It’s interesting to watch what is happening right now.
Whether in the world of small business, in the healthcare space, or even specifically in our industry.
What we’re seeing is a slow evolution (which is now becoming a revolution) of mass consolidation.
- It’s happened in manufacturing where all the small manufacturing shops have been bought up and rolled into much larger groups.
- We’ve been seeing it with banks where the local family-owned banks have been regulated so heavily that they’re being acquired by larger national banks.
- It’s happening in independent pharmacy, with insurance companies and certain pharmacies now becoming one to squeeze the life out of local pharmacists.
- And it’s happening with many hospitals/medical groups that are purchasing their supply chain/or acquiring services that they would have previously referred to.
Unsurprisingly, we’re also seeing this in the world of hearing care.
Yet the prominent players that are looking to buy their end-to-end supply chain are not so much hospitals but more prominently manufacturers that are aggressively acquiring clinics, rolling them into their group, and looking to consolidate.
It puts us into a unique position as independent clinics, as our biggest competitors are no longer other independent clinics; it’s these chains.
It’s David vs. Goliath, as you’re now essentially competing with a large company that has millions of dollars of marketing budget, a big team dedicated to online advertising, and the manufacturer backing.
(And it’s only a matter of time before they’ll be knocking on your door with a check in the not-so distant future…if they’ve not already.)
In my opinion, I believe every clinic is going to fall into one of three buckets over the next decade:
- They sell to manufacturer – they recognize that their time is up, are ready for retirement, and are approached with a competitive offer from a manufacture
- They independently fight to the bottom – they try to beat these big chains at their own game of competing on price and run themselves out of business.
- They independently position for premium – they position themselves against manufacturer owned chains, focus on premium levels of care, and create their own demand through marketing (to not be reliant on referrals).
As you’re reading this, I’m going to assume you want to be in the third bucket, make yourself difficult to compete with, and position yourself at the premium end of the market to be distinctly different to manufacturer owned chains.
Therefore, in this article, I’m going to share four things that you can do to be the David to their Goliath and protect your future.
But First, Marketing to the Affluent
Here’s a little lesson that we can take from other industries that have seen similar consolidation: There will always be a market if you target the affluent.
The downside of consolidation in many industries is that the customer is squeezed to lower their standards.
Look at the healthcare space, for example. Enough consolidation means that wait times worsen and quality of care decreases. What does somebody affluent do? They think “Fuck this” and choose to pay privately.
This is super common in the UK, with many services being inclusive of the National Health Care. The challenge is, a dental appointment can be a 12-week wait time. What does the affluent do? Go private.
If you can position yourself to be premium, then you’ll attract the people that won’t be lured toward the price promises of manufacturer owned chains. They’ll instead prioritize service, care, and experience.
Okay, let’s get into the meat of this.
Here are four things that you can do to market against manufacturer owned chains and lean into strengths that are their weaknesses.
#1 – Your Personality/Personal Brand
One big advantage that you have over manufacturer owned chains is that you can flex your personality and personal brand… they cannot. You can showcase the people in your business, you can build brand around their personalities, and you can be the face of your business.
Manufacturer owned chains have always got to remain hidden behind the brand.
It’s the difference between visiting a locally owned Italian pizzeria versus Domino’s Pizza – you can tell stories, showcase the people, and create an attractive brand story.
This means that you need to play the cards that they cannot. This includes:
- Use real-life photography – show the truth of what being a patient with you looks like, why it’s a pleasant experience, and who they will likely meet on their visit – this is an absolute MUST.
- Prove your expertise – position yourself as the local expert by writing articles on your site, record videos answering questions, and have them “sold” on working with you.
- Be prominent on your homepage – most people enter sites through homepages, so don’t be a stranger. Have pictures of yourself, stand out, and let them know that this is a local independent business with a big heart!
#2 – Smash Their Reviews
One thing that most manufacturer owned chains are not great at is collecting local reviews – mainly because all of their most successful advertising/marketing is conducted on a national scale.
You should make it your mission, and a key KPI, to absolutely smash their reviews out of the park.
If they have 30, how can you get 300?
If they have 100, how can you get 1,000?
Strive for 10x and make it clear that you’re not just slightly better, you’re obnoxiously better.
Yes, this is work – but this is a strength that you can lean into that their independent chain will never truly care about and cannot be controlled at a national scale.
#3 – Community Focus
Once again, manufacturer owned chains play their best cards nationally, yet for most patients, they’re looking for a local provider.
You need to show that you care greatly for the community and make it clear that you’re independent and community focused. It’s something that you can lean into that they cannot.
Most people would actively choose to support a local business, and if you can create a strong edge around this, it may be the 50/50 knife-edge decision that could tip them toward choosing you.
Consider spotlighting local businesses or showing the charity work you’ve done within the community. All of these little touches will compound to create a powerful narrative that documents how you’re the local experts.
#4 – Documenting Advanced Audiological Focus
If you’re a doctor of audiology, or you have a strong medical edge to your clinic, then this could be positioned as a super strength.
Most manufacturer owned chains position themselves as great hearing technology, great convenience, and strong pricing – if you can educate and explain why the patient requires much more than great hearing technology, and they need a partnership with somebody that has helped thousands of people to achieve the outcome the patient is looking for, then you create a strong edge.
This could be through your messaging, through the breakdown of your testing process, or through educating/empowering your patients to be spokespeople throughout your community.
The Biggest Piece of Advice for Right Now
If you want to secure longevity in your clinic, then the absolute MUST that I hope that you take from this article is to stop hiding behind the hearing aid.
If people believe that all you sell is hearing aids, then you’re in manufacturer owned chains’ firing line. You need to position yourself as brilliant at delivering hearing care, and great hearing technology is just a component of it.
It feels like creating your own audience through smart marketing, and positioning has never been more important.
If you want our help to do so, then shoot me a WhatsApp on the Icon in the bottom right of the screen.