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How Negativity Impacts Business Relationships and Ruins Marketing Campaigns

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How Negativity Impacts Business Relationships and Ruins Marketing Campaigns

Life circumstances have a way of setting the tone for who we are and how we perceive the world around us. While most of us may try to leave our personal world outside of the workplace, it’s obvious that to err on the side of ‘fail’ in that would be prudent. But why? Has negativity gone wild? Moreover, is it an accepted norm instead of a character flaw formerly sought to overcome? When negativity impacts business relationships, do we have the mental and emotional chops to strategically maneuver it in our favor?

Perhaps it depends on whether you see a glass half empty, half full, or ample with opportunity…

If Nothing Is Off the Table, Be Careful About How You Set It

Remember the days when you were a mere toddler or seven years old when your mind was full of wonder. The most difficult concept to learn (just ask your parents) was the term and acceptance of the word “No”. (I know a few adults that still have trouble with this.)

Is it because we are naturally hardwired for “Yes” or positive thought? Well if so, something happened between birth and the here and now. The good vibes have seemingly taken a back seat in our mainstream and it’s adversely affecting what we expect of ourselves, others, and corporate cultures.

Fear Breeds Fear and Discontent

Some say happiness is a choice. You wake up each morning and can decide how you perceive the day. Sure, a positive outlook is great, until the day comes at you like a runaway freight train. If you have the mental agility to step out of its way or embrace it head on, one could call you a survivalist. Notwithstanding that, over time, the freight train of pessimism will impact your business dealings, future relationships and potential for referrals.

If you encapsulate the bad sentiments that seem to supercharge human reaction and implement them into product or service marketing strategies, as many companies do, it will garner you more attention. But what kind of attention? And would you know what to do with it?

Where Negativity Breeds, Brand Reputation Follows

Where Negativity Breeds, Brand Reputation FollowsLet’s get back to you, this morning, when you decided to wake up on the right side of the bed. (Even if you didn’t, pretend you did.) If you’re a W-2 employee, you’re making your way to your job site. If you’re a 1099 contractor, you’re either heading to a client meeting, about to enter into a conference call, or nursing a cup of coffee just the way you like it from the comfort of your living room sofa, wearing your favorite sweats.

No matter how you show up at work, ask yourself this question as it relates to negativity: Are you part of the problem or the solution? Then again, if negativity is part of the productivity that oils the corporate machine, your adaptability to this mantra may be a source of job security. If you do it well, how effective are you at turning the negativity off at home? Something to think about.

After a brief personal assessment, if you’re finding that pessimism is more prevalent than not in your life, how many people does it touch? And how many do they touch?

Adulting can be damaging to your wellbeing. If only we can revert the clock and be that cantankerous child who cannot accept the word “No’.

Unfortunately, we crave the word “No” and all its direct and indirect monikers because that’s what feeds our interests and conversations, on- and offline. Did social media content force the hand of human disgruntlements or is it the other way around? The cause and effect of negativity gets lost in the blur of rage, shared.

Company Culture or Counterculture Is Like an Hourglass

Company CultureThe spine-tingling phrase of “being a company fit” continues to create a stir in employees and job candidates. When you’re in the company, it doesn’t take long before you can distinguish between the culture they want to emulate and the reality of what is. But employee or client dissatisfaction can quickly alter company culture into something best kept hidden, though seldom remains under wraps.

Company culture used to be created and illustrated from the top down, from C-level execs, to managers and their reports.  Naysayers to traditional work culture were once thought of as a subculture and limited to a small grouping of employees and contractors.

But now, because of social media, dissatisfaction can generate and ooze from the bottom up. If this goes unchecked, it quickly casts a wide net across social platforms affecting internal relations, client interface and trust, marketing reach, and perceived value overall.  But by shaking things around, you can get right side up again—unless negativity feels good.

If You Dish It Out, Better Be Ready to Take It

The standard fare for any business marketing endeavor will include a mention of one’s product or service features and benefits. For many companies, that approach isn’t good enough. Sometimes, advertising campaigns need to step outside of a brand positioning’s comfort zone and do the unthinkable. For many, this means resorting to tactics that take the pressure of a lackluster product and focus on all that’s wrong with their competitors.

This can be done in fun using humor or through mere innuendo, common across the decades of fast food, beer, and soda wars: Coke vs. Pepsi, and Bud Light vs. Miller Lite and Coors Lite, to name a couple.

Negative ad campaigns can be effective, as long as the business and the brand is well established and is likable.  However, companies do utilize negativity in their marketing strategy when drawing attention, any attention, is the reigning goal. This can be formulated as an internal or external strategy, though keeping things in balance can be challenging.

How to Put Good in the Bad

If you’re daring and need a good kick in the butt-of-marketing, adding a little content sneer, on-air mention, or balls out assault on your competitors. A little guerilla marketing, some bad taste, and who knows you could be the talk of the virtual town.

Mud-slinging? You betcha!

I recall working at a peer-revered terrestrial FM radio station here in the Phoenix metro area some years ago. We were part of a larger broadcasting company that had but four stations here in town: three rock radio formats on FM, and one sports radio channel on AM. Within the rock radio stations, there was music programming cross over between two out of three stations, such as:

Classic Rock > Album Rock > Hard Rock/Alternative

As you can see from the above programming flow, the album rock station shared some of their audience with either of the other stations, though seldom did listeners CUME of add TSL from classic rock to hard rock. This put the pressure on the album rock station to perform. And yes, that’s where I worked as an on-air talent, writer, and producer.

You might think that management thought it wise to market the stations collectively, position each as part of a “powerhouse of rock ‘n roll”. But that was not to be the case and here’s why. It was all about the advertising revenue (isn’t it always). The broadcast company would make more money if they kept the stations segmented, and, competing against one another from the inside out.

Marketing dollars were shifted each quarter, from one station to another. On-air talent blasted their peers at the other stations, live on their shows, without abandon. These negative jabs spilled over into audience sentiments, raising radio wars across the airwaves. Advertisers took advantage of the emotional fire and spent more money at multiple stations.

Here’s what was achieved:

  • Greater employee station loyalty
  • Greater internal work ethic
  • Low employee turnaround
  • Increase in listener retention
  • Stronger brand identity
  • Stronger brand awareness
  • Increase market reach
  • Increase in CUME and TSL (from station to station)

I wouldn’t recommend this approach today as I’m not sure it would turn out well with the added traction that social media provides. Because what you say and how you say it lives on forever in the virtual space.

Are Social Smut Campaigns the Best You Can Do?

Business Social Status

Statistics show that the increased rate of mental illness diagnoses and suicides today are correlated to social media presence and how we, as humans, gage its importance. As long as we, professional marketers, know where our audiences live, why not up our ante on how to approach them and leave the emotional slash and burn behind?

Until we can move past the divisive attitudes of winning vs. nothing-else-matters, negativity will continue to have rightful place in society—but at a cost. Even with all that we know about the impact of scorn and skepticism within media messaging, it remains a single key differentiator in how political elections are won.

Keeping a Lid on Sour Grapes

There’s an age-old saying, “Don’t shoot the messenger.” Maybe we need to revisit that. As content media experts, we need to take ownership of our messaging because it affects our audiences. That’s our job, right? With all this power, perhaps putting some fresh eyes on irresponsible negative spins may help change the emotional and behavioral tide that is hurting our communities. And it starts from within.

Businesses Keep It Real on Social Networks

One of the most proactive practices you can put in to your business and its marketing is to make sure you have dedicated team members who do nothing more than monitor, manage, and respond to your social channels.

It’s a quick, reliable way to get an idea of how your customers and the public perceive your culture, your brand, and your products. In addition, active social engagements in real time allow you the opportunity to persuade opinion towards the positive, nurture the followers you do have, and build new relationships.

Are you ready to get an honest opinion about your own business culture? Does your mission take a misstep when it comes to your internal people? Do you walk your talk?

Send out a survey to your employees and make sure it’s set up for anonymous responses. There’s no reason to worry that the answers won’t be honest. Remember, people want to share their voice and be heard.

And if you’ve already decided that this will result in a bad turnout, perhaps you should get your negativity in check.

Need a Second Opinion? We Can Audit Your Social Channels and Help Identify the Risks

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Melanie Stern

Looking at the world through word-colored glasses, I am continuously in awe of how we evolve as people in business. We strive to communicate in a direct approach and, when we see fit, through subliminal channels. As a content strategist, I look forward to sharing all perspectives to help entertain, enlighten and engage more in others.

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Why Arizona Employers Put Employees and Clients at Risk

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Why Arizona Employers Put Employees and Clients at Risk

Small to midsize business owners, and for their employees who work in account service in some capacity, meeting with clients and customers to do a face-to-face can serve a multitude of purposes. It can get you fired or end the business relationship. It can provide you the opportunity to upsell products and services, or renegotiate a current contract. It can give you the opportunity to ditch the office and head out to a spectator sport or go for a round on the golf course. But for all the benefits behind wanting to meet your client in-person, most of us in Arizona never even consider the reasons not to. Here’s something to think about before you step into a conference room:

Are employers and their clients aware of guns in the workplace?

What Lurks Behind Company Doors Can Kill You

Now I’ve got you thinking… about the last time you set foot in your office, their office, or maybe the last pitch you gave to a business prospect. You see, we all take a lot for granted when we step into the workplace, whether it’s a warehouse, retail center, office complex, high rise, or somewhere in the field. We take our safety for granted because we assume the environment is safe. And you know what they say about the word ass-u-me

Imagine sitting in the reception area of your favorite client’s headquarters. Just because they require a fob for entry, or there’s a sign-in sheet that gives you the right to enter by signature, doesn’t mean the employees and third-parties in tow are: 1. Reasonable human beings and, 2. without a weapon.

It’s the negligence of people and flaws in the law that put us all at risk.

Why Violence in the Workplace

Why Violence in the Workplace Contrary to popular belief, statistics for U.S. places of work show that most homicides are related to domestic violence, robberies or suicides (the latter may have a lot to do with the opioid crisis and subsequent accidental overdoses). From here, the types of work place further segments this statistic. For example, convenience store workers and their customers have a 7x increased risk for on the job death than other types of companies.

Unless you work from home and never have a need to interact with people (other than in the digital space) there are dangers in where we work, some known, others not so much.

There’s a strange subliminal code that we, unwittingly and subconsciously, are supposed to buy into and it is based on the premise of trust. We use trust in our personal relationships (if you don’t you better check yourself) and usually apply it in one of two ways:

  • Trust but verify
  • Trust is earned

Though the above characteristics of applied trust don’t always align in the workplace, maybe they should. In Arizona, and many other states, we seem to favor the right to bear arms over safety. Here’s how.

Arizona Gun Laws at Work

If you’re a gun enthusiast, you may already know some of these stats. For those who don’t, this will be eye-opening.

Gun Ownership in Arizona

  • 325,421 active licenses to carry a concealed weapon (CCW)
  • 37 other states will honor Arizona CCW

Yeah. That’s a lot of firearms power. There are stipulations in place to get an AZ CCW, though not prohibitive for most.

Required for an Arizona CCW gun permit:

  • Cost for permit – $60.00
  • Duration before expiration – 5 years
  • Minimum age of applicant – 21
  • Lawfully in the U.S.
  • Arizona residency OR U.S. citizen
  • Completion of approved U.S. firearms training course
  • No felony convictions or pending charges
  • No mental health diagnosis of record

This is scary for anyone not comfortable with owning a gun. Now that you know the ease of the process in gun ownership in Arizona, and the wait time for an application is just 75 days, how many people that you work with would, could or do carry? And where?

Protections for Arizona Gun Owners and Non Owners

No matter which side of the gun ownership coin you stand on, here’s an overview of where it’s cool to carry, and where it isn’t:

Can Carry

  1. In a vehicle
  2. Road side rest stops
  3. National forests
  4. State forests and parks
  5. School property (WHAT???)
    1. ONLY IF you’re an adult in a vehicle and unload the firearm before entering the school grounds.
    2. To exit the vehicle, the unloaded firearm must stay in the vehicle, out of plain sight and locked inside.
  6. Elsewhere in Arizona as long as it is not on the Off-Limits list.

Any establishment that has a no gun policy must have a readily visible sign stating so. In addition, these specific places are cited as Off Limits by law:

  1. Liquor retailer with no weapons sign posted
  2. Nuclear generating and hydroelectric generating facilities
  3. Election day polling places
  4. School property
  5. The grounds of any school
  6. Correctional facilities
  7. Federal law prohibitions

But what about businesses that do allow gun carry in the workplace?

Liabilities for Business Owners with Gun Carry Policies

Places of business are required to integrate best practices at their premises in health and safety for employers, employees, and third-party entities. This falls under the purview of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). In addition to the need for a Drug Policy in place, businesses should be vigilant about having a Workplace Violence Prevention Program and training employees on how to use it, should an event occur that requires response.

This isn’t just about the people that come under the employ of a company, but their family members, as well as external vendors, clients and customers.

Precautions should go beyond what is legal and recommended. Consider the loopholes. We’ve seen the repercussions of those who have the right to carry, or know someone who does, inflicting harm on others because no one noticed or cited their adverse emotional behaviors to authorities.

In a business, employers and coworkers are the authorities, in a sense. “If you see something, say something,” comes to mind. This is where human frailty comes into play. There’s only so much that each of us can predict. The rest is up to chance. Is there truly any security in place for that?

The Four Pillars of Protection

Now enter your client’s workplace. Even if they have a no gun policy (and a sign posted as clear as day) does that make you feel any safer? Probably not (from the perspective of gun enthusiasts and non-advocates).

Here’s what the law provides to help keep a balance between safety and freedom.

General Duty Clause. OSHA guidelines require employers to provide a safe working environment. If this is in lack and a workplace violence event takes place due to the improper provisions or safeguards related to firearms, the business will be cited.

Workers’ Compensation. Governed by individual state, employees who are injured as a result of a firearm can file a claim for benefits.

Negligence Claims. Business owners are liable if they employ a person with known or exhibited tendencies or behaviors that indicate the possibility of inflicting harm on others in the workplace. This includes clients or customers at the business as well as persons (contractors) at the company. Should someone be injured at a place of business with these circumstances, the employer would liable under state law through any or all; negligent hiring, negligent supervision, or negligent retention.

Vicarious Liability. This is evident when an employee, during their working hours and typical designated job scope, uses a firearm to injure someone else.

Of course all of the above pillars of protection are subject to interpretation and other mitigating circumstances. Yet this still seems to do little to support workplace safety and the risks of allowing firearms in the workplace.

How Long Can We Dodge the Bullet in the Office?

You’re in your car, heading out to meet a client or clock in for the day. How many people, in the cars around you, are AZ CCW licensed?

You’ve arrived at your client’s office or, for that matter, your own place of business. Do you know who has a license to carry? Any idea who keeps a firearm in their car? Which beloved client or coworker keeps one in their desk, a purse or backpack, even with a no gun policy?

Unless they share their personal information with you about how they handle gun ownership (or abhor it) you’ll never know. Until they find an opportunity in the workplace that would warrant its use. And in that moment, what would you do? What could you do?

Does greater safety in the workplace equate to more firearms, or less? Is there a need for armed guards? Designated, lawful gun carrying employees? Metal detectors upon entry and exit? Individual pat downs and searches? Or do we all insist on work-from-home employment?

Is anyone safe in an Arizona workplace anymore? Are you?

 

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Team Eminent SEO

Eminent SEO provides strategic SEO campaigns with measurable results along with expert website design, development, pay per click, content and social media and organic website marketing. 800.871.4130.

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Ethical Addiction Treatment Marketing Alternatives to Paid Ads

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Ethical Addiction Treatment Marketing Industry Paid Ad Obstacles - Eminent SEO

Dear Rehab Owners: Beware of Shady Marketers and Lead Generators

I am part of an ethics in addiction treatment group on Facebook. Some of the members are marketers, like me, but most of the members of the group seem to be treatment providers. What they have to say about the shady practices is pretty disturbing, and it goes well beyond digital marketing.

One member asked about the ethics and legalities around addiction treatment marketing, and after reviewing the comments, it was clear that there is still a lot of gray area.

Some acted like all marketing is bad. Others implied that it was how the marketer was paid.

Can You Legally Market Your Addiction Treatment Center?

Marketing is an umbrella term for so many tactics and channels. You’ve got ground marketing, referral partnerships, online advertising, lead generation, traditional and digital forms. You’ve also got branding, content development, local, paid ads, organic, etc. etc.

The problem is all of these are legitimate forms of marketing, yet all can also be easily distorted and manipulated. So, when the law gets involved, they’re not always sure where to draw the line. There is a lot of gray area and the people writing and enforcing the laws don’t always understand the full scope of what’s going on. This leaves a lot of loopholes for anyone looking to scam the system.

Unfortunately, with technology and the law changing so fast, rehab owners can’t keep up with it all. Think about the implications of even owning and operating your own website. Is it safe and secure? Can you be sure your content is medically accurate, even blog posts from years ago? Do your leads go to a HIPAA compliant tool?

Don’t think this matters? Think again.

If you’re making claims and can’t back them up, you’re going to be in trouble. Not just with generating leads, but with insurance companies and, yes, the law.

Certain aspects to what falls under ‘marketing’ can be looked at as illegal. You can’t lie and manipulate. You can’t patient broker, fee split or take kickbacks. If you violate HIPAA compliance, they’ll be coming for you.

Defining Ethical Addiction Treatment Marketing

So, what defines addiction treatment marketing and how can you ensure you’re doing it ethically?

Most will agree that “marketing” is neither illegal nor unethical. To further clarify, addiction treatment marketing is when a treatment business hires an agency or salaried employees to:

  • Create a website with proper SEO and messaging.
  • Perform outreach and networking tasks on behalf of the facility.
  • Utilize digital marketing channels and assets to promote the brand.
  • Run paid ad campaigns to raise awareness and generate leads.
  • Attend conferences, man a marketing booth and network to promote the facility.
  • Educate other providers, such as EAP groups, unions and other potential referral sources.

All of this is legitimate and ethical, assuming you are working with honest people. Where you get into a gray area is when the individuals are also paid a commission based on admissions to the program. Many legitimate marketing positions, where all business is conducted in the light of day, include such incentives.

Many in my ethics group are confused why commission is allowed, but fee-per-referral is not, or is at least frowned upon. There are still hordes of websites and social media pages that seem to be making money from addiction treatment referrals.

Can You Refer Addiction Treatment Leads Legally?

Whether you are a facility owner or not, there are plenty of reasons why you might have to refer a lead to a treatment center. If you are an MD, psychologist, psychiatrist, counselor, run EAPs or have some other related affiliation, from time to time you may need to refer clients to an effective addiction treatment provider.

Please note that I am not a lawyer and therefore I can’t give legal advice. However, based on popular public opinion, I can say there are a few things you can do to avoid violating HIPAA and professional codes of ethics:

  • Pre-qualify any treatment center you partner with.
  • Only refer patients to facilities qualified to treat the specific needs of this client.
  • Host and transfer your treatment center leads in a HIPAA-compliant system.
  • Never sell your leads to the highest bidder.
  • Don’t accept kickbacks for patients you refer.

The laws around lead referral seem to vary per state, so if you are in the business of referring leads, you should definitely consult a lawyer and make sure you understand what you can and can’t do legally.

Alternatives to paid ads

Generating Addiction Treatment Leads the Ethical Way Isn’t Easy

I can’t say I don’t understand why so many treatment centers resort to buying leads. Generating your own leads has always been hard. But, generating leads for addiction treatment is harder than ever.

At one point, before Google decided to eliminate the ability for addiction treatment centers to bid on treatment-related keywords, the cost per click on their paid ads had skyrocketed to $100 to $150 per click. This meant that Google ads were altogether too expensive for some of the smaller rehabs.

Alternative forms of marketing, such as branding and social media, can also be expensive and take time to get results. Plus, there are no guarantees. Take Facebook ads for example: After Google crushed AdWords, many rehabs moved to Facebook paid ads. So much for Google’s plan to stop shady rehabs from advertising, right?

Wrong.

Per this post from LegitScript on August 8th, 2018, LegitScript Addiction Treatment Certification Expands to Include Facebook:

“Starting today, Facebook will require LegitScript certification for providers of drug and alcohol addiction treatment who want to advertise in the United States. This partnership follows the official rollout of our program, which began at the end of July after an initial pre-launch phase. Now both Google and Facebook will require LegitScript certification for addiction treatment providers looking to advertise.”

So, now you have to have a LegitScript certification for both Google AND Facebook ads.

Viable Marketing Alternatives to Paid Ads for Rehabs

Here’s what to do/try if you’re a rehab business and not LegitScript certified:

#1: More of What’s Already Working

SEO Client Organic Rankings Growth Chart

Want growth like this? An organic approach to multi-channel marketing can rank your website for thousands of keywords and drive countless qualified visitors to your site and branded assets:

  • On-page SEO
  • Organic Link Building
  • Local Marketing
  • Strategic Blogging
  • Content Marketing
  • Asset Development
  • Branding
  • Outreach and Engagement
  • Email Marketing

#2: Test Other Ad Platforms

YouTube Stat 2018

Google and Facebook are not the only tech giants selling ad space. Why are these other channels of marketing and paid ad opportunities not being more heavily tested? Someone give us a budget so we can test this stuff already, such as:

  • YouTube
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • Bing
  • Yahoo

If you do decide to test other ad platforms, just keep in mind that each work differently and may need to also utilize a supporting lead nurturing campaign.

When considering the buyers journey most ads on social platforms will reach buyers at the top of the funnel, or beginning of the journey. These leads can be nurtured into sales with the right strategy, but don’t expect to convert the majority of your visitors from the first touch.

You can learn more about this strategy here: How to Convert Leads into Sales by Understanding the Buyer’s Journey

#3: Get Listed on Relevant Sites

There are numerous high traffic sites that still sell ad space or offer directory listings. Trusted sites, such as PsychologyToday.com, offer brand visibility and referral traffic for a monthly fee.

Our good buddy, Jim Peake, of Addiction-Rep, has a good-sized drug rehab directory list on his site here. Some of the listings are free, but most decent websites want to charge you for valuable real estate on their site.

You do have to be careful about what sites you buy ad space from, however, as there are still so many shady third-party sites that fake their statistics and the quality of their traffic, banking on the ignorance of their buyers.

#4: Everything Else I Already Said Before

I don’t want to be redundant, so if you missed it, I provided some other interesting marketing ideas in my previous article here: Can Rehabs Survive Big Changes to the Addiction Treatment Industry?

In Closing

Unfortunately, there are no cheap solutions or quick fixes here.

Effective marketing requires addiction treatment center owners and advertisers to work together on reaching clients where they are with the right messaging. If Google and Facebook can eliminate your ability to bid on paid ads practically overnight, then your other channels of marketing and lead-generation sources could dry up in the same way.

The key is to diversify, test everything and use a smart marketing strategy that is always focused on what is working NOW … and focused on the tried-and-true solutions that provide long-term gains, like SEO.

See How We Approach Rehab Marketing

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Jenny Stradling

Owner and CEO at Eminent SEO in Mesa, Arizona. I started doing SEO and marketing in 2005. I'm a busy mom of four of my own and two step kids (and a grandbaby!). I owe my sanity to my partner in work and life, Chris Weatherall. I love sharing and engaging in business and marketing conversations, and I'm heavy into social media and blogging on these topics. I focus on quality, ethics, strategy, data and getting results. I work with a variety of brands and businesses with a special focus on addiction treatment marketing. I do this work because I care about making a difference.

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Can Rehabs Survive Big Changes to the Addiction Treatment Industry?

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Big Changes To The Addiction Treatment Industry - Eminent SEO

We work with several addiction treatment centers, speak with new prospects weekly and work with other consultants, and across the board, we are definitely seeing a trend. Despite increasing demand, treatment centers are finding it harder and harder to get new patients leaving many to wonder, can rehabs survive the big changes to the addiction treatment industry?

Even after growing a new client’s website traffic more than 40 percent month over month…

Rehab Client Monthly Traffic Screenshot - ESEO…they are still reporting a rough month for admissions and voicing concerns about how the insurance companies are not paying out like they once did.

All Treatment Centers Are Struggling, Even the Big Guys

It’s not just the “ma and pa” centers who are feeling the pain. Big, well-known treatment centers are not paying their employees, closing facilities and filing for bankruptcy.

Elements Behavioral Health, the rehab center that operates the very well-known Promises Malibu that treated actress Lindsay Lohan and singer Britney Spears, filed for filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last month.

In the spring of 2016, Solid Landings didn’t have the resources to keep fighting the city of Costa Mesa, California. So, in a settlement agreement, Solid Landings agreed to shut down 33 sober living homes. Fifteen closed immediately. Just last month, they filed for federal bankruptcy protection.

The FBI raided Sovereign Health last year over patient allegations of insurance fraud. This year, employees are speaking out and even filing claims against the company, saying they are not receiving their paychecks and that no one is being forthright about why.

Why the Addiction Treatment Industry Is Hurting

If you are in the rehab business, you probably saw this video. If not, this might bring some quick clarity:

Despite its intentional focus on poking fun at the treatment space, this video actually hits home in a lot of ways for people familiar with the industry. And… it’s sad.

John Oliver may have not gotten all of the points right, but he touched on many issues that really reveal why the rehab industry is in the state it’s in now. For example:

  • Shady practices
  • Lack of regulation in the industry
  • Insurance fraud
  • Misguided ownership

But, that’s not all…

Google has made rehab advertising and marketing harder than ever.

  • It decided to make SAMHSA No. 1 organically for literally every single addiction treatment-related keyword. Although, just today, we are noticing other sites like Rehabs.com are now coming up in the No. 1 position for some terms again.Google Search Results Addiction Rehab Centers - ESEO

How to Survive Big Changes to the Addiction Treatment Industry

Stay strong, treatment providers. To keep your addiction rehab center afloat during these rough waters, pay closer attention to these five areas:

Evaluate Costs

Knowing how much to spend on operations, overhead and marketing is key to any successful business. However, in the addiction treatment space, there are specific operational pitfalls you can easily avoid by carefully reviewing your internal processes for lead follow-up, staff retention, ground marketing and other non-clinical-related costs.

Align Sales and Marketing Goals

Too many addiction treatment centers rely on the marketing team to provide results. However, marketing is only part of the sales funnel. And if a business expects marketing to perform, the sales team must work hand-in-hand with the marketing team.

Learn more: How to Build an Aligned Sales and Marketing Strategy

Diversify Marketing Efforts

Having been in digital marketing for more than 13 years now, we have seen how unpredictable the internet can be. Because of its volatility, we have always been a strong advocate of multi-channel marketing. What works today can, quite literally, be gone tomorrow, so you should NEVER rely on one source of marketing.

Invest in Branding

So many forms of advertising are built to force the buyer to continue to pay for ads indefinitely. Some platforms wait until you are dependent on their ability to direct clients to you to then jack up the price and force you to pay to get the same leads you once got for a fraction of the price. However, with branding, you are investing in yourself – and this always pays off in big ways long term.

Track Everything

The beautiful part about digital marketing is everything is trackable. The data can tell you where your audience is, what content they engage with, what questions they have, what their likes and dislikes are and so much more.

With the right tracking metrics in place, the data can also tell you which marketing channels are producing leads. And, when the admit team gets involved and provides admission data, we can even report back on which marketing channel produced the admits – and develop strategies that focus on the campaigns that convert the best.

Eminent SEO - Marketing ROI Report

Is the Face of the Addiction Treatment Industry Changing?

With so much bad press, it’s no wonder individuals who are struggling with addiction are hesitant to go into treatment. After watching that John Oliver video, any family member would be right to question the clinical services, price and ethics of any rehab they are evaluating. Who wants to spend tens of thousands of dollars on treatment that might not even work? Tough sale.

The treatment center space is going to have to undergo a complete overhaul – including YOUR brand. You might offer a world-class treatment program, but if you continue to market it as you always have, you may be left in the dust.

The old methods of addiction recovery are already getting replaced by new concepts. Now is the time to evolve with the times. Here are a few of the innovative business models and ideas we think you’re going to start to see a lot more of:

Medically Assisted Treatment

Although medication-assisted treatment isn’t necessarily new, how treatment centers look at it and consider using it is evolving with the opioid epidemic. MAT is no longer simply the model for methadone and Suboxone clinics who supply a daily dose of the medication indefinitely.

Instead, with prescription drug addiction, there is a whole new set of pain medications that one must taper down from in order to be prescribed a different drug for pain management. Because of this, treatment centers should consider offering an MAT program and marketing it to EAPs.

Read more: Why Your Treatment Center Needs to Offer MAT

The Bridge Device

After working with Jim Peake of Addiction-Rep on messaging for The Bridge Device, we are convinced that medication isn’t the only way to change the way our brains work. The Bridge Device is a gentle neuro-stimulation system (NSS) device that attaches to specific points on the earlobe.

The Bridge is generally worn for four to five days while the patient undergoes detox. The device is reportedly reduces the pain of withdrawal and detox. Patients also say the process is comfortable and goes by quickly.

Telemedicine Rehab Service

One of the obvious problems regarding addiction treatment is providing an affordable option to meet the growing demands of lower-income residents in urban and rural areas. Patients may have a hard time finding transportation to their treatment provider. Additionally, trained health care professionals may be hard to find in certain areas.

Because of this, we predict a rise in telemedicine in the addiction treatment space. Counselors can communicate with patients via video calls and other digital communications. Even if you don’t offer “digital rehab,” you may end up considering remote patient monitoring and alumni follow-ups.

Rehab Community Sites and Pages

Online addiction recovery communities have sometimes earned a bad rep. In fact, The Verge recently put out this huge exposé on Facebook Addiction Support Groups and how the predatory behavior runs rampant there. Although I agree, and have seen the scams with my own two eyes, I still found myself defending the concept to the Addiction Treatment Ethics Group I am in on Facebook.

“The thing is,” I said, “there is a right way and a wrong way to do everything”. I then went on to explain that a group, page or website is not in the wrong as long as what they offer is not misleading.

It’s not unethical to offer community support or even refer to your own treatment center, as long as you don’t trick or lie to the individuals seeking help. And, it’s not illegal unless you SELL the leads. Community sites and pages provide a unique value to the web, and I think we will be seeing even more of them.

Cannabis for Addiction Treatment

Harm reduction is a known strategy for treating addiction, and it begins with acceptance. This philosophy aims to help those that would otherwise be unwilling or unable to simply quit. The intent is to progress into a less and less negative situation.

Some addiction treatment centers are now using medicinal cannabis in detox and as a maintenance protocol for severe addictions. Not all treatment centers will embrace the use of cannabis in harm reduction. But for those that do, there will be a market for those that want to maintain sobriety from a drug by using a less harsh drug, such as cannabis.

In Closing

If you work in the addiction treatment space, it’s time you took a close look at the direction this industry and going and how your brand will fit into the future of treatment. Are you ready to evolve with the changes, or, will your treatment center end up as just another rehab closing its doors?

As one of my favorite business authors, Tom Peters, says, “Evolve or die.”

Thomas Peters Quote Improvement Constant Change - ESEO

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Jenny Stradling

Owner and CEO at Eminent SEO in Mesa, Arizona. I started doing SEO and marketing in 2005. I'm a busy mom of four of my own and two step kids (and a grandbaby!). I owe my sanity to my partner in work and life, Chris Weatherall. I love sharing and engaging in business and marketing conversations, and I'm heavy into social media and blogging on these topics. I focus on quality, ethics, strategy, data and getting results. I work with a variety of brands and businesses with a special focus on addiction treatment marketing. I do this work because I care about making a difference.

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Shootout at the IG Corral: How Black Hat Marketers Cheat at Instagram

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Bad Dotcombres Black Hat Marketers Cheat Instagram - Eminent SEO

If all those totally historically accurate movies about the Old West have taught us anything, it’s that job security was not a major issue for sheriffs and their deputies. A near endless supply of cattle rustlers, masked bandits and stagecoach robbers seemed to flow through every town across the American frontier.

Today, ethical, “white hat” digital marketers face a similar challenge in keeping up with their “black hat” counterparts, especially as black hat practitioners develop new ways to cheat at Instagram and on other popular social media platforms.

In my last post, I provided an overview of white hat vs. black hat SEO strategies in a discussion about ethical SEO practices. I explained how white hat techniques are used to organically boost engagement, and how black hat experts prefer using short-sighted workarounds that can cause considerable harm to a client’s web presence.

The very same “bad dotcombres” now have the barrel of their six-shooters aimed at Instagram. Black hat social media is a reality that must be accounted for if organizations wish to improve engagement on Instagram without getting penalized as a result.

How Bad Dotcombres Cheat at Instagram

Keyword stuffing, hidden text placement and spammy blog content are common examples of black hat strategies used to game search engines, but these techniques are less effective in making an impact on Instagram.

Black hat social media professionals have developed their own approaches to working around Instagram’s user guidelines to boost likes, views and followers.

Some of the most widely adopted black hat Instagram strategies include:

Buying Instagram Followers

In recent years, Instagram has updated its algorithms so that individuals with more followers enjoy wider visibility among Instagram’s user base. Sites that guarantee followers (via spam accounts) in exchange for cash have become extremely common. Black hat digital marketers can use these sites to rapidly ramp up a client’s number of followers.

Using Bots to Fake Engagement

Many black hat social media adherents recommend automated follow-unfollow programs to save their clients the legwork required to boost engagement on Instagram organically. Instagram has begun to crack down on these websites, however, so the future of this strategy appears limited.

Joining Instagram Pods

A “pod” refers to a group of Instagram users who agree to regularly like, share and comment on each other’s posts. Some digital marketers may use pods to guarantee that their clients receive (the appearance of) substantial weekly organic engagement.

Paying for Guest Posts

One popular way for Instagram users to expand their audience is to be featured on a popular blog as a guest poster. Unfortunately, many accounts with numerous followers now actively offer guest posts for a price, effectively charging fellow users for an exposure opportunity. Some black hat digital marketers encourage their clients to take advantage of these services in lieu of tailoring content to an existing audience.

To summarize the four major ways some marketers and individuals cheat Instagram, check out the following infographic and share it with your followers:

Instagram Black Hat Tactics Infographic - Eminent SEO

Instagram Marshals a Response

Google has already responded to several attempts by users to game their algorithms, and Instagram is now taking steps to limit the effectiveness of black hat tactics on the platform. As Instagram’s efforts to control black hat strategies become more aggressive and its algorithms grow more sophisticated, it is only a matter of time before these techniques actually hurt the users who deploy them.

For example, Instagram has recently taken action against the most popular services used to automate accounts and gain followers. Sites like Instagress, Archie.co and Robogram, once widely used to mimic organic user engagement, have been shut down upon request from Instagram. Organizations that took advantage of these sites, especially at the insistence of a black hat digital marketer, are now forced to develop new strategies for consistently attracting followers.

Furthermore, black hat social media professionals that are used to purchasing followers may soon be in for a rude awakening. As recently as 2014, Instagram preformed a network-wide purge of spam accounts, with special attention paid toward accounts used to boost follower numbers.

Celebrities like the singer Akon lost significant chunks of their Instagram followings after the spam purge, suggesting that any brand that relies on fake followers may see its perceived influence evaporate overnight the next time Instagram decides to cut down on spam accounts.

Cut Black Hat Social Media Off at The Pass

Wanted Black Hat Instagram Flyer - Eminent SEOWant to stop bad dotcombres from peddling their wares at your wagon wheel? Understanding black hat social media tactics, as well as how to spot unethical digital marketers, is still the best way to keep your brand’s Instagram presence on the straight and narrow.

Here are a few tips for finding a digital marketing expert that can enhance your social media presence organically. An ethical digital marketer will encourage potential clients to:

Beware Unrealistic Expectations

Social media success takes time. Hard work and intentional research is necessary to identify a brand’s audience, develop a strategy for engaging these users, and convert these interactions into followers and regular engagement. It is unlikely that digital marketers promising thousands of followers in a few days are gaining these followers in line with Instagram’s rules of service.

Understand Instagram’s Evolution

As a platform, Instagram has made changes again and again to its user experience. In the past, social feeds were populated by content that was posted most recently. Today, content that appears in a user’s feed is curated based on Instagram’s impressions of what each user finds most interesting.

An ethical digital marketer will be familiar with these recent changes and can recommend social engagement strategies that reflect the next stage in Instagram’s development.

Recover Existing Opportunities

Just because a company’s Instagram engagement has mostly been driven by automation doesn’t mean that the results of this approach are worthless. There are times when artificial engagement gets a brand closer to his desired audience.

This strategy, however, is not built for the long term. An experienced, ethical digital marketer can help companies make the most of black hat results and convert those short-term gains into long-term successes.

Opt for White Hat Social Media Practices

Still have questions about black hat social media, problematic SEO practices or finding a digital marketing expert you can trust? At Eminent SEO, our mission is to make this type of information as accessible and easy to understand as possible. Revisit or bookmark our blog for the latest news and advice on properly enhancing your brand through social media and search engines.

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Remy Albillar

As a content writer at Eminent SEO, I specialize in producing high-quality copy for a long list of digital mediums, including websites, emails, blogs and social media. I got my career started right out of college producing SEO-driven content for a marketing agency based in Tucson, AZ. I’ve since worked as a copywriter within numerous industries. I’ve written the first half of a personal memoir and earned my master’s in Creative Writing from Emerson College in Boston, MA.

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