Blending = Maximum Marketing Results and Minimum Risk.

I firmly believe that unless every one of your offices are staffed by hearing instrument specialists with above average skills of persuasion, you should do a blend of three different types of direct mail pieces each month. The reason for this is simple. Your advertising needs to appeal to three unique segments of the consuming public.

The first segment consists of consumers who are ready, willing, and able to buy. They either currently own competitors’ hearing aids that need to be replaced or are ready to buy their first set. The second segment is really a subset of the first. They’re somewhat ready to buy but are skeptical about hearing aids. They’ve either had a bad experience with hearing aids in the past or have been told by friends and family that hearing aids are not worth the cost and or hassle. The third segment consists of consumers who have recently started to experience hearing difficulties and would like help figuring out the cause of their problem.

You need appointments with all three types of consumers in order for your hearing aid marketing and sales efforts to be cost effective. Here’s why I believe that to be true.

When you mail a price/product focused piece to a rental list, the challenge you face is that 2/3 of the consumers on the list have no need for hearing aids. Research shows that 1 out of 3 people over the age of 55 have a hearing loss that can be helped with hearing aids. Out of the 1/3 that have a loss, only about 20% purchase hearing aids. So, out of 1000 consumers on the list, only 333 have a loss and 66 will purchase hearing aids. The million dollar question is when and from whom will they purchase hearing aids. Follow me on this for one more minute.

If you currently have a 7% market share, you’ll get 4.6 of the 66 aids mentioned above. If the time period over which these consumers take action is 1 year, that’s only .38 aids per month from the 1000 consumers to which you mailed. If the mail costs $400/m and you fit 1.8 units per sale on average, the cost per unit will be $667 or 30% of $2200 (if that is your ASP). Obviously too high to be profitable, right?

If the math I just did holds water, does that mean you shouldn’t do any price/product focused pieces? It depends on your situation. If your hearing consultants are masters of persuasion, then the answer is “maybe”. If they’re not as persuasive as you’d like them to be, then the solution may be to do a blend of:
1. Price/Product focused pieces.
2. Pieces that offer a Free Trial.
3. Pieces that offer a no cost, low hassle, low risk opportunity to have a hearing test and see inside your ear canal with a Video Otoscope.

The free trial pieces will appeal to the skeptical buyers I refer to in segment two above. The Video Otoscope type mailers appeal to consumers in the third segment. The third segment is extremely important because the number of potential respondents is vastly greater than those in segment one and two. Follow me on the math on this third segment.

Out of 1000 consumers, 333 have a hearing loss. If your message is about helping them find the cause rather than advertising a hearing aid sale, it appeals to most of, if not all of them since they want help with their problem. Your challenge is to entice them to come to see you instead of your competitors. That’s why the VO Invite and other similar pieces draw 2 to 8 appointments or more per 1000 versus 1 to 1.5 on product/price focused pieces.

So, we’re back to my original premise. Unless an office is staffed with people with above average sales ability, your best course of action is to do a blend of the three types of pieces I mentioned above. The objective is to provide your salespeople with a blend of appointments ranging from the consumer who owns a competitor’s hearing aid and wants to trade it in for a hearing aid from your store, to the consumer who is looking for help in figuring out what is going on with his or her hearing.

In other words, in stores staffed by salespeople who are average or below average closers, it’s important to generate appointments with consumers who are spread out across the spectrum of readiness to buy so that your salespeople will have an easier time making sales. By doing a blend of direct mail, you are minimizing the risk that your entire direct mail investment is lost as a result of having appointments but not being able to convert them to sales or having so few appointments that it doesn’t matter how many you convert to sales.

Thanks for reading.

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