The question that we are afraid to ask?
By Geoffrey Cooling
I had an interesting conversation with Curtis Alcock on Twitter recently. Curtis is the driver behind Audira, an online site billed as a think tank for hearing care. It is an excellent site that explores and challenges accepted concepts around hearing care.
The conversation was spurred by my last post. He agreed with the thrust of the post and we explored the implications of the current trends for our positions. Our conversation of course was based on the idea that we in hearing healthcare would continue to be central to the process.
The one thing that was obvious from the conversation was that we in our profession needed to ensure that we remained central to the process. Whilst we can discuss strategies relevant to that goal, particularly a real change to marketing strategy. There was a question we didn’t really consider.
Do we deserve to be central to the process of hearing well?
There is a growing movement that thinks we don’t. That movement is driven by some of the very people we purport to care for. We need to consider that very carefully and we need to understand why? Why do these people, people with hearing loss, not value our continued inclusion or the current business model?
The key concept that is often quoted is price, price of hearing instruments. But is that all that it is, could that be the simple answer? I sincerely doubt that, we need to dig deeper in order to understand. Price, the acceptance of price is inextricably linked to value. What these people are saying is that the price that is paid does not give value.
It’s a simple statement with complex underlying thought processes. A car, is a car, four wheels, engine and seats that allow you to be mobile. However, car prices vary radically from brand to brand. So what drives someone to spend a large amount of money on one type or brand and then think they have received value?
There is certain branding at work in this process, but there is also an ongoing experience which continually enforces the perception that they have made the right choice. Someone once said to me that marketing by some of the stronger car brands was not only about attracting new customers but also about reinforcing the buying decision in customers who had already purchased.
Perhaps cars are not the right analogy, but I am sure you get the idea. Value is about an ongoing process, the perception of value increases during the journey with the reinforcement of the buying decision. So why is the buying decision in our case with these people not being reinforced?
This leads us to the question, the holy grail. The question that we really need to consider, the question that we need to answer. The question and answer that is central to our very survival as central to the process of hearing well. That is, why don’t these people value us and our continued inclusion?
The answers to that question may well be difficult, they may well make us feel uncomfortable, they may well challenge our self image. However, we need to explore the answers to that question. It is an imperative for our profession if we wish to stay central to the process of hearing well.