Avoiding Legal Misery when Marketing a Practice Online

Going online can be a reasonably priced and effective form of marketing for any physician practice. But if it isn’t done right, the Internet can end up being a legal minefield.

While the Web and social media can be beneficial, it is important for physicians to address the proper ways for a practice’s doctors and staff to use social media inside and outside the workplace — even for conduct outside the practice’s work or Web space.

Your Web presence is treated as advertising under the law, just as if you bought space in a newspaper or telephone book. So the legal and ethical rules of advertising for physicians apply. For example, your website should not contain patient or individual testimonials. The safest way is to concentrate on the facts of your practice: who you are your level of experience, the services you provide and your practice’s location.

The site can tell potential patients why they should select your practice, as long as the statements are not legally false, deceptive or misleading, as judged by authorities such as your state’s medical board. The American Medical Association Code of Medical Ethics says, “Generalized statements of satisfaction with a physician’s services may be made if they are representative of the experience of that physician’s patients.”

Despite some risks, a website can be an excellent and relatively inexpensive way to brand your practice. So can social media — Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other sites that connect directly with patients.

While engaging in social media, physicians also should be aware of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act’s privacy provisions. Even an inadvertent disclosure of a patient’s health information through social media can be a problem. For example, a hospital employee was forced to resign over a message she posted on Twitter that contained health information about a patient.

Even if you’re not using social media, others may be using it to talk buying zovirax online about you. Social media also are used by patients to express views about a physician. Some of my physician clients are concerned that patient blogs mentioning them are among the first few listings on search engines. Other physicians worry about false or misleading information being spread quickly through social media.

Legally speaking, there’s not much a physician can do about this other than to monitor the conversation and respond professionally without attacking anyone personally or divulging patient information.

It is important that practices establish a social media policy for a practice’s physicians and staff members. Your policy should outline what is acceptable use (if any) of personal social media during business hours. The following three W’s should be outlined.

Who is permitted to post or tweet material to social media dedicated to the practice? Is someone designated as the practice’s poster or tweeter?
What can be posted? The policy should address appropriate responses when people post material on the practice’s site. For example, someone might post a medical question on the practice’s Facebook page. From a liability perspective, you should not give medical advice through social media. A good response would be: “Thank you for your inquiry. Please call our office, and we will be happy to discuss this with you.”
Where will the practice post? The policy should say which social media sites the practice uses and maintains.
The policy should tell employees of the risks associated with disclosing patient and other practice information on social media networks and ways to avoid illegal disclosures.

One way to do so is to require that all material posted on behalf of the practice is approved by a committee sooner than a single person. This will help avoid HIPAA violations and inappropriate disclosures. Further, the policy should explain the consequences of noncompliance by your employees and emphasize personal responsibility and good judgment.


Prominent Online Marketing Helps Businesses to Stop Irritating Customers

A recent survey shows that telemarketers and door-to-door salesmen can really annoy Australian consumers. Online marketing consultancy prominent Online Marketingcan help business owners to stop irritating their customers whilst growing their business more effectively.

Customer magazine Choice surveyed over a thousand of its members to find out what annoys Australians most. Coming in at number seven were telemarketers and door-to-door sales people. If your business relies on direct marketing such as door-to-door sales or telemarketing to grow and thrive, prominent Online Marketing can help you find new ways of reaching fresh customers and getting more leads for your business.

“The problem with telemarketing, door-to-door sales or even print and radio advertising is that it can be difficult to reach your ideal customer. The approach is very broad and it often targets people while they are focused on doing something else,” says Ms Jungclaus, founder of online marketing consultancy prominent online marketing.

“Instead it makes sense to advertise people when they are trying to solve a problem and are looking for products and services to help buy zovirax in uk them do so. With this approach you will get many more responses and therefore get more business from the same advertising budget.”

Specialists in online lead generation, Prominent Online Marketing can help small businesses achieve just that: get more fresh leads and new customers in the door while cutting advertising and marketing spend by as much as half. And you won’t be included in the ‘most annoying’ list anymore!

“Simply think about how most people go about solving their problems today,” says Ms Jungclaus. “Many people will ask their existing network of contacts first and then try and find a solution online. And that’s exactly how you want to get new customers: through referrals and online.”

Prominent Online Marketing is an online marketing business based in Sydney, Australia. With its main focus on low cost lead generation, Prominent Online Marketing helps businesses grow their profits through online lead generation even if they don’t know how to turn on a computer and have no idea where to start.


The Future of Online Marketing

Social Media Portal founder Tim Gibbon has claimed that social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Myspace and Friendfeed have more potential for online marketing than directly advertising.

Mr Gibbon said that online marketing social media had the advantage of “seamless” addition and so was able to avoid the weakness of direct online advertising – the “unwanted” factor.

He said that since 2005 there has been a huge shift towards social networking, a shift that was finally being recognized by companies who are now focusing on Facebook and Twitter for their online marketing efforts.

A number of companies even print their Facebook and Twitter URLs on receipts to make customers aware of their social media presence, Mr Gibbon noted.

New research this week identified another important phenomenon in the UK online marketing sector, which will have quite an impact on the future – mobile devices and applications.

A study by the Association of Online buy zovirax australia Publishers (AOP) revealed that most publishers are looking to build online marketing campaigns on mobile devices such as the iPad and even more were planning to launch new apps in the 12 months, offering some of their content and services free of charge.

twitterResearchers found that half of those surveyed were already delivering mobile content, and one in six already had iPad apps. Some 72 per cent had mobile websites up and running, while another 25 per cent were planning to launch them over the next year.

An overwhelming 91 per cent of respondents identified the mobile online sector as an opportunity or “major opportunity” for marketing in the next 12 months – 86 per cent saw the iPad and other tablets as a good place to focus, while 84 per cent picked the Smartphone and apps 80 per cent would be focusing on apps.


Making Itself Felt Online – British Advertising Regulator

In the digital world, the most effective advertising is not always advertising in the traditional sense. Instead of buying ad space or time on a Web site, many marketers prefer to build their own sites or mobile applications or to promote their brands using social media, encouraging consumers to spread the word.

While some of this activity remains unregulated, prompting concerns that the Internet is a haven for misleading or unscrupulous marketing, with brand owners doing things they would not dream of doing offline, the loopholes that allow this double standard are slowly closing.

Last week, the Advertising Standards Authority of Britain, which monitors the content of most forms of advertising in that country, including paid Web ads like banners and sponsored search links, provided details of a plan to extend its oversight to social media, company Web sites and other nontraditional digital marketing activities. That means advertisers could run afoul of the standards authority for a misleading blog post or even a consumer’s Twitter postings, if they were part of a campaign employing user-generated content.

The British regulator was not the first to do this. The standards police in more than a dozen other European countries had already extended their monitoring to cover new kinds of marketing, after pressure from the European Commission in Brussels. In the United States, the Federal Trade Commission recently published guidelines for marketing via social media and blogs.

But the British approach is interesting because it includes particularly tough sanctions for violators and because it is being underwritten by a major online player, Google.

Under the system, set to take effect in March, the Advertising Standards Authority will study consumers’ complaints about the content of corporate Web sites, social networks and mobile applications, as it now does for traditional advertising. Offenders will be asked to remove misleading or inappropriate claims.

Those who refuse will be referred to Google, which has agreed to block buy zovirax 200mg paid search advertisements to these marketers’ Web sites — an enforcement mechanism that the standards authority and Google say is the first of its kind. Furthermore, Google has agreed to post warnings from the standards authority alongside search links to violators’ Web sites.

The system is not airtight — it will not cover Web sites based outside Britain, for example. On mobile devices, many people bypass Google and go straight to applications or Web sites.

But Google still accounts for 80 percent of Web searches in Britain, and advertisers say they welcome Google’s involvement, after the company dragged its feet for several years, delaying adoption of the new system.

“It certainly adds credibility to the enforcement mechanism,” said Stephan Loerke, managing director of the World Federation of Advertisers in Brussels.

Google has even agreed to finance the system with an undisclosed amount of “seed capital.” The money is needed because the standards authority’s normal source of financing, a levy on paid advertising, would not work for other forms of company-sponsored marketing.

The collaboration is not driven entirely by altruism. The standards authority is an industry-financed body that operates independent of the government. Marketers, ad agencies and Internet companies are eager to demonstrate that “self-regulation” can protect consumers at a time when the future of marketing is under scrutiny.

Lawmakers in the United States, Europe and elsewhere are investigating the practice of “behavioral targeting,” in which consumers’ Web browsing patterns are mined for clues about their interests, so that marketers can show them relevant ads.

Consumer groups say this raises privacy concerns, and a European Commission panel recently proposed far-reaching restrictions on the practice.

Advertisers and Internet companies say that if behavioral targeting is banned or curbed, the advantages of digital marketing disappear. As they battle against the proposed restrictions, a bit of new self-regulation may be a small price to pay.


Heatherington Releases a New Book to Help Businesses Get Traction Online

New book, “SEO & Social Media Marketing Guide,” explains what businesses need to know about SEO and social buy zovirax aciclovir networking and how they can help build their brand online. Having a website is essential in today’s world, but establishing a website is no longer enough. It must be optimized for search engines and leveraging a website using social networking platforms is crucial. The book is geared to brick and mortar businesses that don’t have the staff or budgets to devote to large marketing campaigns.
Kalispell, MT, August 30, 2010 Author and business expert, Tom Heatherington, has announced the release of his newest book, “SEO & Social Media Marketing Guide.” This digital publication represents Hetherington’s twenty years of online marketing experience, and details how to leverage today’s Web 2.0 resources and SEO to maximize local search results.

His book provides readers with a step-by-step online marketing blueprint that can help to increase website traffic and grow a network of potential customers and contacts. Readers will learn the essential steps needed to launch an ongoing web marketing campaign.

“My book explains every important tactic you need to attract targeted traffic organically, build a loyal following of customers and prospects, and how to market effectively to your social network of contacts,” said Heatherington.

Having a website is essential in today’s world, but just establishing a website is no longer enough. It must be optimized for search engines (SEO), and leveraging a website using social networking resources is crucial.

The book illustrates what SEO best practices entail and shows how social networking and can help build a brand online. These are invaluable marketing tools, but busy business owners are often overwhelmed by the process, and may not have the time, knowledge or personnel to implement a website marketing strategy. The “SEO & Social Media Marketing Guide” is geared to individuals and owners of small brick and mortar businesses that don’t have the staff or resources available to devote to large marketing campaigns.

“It doesn’t require a lot of money or technical expertise to optimize a website and promote it strategically online. As an example, there are a number of little-known resources that will list a website for free, which can help drive traffic to a site and generate highly-targeted leads. It’s just good business sense to utilize these resources to help your business grow and thrive,” says Heatherington.

The “SEO & Social Media Marketing Guide” addresses such topics as SEO, keyword research, obtaining quality backlinks and social media marketing. The book explains how to rank higher in search queries, and the importance of creating compelling keyword-rich content, in addition to social networking, blogging, social bookmarking and other core topics.

Heatherington is confident that, “If applied correctly, the information in the book will work for any business and I promise a 60-day, 100% money back guarantee if the book doesn’t meet expectations.”

When you purchase the book through the website, you can download it immediately and begin using the information to launch your online marketing campaign and start attracting new customers.


Online Marketing Tools Guide

The Web has given entrepreneurs lots of new places to market themselves. But it can also help them streamline their marketing in the nonvirtual world.

Numerous sites let you easily design fliers, stationery and business cards; while others let you edit photos and put together booklets and newsletters. And if you decide you need outside help for these tasks, online marketplaces let you solicit ideas from hosts of designers.

Here’s a look at some of the offerings out there—and how to stay away from pitfalls when using them.

Get It on Paper

Dozens of sites have popped up that can help you design and print your own fliers, brochures and other marketing materials. And many of them provide ready-made templates, so all you need to do is choose what you’d like—such as stationery, business cards or fliers—and plug in your information.

Among smaller providers, one popular option is Vistaprint NV, which lets you use a template or upload your own designs and logo. Vistaprint also lets you set up contact lists and will address and send out your materials.

A number of bigger names offer these kinds of services, as well. Staples Inc. and FedEx Corp., for instance, let you design your products on their websites to be printed out in the companies’ stores or delivered. Hewlett-Packard Co.’s Marketsplash service lets users customize materials on its website free, then print them out at home or a professional shop. Right now, only owners of HP products can use the service, but starting in September, all small-business owners will get free access.

Making Pictures Perfect

A good photo—whether it’s a shot of your product or a customer using your service—can be crucial to a marketing campaign. But getting a good photo can be a tough task for an amateur shutterbug.

That’s where the Web comes in. Photo-editing software and sites—including Google Inc.’s free Picasa program—make it easy to turn your photos into professional-quality products. You can crop photos, change the contrast, fix red-eye and perform other cleanup jobs that once required people to use software like Adobe Systems Inc.’s Photoshop. What’s more, sites such as Blurb Inc., Shutterfly Inc. and Eastman Kodak Co.’s Kodak Gallery make it simple to put together a marketing booklet using photographs that you’ve taken.

If you find that you’re not getting any good shots at all, many websites—such as iStockphoto, a subsidiary of Getty Images Inc., and Corbis Corp.’s Veer—will let you buy professional-level photos to use.

Be sure that you trust any site you use, however. In particular, make sure you’re confident that the sites actually hold the rights to the photos order zovirax they’re offering. Improperly using a photo that someone else owns “can create a significant liability for your business,” says Michael Fleischner, founder of marketing consulting site MarketingScoop.com and The Marketing Blog.

Legitimate sites generally aren’t cheap and are tightly controlled, Mr. Fleischner says: “It’s virtually impossible to download anything from the sites without some type of subscription.”

Don’t Go It Alone

If you decide you need help getting your marketing materials together, the Web can help you get input from lots of professionals.

Crowdsourcing websites such as crowdSpring LLC allow you to post what sort of work you want done—such as having a new logo designed—and how much you’re willing to pay. The designers on the site—who number more than 67,000—can submit entries for the project, and from there you simply pick your favorite.

The site says each project receives about 110 submissions, and it typically takes nine to 10 days to get the first designs. The cost varies based on the project. The site sets minimums for all projects—ranging from $200 for a logo design to $1,000 for a product design—but the company can decide to pay whatever it wants above that, says co-founder Ross Kimbarovsky. Companies that use the service also pay a $39 listing fee and a 15% commission on the award amount.

Things to Keep in Mind

While do-it-yourself websites simplify things, there are some potential traps to watch out for.

If you’re using a template for any of your materials, be careful that it fits with your brand and with what you’re hoping to express without sending confusing messages to your customers. If your business is trying to present itself as very laid back or hip, for instance, a very formal template might send the wrong message.

What’s more, try to tweak the designs a little, if possible, to make your company seem unique—and avoid looking like you just filled in the blanks on a form. Most sites have settings that allow you to do this kind of tweaking.

Finally, don’t get so tied up in technology that you forget the basics of marketing. If you’re using a website to design postcards, for instance, be sure to include a coupon—so when the coupon gets redeemed, you know the cards are working.

“Don’t create content for content’s sake,” says Ann Handley, chief content officer of Marketing Profs LLC, an online publisher and media company. “Add some call to action in whatever marketing you’re doing. It’s basic stuff, but people forget about that when they get into tools and cool stuff.”


Steps to Business Networking

Business networking is an inexpensive, effective way to advertise your services and products. She sent in these business networking tips, four basic steps which will make your business networking more effective:

1. Choose Events Wisely: Attend events where there will be business owners or decision-makers to buy your product or service. Don’t waste time attending all events as there will be a lot of events where people are just not suitable to purchase from you.

2. Talk to Strangers: Walk up to people that you do not know and introduce yourself. Introduce yourself with a firm handshake, look them in the eyes and say your name and company name. After they introduce themselves, ask them questions about their business, such as “How did you get started in that business?” and “What do you like best about your business?”

Make the conversation all about them and not you. People love to talk about themselves. If you allow them to talk about themselves, you will be remembered as someone who took the time to get to know zovirax them. Remember, networking is not about the quantity of business cards with which you come home. It’s about relationships.

3. Follow-up: When you get back to your office, send a follow-up email, “snail” mail a handwritten note, or call to make an appointment. The follow-ups should be short notes to remind them of where you met, wish them success in their business, and remind them of what you do. I like to also invite them to other networking events so you are offering them value and not just trying to get them to buy from you.

4. Face-to-Face Again: If you have made an appointment, congratulate yourself. You did a great job in convincing them that you offer value. At the meeting, remember to talk about them and ask more in-depth questions about their business. Find out how you can help them by listening to their concerns. After you have listened and you think you know how to help them, then you can talk about the solutions that you offer.


Customer Service Tips

When a potential customer walks into your store or office you and/or your staff need to:

1) Be available in a timely manner.

The first way that you make your customer feel valued is by acknowledging her as soon as possible.

So when someone enters your store or office, you need to look up from your computer, stop stocking shelves or whatever else you’re doing as soon as possible. If your work involves being away from the floor, such as working in stockroom or workshop area for part of the time, you need to have some system that alerts you when a customer enters so you can attend to her.

2) Greet the customer in a friendly but appropriate way.

Make eye contact, smile and say something such as, “Hello. How may I help you today?”

Stop there. Allow the customer to respond.

3) Appear eager to help (but not in such an aggressive or rote fashion that the customer is turned/driven off).

Doing points one and two properly are often all that’s required to appear eager to help to a customer. Do not encourage staff to continually trail customers about the premises or to interrupt them every two minutes and ask them how they’re doing.

Customers who have responded to the initial question by saying something such as, “I just thought I’d take a look around” should be approached after an acceptable period of time (which will vary depending on the type of business, floor layout etc.) and asked if they have any questions or if they’ve found what they’re looking for.

4) Help the customer by directly addressing the customer’s request/solving the customer’s problem.

This may involve:

  • Actively listening to the customer. Show that you’re actively listening to the customer by making eye contact, nodding, or even jotting down a note. Ask clarifying questions when the customer is finished speaking if necessary to get more details that will enable you to solve the customer’s problem. Do not interrupt a customer when he or she is speaking. You can’t listen when your mouth is moving.
  • Showing a knowledge of the business’s buy zovirax products and/or services. Be sure that you and your staff know your products and services inside out. And be sure that all staff know the difference between “showing a knowledge” and “showing off”. Customers do not come in to hear lectures about particular products or services. For good customer service, tell customers what they want to know, not everything you know about it.
  • Showing a knowledge of related products and/or services. Customers commonly compare products and/or services, so you and staff need to be able to do this, too. After all, you may be able to save them a trip to another store. You also need to be aware of any accessories or parts related to your products so you can tell customers where they can get them if you don’t supply them.
  • Being able to offer pertinent advice. Customers often have questions that aren’t directly about your products or services but are related to them. For instance, a customer interested in hardwood flooring might want to know what the best way of cleaning hardwood floors is. The answers you give (or aren’t able to give) can be a big influence on buying decisions and how the customer feels about your customer service.

5) Be cheerful, courteous and respectful throughout the customer service interaction.

6) Close the customer service interaction appropriately.

You should finish helping a customer by actively suggesting a next step. If he or she is ready to make a purchase at this point, escort or direct the customer to the checkout where you or someone else will go through the payment procedure with the customer. If the customer is not ready to buy at this point, your suggested next step might be a further invitation to engage with the merchandise or service such as, “Is there anything else I can help you with?”, “Would you like a brochure?”, or “Would you like to try that on?” You should never just say something such as, “Here you go” or “Okay, then” and move on.