To put it more succinctly,

What are you selling?

If you own a hearing healthcare practice and you answered, “hearing aids” then you answered incorrectly.  Marketing and advertising are rarely designed to sell an actual product.   It doesn’t matter if it’s a healthcare product, food, clothing, cosmetics, a vehicle or pretty much anything else.  What is being sold to the consumer is something they want or something they need, that only Product X can supply.  In the hearing healthcare industry, what you should be selling is a solution to a problem.

Solving a Problem

The problem is not that as simple as “hearing loss”.  Change your perspective and realize what your prospective customer needs or wants is a solution to “their”problem. Everyone who comes to you and needs your services has a problem hearing.  But everyone who finally decides to make an appointment is doing it for their own unique reason. The key to success is in uncovering what “their”problem. When it comes to hearing aids, (anyone who’s ever sold one knows it’s not an easy product to sell) no one wants to buy a hearing aid, instead what he or she wants to buy is:

  • A way to understand what their grandchildren are saying
  • An end to the embarrassment when they’re playing cards and miss a bid
  • A way to enjoy dining out again

You get the idea.

Who Is Your Demographic?

It would be nice if every single hearing impaired person within driving distance of your office was a potential patient today.  However, they aren’t.  That doesn’t mean that they don’t have the potential to become a patient in the future just not today.  Your marketing and advertising plan should take into account patients across a broad expanse of demographics including where they are in the sales process.  Potential consumers are inundated with offers to buy.  The better you understand your demographic, the more likely they are to choose you. Make sure your advertising and marketing campaigns appeal to them.

Start by deciding who you want as a patient.  Whether purposefully or not, you do define some of the demographics of your potential patient base when you choose an office location.  The following criteria will be influenced based solely on the office location:

  • Age
  • Income Level
  • Growth Potential
  • Education Level
  • Daytime Population
  • Consumer Spending Habits
  • Proximity to Competition
  • Transportation

How should the demographics impact your marketing efforts?

Let’s use one category from the list above, age.  Office “A’ is located in a fairly new retirement area.  The age breakdown within a 10-mile radius from the office shows significantly more people in the 56 – 65 age bracket than in the 66 – 75 or 76 – 85 age brackets.  Office “B” is located in a retirement community that was established 20 years ago.  The age breakdown within a 10-mile radius of Office “B” indicates significantly more seniors in the age 76 -85 age bracket than in the younger age brackets.  An office located within an area servicing a younger demographic will need to advertise to their market differently than an office servicing an older demographic.

Choose a Delivery Platform

Once you define your demographic select the delivery platform based on that criteria.  Whether the medium is online or offline, if the platform does not reach your demographic, you’re wasting your money.  Delivery platforms are numerous and cover a vast array of the population. Here are a few examples:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Newspapers
  • Direct Mail

Each will capture a share of the market.  Digital platforms have increased in popularity for 2 reasons;  they are located where people are searching for information and the demographic data driving the ad placement allows for niche marketing that is simply not available offline.

The Visuals of the Ad

At a glance who will identify with the ad?  Who will see themselves represented by the individuals in the ad?

  • Who is the audience, men, women or both?
  • Are they married, single, divorced, widowed?
  • What age range do they represent?
  • Where do they live?
  • Can they afford the product or service?
  • Does your ad appeal to their wants, needs, values, and lifestyles?
  • Does your ad appear to solve their problem?

Call to Action

A “call-to-action” is a technique used by marketing companies and advertisers to capture a reader, viewer or visitors attention and guide them to the next step. For example, “Call Today”, “Call Now”, “Click Here for More Information”, Visit Us Online” and so on.

There are many “call to action” techniques, but a good call to action is only as good as the offer. If the product, service or promotion doesn’t fit a need or want, consumers will not see value in your call to action and more often than not, they’ll simply go to another source.

Choosing a call to action should not occur randomly.  Instead, ask yourself and those around you about it. If you find yourself saying “So What”, “Who Cares” or “Big Deal, your offer isn’t compelling enough and your ad will fail.  Make sure you track the response you get from different calls to action and the different mediums you are using.

The Offer

You have competition either locally or via the Internet.  Find out what they’re doing.  At that point, you have two choices.

  • Beat it
  • Compete on another front

A Unique Selling Proposition

A unique selling proposition, which defines your company’s unique position in the marketplace, is an often overlooked but very important element of creating a business that customers love.  Remember, “everyone” is not your customer.  Your unique selling proposition may even alienate some prospective customers.

Your potential customers will end up somewhere.  If they’re going shopping for a car some will be shopping at the Toyota dealership, some the Ford Dealership and some the Mercedes dealership.  Each offers a different experience and it’s not just about the price point.

In the book Reality in Advertising, advertising executive Rosser Reeves outlines three rules that unique selling propositions should follow if they wish to be more than just creative branding:

  • Each advertisement must make a proposition to the consumer—not just words, product puffery, or show-window advertising. Each advertisement must say to each reader: “Buy this product, for this specific benefit.”
  • The proposition must be one the competition cannot or does not offer. It must be unique—either in the brand or in a claim the rest of that particular advertising area does not make.
  • The proposition must be strong enough to move the masses, i.e., attract new customers.

Make sure you are standing out for the right reasons, and that your brand’s positioning in your marketplace is intended to move what you sell, not just to stand out.