Christina Daves & Cindy Ashton: “Stay connected with existing patients to increase retention and visits”

Stay connected with existing patients to increase retention and visits — people have choices and with the internet, we are inundated with choices. By doing something like a monthly newsletter and having social media channels where your patients can follow you and learn tip on wellness and your specialty, you stay front of mind. Breast Surgeon Dr. […]

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Stay connected with existing patients to increase retention and visits — people have choices and with the internet, we are inundated with choices. By doing something like a monthly newsletter and having social media channels where your patients can follow you and learn tip on wellness and your specialty, you stay front of mind. Breast Surgeon Dr. Tihesha Wilson, MD delivers virtual presentations to educate her patients and gain community exposure, driving more patients her way.


As a part of our interview series with prominent medical professionals called “5 Things You Need To Know To Create a Highly Successful Private Practice” I had the pleasure of interviewing Christina Daves and Cindy Ashton.

Christina Daves, DIY-PR Strategist, is the best-selling author of, PR for Anyone™ — 100+ Affordable Ways to Easily Create Buzz for Your Business, and the #1 best-selling book, The DIY Guide to FREE Publicity that shares her journey of landing exposure for a product she invented fashion accessories for medical boots.

Having no resources for advertising or hiring a PR firm, Christina taught herself everything she could about generating her own publicity. She has appeared in over 1,000 local and national media outlets and is a regular contributor on Good Morning Washington.

Christina, together with her clients, has over 1 billion views and generated over 100 million dollars in sales from free publicity.


Cindy Ashton, Presentation Strategist, is the Award-Winning TV host and Producer of Cindy Uncorked, Singer/Actor, Speaker and Author of Liberate Your Voice: How to Trust Your Power In A World That Shuts You Down.

Drawing from her extensive background working with Broadway Professionals, Emmy Winners, and Hollywood Celebrities, she is a master at showing her clients how to increase their sales, connection, and influence through the power of rapport building.

Cindy has received awards from President Obama and Queen Elizabeth II for her lifetime of volunteerism. Her expertise in presentation skills, speaking voice, body language, messaging, content delivery, storytelling and leadership presence has been featured in multiple media, including ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, Inc. Magazine and Forbes.


Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you ended up where you are?

Christina: In 2010 I invented a product, fashion accessories for medical boots. Having no resources for advertising or PR, I figured out how to land in the media regularly. My first media appearance was taking my accessories onto the Steve Harvey Show where I won his top inventor competition. The 20,000 dollars prize helped CastMedic Designs take off.

I realized the power of media and continued to pitch both me and my product. In my first year of business, I appeared in over 50 media outlets. To date I’ve been in over 1,000 media outlets. This is important because I walk this walk every day in my own business. I know what works and I know how to grow a business through media.

As I continued to have success in the media, fellow entrepreneurs kept reaching out to me asking how I was doing this. This led me to launch PR for Anyone® where I help people learn my proven system of how to easily land in the media.

Cindy: At 11 days old, the doctors told my parents that I had a 20% chance of living due to heart failure and structural issues on the left side of my body. My childhood and part of my adulthood was spent in and out of hospitals, enduring multiple surgeries.

When you live with an “invisible” condition, people can’t see the illness. When I advocated for myself, I would be told, “You look fine. Don’t be such a drama queen.” Speaking up and not being heard silenced me millions of times. It fueled me to spend my life learning the art, science, and craft on everything to do with speaking voice, body language, presence, storytelling, and marketing messaging.

For 25 years, I have been gracing stages and screen, expressing my voice as well as training others on how to get their voice heard, be influential and have an impact with their work. When people know how to speak from their power, they are able to connect with others and grow their practice/business.

I’m a huge fan of mentorship throughout one’s career. None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Who has been your biggest mentor? What was the most valuable lesson you learned from them?

Christina: I have been blessed to have many mentors along the way and so many valuable lessons. Business evolves regularly and having mentors help you through the point where you are is very important. I would say as a conglomeration of all the mentorship I’ve received, my most valuable lesson has been, “just ask.” People love to help and if you don’t ask, you’ll never know what could have been.

Cindy: My biggest mentor wasn’t one specific mentor but an internship I did when I was 19 years old. I had the opportunity to work with Broadway producers, directors, composers and performers, 8 to 10 hours a day for two months. It was the first time in my life where I actually felt like I belonged somewhere. My talents and gifts were valued, and I learned from these amazing professionals the importance of always striving for excellence and using your craft to authentically connect with your audience and colleagues. This experience heavily influenced my approach as both as a singer/actor and as presentation trainer — it is all about delivering your best while creating deep and lasting connections that leave an impact.

What made you want to start your own practice? Can you tell us the story of how you started it?

Christina: I’m not a doctor but I work with them regularly to help them be positioned in the media as an expert in their specialty. This also allows them to be found by potential patients and elevates their credibility.

Cindy: I am not a doctor but I love supporting my doctor clients to speak from their power so they can better connect with their patients and grow their practice. Over the years, I have also seen how our work together has helped them have better relationships and feel more confident in how they show up in all parts of the life. It is truly a blessing.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

Christina: I think the most interesting story is landing on the Steve Harvey Show. I saw a media query that said “Do you have a product you want to take to the next level? (national television). I had no idea what show it was, but I submitted. I didn’t hear anything until an email that arrived 5 months later. I had to do a video within the hour and send it in. I had pitched Shark Tank earlier in the year. So I took that video, made a few edits, and submitted. After a day full of telephone interviews with producers, they said they wanted me on the show…. and I had to fly out the next day.

They said, “What’s the name on your driver’s license and your airport of choice?” Just like that, I was off to Chicago. I still didn’t know what the show was about. When I got to the studio, there were 5 of us and they said, “You’re all competing for a 20,000 dollars prize, get your elevator pitch ready.” I was floored! We had about 10 minutes to prepare. I was a nervous wreck but also knew I wouldn’t get a second chance at something like this.

There was actually another medical themed product that I really thought would win. In fact, the studio audience picked that product, but it was up to the judges who were putting up the prize and they picked me. It was an unbelievable moment and put my product on the map.

Not long after that, Diana Ross was in a boot, so I reached out to her manager and long story short, she ended up wearing a CastMedic Design when she sang for President Obama. She was photographed in it too. I sent that photo back to the Steve Harvey Show and they did another segment updating the audience on their Top Inventor winner and how Diana Ross was using the product. It was incredible for my business. Two segments on national television in a two-month period. It changed my business and grew it exponentially.

Cindy: It was when I decided to immigrate to the US from Canada so I could expand my career. The immigration process was over 100,000 dollars so I sold my house and started the process. I didn’t see it as a risk because a song I wrote had been picked up as the lead song for a Hollywood movie and I already had a big speaking contract lined up. But that was 2008 and little did I know that the big economic crash was about to happen. By the time my papers came through, it was early 2009. Both my contracts were cancelled and I arrived in the US with very little money left and no prospects. I was terrified.

Within 6 days of arriving to my new home in sunny California, I attended every networking event I could. Almost immediately, despite how desperate times were, I landed my first press interview and speaking engagement. From there it snowballed. Within that first year I had shared dozens of stages with some of the biggest names on the planet and was all over the press, including being featured in Performance Magazine with Former Presidents Obama and Trump. Just after the year mark, I was awarded President Obama’s Call to Service Award.

When I reflect back on how I created that growth during harsh economic times, it all came down to my ability to connect authentically with others, market myself and speak my message from my power.

Because it is a “helping profession”, some healthcare providers struggle with the idea of “monetization.” How do you address the business aspect of running a medical practice? Can you share a story or example?

Landing in the media allows medical professional to be seen by more people. Potential patients will Google a doctor before they go to them and when media appearances show up first (media outlets have a lot of “Google Juice”), it gives the doctor instant credibility. Additionally, people like to go to the “famous” doctor. This exposure and authority allows medical professionals to monetize by getting more patients in the door.

Cindy: Knowing how to be personable is everything when it comes to delivering a great patient experience. When patients feel seen and heard, they will become raving fans of yours and refer you to their family and friends. For example, when I moved to the NYC area, I went to a new cardiologist. He was very clinical and harsh in tone. I could tell he was brilliant, but I just couldn’t go back to him. Shortly after, I tried out a different cardiologist. He was very warm and listened intently. I have been a loyal patient since and I refer him whenever I can.

The other aspect is knowing how to communicate your brand and message effectively. When you get clear on what is important to your patients, then it is far easier to deliver content on your website and social media that engages them.

Ask yourself: What are your brand values? What does your brand stand for? What is important to your community?

E.g., The values of an aging vs affluent vs racially diverse patient will be different. In all your marketing, it is essential to speak to what is important to your patients.

Managing being a provider and a business owner is a constant balancing act. How do you manage both roles?

Christina: Medical providers are like all entrepreneurs where we have to work in our business and also on our business. Outsourcing is vital to keeping the business going. It’s important that we spend time on what we’re good at and let others fill the gaps. Things like accounting, marketing, and social media can be done by other people. I have a client who is a dentist who hired an assistant for 12 dollars/hour to do her media pitching (after working with me and learning the system). She is now repeatedly in the media. It’s important that the entrepreneur understands the strategy for marketing and PR but outsourcing it is not difficult.

Cindy: Take an hour and brain dump all of your responsibilities. Ask yourself where you are overextending yourself where you don’t need to be. I had a client who was a therapist who felt it was necessary to answer all of her emails. Email overload caused her stress and wasted time that took her away from her family. We created categories of the types of inquiries she received. For each category, we made a decision on whether or not she needed to reply or forward it to a member of her team.

From completing your degree to opening a practice and becoming a business owner, your path was most likely challenging. Can you share a story about one of your greatest struggles? Can you share what you did to overcome it?

Christina: My biggest struggle was mortgaging our house to manufacture my products and then realizing I had created an entirely new space in the marketplace. My critical error was thinking doctors would sell my products. I had to shift my marketing and that’s where using PR came in. I had to figure out how to sell my product, not through doctors, and massive exposure was how I did that.

Cindy: My greatest struggle was learning how to communicate effectively when my chronic pain and illness were acting up. When stressed or overwhelmed, it becomes very challenging to be pleasant and authentically connected with clients. It was also difficult to think clearly and speak from a place of power as opposed from my stress.

When I completed my degree in Kinesiology and Health Sciences, I specialized in Relaxation Therapy. That knowledge along with my singing/acting training were gamechangers in learning how to manage my stress so I could be personable, present, and engaged with my clients. Knowing how stressed and burnt out many doctors are, I love bringing this training to them so can continue to be high performers but without the edge.

Ok, thank you. Here is the main question of our interview. What are the 5 things you need to know to create a thriving practice, and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)

1) Stay connected with existing patients to increase retention and visits — people have choices and with the internet, we are inundated with choices. By doing something like a monthly newsletter and having social media channels where your patients can follow you and learn tip on wellness and your specialty, you stay front of mind. Breast Surgeon Dr. Tihesha Wilson, MD delivers virtual presentations to educate her patients and gain community exposure, driving more patients her way.

2) Land free media to increase visibility — by landing in the media, people are more likely to learn about you. Potential patients, even your existing ones are going to Google you. When they do this and see you in the media in articles or on television quoted as the medical expert, it makes your more visible, more credible, and turns you into the “famous” healthcare provider.

Antrina Curry, a RN who runs a home health care company was on live television in her hometown of Virginia Beach. By the time she returned back from the segment, she had received 5 calls from people who wanted to hire her company.

3) Stand out on social media to attract new patients — every business really needs to be on social media somewhere. Ideally, you want to be where your potential patients are. Are they on Instagram, TikTok, Facebook? Wherever they are, you need to have a presence. Also, by providing valuable information on the platform and using things like hashtags and what people are searching for, you will also be attracting potential new patients. Evolve Med Spa in New Jersey posts 15 second reels and stories on their Instagram showing how their services work and the results they achieve. Their following has grown by several thousand in the last year and they have high engagement on all their posts. Their practice has grown from 1 to 4 locations in the last year with many more locations in development.

4) Deliver effective telehealth appointments — Telehealth visits were just really starting to become popular before COVID hit and then they became almost a requirement. Did you lose patients by not offering these? Do you know how to give a good visit in terms of lighting, camera height, sound and your body language to make your patient feel at ease? These are vital with these types of appointments.

Dr. Terence Young is an OBGyn and he learned to use warm up relaxation exercises and to really listen, through a screen, to step up his telehealth visits. This put him ahead of his competition and made patients want to come back to him.

5) Be personable to deliver an excellent patient experience — Healthcare is already high stress industry. That stress often affects providers ability to be calm, friendly and listen intently to the patient. Imagine if a medical assistant is frazzled when they answer the phone or greets the patient at the office. Or the doctor that is feeling rushed and misses what the patient is saying. If patient feels rushed, unheard or not cared for, they may not return, tell their friends and /or post a negative review online. Learning stress management tactics as well as learning how to set healthy boundaries is critical.

As a business owner you spend most of your time working IN your practice, seeing patients. When and how do you shift to working ON your practice? (Marketing, upgrading systems, growing your practice, etc.) How much time do you spend on the business elements?

Christina

As I mentioned above, as long as the medical professional understands the strategy of marketing and growth, it can be outsourced to someone in the office or a virtual assistant. In today’s noisy world, it’s vital for medical professionals to stand-out and have a way to differentiate. That’s where landing in the media helps. It’s instant credibility, instant visibility, and instant notoriety.

Cindy

It is also important to take an hour or two once a month to look at the results of your team’s efforts to ensure they are being tracked, you are seeing growth and make any adjustments needed.

I understand that the healthcare industry has unique stresses and hazards that other industries don’t have. What specific practices would you recommend to other healthcare leaders to improve their physical or mental wellness? Can you share a story or example?

Christina

Schedule time every day to be active. It is a great way to reduce stress and release endorphins while getting fit. It can be time at the gym, playing a sport or even something as simple as taking the stairs or doing 10-minute power walks.

For me, I chose the time during Covid to get healthy. I actually schedule exercise into my calendar so it becomes part of my work day. It has not only helped me get in shape physically but having that hour a day that is time just for me and working out outside in the fresh air has helped my mental wellness as well.

Cindy

Block out 5 minutes 3X a day to move and stimulate your parasympathetic system.

  1. Start by standing up, feet shoulder width apart. Feel your feet spread out and sink into the ground.
  2. Roll your shoulders both directions, circle your arms and wrists, move your torso in circles and then finish with doing figure-eights with your hips in both directions.
  3. Breathe in through your nose nice and slow, allowing your stomach to expand out. Imagine you are breathing that air in from your feet. Then exhale nice and slow, sending the air back down into your feet and deep in the earth. The key is to make your exhale is longer than your inhale. For example. Breathe in for 3 second and exhale for 8 seconds. Repeat this cycle for a minute or two.

I do this routine as well as twice daily meditation and yoga. Learning how to be present in my body has given me enormous awareness of my stressors. I can feel it immediately now when I am feeling overwhelmed or out of whack which allows me to stop, breathe, move, and re-connect. Simple routines like this make all the difference in everyday functioning.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share a story about how that was relevant in your own life?

Christina: “Overnight Success Takes 15 Years.” My husband gave me a plaque with that on it many years ago. I have worked very hard to achieve the success that I have, and it shouldn’t go unnoticed that successful people work at it. When things are just handed to you, there is much less appreciation. It’s okay to work for what you have and allow it to take the time it needs for you to be at the level you want.

Cindy: “If you do not ask yourself what it is you know, you will go on listening to others & change will not come because you will not hear your own truth.” Saint Bartholomew

With all the fake news and political unrest in the last few years, more than ever we end up taking on the fears, thoughts and feelings of other people and the media. It creates even more confusion, conflict and overwhelm. When we learn to slow down, be present and release all that excess noise, we then have the opportunity to go within and find our truth and not others. And then we trust our own inner selves, we can then speak from our power.

For me, growing up with an ‘invisible’ illness meant that my voice wasn’t heard since “I looked fine.” It made me feel invisible and unworthy to be counted. I questioned who I was and if I mattered. As a result, in my early days, I made many poor choices from the desperation to be seen instead of listening to my own truth… and then paid the price for it. It took years but now I know when something is being protected onto me or if it is my truth.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

Medical Professionals Program: www.AttractRetainandGrow.com

Websites: www.ChristinaDaves.com and www.SpeakFromYourPower.com We can be found on social media below:

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/christinadaves and https://www.linkedin.com/in/cindyashton/

Instagram: www.instagram.com/christinadavesofficial and https://www.instagram.com/cindyashtonofficial/

Twitter: www.Twitter.com/prforanyone and https://twitter.com/CindyAshton

Facebook: www.Facebook.com/prforanyonechristinadaves and https://www.facebook.com/CindyAshtonOfficial/

Thank you for these great insights! We wish you continued success and good health!


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