Practice Management | April 2021 Hearing Review

By Joe Lugara 

Thanks to the pandemic, digital marketing has completely changed and will never be the same. This article will help you navigate these changes, learn what you need to know as a hearing care professional, and offer actionable items so you can move forward with your goals.

Developing a marketing strategy has been completely upended in the wake of the pandemic. So, how do you plan for marketing your practice after a year of chaos and unpredictable changes? Here are a few key tips to help you navigate the changed digital marketing world.

1) Enhance Your Communications and Target Your Audience

Hearing health and balance are essential, just like other aspects of a person’s health and wellness. Maintaining hearing and balance enables someone to participate in daily activities, prevent injury, and promote a high quality of life. Just as they should not delay seeking care for other health conditions, patients should not delay seeking and obtaining professional hearing assessment and treatment. 

In addition to this messaging, you should properly target your audience. To target your audience, you need to look at your current customer base, analyze your services and products, and hone in on demographic (age, location, gender, income level, education level, marital or family status, and occupation); you will also want to consider some more unique targeting techniques like psychology (personality, attitudes, values, interests/hobbies, lifestyles, and behavior) and even your competition. 

And don’t limit yourself! You can have more than one niche market. Targeting shows you how to communicate to those specific markets. For example, you wouldn’t communicate to a retired 65-year-old man who has hearing loss the same way you would to a 22-year-old female in college who has hearing loss in one ear. They may have very different needs, but both can benefit from your services.

2) Be Active On Social Media 

“Be active” doesn’t mean post on your social media accounts twice a month. Active posting means posting a few times a week, at least. Social media may seem like an outlet that you know you have to use just because other people use it. But in the case of hearing care professionals, it is such an important tool to continue supporting your patients. Social media is an opportunity for you to reach even more people online.

A few social media platforms hearing professionals should utilize are:

  • Facebook: You can deliver a variety of messages, from fun posts, article sharing, or any need-to-know information in the moment.
  • Pinterest: This platform offers a ton of value that is underutilized by hearing professionals. Pins can easily show up on search engines.
  • YouTube: Creating videos is one of the best ways you can connect with your patients and potential patients. As a hearing care provider, there are endless videos you can create that will be helpful to your patients. 

Some good forms of content for social media are:

  • How-to’s (like a helpful digital handout or videos);
  • Informational videos that introduce yourself and your staff, discuss your services or style in more detail, or discuss products that impress you);
  • Articles (whether they’re written by you or shared from a source you trust), and
  • More general posts like a new employee hire, holiday greetings, and team bonding activities.

Finally, don’t overthink social media—remember, social media (in general) is a casual platform. So, for example, when you are creating video, you can either set-up a neutral space in your office, use a smartphone, and conduct the video that way, or go all out and hire a production team. You don’t have to do the latter, though. A casual approach on social media, conveying an accessible and approachable image, is more than fine.

3) Deliver Convenience in the Form of Virtual Options

If the pandemic showed us anything, it is we need to be ready to adapt at a moment’s notice. The only way to have this kind of adaptability and flexibility is to have virtual options, like telehealth and e-commerce.

At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, telehealth was a necessary means to get patients the care they needed while information was being gathered about the virus. Now, as the pandemic continues, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend policy changes that continue to support increased access to online care. An analysis by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) found that before the public health emergency (PHE), only 14,000 beneficiaries received a telehealth service in a week, but during the PHE period from mid-March through early July, over 10.1 million beneficiaries received a telehealth service.1  This spike in telehealth is not going to change.

Hearing care professionals rely on in-person appointments to perform services, and the thought of transitioning away from that model can be very difficult to comprehend, let alone embrace. However, it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. You can incorporate virtual services and still have a plan for your in-person appointments. You can have consultation appointments, follow-up appointments, and troubleshooting appointments via video; you can reserve your in-person appointment time for hearing evaluations and hearing aid fittings.

E-commerce is also a huge draw for people looking for convenience. Consumers want easy access to the things they need, and getting products directly from your practice would be a no-brainer decision for them. Plus, the global healthcare e-commerce market is expected to grow to $435.8B by 2025, making e-commerce an easy decision.2 

E-commerce is no easy feat. You can either create an e-commerce store for your practice, or you can seek out a preloaded solution that is ready to be added to your website.

4) Update Your Content to Reflect Current Changes and Initiatives

Although many areas in business came to a halt in 2020, one area that has grown is content marketing. It is more important than ever that create content that is relevant, authoritative, and, of course, educational to your audience. This includes any new services you are providing to your patients.

If you are moving forward with telehealth, you should create content around how this service works and even add a page on your website that addresses the telehealth process. If you are offering e-commerce to your patients, you should add information to your website that highlights this new, convenient option. By doing this, search engines will start to recognize you are offering helpful and relevant content. This will help your website rank higher than the local competition due to how consumers are searching for services online. 

By being on top of your content, you will be rewarded indefinitely. 

Conclusion

It is important to note that while the pandemic is temporary, things are not just going to “return to normal.” Adapting is the new normal. Flexibility is the new normal. More than ever, businesses need to be sensitive and listen to what matters to their audience. As customers deal with uncertainty in their daily lives, it becomes necessary to highlight values like integrity and accessibility.

About the author: Joe Lugara is the CEO and Founder of Audiology Plus, a company designed to expand online reach and attract more patients, generate new revenue, and enhance scale in today’s new world. A digital expert with over 20+ years of marketing and hearing healthcare experience, Lugara was born into the hearing industry and now seeks to help propel it into the modern age by empowering practice owners to accept technology rather than fight it.

Joe Lugara

Citation for this article: Lugara J. The four best digital marketing techniques for hearing practices in 2021. Hearing Review. 2021;28(4):24-25.

Correspondence to Joe Lugera at: [email protected]

References

1. United States Department of Health and Human Services website. HHS issues new report highlighting dramatic trends in Medicare Beneficiary telehealth utilization amid COVID-19. https://www.hhs.gov/about/news/2020/07/28/hhs-issues-new-report-highlighting-dramatic-trends-in-medicare-beneficiary-telehealth-utilization-amid-covid-19.html. Published July 28, 2020.

2. MarketersMEDIA website. Healthcare e-commerce market 2020 overview by upcoming trends, type, application, healthcare facilities, growth, investment, customized features, key players, & forecast 2025. https://marketersmedia.com/healthcare-e-commerce-market-2020-overview-by-upcoming-trends-type-application-healthcare-facilities-growth-investment-customized-features-key-players-forecast-2025/88984668. Published November 6, 2020.