The DOYO Live Marketing Show Featured - Fortunato Figliano, Executive Director of the Centers for Hearing Care. Fortunato is a DOYO Live featured speaker in 2018, see what he has to say about purpose driven marketing strategies.
It is the DOYO Live Marketing Show and we are celebrating a little bit of "Star Wars" stuff. Hey, everybody. I'm not a Stormtrooper. It's Dennis Schiraldi, founder of DOYO Live Digital Marketing, Interactive Design Conference.
I have a very special guest with me today. I am super excited to have Fortunato Figliano, the Executive Director of the Centers for Hearing Care with multiple locations in Northeast Ohio.
Fortunato: Thanks for having me.
Dennis: It's so good to have you and actually, this is the second time that we've seen you on the DOYO Live Marketing Show.
Fortunato: Right. I'm starting to make it a habit.
Dennis: That's exactly right, because we got some big things coming up too with you and Dr. Mike that we're going to get in to about some of the efforts that you're going to put forth to obviously that we've completely appreciated on the DOYO Live platform to help educate our audience on marketing strategy in healthcare, purpose-driven marketing. We got a lot of stuff to talk about today.
Fortunato: Absolutely, looking forward to it.
Dennis: Let's talk a little bit about your background in your business that where we're sitting here today in Boardman, Ohio.
Fortunato: Our business is Centers for Hearing Care. Part of what we do is also some foundation work. We actually have our hearing missions' foundation. I'll talk a little bit about that, but Centers for Hearing Care, we've got seven offices in northeast Ohio. Six are in the Youngstown area and we've got one on the east side of Cleveland. All of our offices are staffed with doctors of audiology or licensed audiologists with a great support staff with them. And we'd like to think of ourselves as a very purpose-driven business and that would be what our talk at DOYO Live in August will be all about.
Dennis: Right on. So, let's get back in the time machine a little bit though, Baldwin Wallace.
Fortunato: Right, Baldwin Wallace.
Dennis: So, talk about the college hear. You're from Cleveland originally. You made a decision to go to Baldwin Wallace, is it because it was in the backyard or were you looking at some other schools and it just fit for you?
Fortunato: Yeah, at the time I was actually looking to get into finance and accounting. They had a great program there. At that age, you know, you look to see where your friends are going and you wanna follow suit. So, I did. I graduated from there, worked through finance for the first five, six years in my career...
Dennis: Right on.
Fortunato: Before I made a switch in the sales. So, I'm a people person. I love being out and about.
Dennis: And not to mention the "Star Wars," reference, but over to the dark side which a lot of people always talk about in sales, right?
Fortunato: Right, absolutely.
Dennis: It like I mean, it's like the ugly four-letter word in business sales, S-A-L-E-S, right? I'm gonna get that right, but nobody woke up today hoping the salesperson were to give them a call. But you're a special guy, man.
Fortunato: Absolutely. Well, I do well with rejection. I've gotten in other areas of my life, so it's perfect. I did well because of it.
Dennis: But you bring value to people in those conversations and that's I think separates the great salespeople from, you know, the ones just looking to make the buck, and that's why you've been able to build, you know, a career and build a business because of the fact that you invest in people and not the deal.
Fortunato: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, that's very important. Well, I transitioned out of sales working with my wife and business partner, Dr. Sheryl Figliano. It was around 2005, 2006. She was looking to pick up more offices with an individual that had, you know, left the area, and I thought I'd only be doing this for a year because, really, I'd love sales, technical sales. I was traveling and working with some really great companies, but then what I found was I actually love this even more. And so that's how I started my journey into this audiology world, and then over the last 12 years, you know, we've built a lot of areas tied around purpose-driven businesses.
Dennis: And that's a good segue. You know, one of the things that I really got big interested in from that perspective is your Italian day immigration story. So, let's talk a little bit about, you know, what you did to incorporate that into the model here in the most genuinely possible.
Fortunato: Right. Well, it's really all about building communities. You know, you think about it. We have a little community in Centers for Hearing Care of a bunch of Italian speaking patients and it was actually their idea. They were in one of our lobbies. This is back in 2007 and they said, "Hey, why don't you get all of us together? Let's kind of like break bread."
So, our first year, we had about 10 people there, plus, some of our staff members and they have some of the local...I think it was Lauraceous was our first year that actually there our first party. You know, YouTube was kind of new at the time and all I did was I projected a really short movie about the Italian immigration story. They love that and then we sat around the table and everyone took turns, telling their immigration story.
And, you know, what we learned was is that, you know, it's a great way to just build your community that's tied in with your business. So, any year that we're not having this Italian party, we definitely get the phone calls like, "When is it going to be?" So, we've expanded it. We not only do our Italian day, but we also do our 90s club and we have a lot of other kind of subcommunities of individuals that come together every year, and we really look forward to seeing them, and sharing stories, and what have you.
Dennis: It's a really great thing because of the fact of the matter is that it fits so well to the fact that, you know, people have to tell a story. You have to be able to hear it to tell that story. I have my own family members that, you know, struggling to hear the life-altering, I think, experiences and the interactions on the day-to-day and what they potentially are missing out on with, you know, the things that you help people with. You don't say that you're...you use a term that I've heard you use before. You don't talk about hearing loss. You talk about hearing gain, right?
Fortunato: You're exactly right. That's exactly right. Well, you know, the industry itself is really...when you're using terms like hearing loss, it's just very negative then you're focused on kind of what you've lost, right? But with the hearing gain as with today's technologies and a lot of these sound therapies that are out there, there's so much potential and opportunity for hearing gain. So, we really wanna focus on that because that is the special part of working with us that we're proud of.
Dennis: And you're engaging with people in a very native and natural way. It obviously has long-term impact to you, right? I mean, it's not something that people come to you that day and you're really not there to self-hearing gain. You're there to create the community and the experience, and when they're ready, they come to you, right?
Fortunato: Right, absolutely. Well, honestly, it's built on trust. You know, that is the most significant part that we feel we gain with. There's the word "gain" again, but with building communities, people get to know us. They know what we're about. They talk to our other patients, find out the experiences that they had and building that trust level really comes from building these communities. And when we bring in the Italian club, the 90s club, we don't have a program that talks about hearing loss and technology, and all of that, but what happens is those conversations just happened naturally. So, that trust level is really important to build through these communities.
Dennis: Yeah, absolutely and I think that what happens is that... Well, I know this happen is that we wanna extend that now to this online world in all of our marketing world. We wanna create the sense of community. We wanna create this sense of education and be the valued trusted resource. So when people are ready to wanna get advice or come to a conference, or want a consultation or just get together for coffee. By the way, you guys made a great cup of coffee.
Fortunato: Oh, thank you.
Dennis: You know, that's what you're recognized as. I think that the majority of the world still was operating off of let's place the ad and let's get the quick conversion. And I don't think that that model, in my opinion, builds this long-term value and equity in of the person.
Fortunato: Right, absolutely.
Dennis: By the way, Dr. Mike is on. Thanks, Dr. Mike for dropping by.
Fortunato: Hey, Dr. Mike.
Dennis: And Fortunato is a Jedi Master of many sorts of things and so, I'm always enjoying our conversations about just a lot of things beyond just marketing, but, you know, the fact to the matter is this that you and Dr. Mike are going to team up at DOYO Live. Dr. Mike is a two-time veteran.
Dennis: You're a past attendee so then you're coming out for your first time to not speak in public, but speak at the conference and you're going to give a talk that is formulating on purpose-driven marketing efforts, building long-term value. Let's talk a little bit about just highlights of that talk if we could.
Fortunato: Sure. Yeah, so, I met Dr. Mike last year in August and just really headed off when I attended his course. We had a lot to talk about especially tie to the medical community and some of the things that we're doing at Centers for Hearing Care and a lot that he's doing in his own practice as well as what he speaks on. He's very humble, but he speaks to large groups within the medical doctor community as well as at universities. He doesn't toot his horn, but he's a really good speaker as you know and why you've invited him back.
But through our conversations on what we wanted to offer the DOYO Live community was that within our session is the focus, really, in purpose-driven marketing. So, when we talk about purpose-driven, you know, there's really almost two kinds of businesses. There's the ones that are out just for making money and there's nothing wrong with that. That's okay. That's why we all get into business, but then there's the other side where you have companies that are more dedicated towards a single purpose. You know, it could be their product, it could be their service or it could be something that's close to heart that they're driving their business through.
Dennis: And Ralph would attest to this. He can't give away financial advice on online, but purpose-driven companies outperform on the SMP stock market in return like 10 to 1. It's an extraordinary amount of the timeshares of the world and those sites of business or the big ones and you can have that impact both locally and regionally, and you have a foundation as well.
Dennis: And you go on missions.
Fortunato: Yeah. So, talk a little bit about ourselves because no one's really comfortable in talking about themselves.
Dennis: I'm putting on the spot right now.
Fortunato: Yeah. So, since 1999, we've been going in international missions and they've been throughout like Guatemala, Mexico, the Caribbean, a couple other countries and 2012 was our first local mission. And I talked about this onto my last DOYO Live where, you know, here we are traveling around the world, but we've got issues in our own backyard.
Fortunato: So, we started what we believe was the first local mission. A hearing mission right here in Youngstown, Ohio that we've been doing it every year, once a year. This year, we're actually going to be adding another mission. We're calling it, "Our Christmas in July mission," which is coming up July 7th at our Boardman office. So, the foundation has really become an outcome of all to that work because we have a lot of people coming to us that wanna donate, you know, wanna give old hearing aids. They wanna volunteer. They wanna participate and we just felt that the establishment of the foundation just made sense.
Dennis: That makes great sense. Could they get a hold of you, by the way, like if they wanna get involved?
Fortunato: Absolutely, yup. They could just call. We've got 330-779-8090 or go to hearingmissions.org. There's a contact us. You could just contact us there, but, yeah, there's a lot of work that needs to be done either on the day of the missions or even lot of the prep work. So, we started actually doing two Saturdays out of the month where we have volunteers come in and getting ready for our missions. So, it's really tied around our purpose of helping people with hearing loss here and putting really two organizations towards that common cause.
Dennis: That's great. So, we have to hear a balanced success story and that happens to be about the gentleman that came right out jail.
Fortunato: Right, Fred. Yeah, so, we had a gentleman at our local mission. Now it's been three years and Fred is actually going to be coming back.
Fortunato: But he just had a really rough time in his life and I think that a lot of the hearing loss that some people's experience can sometimes even be tied to behavioral things. Things that are happening that you're frustrated with especially at your younger ages, but Fred came to us through our local mission and afterwards is the beauty of the story not just the day of where he was able to hear, but afterwards he was able to gain employment, still employed, still doing well, and we see him very often in their office.
Dennis: That's a great story man then I'm glad that question was asked, and I'm glad that you told that you share that story with our audience.
Fortunato: Yeah, thank you.
Dennis: One of the things that you do I think pretty well is that you are always looking at the next marketing idea and opportunity. And you come to DOYO Live, you've been to a conference on the West Coast and as much as you know, you're always trying to gain more knowledge to get better.
Dennis: And I've had people come to the conference before and they're like, "Well, I know everything there is to know about marketing or Facebook, or Instagram, or digital strategy, or this, or that." I don't get mad, but I actually wanna engage them even more like you can never have enough knowledge.
So, the thing that I think as well that we've talked about is that you integrate both the digital and a traditional strategy pretty well. You've got your online ecosystem with your website and social media activities, but you also have some post-card activity that goes on?
Dennis: I think I see some traditional with TV, with one of our sponsors at WFMJ that vindicated through Valley Digital Services which, by the way, we have a cut of ticket to giveaway for free in a month-long, every Friday Instagram contest that we have going out weekly that's sponsored by Valley Digital Services. Do you do some TV advertising?
Fortunato: We do.
Dennis: Radio as well?
Fortunato: We are. We're on the Ron Verb show
Dennis: So, talk a little bit about that mix that you have and why you have that mix that's kind of cross these different areas.
Fortunato: Yeah, it's pretty simple for me in the sense that we have a brick and mortar business doing traditional marketing. All the things you explained doing the...you know, just having the different buckets with newspaper, radio, television, doing some direct mails content. But then with the advent of the digital strategies, the idea became and why I started attending all these shows is, you know, looking to see what digital marketing based companies are doing. What are they doing successfully and building that platform on top of our traditional business? And with that, boy, you need a lot of help and the key is that you have to surround yourself at the right people. You know, that's why going to these conferences, getting out of your industry too. One thing I learned is we stay in our industry and everyone's saying the same thing.
Dennis: I was going to ask. That's where I was going next. Great minds think alike sometimes.
Fortunato: Yeah. Exactly, yes.
Dennis: So, yes. I love that more than anything is that I always look outside of the industry to see what I could pull in to my landscape.
Fortunato: Right, absolutely and through that, you can come up with just so many ideas that you adapt to your industry.
Dennis: You're going to adapt. You're going to take that and say, "Oh, you know what? I think that that will work with just a little bit of a tweak."
Fortunato: Right, exactly. And the industry that we're in within the audiology world, they tend to be more laggards. So, they don't take on the technology right away and with that, I feel like I can always be a little bit ahead of the game knowing what's perhaps coming down the road.
Dennis: That's really cool. So, we have a ticket to give away to DOYO Live courtesy of Valley Digital Services our yearlong sponsor of the conference. They've come back for the second year in a row and every week on Instagram starting...the post goes out on Monday, you have a week to interact with it whatever the contest rules are. We're going to pick one winner each week and so the winner of this week of our contest is Dina Grant. You liked our post on Instagram and I went checked out your Instagram, and you not only are a big winner because you won a ticket to DOYO Live, but you were sitting on a beach in like the Dominican Republic this week as well.
Fortunato: That's a win-win.
Dennis: That's the big win-win. So, when you get back from vacation, you got a ticket to the conference waiting for you in Youngstown, Ohio. So, thank you so much for liking our post and be on the lookout for the post coming on Monday. We also have another announcement that I'd like to make right now. We will be adding speaker sponsors and venues as we go throughout the month of May. And I'm very proud to announce that coming back for the third year in a row, a guy that speaks at some of the largest marketing conferences in the country is coming back to speak his third time at DOYO Live and that will be Jeff Leo Herrmann. He's a local guy that has a marketing agency called, "Madison Michigan and Market." It's for all the cities that he's lived in. He's from Youngstown. He's lived in New York City. He's lived in Chicago and Jeff does great work. He's speaking at Content Marketing World in Cleveland, which 4,000 people attend that conference and it's very hard to get into. So, we're very lucky to add him to our speaker line up. So, we're going to get Jeff on and that's cool stuff. We've got you and Dr. Mike speaking.
Fortunato: We do, yes.
Dennis: This is for Becky Bertucci. She just jumped on and she's a huge, "Star Wars," fan and I told her that I would rock this out for a moment today.
Fortunato: May the force be with you, Becky.
Dennis: And now my kids are walking around the house going, "Where's my Stormtrooper mask dad?" So we talked a little bit about the purpose-driven marketing activity. We talked about that integrating marketing strategy. There were something that off-camera that you said you wanted to bring up.
Fortunato: Yeah. So, we actually wanna motivated people to come to our talk, Dr. Mike and I wanna manipulate the audience.
Dennis: You wanna engage them before the event and you wanna start, I think we're gonna start. I don't know how soon we're gonna start, so I don't wanna put something out that's not true, but I think every Thursday or most Thursdays, moving forward, you guys are gonna take over the DOYO Live.
Fortunato: You got it.
Dennis: Marketing show on Thursdays. I'm going to be able to kick my feet up and relax for a minute.
Fortunato: Yup, give you a little break.
Dennis: Thank you.
Fortunato: So, we actually recently announced that and you've been to the Tri-County Networking Group. I wanna do a shout-out to these guys.
Dennis: Yeah, they are great.
Fortunato: We did talk about DOYO Live. We've got a lot of interest from them and it gave us the idea that what we'll start doing on a weekly basis is showcasing a business a week until you shut us down and will allow us to do it anymore.
Dennis: If I could talk to you in that couple more days a week, I would.
Fortunato: Okay. Well, we made the offer that the first person to sign up with us is actually gonna get a personal free ticket from me to DOYO Live and the individual that won is, I'm not sure if it's on, but it's Jared Shugborough [SP] from Jaytech.
Fortunato: He's got a free ticket and he'll be the first business that we showcase. You know what I'm finding through this process of purpose-driven businesses is there's so many companies out there already doing it, but they're not marketing it. So, we'll tie some conversation around that when we showcase Jared.
Dennis: And then I think it's a great thing and I think it's a great point because it's a difficult thing. You know, you do it because you wanna do it and build the community for the right reasons, but if you start talking about yourself then there's that self-promotion that comes along with it. And the other thing too is it kind of falls align with DOYO Live is the fact that, you know, long before we added you to the marquee, your logo to the marquee, we added you as a speaker and we like to keep those two things separate and the integrity behind that, but we've also added you as a sponsor of the conference as well. We really appreciate you're backing of the event and the effort that's going in to with Dr. Mike and the willingness to wanna help to evangelize it as well.
Fortunato: Right. Well, I just think it's a great event for this community.
Dennis: Jared's on.
Fortunato: Jared's on.
Dennis: And Jared, don't worry. I know that you picked up a ticket last week, I think. So, we'll make sure that we get things worked out for you in the right way here so that everybody wins and yeah, we'll take good care of that.
Fortunato: Yeah. So, we're looking, I believe, the first week in June to showcase Jaytech. Dr. Mike and I, and Jared, we'll do a Facebook live from the DOYO platform.
Fortunato: We'll try our best not to change your password so you can still get in.
Dennis: So, are you a horse fan at all, Kentucky Derby weekend?
Fortunato: Yeah, everyone watches the Kentucky Derby.
Dennis: Everybody watches the Kentucky Derby. So the Kentucky Oaks goes on today. It's the day of race is leading into Kentucky Derby. So, that's always an exciting thing. We've got May the 4th be with you. I don't know where... I should look this up where this all started this should end against, but I have rapid fire of questions on the DOYO Live Marketing Show, and I'm gonna put you through the 10 questions that I have you. Did we do the rapid-fire questions last time?
Dennis: No because we were at the workshop and we kinda just jumped on. All right, here we go. What, "Star Wars," character do you most associate with?
Dennis: Okay. iPhone or Android?
Dennis: What's on your desk?
Fortunato: Too much stuff.
Fortunato: It seems like when I organize, I can't find stuff, but when I just let it flow, I know where everything is right away.
Dennis: My neighbor's become a Feng Shui consultant and she wants me to be one of her first, I guess, complimentary consultations so we could document it for her and then help her grow her business as well. But when I screenshotted, when I took a picture of my office, that sounds it's just not organized like your desk, it's not just as neat as your desk, that's all, but I know everything is. I hate the Pigeon Hole in the music category, but Frank or Dean?
Fortunato: Oh, that's a tough one. I'd have to say, Frank.
Dennis: Right on. The burden that comes along with being Frank or the levity of being Dean, I think that's usually like the... All right, this...
Fortunato: Or Dean's local. So, yeah, kind of the emotional tie for me.
Dennis: And Beth Hawks who is with TBG Digital, they're doing a deep dive workshop on August 1st at DOYO Live. They've actually spoken three years on a row now as well, but they're moving into this four-hour deep dive on B2B marketing for manufacturers. They've been an inbound marketing shop back with technology for a very long time, and we're really glad to have her back. She says that a messy desk is a sign of intelligence.
Fortunato: I like her already. Thanks for the compliment. Yeah, I'm brilliant.
Dennis: It must be off the charts. And JoAnna, my wife probably would like to see if I need some hearing gain while I'm here, but I think I have a different type of need for hearing gain. Like the selectivex85
Fortunato: Yeah, that one's tough.
Dennis: This one is a goofy question, but would rather have a dog's tail or a gift of flight? Would you rather be able to fly or have a dog's tail?
Fortunato: Gift of flight.
Dennis: Nice. Musical interest besides Frank or Dean?
Fortunato: Well, actually, I'm a big Italian music fan because I grew up speaking bilingual, and so there's a lot of old-time Italian songs that I love and it's amazing what you could find on Spotify.
Dennis: Right on.
Fortunato: So I'll just kind of look up old songs that I don't think I'll find and I do.
Dennis: Facebook's FA conference with all their new recent developments, augmented reality, artificial intelligence and now some new things going on with Spotify that you can share music in your list and build some additional engagement. So, that's something that we're gonna dig into once we've run a little bit more about it. What type of marketing advice would you give to mere mortals of the world?
We're good. I forgot to put on the do-not-disturb.
Fortunato: Well, the analogy I always give is something that we do is I call it my five buckets. I always feel you need three buckets of things you're working on. So it could be television, radio, you know, some of the stuff in digital marketing, but then you always have two buckets for your future with the idea being that is something is drying up. Like back in the day when we did direct marketing, you know, that was one of our buckets that dried up and we replaced it with other more or let's say digital campaigns to replace that. So, I think it's always good to have those three buckets that you know are working for you, but you're always got ignite to the future on, what are the future developments.
Dennis: Interesting. I like that. What's a book that you'd recommend everyone reads?
Fortunato: "The Alchemist."
Dennis: And best business advice beyond marketing, just business in general either that you've given or you've received.
Fortunato: I think the most important business advice is that just don't forget about just the people. Be it your employees. You know, forget about titles. Forget about what job roles are. Don't forget that they're just people. They're individuals, same with your business partners, same with your patients or customers, just don't forget the people's side.
Dennis: All right, that's great and last question. This is the most controversial question that we asked every week. So, you're a Cleveland guy, but you've been in Youngstown for a very long time.
Fortunato: Since 2005.
Dennis: All right. So, better pizza city, Cleveland or Youngstown?
Fortunato: Cleveland. Sorry, but Youngstown has great pizza.
Dennis: Best pizza in Cleveland.
Fortunato: Mama Santa's.
Dennis: Oh, Little Italy?
Fortunato: Little Italy, yeah.
Dennis: I lived in Little Italy and I think I ate there four nights a week and would have eat there more if I could.
Fortunato: Right. They have paneling up still.
Dennis: They have paneling.
Fortunato: Doesn't matter. The pizza is so good. It doesn't matter.
Dennis: So, Fortunato, thank you so much for giving me an opportunity to come in today. I really appreciate it. I'm so excited that you and Dr. Mike are teamed up for this talk at DOYO Live, and I'm always running around that day. So I'm gonna everything I can to make sure that I get to sit in your breakout session and learn about purpose-driven marketing activities and interests and the strategies. I'm so glad that I've got the two of you guys in backing us. So that's great. I appreciate that. I appreciate you guys being willing to put your backing with the Centers for Hearing Care behind DOYO Live as well. That means everything to us...
Fortunato: Very welcome.
Dennis: It can't exist without, you know, your involvement. Our early bird ticket sales ended on Monday. We will have promo codes that float down around there so we're still giving some incentive discounts, but the ticket prices, they go up. We ended our early bird ticket sales in comparison to year one which I must have been out of my mind. I think we sold in year one in 16. I think by the end of April, we sold five tickets which was amazing and we got to 200 people by August.
Fortunato: Great showing.
Dennis: By last year this time, we have sold 32 tickets which was felt like an amazing accomplishment. And this year, we have 140 tickets already spoken for. The D-York can hold up to 600 people. So, yeah, we're really blessed. We're very excited.
Fortunato: That's a great start.
Dennis: And that's pretty amazing for us.
Fortunato: Great facility, great choice by the way. No, that was a dream of yours, right? To be in that.
Dennis: So now I'm being intervened.
Dennis: You know what? You start out on a path and you put everything into place, and you keep working for it and patience wins the day. You know, you put out content. What we believe and what I believe in is to put out content every day that's going to bring value to your audience. My goals at the conference for everybody that attends are that you're gonna have an amazing experience. You're gonna walk away with a meaningful relationship, and that you're gonna be able to influence something in your business that you learned out of the conference and if we accomplish that and we do that right, then our audience will still build for the long-term.
So, setting my sites on that three years ago and the fact that we're there is pretty cool, but we've got a ways to go. Being at the name of the conference is DOYO as in do Youngstown. I've always also envisioned that will include other infrastructure so we could really just get out in our downtown area, and over the next couple of weeks, we'll be announcing some of those additional venues that we're gonna host some workshops and some breakout sessions out as well.
Dennis: So, more the merry that we can bring with us, all the better. Everybody wins. Thank you, Fortunato.
Fortunato: Interview is over.
Dennis: Interview is over. Everybody have a great weekend. Enjoy the derby and May the 4th be with you.
Fortunato: Be with you.
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