The internet once promised complete information equality. Children in poor countries would have access to the same knowledge as a child in California. But, it hasn’t turned out that way.
Different countries have different ideas about the internet. China and Turkey censor their internet aggressively, while America allows disinformation, extremists, hate speech and pornography to infiltrate every corner of the web.
The Arabic language, for example, is spoken by more than 350 million people, but represents less than 1% of the information on the internet. The Spanish internet isn’t that far off.
In an absolutely brilliant and impressively in-depth report by Kevin Roose, Elizabeth Weil and Bill Wasik, contributors to The New York Times and Atlantic magazine, the argument is made and thoroughly supported that the free internet we were all promised has devolved into a cesspool.
I obviously agree and have been beating this drum for many years.
Today’s internet works a lot like the real world. “It has an income-based hierarchy in which everything, from cleanliness of the water to the quality of the schools, is determined by how much you can afford to pay.”
Look at the internet 10-20 years ago. Everything was supposed to be free. Hulu, a video start-up at the time, claimed the end for the era of paid television. You would be able to watch your favorite shows over the internet, “anywhere, anytime for free.”
The largest newspapers and magazines started pulling down their pay walls or not building them at all, giving way to the internet’s maxim that “information wants to be free,” a maxim that I’ve consistently challenged and have seen supported by smart people like Cory Doctorow.
In 2008, Wired magazine ran a cover story that said, “Practically everything the web touches starts down the path to gratis,” calling free services “the future of business.”
So, where are we today?
The average American spent over $1,300 last year on digital media. Even Hulu, the champion stalwart of “free” television, pulled the plug on their free tier of membership. The cheapest Hulu subscription is now $7.99 per month.
Watching YouTube videos has become nauseating if you don’t have a paid YouTube TV account, starting at $11.99 per month, unless you enjoy watching horrible ads for horrible products that pop up throughout the viewing experience.
From news and productivity apps and dating sites and even an incredibly popular email program, Superhuman, which costs $30 per month, the internet has clearly walled itself off into a neatly manicured garden for those who pay and a wild jungle for those who cannot or will not.
This begs the bigger question, what is the real cost of free?
If the free internet results in Facebook mining our data, Amazon and Alexa tracking everything you say and order, Google collecting personal health information and selling all of this to the highest bidder, countries like China and Turkey vigorously censoring their internet and extracting a heavy price (up to and including the rights to your intellectual property and trade secrets) in order to do business in their countries, then where is the internet headed in the next 10-20 years?
It’s an important question and is covered in the aforementioned report, which I’ll be sending to and dissecting for my private clients.
As a subscriber here, I’ll give you a few hints regarding the main takeaway points and lessons for your practice. I’m not shy about the paywall I’ve erected in this business nor do I undervalue the information I share and the power it holds for smart business owner who implement. It appears it only took 10 years for Hulu to catch up with me.
First, there will be more and more regulation and taxation on the internet, information and data.
Your ability to out-earn all of this and to maintain adequate margin in your business is paramount. Go back and look through this report to see where I’ve encouraged you to get better at asking what never changes. Relationship marketing, internal referrals, driving more revenue per employee and lifetime customer value – these all start with a sold understanding of human psychology and behavior.
The best firms on the planet are well-suited to this challenge.
Even World Wrestling Entertainment has over 60 data scientists who work tirelessly to protect their brand and the connection with their fans. It’s wrestling for crying out loud. I doubt the world’s best dental and medical associations have one-tenth the staying power for the next 20 years to help their members navigate the tremendous tidal wave of online regulation and taxation coming their way, and these associations do something a little more important than leg locks, atomic elbow drops, piledrivers, jackknife powerbombs or Stone Cold Stunners.
Second, you must learn to master this online opportunity for your business to attract and retain customers or smarter people will eat your lunch.
Marc Andreessen was right when he predicted a future where there will be two classes of people: those who tell computers what to do and those who are told by computers what to do. AI will quickly separate the smart marketers from those dragging their feet, thinning the herd and distributing more income to the top 1% faster and faster so that each industry and niche is dominated by a few top players in each market.
In a recent event with Jimmy Nicholas, he and I unpacked and revealed for the first time the new A.I. his team has built with IBM’s Watson, in order to accurately record, transcribe and predict 99.8% of all incoming phone calls for our mutual clients. Jimmy and his company, Jimmy Marketing, do this nearly 60,000 times every single month.
He’s mining those data to help clients predict the times and hour of the day when they are most-likely to miss calls, resulting in a potential revenue recapture of nearly $25 million per year for our clients.
Jimmy runs the same predictive A.I. for our Google and Facebook ads, split-testing the best offers and calls to action, boosting conversion rate for one of our radio-to-web campaigns by 432% while simultaneously driving down cost per lead by over 3X.
Third, if you think you can figure this out on your own, as a small business owner, doctor, lawyer, specialist or audiologist, I urge you to put on your thinking cap.
Seek more clarity about where the web was 10-20 years ago, where it is today and where it will be 10-20 years from today, and run like the wind to see if your market is available to work with Jimmy and his team.
If you are already working with Jimmy and his team, your job is not done. I’m urging you to get on the phone each month with your marketing account manager in his office and set bigger goals, leverage untapped opportunities and invest like the big boys and girls who lurk in the shadows, waiting to eat your lunch.
This is a clarion call to action.
The cost of what the internet tried to be (i.e., free) is about to destroy anyone promising you something cheaper and less sophisticated than what we’re doing now and in the future with Jimmy and his team.
Get this done now, or please don’t say I didn’t warn you.
“Silence is the presence of time undisturbed.”
In a world savaged by noise, distraction and heedless entertainment, it has become more and more difficult to locate and protect our ability to be silent.
It’s fascinating to consider the amount of creativity produced during a day in which one is silent.
Taking long walks in nature, spending time near the water, carving out a reading nook or reflective space in one’s home – these are common strategies amongst my most successful and happiest clients and friends.
Some practical tips:
Kill the digital brain stimulation before bed. Most Americans watch television or scroll through the social feeds on their smartphones and then hop into bed. Your brain is too active to sleep restfully. Instead, turn all your digital devices off a few hours before bedtime. Lull yourself into a great night’s sleep by reading a book, praying or meditating after stretching and thinking about what you learned today, what you want to do tomorrow, etc. You’ll discover that you’ll wake up easier too. I haven’t used an alarm clock for over a decade. This was impossible until I faithfully adopted the strategy of easing myself into bed, not flying feet-first after a full-day of digital stimulation.
Kill the television. You are unlikely to achieve all of your goals in life if you watch 38 hours of television per week, like the average American. Instead, get outside. Take up gardening, golf, hiking or sailing. Put your brain to more constructive use during times of leisure and it will be better-prepared to serve you when you really need it in the business and throughout the rest of your life.
Do not wake up with the morning news or your smartphone. Waking to someone else’s agenda is a perfect way to derail your best-laid plans and intentions. I recommend you avoid email, texting, news or social media of any kind until after lunch, when you’ve had at least 4-5 hours of solid work invested in your own agenda for the day, not someone else’s.
It is said that Senator Ben Sassee buys his interns old-fashioned alarm clocks.
He doesn’t want them staying up at all hours of the night, checking in on their smartphones to any of the thousands of news outlets throughout the world that pump them full of distraction and sap their ability to rest and recharge their bodies and brains. “
You’re going to need them both in the morning, after all,” he reminds his team.
Learning to be silent, in order to produce the most creative ideas for your life and your business, is a skill that you can learn. No one is born knowing how to live in “undisturbed time,” but if you pay attention to the happiest and most-successful people on the planet, you’ll observe their uncanny ability to be silent in a world savaged by noise.
It’s Q4 2019 and time to start planning for next year. According to Definitive Healthcare and McKinsey and Company, here are the top healthcare trends for the coming year:
Consolidation – Over 803 mergers and acquisitions took place in the last 12 months, in addition to 858 affiliation and partnership announcements. This trend brings newer technology to smaller clinics and hospitals, as they join larger groups, driving down costs. Consolidation is predicted to accelerate over the next 2-3 years. It also decreases competition and creates mega-hospitals, with regulators watching closely.
Convenience – 65 percent of consumers buying commercial insurance select cost as the top factor when choosing where to seek care. Today, 24 percent of consumers reported using retail clinics like CVS Minute Clinics, compared to only 9 percent only four years ago. To go around this trend, you must get really good at marketing to the 35 percent who don’t list cost as a top factor and/or serve fee-for-service patients.
Telehealth – Over 70 percent of consumers would rather use video than visit their primary care provider in person. Telehealth is expected to reach $94 billion in care by 2026. State board and malpractice carriers will need to catch up. Consumers are now setting the standard of care, whether we like it or not.
Artificial Intelligence – is expected to continue growing with the tremendous amount of data being generated by hospitals each day. AI will help us utilize and understand all these data, driving down costs and improving care. This presents the biggest opportunity for private equity investment and staying power.
Staffing Shortages – will continue as the nursing and primary care workforce continues to age. Currently 55 percent of all registered nurses are 50 years old or older and 52 percent of the active physician workforce is 55 or older. Combined with an aging population, there is a higher demand for nurses and primary care physicians…AND Hearing Health Care providers! Effective hiring will continue to be a critical area of practice in addition to offering the best benefits packages, so that you can attract top talent.
Data Security – will continue to consume more time and attention, forcing more regulators to step in, as last year saw many data breaches that exploited healthcare records; eight of which exposed over 500,000 records and three exposed over a million. You must factor higher IT and cybersecurity costs into your budgets, moving forward.
If you haven’t scheduled your annual planning day, now is the time to get it on the calendar. My team likes to take a day or two out of the office and go somewhere fun and relaxing. Sometimes we go down to the country club and other times we simply rent out a cabin and get away from the office so we can think about a bigger future, outside the constraints of the physical workplace. We speak about trends like these and constantly ask how we can do things better for our patients.
All six of these trends will affect your practice, both now and in the future. The offices that are prepared to deliver more value than the competition and do so inside a convenient delivery model are the practices that will enjoy tremendous success moving forward.
* Every year or two, I take a day with top-level clients to talk about the future of the profession. It’s certainly not too early to plan the next date. If you have an interest and want to join me for a discovery day, where you can see what me and my top clients are doing to leverage these trends (surfing the wave instead of fighting it), then express your interest to one of our certified trainers and coaches at email@example.com and let’s make next year your strongest yet.
The latest online shopping craze has a unique twist. Instead of sitting in front of a web browser or flipping through items on a smartphone, millions of Chinese consumers are obsessed with live-stream shopping.
ShopShops employs real people to go into real stores, like a T.J. Maxx in New York City, and stream their visit to as many as 10,000 people live watching from China. These shopping trips are some what of a cross between live home shopping network and game show, where buyers race to get great deals on items that are unavailable in China or often counterfeit.
Buyers can interact with the hosts, asking them questions or making requests to hold up items or model them at a “selfie” distance to see what they might look like in person. The company streams about 220 live shows each month, with an average of $6,000 in sales per session.
ShopShops has employees in multiple cities throughout the U.S., Dubai and London. Easily generating $1.2 to $1.5 million per month, this is a brilliant example of selling it differently.
Skin cream, perfume, popular items and vintage products all sell quickly and buyers often stay for the entire duration of the live streams, unable to resist the fear of missing out.
What might the live-streaming shopper or her assistants find next?
One jewelry store owner in Manhattan paid attention to this interesting trend when a live-stream shopper came into his store. Now he opens early one Saturday and one Sunday per month, so he can live-stream at 9pm local-time in China. In three hours, the jewelry store does more than 10% of their sales for the entire month.
There’s nothing new under the sun, but combining popular elements from existing media channels or techniques can often produce tremendous results.
Wrap your SUV and take a tent to every live event in your town. If you don’t schedule an extra 50 patients this year from those efforts, I’ll eat my shorts.
Find a local high-quality restaurant or jewelry store that will do an endorsed mailing to their house list, promoting your office and a special offer to their customers if you’ll do the same for them. Often you only need to place a small coupon or offer in your new patient welcome bag.
There’s nothing new about live-streaming, personal shoppers or exclusivity and scarcity, but a very smart company has combined them and is quietly churning $15-20 million per year in online sales. They aren’t even selling their own products. They are simply selling them differently.
In the 1980s, Ross and Lepper published the seminal work on the perseverance of beliefs. This is the tendency for people to continue to believe something is true even when it is revealed to be false or disproved.
In one study, students took an aptitude test and were told they scored poorly. Later, when they learned the exam was miss-scored, most participants were unable to erase the experience. They continued to persevere in their beliefs.
What faulty beliefs do you have about your practice and what faulty beliefs does the marketplace have about you and the profession of hearing health care? These are million-dollar questions that you must answer.
If I had a dollar for each time an audiologist or specialist told me direct mail doesn’t work in their market or that they are doing a good job answering their phones, I’d be a lot richer than I already am.
Somewhere in the course of their career, most doctors have convinced themselves about something and they continue to believe it, even when it is proven to be false.
It’s OK, I don’t coach and consult for my health. I do it to feed my Sound of Life Foundation. I make my money in my clinics, and in real estate. So, I’ve stopped taking irrational disbelief from audiologists and practice owners as a personal insult. I’ve started calling it willful ignorance.
Listen. If you’re honest with yourself, this isn’t a question about how often we commit this sin of perseverance of belief, but rather why is this tendency so prevalent?
Sometimes we make false correlations between events or we stay the course due to sunk costs. For example, our collections and production are up right after hiring a new treatment coordinator, so we assume a potentially false correlation between the new hire and our success in the treatment room.
Even if I show you proof that your TC is screwing up the new patient process, you’re likely to drag your feet on replacing or moving this employee to a different position due to false correlation and sunk cost bias.
Finally, consider the power of your beliefs and past experiences and their ability to limit your problem-solving skills. Most small business owners go to battle with important problems and challenges in the marketplace with little more than their own limited experience and false beliefs. This is dangerous and if you run a business where your past strategy is the only thing you have to deploy against new challenges, you put everyone around you at risk as well.
In my book I list critical core competencies I see missing in most audiology and hearing health care practices, not based on my own past experience and belief but on the secret shopper data from over 1,000 new patients.
You see, there are things you and I might believe about our practices and about our patients and their desires, but it’s hard to argue with the transcripts and video tape from a thousand new patients.
Solving problems for patients and delivering more value than everyone else in your market and in your price-tier isn’t rocket science, but it’s so powerful to get outside your own head and shed the biases, false beliefs and erroneous correlations in our industry that doing so will make you appear as smart as a rocket scientist.