creating a new social norm for hearing care
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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.

Bald man with hair gelLet's take the current estimate that only 1 in 4 people (US) and 1 in 3 people (UK) who need hearing aids actually have them. That means there are more people who don't have hearing aids (but need them), than do. And despite the considerable efforts of hearing aid manufacturers, hearing care practitioners and charities to increase the adoption rate over the years, this statistic has remained fairly consistent.

We're obviously still missing a vital ingredient. But what is it?

Perhaps you have some ideas of your own. So before we go any further, how would you complete the following sentence:

“We can increase the rate of hearing aid adoption by...”

socks-in-bedImagine for a moment that you come across an interview with someone who says, “We want to remove the stigma associated with wearing socks in bed.”

What runs through your mind?

 

A drummer and his hearingMany of us involved in hearing care automatically assume that Society's attitudes to hearing care are inherently negative and believe this is the reason why many individuals will delay seeking timely treatment for any difficulties they might be experiencing with their hearing.

Yet ironically, by assuming society has such an attitude, the Profession has a tendency to communicate in a way that reinforces those very same negative attitudes that make the provision of hearing care harder.

In order to illustrate this, I have taken an article that recently appeared about a famous rock musician who is now wearing hearing aids.

The messages presented and the words that are used in the article are typical of those that might be found in much of the current communication by the Profession, so it serves as a very useful illustration of how by subtly changing the way we phrase things, we can leave the reader with a more positive attitude (approach) rather than reinforcing old-fashioned, negative stereotypes (avoid).

To do this I have provided a commentary on the original article (which has been anonymized for the purposes of illustration), and then provided an example of how it might be rewritten to employ the principles of Modernising Attitudes to Hearing Care.

IncreasingFootfallBrand new material, this annotated presentation explores how Hearing Care Providers can increase the number of people accessing their services whilst at the same time influencing a change in wider society's attitudes to hearing care.

The presentation looks at where footfall will come from, who the target audience needs to be, and what key messages and key goals need to achieved in order to create the right conditions for a domino effect, where new attitudes to hearing care are allowed to spread through society 'by themselves'.

Although presented within the context of the United Kingdom, many of the underlying principles are both practical and revelatory and so will be of relevance whichever country you are based in.

Developers of hearing technology, charities involved in hearing care, and policy makers will also find value in the presentation.

Download Increasing Footfall by Changing Attitudes [pdf]

How to change attitudes to hearing care presentationEssential viewing for all those involved in hearing care, particularly in the UK.

This presentation explains the theory and practice of how attitudes towards hearing care can be shaped and changed within society in order to develop a culture in which the majority respect their hearing, and do everything they can to keep their hearing working at its optimum throughout life.

The presentation will be suitable for audiologists, hearing aid dispensers, charities involved in hearing care, GPs and doctors, ENT consultants, marketing and PR professionals involved with hearing care, and health ministers. It may also be of interest to users of hearing care.

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