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Online Marketing for Medical Coding Firms

14 April 2014

Bevan Erickson, President, Member Solutions, AAPC

I sat in on a marketing presentation entitled, “Aggressively Marketing a Modern Business.”  The presentation was given by Bevan Erickson of the American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC) during the 2014 HealthCon Convention at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel and Convention Center, in Nashville, TN. Bevan is President of Member Solutions at AAPC. His presentation was directed toward business owners in the Medical Coding Industry.

I happened to be at this convention by chance, and was offered the opportunity to attend Bevan’s presentation as a guest.

My first thought upon being offered the opportunity to attend was that I already know this stuff, and wouldn’t learn anything. My second thought – not knowing Bevan’s credentials ahead of time - was that the speaker was probably a web marketer like me, and that the audience would be business owners who can benefit from his services. I figured that he gave the class as a way to drive business. I thought that maybe I could pick up a few things from watching his presentation for my own use. My fourth thought was that maybe I could capture the attention of some of his audience for my own practice.

I was being a total mercenary, I know. That may be because I’ve been watching The Vikings TV show on the History Channel lately and I took over CEO responsibilities at my consulting firm just a couple of weeks ago. Fortunately for me, and the general audience, none of the assumptions I made proved to be true. Bevan’s talk was a very informative session that provided an excellent overview of the online tactics available to any small business, and not just tactics specific to the Medical Coding Industry.

During the first half of his presentation I still thought Bevan was from a competitive firm (I arrived a few minutes late and missed his introduction). I was expecting him to say something like “… And that’s where we come in…” – especially after he brought up different marketing challenges. None of that happened. As I watched him work, it crossed my mind that this this kind of “altruistic marketing” might be an effective technique for me to consider. About half way through the two hour session, I caught on that Bevan was there representing the AAPC, and that the intent of his presentation was to give a high-level overview of the modern online marketing and advertising landscape to his members.

Bevan covered a lot of material, but kept his presentation at an introductory level. When asked questions, he went only as deep as necessary to enlighten and educate. His goal, which I think he achieved, was to cover the full spectrum of web marketing tactics available, and to help his members make web marketing decisions without breaking the bank.

Bevan’s top-down approach was excellent. He covered Web Hosting, Web design tools, Web analytics, Pay-Per-Click advertising, Search Engine Optimization, and Social Media. He did this in two hours.

The audience was attentive and engaged, asking great questions, and even sharing some war stories and successes of their own.  I asked a few questions myself – not to show what I knew, but to help accentuate of few points that I thought would benefit the audience. The question that I liked best was from a woman who asked (paraphrasing here): “How do we do all this stuff, and still find time to do the work our client’s pay us for?” Bevan’s answer was simple: “You can’t. You have to hire someone who you can trust.” I kept my Mercenary urge in check, and did not cry out, “Pick me! Pick me!” to the audience.

I learned some things from Bevan, despite my assumption that I would not learn anything new. Bevan identified some online tools I’d not used before – tools like WordTracker, Trellian, and WordStream. I learned what a “Google Bomb” was, and how the keyword phrase “Miserable Failure” had been manipulated to cast a negative message against a U.S. President.

Bevan’s talk covered the full gamut that any small business owner would need to know about online marketing including:

  • Web Hosting
  • Site Design
  • Mobile Device Support
  • SEO
  • Pay-Per-Click
  • Social Media

For anyone who felt overwhelmed by online marketing before, it was a great introductory primer.

In addition to learning a few new things, Bevan’s presentation also reminded me how important it is to continuously test assumptions. Some of his advice went against practices that I currently follow, and got me rethinking some of them. His comments about responsive design, for example, contradicted advice I currently give clients. However, it reminded me that we can never rest on our laurels, or the solutions that worked in the past. The Internet has changed everything – especially the speed at which ideas go from being “innovative” to being “best practice” to being “outdated.”

For time challenged business owners looking for an overview to online marketing, I would rate Bevan’s presentation an “A.” I’m sure that I will be updating my current web marketing presentation to include a couple of the nuggets that he shared.


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