Jerry Gitchel

Jerry Gitchel

Is this Legit?

The questions start with the arrival of an innocent looking envelope to your practice. It's from an obscure law firm, accusing you of violating a federal law, one you've never heard of. Even though you are holding the actual letter in your hand, "Is this legit?" is still a reasonable first question. The ADA recently addressed these so-called "Demand Letters." The letters quote the Americans with Disability Act (AwDA) and mention Title III, public accommodations as it pertains to businesses. Unfortunately, the answer to this first question is, "It's complicated."

Is it Real?

The AwDA was enacted prior to the birth of the Web. Although internationally developed Web Accessibility Standards exist, the actual US Federal law isn't expected to take effect until 2018. Is it legit? No. Which begs question #2. Is it real? Yes, most definitely. The demand letters include an accusation that a practice is denying access to disabled patients or prospects. The letter demands remediation to make a website accessible and payment by the practice as a settlement to avoid a lawsuit. By the time a practice receives a demand letter, it's more than real. It expensive. Even if you successfully avoid a lawsuit, the cost in time and treasure will impact productivity and profits.

Can this be Avoided?

The law firms involved have developed a process to identify litigation targets. The distance between their firm and your practice is one click. They use an automated tool to determine your site's accessibility. Even the demand letters are automated. Your best defense is to develop a plan to avoid becoming a target in the first place. An even better approach is to understand the challenge, then develop a process to mitigate the risk.

What Steps Could I Take?

The power is in knowing. The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0) were developed by W3C.org as an international standard for web accessibility. They have developed an automated tool to test your compliance. Involve your web professional. Once your site follows the standards, invest in staff training on how to respond to inquiries from patients who are covered under the AwDA. Develop written procedures they can use to eliminate the possibility of undue attention from a law firm.

What's In It For Me?

Inclusiveness is a growth strategy. Adopting standards that make your website accessible to prospective patients with disabilities is more that a nice thing to do. In the not too distant future, it will be the law. More importantly, it is just good for business.

 

Resources

Join Us in Jacksonville on August 10th for dinner and a discussion on how to make sense of this important topic for all healthcare practices. 

If you mark time in Internet years, it was only yesterday. June 29th will be the 10 anniversary of Apple's iPhone. Why iPhone? Steve Jobs knew users were unhappy with their mobile phones. It launched as a replacement. Why the "i"? The iPhone succeeded because it could adapt to the Individual. Their impact on personal culture has been so profound that we can't remember a time when they were not around. They have starred in major motion pictures, which you can watch on your mobile device. The are with us the moment we wake and are often the last image we see before we close our eyes to sleep. In many cases, they are the objects of our desire we reach for in the middle of the night.

The often intense personal relationship we have with our mobile devices is documented in a LongReads.com article, "A Sociology of the Smartphone". The most critical change is change itself, "[A]ll of the conventions and arrangements that constitute our sense of the everyday now no longer evolve at any speed we’d generally associate with social mores, but at the far faster rate of digital innovation." Each software upgrade forces us to change and adapt. Not always grudgingly, because we perceive our glowing rectangles and providing tremendous value.

Your Results May Vary

Consumers have embraced mobile devices into every aspect of their lives. Businesses on the other hand, still struggle to capitalize on the mobile transformation of our society. Startups get it. Established firms continue to operate in wait and see mode. I must admit I am totally baffled trying to figure out what they are waiting for. If you have an idea, please share it with me.

Mobile Mindset

There is more to mobile than squeezing your website to fit on a mobile screen. Your customers operate with a mobile mindset. It is time you did the same. Here is the difference.

Not long ago businesses focused on finding the right day and time to deliver email offers. Mobile makes this thinking obsolete. A better tactic is to target prospects at the time they are best able to take advantage of your offer. If you use a changeable sign in front of your business to create a drive-by call to action, consider using your mobile device to snap a photo. Post it to social or send it to your loyalty program members in the afternoon. It gives them the opportunity to start thinking of stopping by on their way home. 

"I'll send it to you when I get back to the office." Successful sales team have everything they need to close deals at their fingertips. Have you armed and trained your sales force to work independently in the trenches? Here is an easy way to answer the question. Have your top sales person sit at their desk with their mobile in their hand. Have them run through a mock in-person sales call. Do they have every piece of information they need, not just from the desktop, but also from their mobile device?

The iPhone launched as a replacement for mobile phones. The success of the platform happened when users started adapting it to their individual needs. A mobile mindset includes leveraging all the inherent features. Photos and videos bring customers and your team together. The ability to record or transcribe audio is a feature often overlooked by businesses.

 

As a business professional, your decision to celebrate iPhone's 10th anniversary as less to do with Apple's accomplishment and more to do with what you accomplish with mobile technology. Happy Anniversary iPhone!

 

 

 

 

Tuesday, 13 June 2017 07:33

The #1 Way to Leverage Technology

During my LinkedIn course at UNF last week I recommended the free version of the platform. I believe in mastering the free versions before investing in the paid version of any software. However, leverage comes not from acquiring more tools, it appears in the moment you invest in developing your talents and those of your team. Every business professional has access to the tools of technology. I work with successful companies that have all the tools. The key to their success is their commitment to learning. If everybody has access to the same tools, your firm's best opportunity to create competitive advantage starts with education. It is the #1 way to leverage technology.

Tear Down the Walls

The pace of learning has failed to keep up with the rate of digital transformation. Since Microsoft acquired LinkedIn a year ago the user interface, features and content have experienced radical change. When was the last time you invested 20 minutes learning what's new, what's changed, what's gone? LinkedIn has changed direction. They are moving away from Groups and toward Messaging. Advanced Search is one of LinkedIn's most valuable features. Do you know how to use it for prospecting? 

Investing in more technology, or even infrequent training sessions won't deliver the ROI you seek. You have all the technology you need. It's time to invest in yourself. 

Leveraging your digital skills takes more that a New Year's resolution. I'll bet your gym was packed last January. By February things had returned to normal. The best approach to modern learning is to break it into bite-sized chunks. Here's the plan I use.

Add Tech Training to Your Schedule

Open your calendar and make a tech training appointment with yourself. Find 20 minutes on tomorrow's schedule. You get bonus points if you make it recurring. Pick a day and time when you have the energy to focus. Don't worry about the topic or learning objectives just yet. Commit to the goal, the process will appear just in time. Already making excuses? Don't have time? Too Busy? Successful business professionals are disciplined, organized, and committed. Don't worry if you are feeling uncomfortable right now, it's not fear, but excitement you're feeling.

Document What You're Learning

They are called progress notes for a reason. Choose now how you will take notes of what you learn in a way you can retrieve them when needed. I use a plain piece of paper to scribble and scratch out ideas, new words, unfamiliar concepts. I created a Learning notebook in Evernote. I add a note whenever I learn something new. Although I learn best when I write longhand, handwritten notes are difficult to catalog and retrieve. Using a digital notetaking platform and keeping it simple increases the future value of your learning investment.

 Pick Your Shots

Business professionals often use the word overwhelmed to describe their relationship with technology. You will never learn it all, so don't even try. Instead, focus on what you need to learn most. Learning keyboard shortcuts is a quick way to increase work productivity. Learning how to automate tasks you perform frequently increases productivity. Guided discovery is an effective way to increase the value of your investment in technology tools.   

Guided discovery is another way to increase the value of your investment in technology tools. Endeavor to learn something new each week. Modern software programs, Apps, and cloud-based platforms are tremendously powerful tools. A small investment will pay big dividends.    

What's Next

Creating a process and a plan for keeping up with digital transformation will increase the value of your technology investment while reducing that feeling of being overwhelmed. 

I'm planning a Summer Learning Series for many of the major tech tools you use every day. Produced locally, they will be available globally. Interested? Call me at 904-566-8325 for an invitation.

Tuesday, 06 June 2017 06:17

The Day Millennials Killed Applebees

It's not a protest movement or an attack on dining out. Millennials are voting with their feet. SFGate.com reports in an article, Millennials are killing chains like Buffalo Wild Wings and Applebee's, that generation Y is to blame for declining revenue in the Fast Casual sit-down market. A similar situation exists right here in downtown Jacksonville with brick and mortar restaurants who have requested "protection" from food trucks. Applebees was singing a different tune two years ago when they announced, Applebee’s Recasts Itself as Millennials Bar

It sounded like a great plan: “We’re changing things up and going back to what we do best.” The journey from bright idea to monumental fail was doomed from the beginning. Two words sealed their fate: "Going Back". Like it or not, the world is moving forward. Dining, lodging, and transportation are not the only industries who are facing digital disruption. Your industry is next. If you don't see it, your business will fail. My research indicates 2020 is your deadline. Speed has become the #1 competitive advantage. Your window of opportunity has narrowed. Here are some ideas you can use today to start moving forward.

Stop Buying More Technology

You (and your competitors) have all the technology needed. Digital transformation is not about technology, it's about mindset. Take an inventory of what you have and let go of the technology that no longer serves you. Build a strategy before filling your toolbox with any more tools.

Engage With Your Newest Customers

Not with fancy online marketing or stalking. Stop shouting at them. Start a conversation, engage in social listening. The change you see in your industry is not in technology. It's in the behavior of your customers.

Create Digital Leverage

There are three specific, very important, ways that you can use technology to grow your business success. The technology can help you reach farther. It can bring customers closer while building stronger relationships. It can increase the speed of your execution, operations, growth, and profits. 

The Best Investment You Can Make

Applebees invested $40M in wood-fired ovens for each of their restaurants. Millennials didn't care. As a business owner, your best investment is in building a new mindset. Applebees had all the tools they needed to find out what Millennials DID want. Change isn't about disruption, it's about transformation.

 

I work with established organizations who want a return on their digital investment. When you are ready, let's talk. 904-566-8325.

 

  

Monday, 29 May 2017 15:54

The End of Content Marketing

At least, it is the end as we know it. The term "content marketing" was coined by Penton Custom Media in 2001. The original concept, according to Content Marketing Institute, dates back to 1732 when Benjamin Franklin first published the yearly Poor Richard’s Almanack. Author Joe Pulizzi goes on to say, "But despite the age of the technique, the power it wields hasn’t diminished at all. In fact, examples of brands using content marketing – and the impact of those efforts – have increased exponentially over the years."

More is Not Better

The increase means that your prospects are drowning in content. The onslaught starts early each day with social media updates, blog posts, whitepapers, online videos, and infographics. It's enough to make them want to turn off their phones, or at the very least, tune out your valuable digital content. Value the central issue, followed by who decides what is valuable? The ability to share via copy/paste gives you and everyone you know the ability to share everything with everybody. Content has now become a worthless commodity.  In the recent article, The Content Trap: When Content Becomes a Commodity (and Three Ways to Break Free) MarketingPros suggest a solution.

How to Break the Content Marketing Trap

It starts with basic economics. Businesses can create production efficiencies to reduce cost. They can differentiate their offering based on service delivery. They can re-engineer the commodity to add value. Efficiencies allow you to distribute more content, but buyers don't want more. My clients are finding success in differentiating by channel, including live video. Adding value is the easiest of the three. Focus your content on aligning tightly with what your buyer wants to hear from you, at the specific time they want to hear it is the key. Guide your readers to the right information that addresses their specific needs, challenges, wants, and interests. 

What's Next

Technology continues to provide tools and insight that allows you to target those you serve best. I see a shift away from mass marketing with a return to direct sales. Connecting the dots between your customers topics of interest and your expertise appears to be the shortest path to engagement. An email targeted to a handful of prospects will produce a greater impact that a generic broadcast to thousands.

Additional Resources

Ernie Smith of AssociationsNow.com published more on the topic in his article WHEN YOU SHOULD BUILD YOUR CONTENT AROUND YOUR USERS’ HABITS.

The primary business development goal for any organization is to start a conversation with suspects and prospects. Which is why I’m so baffled by business professionals who insist on pushing those valuable contacts away through the use of social networking. Under the guise of content sharing, they post tweets and profile updates containing links to anywhere but their own web presence. Pushing people away kills your opportunity to start a conversation. Path of Engagement Back in the day when our Internet platform was nothing more than a website the key to

Path of Engagement 

Back in the day when our Internet platform was nothing more than a website the key to attraction was Search Engine Optimization. SEO has taken a back seat to Social Networking. There are three destinations that matter when it comes to digital attraction. They all lie along the Path of Engagement.

  • Social Networking – PR
  • Content Marketing – Marketing
  • Engagement – Sales

When SEO was king the path was clear. Your mission was to publish content containing words and phrases your prospects might use while searching online for your services. Your audience has moved. Your new mission is to shift your mindset and your efforts to a new strategy. Social Networking. The new path starts with publishing the same words and phrases through social networking. Your profile updates must contain direct links to similar content on your website. Not to interesting articles somewhere else. Your social linking should always point to your site.

Drive visitors to your site. Use it as the destination where you provide value to your followers. Simply sharing content via copy/paste is lazy. It creates zero value. Is that the brand statement you had in mind?

Publish articles and posts that reference current events and trends then add value by sharing your insight, your expertise.

Internet Game Plan – Social Networking

  • Find Your Audience – Choose to invest in the social networking platform where your audience hangs out. Watch and Wait – Learn the ropes of building a profile to “dress to impress”. Seek to understand online social etiquette before attempting to be understood. Bury Your Treasure – Build a content marketing library so you will be prepared when asked to demonstrate your expertise. Draw a Map – Give clear, direct directions when linking from your social updates to your content. Never, ever direct prospects to visit your home page. Always treat them as VIPs by escorting them to a private entrance.
  • Watch and Wait – Learn the ropes of building a profile to “dress to impress”. Seek to understand online social etiquette before attempting to be understood.
  • Bury Your Treasure – Build a content marketing library so you will be prepared when asked to demonstrate your expertise.
  • Draw a Map – Give clear, direct directions when linking from your social updates to your content. Never, ever direct prospects to visit your home page. Always treat them as VIPs by escorting them to a private entrance.

Insight

Your prospects have left the [search engine] building. Meet them where they are, Social Networking. 

Tuesday, 16 May 2017 07:28

Demand Letter, Legal Ransomware

Hospitals proved to be the most vulnerable targets from last weeks ransomware attack—a type of cyber attack where criminal hackers encrypt data on individuals’ or institutions’ computers and demand a ransom to unlock the information.

As if that wasn’t a big enough threat, I’m learning that dental practices are also becoming targets, and in this case, it’s perfectly legal. My healthcare clients have reported receiving demand letters from lawyers threatening legal action to force compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. 

It’s a legal shakedown to extract payment for lack of compliance with the 1991 Act. It’s possible because of lack of awareness on the part of practices and their web developers. Non-compliance comes at a high price. They threaten legal action unless you agree to their demands. The good news is compliance is fairly simple to achieve and to maintain

It’s all about effective communications with people who have vision, hearing, or speech disabilities. It starts with your web presence and extends to communications by telephone and when they present at your practice. I was asked to weigh-in on this issue because of a scary sounding email received by a practice. I’m not sure what I dislike more, the demand letters from lawyers or "the sky is falling" messages from web developers. 

Fact or Fiction

Let’s start with the facts:

  • It’s not a scam. The requirements for effective communication under the act were published in 2010. 
  • The requirements are specific. No guesswork required. Developers have a checklist and a web-based tool they can use to test for compliance.
  • Staff training will be necessary to maintain compliance. However, your investment increases the quality of the patient experience while significantly reducing the chance your practice will become a target.  

What’s Next

Here at Leveraged Unlimited, we have developed a process to address this challenge. Below are some “First Steps” you take to learn if AwDA compliance is a concern for your practice.

  • Ask your web presence developer - contact your web professional to learn if your site is compatible.
  • Self-testing - use the WAVE tool to assess the risk.
  • Review existing procedures - Determine your level of compliance during your daily operations.

Take a Deep Breath

At Leverage Unlimited we believe regulatory compliance in highly regulated industries is fairly easy to maintain. Expectations are clearly spelled out. Uncertainty is eliminated. We also believe the cost of compliance is much less that non-compliance. In fact, it’s just good business.

Concerned about your AwDA compliance? Give Jerry a call with your questions. 904-566-8325

Resources

If the sound of the word "Digital" causes you pain, you're doing it wrong. With all the hype surrounding the latest app, or really cool software, it's no wonder business owners are overwhelmed by technology. If the thought of posting a social update, or writing a blog post makes you dizzy, this post is for you.

Leveraging simple, inexpensive technology you may already have for more sales requires only three simple steps. Creating loyal customers starts with discovering your firm, building a relationship of trust, then engaging in a one-to-one conversation with them. Established companies already have a head start. Their existing customers. If you are one of those lucky souls, the process starts with rediscovery. How long has it been since you connected with them? If it's been more than 30 days, it's time to reconnect.

Discovery

Take a look at your customer database. Do you have email addresses? If so, great! If not, create an event or special offer (something you would normally offer is fine). Create a direct mail postcard with a link to visit your site to request this special offer. Now you have the email addresses and returning customers. Now you can use email announcements and social posts to stay in touch with current customers and reach out to prospects. 

Build a Relationship

The folks at Tide build a strong relationship with their loyal customers with a landing page. Tide.com/Remove-Stains. It creates value for customers without making a pitch for the product. What could you publish on a landing page to create value that would build a better relationship with your prospects and customers? Yes, it's that simple.

Engagement

Once prospects and former customers have discovered you, and you've built or reestablished a relationship with them, the next step is easy. All it takes is a written invitation. The customer journey is nothing but inviting those you serve best to take a single step. Stop long enough to see your post on social. The invitation is a link to the landing page. After you've created value and built a relationship, you create a link at the bottom of the landing page to Learn More. These small, easy steps allow future customers to get comfortable with you. They help your existing customers keep your business in mind.

Quick tips to creating the Perfect Customer Journey

  • Create a link from your social posts that lead to your website. Pick a page that creates value for those you serve best.
  • Review each page on your site. Make sure each page ends with an invitation to visit another page. We call it a Call To Action (CTA).
  • Make it easy to connect with you. When you include the phrase, "Call us" don't forget to add your phone number immediately after. 

Monday, 01 May 2017 17:45

Is Digital in Your DNA?

I used to love Radio Shack. They had a repair facility that would fix broken technology. It died when replacing became cheaper that repairing. My affection switched to Sears Craftsman tools. Now that has also been replaced. So much is changing so fast.

It's the first thought that comes to mind when I'm asked to explain Digital Disruption. I say it's not about technology, but of course right at the beginning is the "D" word. It's no wonder we are all confused. Today I ran across what I hope is the perfect phrase to define the essence of the concept.

Digital DNA

It came to me by way of a Harvard Business Review IdeaCast with author Ray Wang, Making Sense of Digital Disruption. I've been told I should stop using the word disruption. I don't do it to scare people, but because it scares me. Transformation is much nicer.

However, the concept is still fuzzy. Wang goes further by defining the impact as a business model transformation in terms of how we operate and how we engage."

For established companies, the solution requires more than mobile devices or a new website or a social media strategy. To succeed in the future your organization must embrace a culture shift that goes all the way to your core digital DNA.

United Airlines had all the technology they needed, yet they failed to adapt their technology to meet the human need. Tools can help increase your speed, but transforming your business culture increases your revenue. 

Before you spend another dime on technology, buy Wang's book, Disrupting Digital Business

Additional Reading

Saturday, 29 April 2017 07:46

Daily Doesn't Do It

This will be the last edition of the Digital Daily. 

Blogging fits under content marketing. Its purpose is to engage readers by building or maintaining a relationship. It's measured by the open rate. For Digital Daily it is more than triple the industry rate. I hold my publishing to a higher standard. I measure engagement. I ask, does it create value, does it create leverage? Digital Daily does not meet my standards. 

 

I'm often asked two questions about blogging: "How often should I publish a blog post?" and "How long should it be?" The answers have been the same since I started blogging a decade ago. Publish as frequently as people want to hear from you. Write only as much as they can comfortably read at that frequency. The other side of the equation is how frequently can you comfortably write articles of quality? And there's the rub. 

I can write daily, but I have to stretch to grasp ideas that create value. It's like watching CNN. During my 2 hour a day stint in a Hyperbaric Oxygen chamber as I recovered from a health issue, I was startled to learn CNN only had 15 minutes of news. Digital Daily started to feel like that. You deserve better. It's not honest. It's not me.

What's Next?

What is next always starts with what would be better. I believe it starts with more focus, more engagement, more awareness. After all these years, my goal for you remains the same. Whenever you finish reading something I've written or reflect on a take away from a coaching session or experience, or an "Aha" moment as you leave a presentation, I want you to have become the "Master of Your Digital Domain." Here are the three ways I intend to deliver on that goal.

The Art of Digital Leverage

I will continue my weekly newsletter on what's happening in the area of digital transformation published on Tuesdays at 10 AM Eastern. If it's not being delivered directly to your inbox, consider subscribing.

Digital Direct

Everyone says they are overwhelmed by technology. What if you are not? I've been informally sharing targeted, valuable content to individuals for years. It's time to make this legit. You can assist right now by replying with no more than three tech topics you'd like to learn more about. I promise I'll keep my eyes open for you. When I find something I think you need to know, I'll shoot you the link and include my two-cent's worth about why I think this is important to your success. Either hit reply or send me an email and share the three topics that interest you the most.  

Office Hours

The best method to leverage engagement is in person. Second best is live video. I invite you to join me at 3 pm Eastern each Thursday for an open discussion via live video. No appointment necessary. Just show up to ask a question, share what you know, or just to hang out and listen. If you are reading this as an email hit Reply to request a personal invitation or send me a message. I can't think of a better way to engage with you.

 

That's it. I hope this gives you one or more ideas on how I can help bring you success. Thanks for your support and may your day be, Just Another Day In Paradise!

 

 

 

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