2. There are quite divergent views on social media as a marketing tactic for the hearing healthcare profession. Many are
dismissive of this and other digital channels in our profession. Many providers don’t believe that our demographic target
audience is online, and that therefore online marketing is a waste of time and money. Those sentiments are wrong—
and over the next few pages, I would like to explain my arguments for engaging in non-traditional online marketing
channels. I will set out the basis and strategy behind social media leverage. I’ll also discuss the multiple channels avail-
able, the content type on each channel and the measurement of results.
Our world is changing and changing at an ever faster rate. A new descriptive term has been coined for our times; we
now live in the “age of disruptive technology”. Our attitudes and habits as a society are changing, and this is particularly
obvious when you consider the channels of communication that we use. Communication technologies have exploded
in type and diversity. This situation is a direct result in the rapid development of internet technology, both software and
More and more communication is undertaken across the Internet. Social web channels, in particular, have rapidly
become an accepted part of our daily lives. We build online communities that increase our social connections beyond
family and friends, to friends of friends and even strangers. I believe that the explosion of this type of engagement is
rooted in a combination of our need to relate to our friend and family members who are removed from us by distance,
and also a reaction to the lost sense of community that appears to prevail in our society.
The World Wide Web, as a search and communica-
tion tool, has become the go-to place. While initially
this phenomenon was driven by tech people and the
young, it has become accepted throughout society in
every demographic.As I grew up, if I wanted to search
for a business that provided a particular service,
I picked up the Yellow Pages. This is an action that
admittedly some of our patients seem to do. However,
I cannot remember the last time that I looked at the
Yellow Pages and my children do not even know what
As we know, some of our demographic audience still
uses the Yellow Pages but those numbers appear to
be dwindling in many areas. More and more of our
patients are turning to the web and the ubiquitous
Google to supply their needed information. Not only
are they using search engines but many of them are
using social networks to communicate and become
involved in communities with shared interests. This
fact is borne out by research results from around the
To the left, with thanks to Pew Research Centre, are
the survey stats of Internet users in the United States.
I would like to point your attention to the age demo-
graphics results. As we would expect, 91% of indi-
viduals between 30 and 49 are active on the Internet.
All Internet Users (n=1,873) 69%
Men (n=886) 63
Women (n=987) 75*
18-29 (n=351) 92***
30-49 (n=524) 73**
50-64 (n=404) 57*
65+ (n=886) 38
White, Non-Hispanic (n=1,355) 68
Black, Non-Hispanic (n=217) 68
Hispanic (n=188) 72
Annual Household Income
Less than $30,000/yr (n=469) 73*
$30,000-$49,999 (n=356) 66
$50,000-$74,999 (n=285) 66
$75,000+ (n=501) 74***
No High School diploma (n=129) 65
High School grad (n=535) 65
Some college (n=513) 73*
College + (n=692) 72*
Who Uses Social Networking Sites
Percent of Internet users in each group who use social networking sites.
Source: Pew Internet Civic Engagement Tracking Survey, July 16-August 07, 2012.
N=2,253: adults ages 18+. Interviews were conducted in English and Spanish
and on landline and cell phones. Margin of error is +/- 3 percentage points.
*Statistically significant difference compared with others in the same grouping.
AUDIOLOGY PRACTICES n VOL. 5, NO. 2 21
3. This demographic should really be viewed as the chil-
dren of your prospective patients.
These people are actively using the Internet every day
for several reasons. They are constantly interacting
online, booking flights, talking to friends, searching for
information. These people accept that the Internet is a
handy, stable and trustworthy research tool.
Seventy-seven percent of adults aged between 50 and
64 are online. I believe that these people should be
viewed as long term prospects for our profession. In fact
some of this demographic are your current prospective
patients. Our patients are getting younger because bet-
ter education and increased lifestyle expectations is
causing them to seek treatment for their hearing loss
earlier and at a much younger age. I believe that mod-
ern technology within hearing instruments, and future
connectivity and association with external devices and
technology, will drive lower age adoption. These people
are actively using the Internet every day for several
Fifty-three percent of those over 65 years of age use
the Internet.These are your prospects and indeed some
of your existing patients. Theoretically, you have the
opportunity to reach 53% of your prime target market
via the Internet right now. That number is only increas-
ing; this demographic is the fastest-growing Internet
adoption demographic. Although that is mainly because
penetration in the past has been low, our desired demo-
graphic audience is in fact online, and online in sub-
Pew Research has also released some recent statistics
in relation to demographic use of social networks. The
research is as of August 2012 and it is an important fac-
tor for your healthcare marketing strategy.
The research shows that social network adoption in our
primary demographic has risen yet again in the past
twelve months. In the 65+ demographic, usage has
risen to 38%. It also shows a rise to 57% of the 50 to 64
year old demographic.
Finally, in the 30 to 49 year old demographic we are
at 73% usage. This demographic represents the sons
and daughters of our primary target audience. This
demographic may well be undertaking searches for infor-
mation online for their parents and grandparents, and in
particular will be searching for information related to
health and health care.
This audience acts as the research assistants for our
desired target audience. We already know that the pur-
chase decision around hearing instruments tends to
be a joint one. There may be many people directly or
indirectly involved in that decision. We also know that
the purchase of hearing instruments is a weighty deci-
sion that involves much research. Most, if not all, of that
research is undertaken online by members of the three
demographics we have discussed.
Consider some important figures:
•• 53% of your patient demographic is online
•• 77% of your long term prospect demographic is
•• 91% of the children of your patient demographic
•• 38% of your patient demographic has a social net-
•• 57% of your long term prospect demographic has
a social network profile
•• 73% of the children of your patient demographic
have a social network profile
•• There are 17,500,000 profile owners on Facebook
between the UK and the US of people over 65
years of age
•• 5, 533,680 of people over 65 years of age people
use mobile devices to access Facebook
•• 2,331,180 of people over 65 years of age use
Android OS devices to access Facebook
•• 3,555,160 of people over 65 years of age use
Apple products to access Facebook
Social media is not the magic bullet, it is not the answer
to our current commercial challenges. However, it
should be used to support your overall online healthcare
22 AUDIOLOGY PRACTICES n VOL. 5, NO. 2
4. The Strategy
I think it is clear that marketing to our demographic is
no longer just about newspapers, magazines and direct
mail. Nor though is it solely about online marketing
channels.A good hearing healthcare marketing strategy
is about an intelligent blend of both. We as a profession
must become smarter and more adept about targeted
marketing across all channels.
A combined approach is needed, using the best media
for your business, both traditional and new. A strategy
such as this will increase your exposure and engage-
ment. It will also assist to supply a constant flow of
business to your practice. In effect, it can reduce cost
per lead over time, allowing you to better cope with the
pressure on margins that are to the forefront of every-
body’s mind at present. The question is, how and what
is the strategy?
The people that sneer at social media for our profession
are in fact partly right. That is, if you are using social
media in the traditional sense. Social media is used in
other industries to engage, empower and directly affect
purchase decisions. Social media use or sophistication
levels in our demographic makes this strategy unwork-
able. However, that does not mean that social media
channels and activities do not have great value for us.
Your online strategy needs to be based around your
website; your website is your single most important
online channel. Your website should be fully supported
by the deployment of good multimedia content either on
a news section or a blog attached to that website. The
content should be based on what information people
are searching for most frequently. This strategy brings
people to your content and therefore your site. This is
called content or inbound marketing.
Your content will only draw those searchers if you are
identified in the search results given to them. This is
the key–if you are not in the search results, your con-
tent is useless. Getting into the search results involves
some hard work. It is based around differing key word,
key phrase and search engine optimization strategies.
There is a voluminous amount of information to be read
about these elements, and ironically it’s all available on
the Internet! These are not the only important factors,
Google, for example, also takes social factors into
account. These social factors include your social media
profiles, how much your content is shared and the depth
of your online presence.
Your social media profiles at this stage are solely there
to support your main online marketing channel. They do
so by being used to share links to the content on that
channel and links to the channel itself. In this way, you
can support that channel, bringing it to a wider audience
and make it more relevant to Google. Google will repay
you by placing you on the first page of the search results
for the key words and phrases that you have targeted, if
you do it properly.
Social Media Channels
There are four main channels that are being used by
other industries and indeed some members of our own
profession. They are Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and
blogs. Each channel is a slightly different animal, and
the goals and usage profile tend to be different. How-
ever, I again caution you, the single most important
online channel for an audiology practice is its website.
Social media channels are purely used to support and
boost your website search ranking.
Facebook: The management of a Facebook
Page tends to be a mix of content curation,
finding and posting links to information that
you judge may be of interest to your target audience,
and content manufacture. Attention must be dedicated
to the creation of good content that will be of interest to
your audience and will show your professionalism and
expertise. Facebook is also a place where you may build
relationships with people. Facebook users actually tend
to spend quite a bit of time on the site.
Twitter: Twitter is much more about content
curation and some sharing of links to your
own content. Not many of our target demo-
graphic use Twitter. However you probably will build up
a community of sorts.The following that you build up on
Twitter will expect more engagement and will probably
engage with you more.
A Blog: A blog is where you and your busi-
ness can shine. A blog is all about content
AUDIOLOGY PRACTICES n VOL. 5, NO. 2 23
5. 24 AUDIOLOGY PRACTICES n VOL. 5, NO. 2
manufacture, it's where you supply content that shows your professionalism, knowledge of your subject and dedica-
tion to your patients.A blog is where you should provide good quality articles on audiologic care, giving clear advice and
discussing the latest developments. These articles will drive people to your site, and should be looked at as the engine
of your online marketing strategy.
Google+: Somewhat of a cross between Twitter and Facebook, this is an important channel because of the
SEO advantages of having a presence and sharing on the site. It is also a mix of curation of content and post-
ing links to your own. A profile here also allows you claim authorship of your content with a practice known
as rel author.This is becoming more and more important; I think in 2013 it will become another key indicator for Google.
Another recent social media network addition is Pinterest, which is becoming quite popular. It is a visual site where you
post visual content as opposed to worthy prose.
Before you move forward with social media, it is imperative that you sit down and outline your strategy. The strategy
should cover all the elements of your online media channels and the content that you will provide. You should also
research and think carefully about the following questions:
•• What are your key areas of expertise? Are they different in any way than others'?
•• What can you tell your customers that others can’t? What is your unique selling point?
•• Can you better inform customers about hearing loss? If so, How?
•• Where will you draw information from for your content? Other users, Traditional media? Manufacturers?
•• How will you manage your social media channels? What technology will you use to make it easier?
•• Who exactly in your organization will manage it?
•• When a disgruntled customer posts a comment that is nightmarish for your brand, how are you going to deal
•• If somebody complains on one of your channels, how will you deal with that?
The use of social media as part of your online marketing strategy is something that you need to carefully consider. You
should outline a clear strategy for its use and for any possible eventualities. Having said that all of that, I believe that it
is worth the effort. It does help you to engage with your customers and potential customers. Even better, it does so for
free! Running the social media channels for my company has been an interesting experience.
The experiment so far has been a success; the very fact that I am writing this article is testament to that. I have engaged
with people worldwide, and I have introduced new customers to our brand. Several people around the world now are
customers of my company because of their engagement with us on the web. I have faced most of the questions I men-
tioned earlier, but I had not thought of them before they occurred. So when they happened, I had to think very quickly
and on the hoof. This is not something I would recommend to you.
Think very carefully about every angle before you set off on your journey. To ensure search engine optimization, you
need active social media channels. These channels will assist you to drive and leverage your website in the organic
search rankings. Social media involvement is about supporting your core online marketing channel your website. n
Geoff Cooling is Sales Manager for Widex in Scotland and Ireland and authors the Just Audiology Stuff blog. He may be contacted at
24 AUDIOLOGY PRACTICES n VOL. 5, NO. 2
6. AUDIOLOGY PRACTICES n VOL. 5, NO. 2 25
The Harmonious CORUS of a Modern Marketing Strategy
Brian Taylor, Au.D.
Editor, Audiology Practices
Geoff Cooling provides a splendid overview of why
social media needs to be an integral part of your mar-
keting plan. Whether you own a private practice, chair a
university clinic or run the audiology division of an ENT
clinic or hospital, all of us need to ensure that our mar-
keting plans are in-tune with the mission and vision of
Social media is one component to what I call the CORUS
marketing strategy. The main objective of the CORUS
marketing strategy is to create and maintain an on-
going dialogue with patients, prospects and those that
influence them. Creating and sustaining a conversation
with patients throughout their journey is now possible
with social media, the Internet and old fashioned public
relation skills. In addition to more traditional marketing
tactics, like newspaper advertising and direct mail, the
CORUS strategy requires businesses to tap into the core
characteristics of customer loyalty, which are consider-
ation, evaluation, purchase, enjoyment and advocacy, as
shown in Figure 1. By using the following components of
a CORUS marketing strategy you can be involved in an
on-going dialogue every step of the way.
Figure 1. The essential steps of the customer decision
• Captivating Website. The simple definition of
a captivating website is one that features video.
When a prospect visits your website a short, emo-
tional video about the patient benefits of your ser-
vices, not the devices you fit or the equipment you
use are front and center.
• On-line Reputation Manager. Another great way
to use video is recording and posting patient tes-
timonials on your website. On the right margin of
your website, you can post short patient vignettes
about how much they love your practice.
• Relationship & Medical Marketing. There are
several medical conditions, such as Type II diabetes,
dementia and cardiovascular disease that are asso-
ciated with a higher rate of hearing loss in patients
that have these conditions. A medical marketing
program leverages this concept through the educa-
tion of family practice physicians, endocrinologists
and pulmonologists, using peer-reviewed literature
to raise awareness, Through proper education phy-
sicians are more likely to refer patients with these
conditions to your practice for a hearing evaluation.
• Upstanding Member of Your Community. Oth-
erwise known as public relations, the objective of
this tactic is for you to become recognized (and
rewarded with referrals) within your area as an
expert or opinion leader on a specific topic related
to hearing loss or balance. For example, hearing
loops, which are very effective in large rooms and
auditoriums, can be the focal point for a PR cam-
paign that your practice orchestrates within your
• Social Media. Perhaps the voice with the most
promise, social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) has
the potential to take your ordinary pile of patient
charts and bring them to life. The beauty of social
media is that you can push information to individu-
als and they, in turn, can push information and com-
ments back to you.Although there is no evidence of
its effectiveness, because of the interactive nature
of social media, it intuitively has a place within a
modern marketing portfolio.
Of course, all of these marketing tactics have a cost
associated with them, and unlike traditional forms of
advertising the return on investment is difficult to cal-
culate. The bottom line is that customers are more
informed and better educated than ever before, and
in order to engage them throughout their journey to
improved communication, you must invest in CORUS, so
that your practice hits a crescendo.
AUDIOLOGY PRACTICES n VOL. 5, NO. 2 25