Asleep at the wheel?
by Patrick Miller Posted on February 29, 2020
In December of 2018, a Google news article caught my attention. The story was about a California man who fell asleep while driving home from the bar. The intoxicated man was fortunate to be driving a new Tesla Model S. This is important because the Tesla Model S is equipped with one of, if not the most sophisticated auto-pilot technology systems available at the time.
Why the article remains fixed in my mind is because of how long it took the California Highway Patrol to figure out how to pull the Tesla over…
For over seven miles, and nearly seven minutes the traditional method of pursuit with lights flashing and sirens blaring proved useless, the man was passed out. Here is a perfect example of technology refining culture, and the unintentional circumstances it creates.
It was only out of chance, one of the pursuing officers decided to pull in front of the Tesla. In response to the obstruction, the auto-pilot of the Tesla recognized the police car and slowed. Eventually, the slowing patrol car was able to bring the Tesla to a complete stop. Whether the officer was aware that this would slow the Tesla was not mentioned in the article.
Upon first reading this article I asked myself, would I have thought to use the car’s innovative technology against itself? I'm a reasonably intelligent person, so of course I would have known how to stop the car. In retrospect, as I look at a similar situation with my work, I’m not so sure I would have seen the solution.
I mention this story because to me it displays a similar situation to what we’re seeing in the hearing industry. Has technology created unforeseen, uncalculated circumstances? Has the hearing industry been asleep at the wheel for the past 10 years?
The smart and talented audiologists I work with all recognized several years ago, the industry was destined to change. We've all used the words, “at some point” about this antiquated marketing/business model not working any longer. Well, the time of change is upon us…
I keenly understand the negative bias that inhabits all humans and I work hard not to focus on life with this harmful view, so it’s clear, now’s the time we need to make lemonade.
What is the obvious, and incredibly simple, forehead-slapping solution we’re all gazing through, or looking around, or riding with and simply not recognizing? How can we stop this market, the industry we built, from running away with us asleep at the wheel?
The first step, as always, is acceptance. All growth measures from the past few years show, consumers want a technologically advanced, but equally as important, low-cost product. Users entering the marketplace believe they deserve it. It seems this new generation of users is demanding a fair price, even if it's only fair to them. But these new expectations of “low cost” are not a rationally considered low cost, market trends are suggesting the retail cost of hearing aids will need to become what was once considered ridiculous.
It’s time to recognize, the marketing of private pay hearing aids has changed. And I don’t mean just moving the marketing budget to the digital world, I mean finding progressive ways to connect with new wearers, where they are at. We can no longer require our patients to play by our rules, we need to listen. To let them tell us what it is they want in terms of care, marketing, results, and action.
It’s time we step back and ask, what is it the people whom we have been trained to help really want and need from us? Sure, we can continue to tell them what they need. But as we promote and speak our message, their swirling negative emotions snowball into a story of who we are to them. And we become nothing more than the ones with the blaring sirens and flashing lights. We have then become, not the solution.
Help me change the message we use to market hearing aids and hearing care. Let’s work to align the way the consumer recognizes hearing aids, with the way you care for them in your practice, so we can instill trust and honesty.
I welcome your thoughts humbly. email@example.com