When I was little, my parents would always tell me, “people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.” I’m sure you’ve heard this idiom, too. It took me a few years to realize that this was in fact a metaphor, and there aren’t people out there living in all glass houses throwing stones at other people’s glass houses. Hey, I was a kid with a wild imagination, what’d you expect? Anyway, the metaphor basically means you shouldn’t criticize others when you have similar faults — a pretty solid life lesson (thanks, parents!), but one that’s kind of easy to forget as you get older (sorry, parents).
There are a lot of instances in modern society where we forget this age-old adage, but today, we’re going to focus on one area where you might not even realize you’ve set up shop in a glass house: your marketing practice.
It’s tough to navigate the waters of marketing, especially when it comes to digital. It’s all new, constantly changing, and not really regulated — especially in our industry. But before we jump the gun by pointing fingers at the guy over there for being shady, let’s take a moment to look inward.
Here are three things you can do to ensure that your facility’s marketing practices are aboveboard.
- Audit your current practices. You might be surprised what exists in your marketing portfolio that you don’t even know about. I’ve heard countless stories about people joining facilities only to find out that the old marketing guy or previous management had unknowingly implemented unethical tactics (for example, a microsite that pops up when you search for treatment in Michigan is actually routed to facility in Florida). It happens, and as long as it’s fixed as soon as it’s discovered, it’s okay. The problem occurs when these sites generate a ton of business for a facility — it makes it really tough to do the right thing. But, having a healthy, ethical marketing mix is going to serve you a lot better than a damaged reputation. Take a look at your digital portfolio, on-the-ground business development strategies, and contact center scripts for possible shortcomings that can lead you into hot water.
- Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. We all know that SEO is the golden ticket to getting that coveted #1 spot in a Google search, but when you invest everything into SEO — or any one type of digital marketing technique, for that matter — it’s really easy to start working the system to your favor so that you are guaranteed to see a return. Black hat SEO practices like keyword stuffing and doorway pages might yield quick results, but having a diverse marketing mix can do just the same without as much potential for pitfalls. When you have a few different marketing strategies at play, it’s much easier to turn the dials to find the combination that works best for your business without risking all of your marketing dollars on one strategy. Consider mixing traditional marketing efforts like expanding your business development team and attending events, with digital practices such as SEO, Google AdWords, and ClientReach. From there, you can adjust the levers until you find the right combination for your unique needs.
- Train your staff. No matter the size, your staff are your facility’s representatives. Providing adequate training on what’s legal, what’s permissible, and what’s the right thing to do will give them the confidence to move forward in an aboveboard way. When the focus is on conversions and filling beds, your marketing, biz dev, and contact center teams may feel pressured to hit quotas by any means possible, which can lead them (and ultimately, your whole facility) down a dark, unethical road. By refocusing on your mission of serving the community and giving your staff the right tools to do their jobs ethically, you’ll make all the difference in both employee satisfaction and customer experience.
This is just the beginning to ensuring and maintaining an ethical marketing practice — like a shield to protect your glass house from stones (trying to make this metaphor work, people). But, what more can you do? Good question. And, we’ll answer that in our upcoming webinar on Thursday, February 23rd. Stay tuned for details!