creating a new social norm for hearing care
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Hearing is one of the most important connections a human has to the world around them, and particularly to other people. Yet society finds hearing healthcare largely irrelevant because the default assumption people have—that their own hearing is performing as expected—is based on the limitations of human perception.

So how do we raise awareness of the need for hearing checks when people believe they "hear enough"? And how do we get them to think about the importance of a sense which is often taken for granted?

This article, first written for and published by the Academy of Doctors of Audiology in the US, provides a practical and realistic framework for accomplishing this.

The power of self-fulfilling prophecies in hearing healthcareIn this article we examine the power of self-fulfilling prophecies in hearing care. Self-fulfilling prophecies establish vicious circles where the original belief is reinforced by the actions we take as a result of that belief. We'll see how this drives our marketing, which in turn drives the response we get, which then acts to maintain the status quo.

As a result of these vicious circles we often wrongly conclude that things can never change, such as with societal attitudes towards hearing technology. Yet self-fulling prophecies have been responsible for some of the most momentous social changes in recent history, such as achieving racial and sexual equality, and in health behaviour.

Discover how we can harness this powerful force for social change within hearing care.

Hand that's already made it helping another hand up

In We Reap What We Show: Part 1 we saw how the hearing healthcare profession has been basing its marketing assumptions on a series of self-perpetuating myths.

In this article we are going to look at some more "fit-for-purpose" guidelines on the type of imagery we should be using in hearing healthcare marketing and campaigns, together with an introduction to the evidence-based rationale behind them.

We reap what we show: be careful of the images you use in your campaigns and marketingHave you ever wondered what type of images we should be showing in our marketing and hearing healthcare messages?

Whilst it very much depends on the particular context and response we are aiming to evoke, there are some fundamental principles we need to consider here, principles grounded in the way the human mind works.

When people are formulating their perceptions and attitudes towards hearing, they do so by drawing on information that springs most readily to mind. Think how easy it is to recall images, and we quickly see why it's important we get our imagery right.

This series of two articles will explain how.

Best practice hearing care: does it bloat our service or help us blaze a trail?In an age where “differentiation through best practice” competes with “value for money” propositions, what path should we follow in our own practices? Should we be aiming to blaze a trail by “doing more” in an attempt to set ourselves apart from other providers? Or should we be looking to streamline our models to remain competitive on price?

As hearing care develops in the years to come each of us will encounter new research and new ideas on what should or shouldn’t be included in “best practice”.

But there is a temptation with “best practice” to include anything and everything, confusing “doing more” with real world benefits significant enough to justify the cost implications to the person paying for the service – whether a patient or a third party.

Just like the concept of “excellent service” or “continuing professional development”, when is enough enough?

So these guidelines have been formulated to keep the focus on measurable benefit and relevancy to the end user. It will help you decide whether something is truly “blazing a trail or bloating to fail”.

Woman points at clock in exasperation

If you are a hearing care professional or work within the hearing technology industry you will no doubt have been taught that "People wait X number of years before they get a hearing aid."

Indeed it has become one of the industry’s most influential mantras, a foundational belief on which we build much of our activities, research, public awareness campaigns and training courses.

In case you are unfamiliar with this doctrine, it is based on studies that ask people how long they were aware they had a problem with their hearing before they began wearing hearing aids. The number of years varies from around 3 years to over 10 years, and it’s sometimes used as a measure of whether attitudes towards the wearing of hearing aids are changing. See for example Marketrak.

But the idea that people "wait" is a myth, and a dangerous one at that because the consequences of such a mistaken belief are actually contributing to the very problem we are “measuring”.

Here’s why.

The 4 Questions is now available to download for registered participants of Audira.


The 4 Questions: a framework for changing the social norm for hearingWhether you are a hearing aid manufacturer, hearing care professional, or an organisation or individual with an interest in hearing healthcare you will know that the current social norm results in the majority of people today generally avoiding hearing care.This publication will explain the steps we must take in order to systematically change this norm to one where people’s default inclination is to approach hearing care.

It centres around four questions that society must be able to correctly answer about hearing before they consider it relevant enough to take action. It’s the responsibility of all of us involved with hearing care to use the principles set out within these pages to ensure we are each providing society with the information it needs to answer those four questions correctly.

Part Three:
The Response of Hearing Aid Manufacturers

Scales showing Yours on one side and Theirs on the otherSo far in this series we have mainly looked at the impact of commoditisation and the accessibility of information on hearing care practitioners. But hearing aid manufacturers are just as vulnerable, as we shall see, partly from the changes in consumer behaviour and partly from the way they maintain the relationships with their key channels. Understanding these relationships and their impact on the Consumer are the key to minimising the risks, maintaining margins and reducing the likelihood of outsiders encroaching on their market.

Part Two:
The Response of Traditional Hearing Care

One umbrella stands out from a crowd of other umbrellasIn Part One we saw how a combination of increasing commoditisation and the accessibility of information has forever changed the behaviour and expectations of consumers. We also saw how vulnerable traditional hearing care is to these changes in which expertise is slowly but surely sidelined by consumer knowledge, and the price needs justifying as never before.

In this part we'll be reviewing the three main ways that traditional hearing care has responded so far, before looking at what constitutes true differentiation and how hearing care practices should seek to differentiate themselves.

Part One:
Hearing Care in the Age of Commoditisation & Information

Conveyor belt with lots of cardboard boxes on it marked hearing aidsTraditional hearing care is facing unprecedented threat from increased commoditisation and accessibility of information.

These two trends are not unique to hearing care. Many industries and professions today face the same crisis, and some have not survived because they have been unable to adapt to the way the world is changing or because consumer behaviour has moved on and left them behind.

This series of three articles has been written to explain how these drivers are affecting traditional hearing care and their implications for the future of hearing aid provision. We will look at the different paths the industry and profession might take as a response to these changes in consumer behaviour and look ahead to see where each of those paths lead.

The mistake of many successful businesses since lost to the onslaught of progress has been to adapt “too little too late”, imagining that the impact of the changes are a problem to be dealt with tomorrow as their effects begin to bite, rather than building the foundations necessary for sustainability now.

The underlying purpose of these articles is to make it easier for the hearing care industry to lay those foundations now.

Be you when the moment counts - example of destination marketing for hearing technologyThis is PART 2 of a series of two articles which looks at how changing the way that hearing technology is marketed can increase hearing aid adoption, change the public's attitudes to hearing technology and better differentiate themselves in an increasingly homogenised market place.

In Part 1 we began by looking at the limitations of the current approach to marketing hearing technology before examining the principles and practice of a more effective approach that focuses on shaping consumer perceptions.

In Part 2 we put these principles into practice with a worked-through example of a consumer-focused advert by an imaginary manufacturer as a way of demonstrating one way in which the new approach might be implemented.

This builds on many of the principles and philosophy of Destination Marketing outlined in "How to get people to want and like hearing aids".

Hand opening a box saying top secretThis is PART 1 of a series of two articles looking at how changing the way that hearing technology is marketed can increase hearing aid adoption, change the public's attitudes to hearing technology and better differentiate themselves in an increasingly homogenised market place.

In Part 1 we begin by looking at the limitations of the current approach to marketing before examining the principles and practice of a more effective approach that focuses on shaping consumer perceptions.

In Part 2 we will put the principles into practice with a worked-through example of a consumer-focused advert by an imaginary manufacturer as a way of demonstrating one way in which the new approach might be implemented.

It's a long article. But that's good, because there's less likelihood of your competitors reading it all the way through, which will give you a market advantage.

Two people pointing at each otherHow would you define the word 'deaf'?

The question is immensely important because how we answer it has a direct effect on our messages, which in turn affect Society's attitudes towards hearing care. The problem is that we are currently using the term ambiguously, which leads to mixed messages and confusion – both of which are counterproductive.

Let me explain.

Plane (journey) seen over paradise (destination)One of the most widely-held myths in hearing care is also one of the most damaging. It's the belief that, “Nobody wants hearing aids, do they?”

This, perhaps more than any other myth, is responsible for holding back the entire from becoming as acceptable to the public as eyecare or dentistry, and it’s about time we addressed this head on – because if we don’t, we’ll be having this very same discussion ten, twenty, thirty years from now.

In this article we'll begin by looking at where this myth has come and why it's essential to eliminate it from our thinking if we're serious about wanting perceptions to change. We're then going to learn about powerful, yet simple, tools that each of us can use to get people to want and like hearing aids.

Eaten apple sees itself as a whole apple in the mirrorHow people see themselves plays a major role in whether or not an individual considers themselves to be “ready for hearing aids”, and yet we very seldom take this into account in the way we present and provide hearing care.

We are often so focused on trying to convince people that they have a hearing problem and should be wearing hearing aids that our communication instantly loses its audience. Our message lacks what psychologist Howard Gardner terms “resonance”.

This failure to communicate in a way that resonates with how people see themselves is possibly the biggest contributor to why people delay seeking timely treatment for a reduction in their hearing.

So how can we change this? What do we need to do differently to avoid falling into this trap?

In this article I'll explain:

  • The main underlying dynamics of how adults who develop a reduction in their hearing see themselves
  • Why they appear to delay doing something about their hearing
  • What we can do to change things.