By Geoff Cooling
We discuss brand a lot at our company because understanding the brand of our customers is an imperative for what we do. We know that the brand we represent on any online marketing we undertake has to be exactly the same as the brand feels when a prospect enters the practice and actually interacts with the people. Therefore, we take great care to get to know our customers in order that there is no discordance.
The Brand of Hearing Healthcare
The brand of hearing healthcare providers around the world is under pressure. Take a moment to ask yourself: What is the general public’s understanding or feeling about the profession of hearing healthcare today?
In the minds of many in the US, we are often seen as the money grabbing middle men. In Australia the image is similar. In both the UK and Ireland the attitudes are mixed at best, but there are many who think similar thoughts. I believe that this sense of “who we are” is one of the reasons we can attribute to the growing popularity of PSAPs and other related devices.
This negative perception of our industry is the main premise behind online sales of hearing aids. Online retailers are thriving because they’ve removed the “nasty money grabbing middle men” from the equation.
Taking this into consideration, there are a few questions we need to ask ourselves. First, how has this perception come about? How do we change it and how do we begin to set the terms of reference for the hearing healthcare profession as a brand?
Setting the Terms of Reference for a Brand
I recently gave a presentation at a BSHAA event discussing brand–what it is, and how it works. It is my belief that you actually do not set the terms for your brand, rather your customers and prospective customers actually set the terms for your brand. What they believe and say about you is, in fact, your brand and the brand of your business.
While you do not control your brand, however, you can take steps to ensure that people are saying the right things about you and your business.
You can influence the terms of reference of your brand. This can be done by ensuring that every customer facing touch point delivers the experience and belief you want to drive. In this way, you can help control your brand and encourage the terms of reference that you desire.
How do we translate this understanding into a strategy for the hearing healthcare profession?
I believe that our profession makes a real difference in people’s lives every day, which provides positive benefits for the general health and well being of our customers (patients). We do this by allowing them to engage in a full and active life. We understand clearly the consequences when this is not the case.
More and more evidence gathers that we can also help them to reduce the neuro-cognitive effects of hearing loss and its possible related effects on neuro-cognitive health. These are things that we should be proud of as a profession and indeed an industry.
We change the lives of many of our customers every day, by giving them back the ability to engage and communicate. Are we, as an industry, communicating that well? Are we communicating the benefit of Audiology as a profession? Are we communicating the value of what we do? The simple answer to these questions is no, we don’t.
*Stay tuned next week for more on the Brand of Hearing Healthcare; image courtesy cio.com
Geoffrey Cooling is a regular contributor to HHTM and is the co-founder of Audiology Engine, a company offering web services to hearing healthcare practices. He is a qualified hearing aid dispenser in Ireland and worked in private practice. Following private practice he began work for a major hearing instrument manufacturer. Geoffrey has written about online strategies and business development for hearing healthcare on the Just Audiology Stuff blog since 2009. He has a passion for futurism, technology, online marketing and business development.