the marketing strategy, we’ve seen a significantly better return on investment for our clients. Every dollar spent is as effective as it can be.”

In addition to eliminating unnecessary spending, MedForward’s new strategy allows for better statistical analysis and management. Without the clutter and noise of multiple marketing campaigns distorting the data, MedForward can identify trends and make adjustments to the SEO and SEM campaigns to increase ROI even higher.

Unlike many competitors that charge a percentage-based fee, MedForward charges a flat rate for their new integrated search engine strategy, guaranteeing that the campaigns they manage are always geared towards bringing more visitors to the physicians’ websites, and not in creating larger-than-necessary budgets.

Located in Baltimore, MD, MedForward is a preferred physician / medical web site designer for healthcare related companies, doctors and medical practitioners in all specialties, including cosmetic dermatology, family medicine, plastic surgery, cosmetic dentistry, ob/gyn, and bariatric surgery. MedForward offers a complete suite of web services for physicians, including search engine optimization, online marketing, custom website design, and HIPAA-secure online form submission.

For the original version on PRWeb visit: http://www.prweb.com/releases/prweb2012/3/prweb9354079.htm


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31 Mar 12

Atlanta based Inbound Marketing Agency, Market 8, adopts a no frills approach for companies to implement their HubSpot Web Design and achieve a quick ROI.

Atlanta, GA (PRWEB) March 31, 2012

Inbound Marketing, a system to attract and capture buyers online, is growing rapidly. Businesses today are implementing a results-oriented approach to marketing and are discovering how to generate the greatest amount of qualified leads with the least amount of effort. This system is affecting all aspects of marketing; business owners and marketers can see the direct path between effort and results.

The approach to web design is no exception. Web design for inbound marketing is rated on its ability to support lead capture objectives. “The more a website is able to connect with buyers and convert them, the better it supports your inbound marketing efforts,” said Eduardo Esparza, President of Market 8.

HubSpot, an all-in-one inbound marketing platform, is an indispensable tool for companies that are incorporating inbound marketing as part of their overall marketing strategy. Market 8, an Atlanta-based Inbound Marketing Agency and HubSpot Certified Partner, has created a series of website templates for its HubSpot web design services. This template-based approach to web design reduces implementation times to a minimum while providing companies with an attractive, functional and professional website for a very low cost in a matter of days.

“We are seeing a significant downtrend in demand for custom web design with companies of all sizes, and that is probably a very good thing,” said Esparza. “Marketers joining the inbound marketing movement are interested in presenting their companies online in the best way possible, and looking to merge a good presentation with their lead generation objectives.”

The HubSpot website templates offered by Market 8 give companies a framework to present their content. Through a combination of fonts, colors, custom graphics and call-to-action buttons, these templates are the tools for companies to easily configure their own pages in their HubSpot website, eliminating the need for custom coding.

“Good web design has been typically associated with great looking sites. However, today your potential buyers are doing research online and are looking for answers to their challenges. If your website is not user-friendly and difficult to navigate, you can consider that lead lost,” Esparza said. “Our HubSpot web design services take all of this into consideration.”

Learn more about Market 8’s HubSpot web design services.

About Market 8

Market 8 is an inbound marketing and branding agency that helps clients increase revenue and return on marketing investments by focusing on strategies that are fundamental, effective and measurable. A fully integrated agency, Market 8 specializes in marketing strategy, website development, interactive design, content creation, video marketing, and marketing analytics including specific prospect and lead tracking.

Read Market 8′s Inbound Marketing and Branding Blog

For more information about Market 8 visit http://www.market8.net/

For the original version on PRWeb visit: http://www.prweb.com/releases/prwebhubspot-web-design/market8/prweb9354170.htm


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30 Mar 12

Interactivity Digital will be held on May 15-16, 2013 in South Florida.

Myrtle Beach, SC (PRWEB) March 30, 2012

Interactivity Marketing, one of the Southeast’s most rapidly growing digital marketing agencies, will be hosting an inaugural digital marketing conference (dubbed Interactivity Digital) on May 15th and 16th in South Florida. The event will cover many in-depth aspects of digital marketing including search engine optimization, paid search marketing, social media, content marketing, and email marketing.

Interactivity Digital will feature:

  •     Top speakers from the digital marketing industry (Interactivity Marketing President Gary Henderson did confirm that one of the most recognized figures in the SEO field is slated to deliver a keynote address).
  •     Exclusive and intimate panel discussions led by industry-leading digital marketing experts that will address hot topics and trends in the digital marketing world (as of now, only 150 tickets will be sold).
  •     Inclusive ticketing (i.e. all meals and open bar after parties included) to promote networking between conference-goers and speakers.

According to Interactivity Marketing President Gary Henderson, the goal of Interactivity Digital is to “not only to dive into the specifics of quality digital marketing, but also to network and hold discussions that will drive the entire digital marketing industry forward. He also said, “We plan on making Interactivity Digital an annual event to promote the sharing of digital marketing ideas and techniques. We’re looking forward to hosting it and networking with all of the great thinkers and strategists who are sure to attend.”

Ticket prices, speakers, and venues have yet to be announced, but Henderson said that further details would be available as they are finalized.

About Interactivity Marketing

Headquartered in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Interactivity Marketing is a fully-integrated digital advertising and marketing agency that provides branding, print, web design and development, search engine and social media marketing, and marketing strategy services to clients across the nation. Regarded as one of the fastest growing digital agencies in the southeast, Interactivity Marketing continues to win business and break new ground by implementing quantifiable, measurable, and innovative creative marketing solutions and strategies for its clients.

Follow IM on Twitter: @IMDigitalAgency

Facebook: Facebook.com/InteractivityMarketing

For the original version on PRWeb visit: http://www.prweb.com/releases/prweb2012/3/prweb9353830.htm


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30 Mar 12

An effective direct-to-patient marketing strategy stems from an understanding of three key factors: a surgery center’s strengths, the surrounding patient market, and the tools a center can use to market to them, according to Scott Christiansen, CEO of CORE Medical Marketing, which specializes in patient acquisition marketing services for healthcare providers.

Mr. Christiansen provides five key points for surgery centers to know as they pursue a direct-to-patient marketing campaign.

1. Identify and leverage the surgery center’s strengths. Before honing in on a direct-to-patient marketing strategy, a surgery center should pinpoint its particular benefits to emphasize to potential patients. Specialties, staff qualifications, technology and quality outcomes should all be taken into account when determining the center’s strengths, says Mr. Christiansen.

Surgery centers should also be aware of the qualities of competing centers, perhaps avoiding an emphasis on a particular asset in which a nearby center also excels. “It might not make sense to market a facility’s two neurosurgeons if the competition boasts an award-winning neuro center of excellence,” he says.

When narrowing down its core marketable strengths, a center should also consider the demographics of the community — income level, gender, age — to ensure that the center’s target strengths will be relevant and appealing to potential patients.

2. Focus your media buy. Unlike hospitals, surgery centers typically aren’t targeting a broad range of patient needs. Centers should instead identify a narrower patient market to pursue through local media outlets and advertising, says Mr. Christiansen.

If a surgery center would like to target a particular age group, for example, it would need to determine where in the community that group lives and which media outlets they consume. Even a center on a limited marketing budget can consider billboards, print publications, TV and radio, says Mr. Christiansen. A center can distribute its budget to the advertising departments of local media outlets, for example, and compare each outlet’s proposals to determine the most cost-effective route for marketing.

“What I hear from smaller facilities is, ‘I can’t compete with a hospital’s marketing budget.’ But you don’t have to, because you’re not trying to be everything to everyone,” says Mr. Christiansen. “You have to figure out what is it that you can win, because you know you’re really good at what you do.”

3. Find out what’s important to patients — and focus on it. Surgery centers may be tempted to make awards and accolades a focus of their advertisements, but patients typically prefer to see what a center can offer from a more practical standpoint. To hone in on the particular aspects of the center that existing patients find most appealing, says Mr. Christiansen, it’s important to engage them in conversation about how they perceive their healthcare choices and what it would take to make them switch providers.

“People do surveys with patients, and surveys are valuable, but you don’t have much of a chance of uncovering that all-important takeaway from a survey,” he says. “Talk to people, get them in conversation if you really want to know the truth.”

Surgery centers should also bear in mind that patients often don’t understand the significance of medical awards to the same extent that other physicians and surgery centers would, which doesn’t make them an ideal strategy for direct-to-patient marketing.

“Patients don’t know what the Summit Award or APEX Award means,” says Mr. Christiansen. “Surgery centers have to remember that they’re marketing to patients, and that starts with acknowledging that patients are doing their own research. You have to know what they’re doing, and you have to know what your presence is at each step of the way.”

4. Maintain an up-to-date, user-friendly website. Patient research often starts with an internet search, which is why surgery center websites must be detailed, credible and well-maintained, says Mr. Christiansen. A website that is neglected or sparse, offering little more than an address and contact information, is wasting a key opportunity to attract patients to the center.

“Once they’re at the website, your job is to convert them into a patient,” says Mr. Christiansen. “They need to know what makes you better than the competition. They want a way to communicate with you, schedule an appointment and ask a question. They want pictures of doctors, to see where they went to medical school and what procedures they do.”

Even on a limited marketing budget, surgery centers can impact their online visibility with patients by providing information on commonly-used patient review sites and online search directories, including Yelp and Google Maps, says Mr. Christiansen.

5. Choose a marketing firm based on specialty, not location. Surgery centers interested in hiring a marketing firm should focus primarily on the firm’s specialty qualifications when making a decision. A firm located in the same town may offer more generalized branding services, for example, but it likely won’t have experience in implementing direct-to-patient marketing strategies and driving business to surgery centers.

“If you go with a local marketing firm, you risk spending all of your budget on branding, and there’s no budget left over for more proactive patient acquisition and physician referral tactics,” says Mr. Christiansen. “In today’s world, you need a specialist who knows the business of marketing and the business of medicine.”

Related Articles on ASC Turnarounds:

Chuck Lauer: 10 Factors in Creating a Positive Work Environment
What Can Football Teach Us About Surgery Center Management? 3 Essentials for ASC Improvement From Joe Zasa
Ideas for Enhancing Revenue at Surgery Centers


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30 Mar 12

How important is mobile marketing to your B2B strategy? According to MarketingSherpa’s 2012 B2B Marketing Benchmark report, mobile marketing has yet to hit even close to the top of the priorities list for B2B marketers.

Even still, we are seeing significantly increased mobile device usage percentages year over year and period over period for the majority of our clients. Through two recent client presentations, users accessing their websites via mobile devices had increased 50% and 33% respectively between Q4 2011 and Q1 2012.

The significance of the growth in mobile device adoption fueled my interest in attending and covering mobile marketing sessions this year at Search Engine Strategies New York. Here are four key takeaways from those sessions.

Clearly Define Mobile Marketing Goals

This could be said for both broader B2B marketing goals and specific mobile site or application goals. Brian Klais, of Pure Oxygen Labs, presented it best when he explained how mobile marketing is a three-dimensional opportunity.

Links and content have to become device aware and then operating system aware and then application aware. “Time to kick off training wheels since marketing becomes that much more complex.”

  • At a tactical level, consider conversion actions such as application download, click-to-call, how to create effective form submissions, etc
  • From a strategic perspective, how will mobile marketing impact lead generation, the sales pipeline, brand visibility, etc

Just making the decision to build a mobile site experience or mobile application only scratches the surface to a much more complex marketing decision and opportunity.

Avoid Assumptions

Simply stated but not as obvious as one would believe, desktop and mobile search and browser usage are different. Some of the discussion points presented:

  • Conversion actions are different. It seems unlikely a user will want to fill out a long form submission. More complex B2B sales funnels need to take that into consideration, tying lead nurturing programs much more explicitly into the process of mobile strategy.
  • Time on device versus time on desktop are different. For advertising campaigns, consider how peak times might be impacted as a result
  • Mobile searchers are looking for “instant gratification” (call, buy, or download now) and want to see 1-click actions
  • 85% of visitors look at the top 2 AdWords results (iProspect Study): For PPC, build out separate mobile campaigns for keyword targeting and ad development

Keep It Simple Back to the Basics

The notion that mobile searchers are looking for “instant gratification” emphasizes the fact that usability and clearly defined navigational (and conversion) paths are essential. Points to consider:

  • Advertising needs to be short and directive. Avoid long winded messaging and “sell the click” more than ever (but as effectively as possible)
  • Fundamental SEO elements become that much more critical to scrutinize, including HTML titles, meta descriptions, keywords, page headings, and ALT properties of images.
  • From a usability perspective, Avi Wilensky pointed out how adding extra padding to buttons and navigational menus will help minimize “fat fingers” and added user frustration.
  • “Do you like typing URLs in your smartphone?” That is why QR Codes could become more impactful down the road
  • Mobile consumers want shortcuts: social media connectivity and QR codes essentially become mobile link building

Track and Evaluate Over Time

While in a previous post I indicated how the percentage of our client base impacted by mobile device usage is certainly increasing, B2B marketers still need to compare the urgency of mobile with needs in other marketing areas.

Ways we’re beginning to look at mobile different from a reporting perspective.

  • Mobile device usage reports (example: Google Analytics dashboards), including overall numbers, comparison between desktop usage, and breakdown of top devices.
  • How the competitive landscape per client is adopting mobile applications and site information, and its impact (if able to realize) in search results and link acquisition.
  • Note that mobile apps and QR codes do not pass “referrer” traffic data so it becomes important use tracking URLs in the process.

Final Thoughts and Considerations

B2B mobile marketing represents a much more direct method to connect offline and online marketing strategies. Consider how four of the top ten strategies B2B marketers place budget are more traditional channels, with trade shows comfortably at the top, as cited in the MarketingSherpa B2B benchmark report referenced above. Mobile marketing provides an even greater opportunity for search engine marketers (and internet marketers in general) to entrench themselves as a vital part of B2B marketing strategy.

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30 Mar 12

In a lean economy, many businesses are spending less and being more intentional about what money is spent on. A web design company in Elkhart, Indiana has innovated a new process to calculate return on investment for search marketing to help businesses proceed wisely.

Elkhart, IN (PRWEB) March 30, 2012

With today’s economy more business owners are making marketing investment decisions based on expected return on investment. While web development companies create and launch new websites for clients, it’s often without a plan for return on investment. Some businesses are looking before they leap through a unique, cost-effective web ROI analysis process available through Effect Web Agency, an Indiana web design firm.

While Effect Web Agency provides professional website design services like universal websites, social media, search engine optimization (SEO), and Web apps – the difference is the strategy and planning process they call ‘Insight Lab’. Insight Lab brings a client through a few steps to ultimate form a recommended web plan.

The first step is getting the Web directors in sync with the vision, objectives, constraints and parameters of the project. This allows the web team to size of the scope, see the challenges, understand the goal, and begin the second step.

Step Two is researching the opportunities in the various online marketing channels. Effect’s directors include 13-year natural search optimization veteran Shawn Nafziger, a dedicated Pay-Per-Click Director with an impressive client history and Social Media Director Alzay Calhoun, whom planned and executive the successful Sprite Step-Off campaign.

Then the web directors form the Insight Lab Report and present their recommendations to the client.

“Understanding the opportunities clearly before execution makes the difference between satisfaction and disappointment”, says Steve Schmidt, Web Strategist of Effect, “Yep, there are many times when our reports show that it doesn’t make sense to do this or that. The client makes an informed decision. If we’ve adequately sized up the reality of the matter and the client made a smart choice based on it, we’ve accomplished our mission.”

With concentrated focus on their client’s current situation, EWA formulates custom marketing opportunities to forecast cost, expected results, and timeframes. Their clients “look before they leap” knowing the estimated outcome of their marketing strategy before the plan is executed – saving money and time.

To impact client results in a bigger way, Effect Web Agency teamed up with two complimentary companies to achieve what most agencies don’t have: true specialists in web, branding, advertising, and business development. This unique team includes the branding and advertising veterans of Taigmarks, and the business development strategists at Spearhead Sales Marketing. This triad of companies work together like as one organization to provide a big-picture approach to marketing and Web strategies.

Company president, Steve Schmidt, notes, “Companies are seeking cost-effective solutions and we offer an all-star lineup of sales and marketing expertise through one point of contact.”

Many companies today already have in-house marketing teams. Steve Schmidt cites “To be competitive today, companies need to partner with experts who offer a fresh perspective outside of the company. Being “in it” all the time often yields an inaccurate view.” Other advantages gained from the “outside” are specialized expertise, faster implementation, and collaboration without company politics.

Effect Web Agency is located downtown Elkhart, Indiana, and has helped companies leverage objective Web planning and implementation for eight years.

For the original version on PRWeb visit: http://www.prweb.com/releases/prweb2012/3/prweb9340949.htm


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29 Mar 12

Merpati deploys new strategy, targets 60% growth

Earmarking Rp 52 billion in spending to strengthen its marketing strategy, PT Merpati Nusantara Airlines has set its eyes on an aggressive campaign to boost revenues by 60 percent to Rp 3.2 trillion this year.

Merpati corporate secretary Imam Turidy said that the airline would upgrade its call center and give away lottery prizes in the form of 12 Mercedes Benz smart cars, 12 Nissan Juke cars, one Toyota Velfire and 55 BlackBerry Onyx smartphones.

“Merpati is celebrating its golden anniversary. We want to serve our customers better and we want to be a healthier company,” Imam told The Jakarta Post on the sidelines of the Merpati 50 Years Anniversary Celebration in Jakarta on Wednesday night.

The company also appointed Indonesia’s senior actor and director Deddy Mizwar as its ambassador to help Merpati promote its business.

“We suffered a net loss of Rp 147 billion last year. With this aggressive marketing strategy, we aim to book Rp 70 billion net profits this year,” operational director Asep Ekanugraha told the Post.

He was optimistic that the target could be achieved with the operations of new aircraft. Asep said the airline would operate 8 Boeing 737 series this year, enabling them to increase flight frequencies as well as to open new routes. One airplane will arrive each month starting in April, he said.

The airline’s senior vice president of marketing Yose Rizal said that Merpati was planning to spread its wings to the Southeast Asia region.

He said that the airline was going to link Bandung to Kuala Lumpur, Surabaya to Singapore and Medan to Penang.

“We are going to connect cities with top market potential in Indonesia to popular destinations in the ASEAN region,” he said.

Looking at healthy economic growth, he said that Merpati aimed to bring in 5 million passengers this year, a 108 percent jump from 2.41 million passengers in 2011.

Last year, the airline received a Rp 561 billion bridging loan from the State Asset Management Company (PPA) to help it pay off its debt, which amounted to Rp 8.2 billion to the state oil and gas company PT Pertamina for fuel purchases from Aug. 26 to Oct. 16, 2011.

The airline also owed Pertamina Rp 212 billion for fuel supplied during 2006-2007 and Rp 44 billion for the 2007 period to Aug. 25, 2011, amounting to a total of 264.2 billion in debt.

The airline currently has 35 aircraft; 29 of them are operating on a daily basis, including nine Boeing 737 series units, three DHC-6, two Casa C-212, one Fokker-100, and 14 units of the MA-60.

Moreover, Merpati plans to buy 40 100-seat ARJ 21-700 jet aircraft from China for approximately US$1.2 billion.

The airline will begin receiving the jets in 2013. (nfo)


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29 Mar 12

An effective direct-to-patient marketing strategy stems from an understanding of three key factors: a surgery center’s strengths, the surrounding patient market, and the tools a center can use to market to them, according to Scott Christiansen, CEO of CORE Medical Marketing, which specializes in patient acquisition marketing services for healthcare providers.

Mr. Christiansen provides five key points for surgery centers to know as they pursue a direct-to-patient marketing campaign. 

1. Identify and leverage the surgery center’s strengths. Before honing in on a direct-to-patient marketing strategy, a surgery center should pinpoint its particular benefits to emphasize to potential patients. Specialties, staff qualifications, technology and quality outcomes should all be taken into account when determining the center’s strengths, says Mr. Christiansen. 

Surgery centers should also be aware of the qualities of competing centers, perhaps avoiding an emphasis on a particular asset in which a nearby center also excels. “It might not make sense to market a facility’s two neurosurgeons if the competition boasts an award-winning neuro center of excellence,” he says.

When narrowing down its core marketable strengths, a center should also consider the demographics of the community — income level, gender, age — to ensure that the center’s target strengths will be relevant and appealing to potential patients. 

2. Focus your media buy. Unlike hospitals, surgery centers typically aren’t targeting a broad range of patient needs. Centers should instead identify a narrower patient market to pursue through local media outlets and advertising, says Mr. Christiansen.

If a surgery center would like to target a particular age group, for example, it would need to determine where in the community that group lives and which media outlets they consume. Even a center on a limited marketing budget can consider billboards, print publications, TV and radio, says Mr. Christiansen. A center can distribute its budget to the advertising departments of local media outlets, for example, and compare each outlet’s proposals to determine the most cost-effective route for marketing.

“What I hear from smaller facilities is, ‘I can’t compete with a hospital’s marketing budget.’ But you don’t have to, because you’re not trying to be everything to everyone,” says Mr. Christiansen. “You have to figure out what is it that you can win, because you know you’re really good at what you do.” 

3. Find out what’s important to patients — and focus on it. Surgery centers may be tempted to make awards and accolades a focus of their advertisements, but patients typically prefer to see what a center can offer from a more practical standpoint. To hone in on the particular aspects of the center that existing patients find most appealing, says Mr. Christiansen, it’s important to engage them in conversation about how they perceive their healthcare choices and what it would take to make them switch providers.

“People do surveys with patients, and surveys are valuable, but you don’t have much of a chance of uncovering that all-important takeaway from a survey,” he says. “Talk to people, get them in conversation if you really want to know the truth.”

Surgery centers should also bear in mind that patients often don’t understand the significance of medical awards to the same extent that other physicians and surgery centers would, which doesn’t make them an ideal strategy for direct-to-patient marketing.

“Patients don’t know what the Summit Award or APEX Award means,” says Mr. Christiansen. “Surgery centers have to remember that they’re marketing to patients, and that starts with acknowledging that patients are doing their own research. You have to know what they’re doing, and you have to know what your presence is at each step of the way.”

4. Maintain an up-to-date, user-friendly website. Patient research often starts with an internet search, which is why surgery center websites must be detailed, credible and well-maintained, says Mr. Christiansen. A website that is neglected or sparse, offering little more than an address and contact information, is wasting a key opportunity to attract patients to the center.

“Once they’re at the website, your job is to convert them into a patient,” says Mr. Christiansen. “They need to know what makes you better than the competition. They want a way to communicate with you, schedule an appointment and ask a question. They want pictures of doctors, to see where they went to medical school and what procedures they do.”

Even on a limited marketing budget, surgery centers can impact their online visibility with patients by providing information on commonly-used patient review sites and online search directories, including Yelp and Google Maps, says Mr. Christiansen.

5. Choose a marketing firm based on specialty, not location. Surgery centers interested in hiring a marketing firm should focus primarily on the firm’s specialty qualifications when making a decision. A firm located in the same town may offer more generalized branding services, for example, but it likely won’t have experience in implementing direct-to-patient marketing strategies and driving business to surgery centers.

“If you go with a local marketing firm, you risk spending all of your budget on branding, and there’s no budget left over for more proactive patient acquisition and physician referral tactics,” says Mr. Christiansen. “In today’s world, you need a specialist who knows the business of marketing and the business of medicine.”

Related Articles on ASC Turnarounds:

Chuck Lauer: 10 Factors in Creating a Positive Work Environment
What Can Football Teach Us About Surgery Center Management? 3 Essentials for ASC Improvement From Joe Zasa
Ideas for Enhancing Revenue at Surgery Centers


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