Debbie is a straight-talking no-fluff marketing professional with over 18 years’ experience to her name, she is hosting the session ‘How to promote your clinic with Facebook’ at the Accelerate your Practice Seminar + AGM in November.
How did you get into your area of expertise and why do you stay?
The first time I did a marketing subject in my business and finance diploma I loved it. So, I decided to do one of the first degrees in marketing, (it wasn’t that well known at the time).
The thing I liked most about marketing is the push for organisations to be customer centric. I believe marketing success comes from understanding your audience, building a relationship and putting customer experiences first. It doesn’t matter whether you’re using Direct Mail, Flyers, Facebook, Twitter – it’s still about understanding what your audience need from you, and then finding a way to promote your product that stands out from the rest.
Over the past 18 years I have worked across marketing for van rentals, dogs, health, not-for-profits and finance; now working with Zadro at an agency in Sydney, I have the amazing privilege of working with lots of clients and industries all at once. It keeps me on my toes, but my favourite part of the job is working with Associations and seeing how their marketing can support and inform their member communities for a purpose.
What has been the main focus or outcomes of your research/work over the past year?
Over the past year a big piece of my work is across the Associations industry. Working with member organisation on engaging their communities and creating marketing plans to help them re-structure their organisations. Marketing is changing a great deal; email marketing and social media are getting more personalised, so staying ahead of the curve is essential.
For ATMS specifically, as their agency, we have launched a new member initiative ‘I’m an Accredited Practitioner’, which has recently been rolled out. I’m a big advocate of the natural medicine industry and believe practitioners are doing an amazing job, but we need to educate the public about how important it is to use an accredited practitioner who is qualified.
As a customer of Chiro, Remedial Massage, Acupuncture, Homeopathy and Naturopathy I’m passionate about helping ATMS support their members via marketing. We have also had a big year with Natural Medicine Week and we’re looking forward to the plans for 2020.
How has your field changed in the past 5 years? What new areas are emerging?
There’s been huge disruption in marketing over the past 5 years. For email marketing, it’s now all about big data and segmentation, personalisation of direct marketing. Providing the right message at the right time to the right people. I believe it is a fantastic opportunity to be more customer-member-centric.
Facebook and Instagram have also seen some big developments this year. Both have begun to remove visible likes from their channels, they’ve increased the emoji buttons, reduced rankings for pages that are not engaging or posting organic ‘good looking’ content and they penalise us when we add external links. It’s certainly becoming harder and harder to promote your business through social channels. However, no matter what changes I still stand by that the principles of marketing: Product, Price, Place and Promotion.
What do you predict will happen in the next 5 to 10 years in your particular field?
I think we will be more personalised in how we market to our customers. Big data and database tools will be adapted and become more affordable for smaller businesses, so they can too start to create bespoke promotions to attract and retain their customers.
As a public, we will likely become more comfortable with sharing our information. However, the consumer has also become more aware and savvier, when it comes to protecting their data, so we must make sure we keep personalised data secure and protected.
Mobile marketing will no doubt go to the next level with wearables, using Artificial Intelligence in marketing, we might start to walk in and out of shops and be alerted to the special offers through our apple watch. The digital world and real worlds are starting to merge and although this sounds a little scary, it does provide us a whole new way to reach our customers and promote our businesses.
What is the number one way we, as natural medicine practitioners, can make a difference for our clients?
From a marketing perspective, I believe good communication with your customers can really make a difference to their experience with you. Have you thought about sending an automated email once a client has attended, saying thank you and asking for their feedback?
As a holistic practitioner, you understand the whole body is important inside and out. From a marketing perspective, we look at the journey your customer has with you from the moment they see your brand to when they are a customer. How can you use your marketing to engage them and support their needs during the time that they work with you? A customer centric organisation (marketing organisation) will keep the client, staff and business happy.
What’s the questions you get asked the most often in your field, and how do you answer it?
Why doesn’t that tool, picture, my posts work on Facebook anymore!!! Facebook changes every day and their algorithm is highly complicated and actually quite top secret. Even as marketing professionals who work across lots of Facebook pages for business all the time, suddenly something won’t work. Or they delete or ban one of our posts and we have no idea why. This is totally normal. It’s challenging and they do keep us on our toes from a business perspective, however they are trying to make their platform as audience friendly as possible. So, when they change something, it’s to keep their Facebook family happy! It’s a good thing.
The way we respond is by constantly watching, reading and learning from the social media news sites on what’s new. We test and test and test again, until we get it right. We don’t panic when something doesn’t work, and we go back to our marketing principles because Facebook likes it when you provide their audience with great content. My main advice is not to push your own agenda on Facebook but think about what your community will respond to.
Fun Fact for the Readers: Tell us who inspires you / or who your professional idol is and why?
Simon Sinek really hits home for me with how I approach marketing. I refer to the Why, How, What model all the time when thinking about how to communicate with our audiences.
From a personal point of view Karen Brady ‘the first lady of football’ (soccer to you Aussies) is my absolute idol. I’m a huge Leeds United fan and when I was younger not only did Karen change the way advertising and marketing was done at a football club, she was a female in a very male dominated industry. I’d love to meet her one day and always aspire to have that kind of role in marketing!