THE THREE BIGGEST BRAND MISALIGNMENTS IN AUDIOLOGY

By Katie Armatoski, Au.D

 

Did you know that your audiological setting’s online presence is creating an experience for your customers before they even schedule an appointment? Most of us are not even aware of this because it is a relatively new concept and marketing technique.  For the purpose of this blog an online presence refers to digital media, email marketing, or your website.  

 

According to Google 78% of people will search for your business before visiting the physical location.

 

 

According to Lyfe Marketing, social media and watching video content are the two most popular online activities. 

 

This is why the need for strategic and online content is essential. You need to think of your website, email marketing, Instagram, and Facebook content as the handshake before they sit down in the waiting room chair. 

So, if the audience’s online experience is so important, why aren’t we focusing more time on it? 

The goal of this blog is to help audiologists understand the current misalignments in our marketing that are currently holding our practices and profession back.

Marketing Misalignment #1: Businesses are not taking a global holistic view of their overall experience.

A global holistic view encompasses the experience your patients have with you online as well as in office. The misalignment for most audiological settings is that there isn’t enough thought put into the patient’s online experience compared to the in office experience. 

How this causes a misalignment. When is the last time you updated your website? Does it look outdated? Compare it to other healthcare providers in your area. How fast does it load? Studies show that a user will leave your website if it doesn’t load in less than 3 seconds. Does the copy on your website talk about the services you provide or the product you sell? How hard is it for a new user to find the page dedicated to learning more about your providers? Look up the website in question on your cell phone. Is the website mobile friendly?

According to statistica.com in 2018, 52% of internet use was from a mobile device.

Although it may seem small, a website that isn’t mobile friendly is not audience friendly! This tells your audience (a potential new patient) that you may not value technology or accessibility, which is the opposite of what we want to convey as audiologists.

To figure out what this experience should be you first need to know the desired brand experience that you are trying to convey. 

Marketing Misalignment #2: In the face of competitive pressure most companies imitate.

By nature, for some reason, our profession is very competitive. I’m not necessarily talking about competition with big box stores, third parties, or online hearing aids. Rather, a lot of audiologists have admitted to feelings of competition with other audiologists in their own community. Of course, a little competition is necessary to stay in business. However, for the sake of this blog I’m referring to something stronger and more deceiving than healthy competition.

When this feeling of competition creeps in we sometimes feel the need to imitate what others are doing. If it’s working for them it should work for you right? 

Wrong. When we imitate the behaviors or messaging of others we confuse our audience and patients. You need to stay true to who you are and what your brand represents. Speaking of which, do you know what makes you unique and what your brand represents?

As a side note, this is an important concept for our profession to consider as some of us ponder the ideas of trying to take on different revenue streams. Before the decision is made the audiologist should identify if it is in alignment with the type of brand or consumer you want to attract.

As the industry changes stay true to who you are, what makes you unique, and repeat that over and over again. It may be tempting to drum up a lot of business by promoting a similar discount or using the same digital media messaging, however, a confused consumer always says no.

 

Marketing Misalignment #3: Internal “departments” can cause brand misalignment.

I get it, you’re busy. Most audiologists don’t have the time or know-how to make their own website, advertisements, social media images and copy.

However, when we hire these services if there isn’t a vision for these departments to tune into they will use their own idea of what it is you do or the types of patients you see.

For example, your audience views your website which shows a stock photo of a 70 year old white haired man with his grandchild. Then, the same patient sees your social media copy which shows a manufacturer picture of a trendy young adult using a smartphone to adjust their hearing aids. Next, they walk into your office which is in a rural community and it is beautifully decorated with a woodsy “up north” feel that doesn’t feel “old” nor “trendy”. 

How does this happen? It can happen if you are not specific about who you are, what you do, and what your brand is. If the person developing your website doesn’t care enough to dive deep into these topics they will fill your content with their own perception of the types of patients you see, the types of hearing aids you fit, and the types of problems your patients have. As a profession we are well aware of the stigmas and misconceptions centered around our profession. To help eliminate stigmas associated with our profession make sure that the perceptions of others who handle the marketing doesn’t seep into your online customer experience.

Below are two pictures that a marketing firm posted on our practice’s behalf. Although the content inside the article may be accurate the pictures are not. Would you want these photos to represent your audiological setting?

Case Study #1

Starbucks is a good example of a company that takes a holistic approach and has aligned departments. Their mission statement reads: “To inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.”

Once they knew what they wanted their brand to stand for they pulled from this over and over again online AND in person. This example shows you that they stand by their values both in person, in life, and through the content they share on social media.

In Person: We have all been inside a Starbucks. You can immediately feel the nurturing concept of a third place between home and work where people can relax, enjoy a cup of coffee and experience the inviting ambiance. 

Online: Go to Instagram, find Starbucks verified account, and you will see a personal story about Laura. The post reads, “ When Laura realized she couldn’t keep up with her tution payments she thought her dreams of being a dance teacher were over. 

When the Starbucks College Achievement Plan and @asuonline she was able to stay in school with 100% tuition coverage and keep sharing her story with her students.”

As audiologists we need to be doing this in our own practices. Even if you are part of a large hospital — it can be done. If Starbucks, a company that sells coffee, can do it – audiologists can too! 

Case Study #2

The Audiology Method, founded by Julie Link, Au.D is branded extremely well. Both online and in person The Audiology Method is visibly colorful, youthful, and musical. Her website reads, “The Audiology METHOD has a unique focus on helping busy working adults with their hearing, tinnitus, and balance needs.

In Person: Her waiting room decor, informational marketing materials,, speak to her colorful, youthful, and musical theme.

Online: Go to Instagram, and you see music festivals, youthful active patients using custom hearing protection, all while staying true to the colorful theme. There is rarely a stock photo allowing her imagery to tell a visual brand story. The model patient she used for the photos are of her ideal patient, a youthful patient. The photo of her performing otoscopy shows her bracing the otoscope.

During my last interview with Julie Link, Au.D she mentions that she treats those for hearing loss over the age of 70 years! One can’t deny that this is all due to her brand’s story.

No matter where her patient or audience member encounters her, online or in office, The Audiology METHOD has a fully aligned strong consistent brand.

In conclusion, the three biggest branding misalignments I see in our profession are:

1.Businesses that do not take a global holistic view of their overall experience that their patient experiences.

  1. In the face of competitive pressure most companies imitate.
  2. Internal “departments” cause brand misalignments by using their own idea of what it is you do or the types of patients you see.

Although your audience may not be entirely aware of these issues, it creates a sense of imbalance or rather that something is missing. When this happens you are missing a big opportunity for your patients to easily peg you and talk about you to their friends and family.

If you are looking for more download the free PDF workbook that helps you develop your brand story.

Are you an audiologist that works in a hospital or private practice ENT setting? Download the free PDF here to help you facilitate a meaningful conversation and convey the value of becoming a member at Ascending Audiologists.

Source: Google/Ipsos, U.S., Omnichannel Holiday Study, Holiday Shoppers who visited a store in the past 48 hours n=1204, Nov. 2017–Jan. 2018.

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