Back in 2017, I stood on stage at a ReSound conference to share the eight things that I would do – if I were in your shoes – if I had access to Remote Assist technology.
It’s interesting to look back at the video footage.
I spoke about the importance of teleaudiology, why you should be helping your patients to understand the app, why you need to build your patient journey around remote capabilities, and how you can explore ways to attract snowbirds/busy patients.
A snippet of the video is above.
What is interesting is that the advice that I shared then is just as relevant as it is today.
The big difference is that the market has significantly changed.
But it has made me think about the future of this industry, what I believe is going to happen over the next few years, and the steps that you can take to come out on top.
There are four key changes that I’m seeing:
#1 – Fighting for the Importance of Hearing Care
The biggest risk to the hearing care industry right now is people not understanding the importance of hearing CARE.
If people are led to believe that the solution to their hearing challenges is amplification, then you’re fighting a difficult battle.
It’s a tough one to stomach, but it’s true.
Because if the solution is deemed to be technology, then online retailers, big-box retailers, and OTC are going to beat you.
- They will be able to market more aggressively.
- They will beat you on price.
- They will likely beat you on convenience.
Your job is to help your community to understand why hearing CARE is the much more important element of achieving better hearing.
If you’re able to do this, then all the places that “sell hearing aids” will not be able to compete with you.
You will have a difference that they don’t have, which means that the right patients will always choose you.
Ensure that you don’t advertise hearing aids, you don’t price around technology, and you’re not seen to “sell” hearing devices.
You need to live and breathe hearing care.
- Redevelop your value proposition to clearly explain why patients need hearing care and why you’re the best option for them.
- Build your pricing packages around service, not technology.
- Craft a patient journey to highlight every step that a patient will experience by partnering with somebody like yourself.
The kryptonite to the online, OTC, and big-box retailers is your service that they cannot offer. Ensure that you’re educating your community and shining a spotlight on its importance.
#2 – You Need to Become an Educator
Marketing has drastically changed.
- There were days that you could run newspaper ads, television ads, or direct mail campaigns talking about hearing aids and your phone would ring.
- There were days that you could use gimmicks like “21 People Needed to Beta-Test New Technology.”
- There were days where you could use big claims, scarcity, and send patients hundreds of aggressive automated emails.
But in today’s market, these have lost their potency.
Our audiences are much more mature internet users, and with our data showing that the large majority of patients are supported by their children/grandchildren in selecting a provider, the most important part of your marketing is your authenticity.
Your marketing’s job is simply to shine a spotlight on the good work that you’re doing and to position yourself as the “most trusted” local providers.
The most effective way to do this is through creating content that helps and supports people on their hearing journey.
If you can show up, help them navigate challenges, teach them the most common causes of hearing loss, and explain what they should do, then you’re able to help them in advance and educate them on why they need to visit you.
This could be through recording videos on YouTube, it could be through writing online articles, or it could be through having a content-rich social media platform.
But having the ability to educate your local market on the importance of hearing CARE is the most important marketing activity that you can do.
#3 – Niche, Niche, Niche
There’s an old quote in the marketing world that reads:
“The riches are in the niches.”
And in this industry right now, we’re entering new waters with a tremendous amount of opportunities for the brave.
That’s because, historically, the industry drew a circle around their location and has tried to help everybody that falls within those parameters.
But with so many other options now available to meet all preferences and budgets, not everybody in your community is for you.
This isn’t new advice but increasingly important advice.
Because with the way that technology is progressing, and the way that the pandemic has changed preferences, you now have an opportunity to reach patients at a much further distance than ever before.
For example, if you decide that you would like to build a business around working with busy working professionals, then there’s a land grab available.
- You could make your appointments remote.
- It could include transactions from a distance.
- And it could have evening/weekend opening hours to suit the preferences of your patients.
But when any working professional enters the market for a provider, they’ll find you and will perfectly align with you.
You have potential to reach a much larger audience if you’re brave and are willing to pivot.
#4 – Introduction of New Models
The way that the hearing care industry has operated has been somewhat the same for a long time.
You sell a bundled hearing care package, often starting the month at zero and continuing to care for patients that last paid you monies several years ago.
But with the recent pandemic, it has forced more people to be open to new ways of business. I believe that the months and years that follow will birth so many different models and ways to do things.
Already in the past six weeks, we’ve helped clients build out monthly subscription services, an exclusive membership club, and unbundled models.
There has never been a better time to review the way that you do things and explore new ideas.
You have patients that would be open to beta-testing something before it reaches the market. There’s never been a better time to play with some new concepts.
Considering how much has changed in this industry in three years, I believe the following three years are going be even more significant.
- OTC is coming.
- More online models are appearing.
- Businesses are changing models.
Celebrating the importance of hearing care, properly communicating your differences, and deciding on who you want to work with and how is the big opportunity for you.
Be brave to challenge the way that you’ve always done things and remember, you always ever have two businesses.
- The business that you’re running today.
- The business that you’re building for the future.
Keep being brilliant.