Today on the More Cheese Less Whiskers podcast we're talking with Gianluca Trombetta. Gianluca currently lives in Spain, but is from Italy, and has friends in London, a real worldwide citizen.
He has an amazing educational course that helps people who have hearing aids make the transition, and have the best possible experience, both emotionally and technically. He has some really great skills that can help people dealing with hearing loss, having been a user of hearing aids himself.
We had a really great conversation about how he can hone in on who’s the actual market for the service he has, and we came upon a really great place for this kind of educational course. It’s the perfect fit in the transition from the during unit to the after unit, for someone helping a relative or friend get hearing aids.
You’ll like how this all comes together.
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Transcript - More Cheese Less Whiskers 102
Gianluca: Hello. Hi, Dean.
Dean: Did I say that right?
Gianluca: You say that perfectly. It's not an easy thing.
Dean: And how do you say your last name?
Dean: Trombetta. Gianluca Trombetta. Okay.
Gianluca: Wow. That's very good.
Dean: Where are you calling from?
Gianluca: I'm calling from Barcelona.
Dean: Okay. Perfect.
Gianluca: Yeah. I'm not from here, but I live here now. I'm originally Italian, as you can tell, probably my-
Dean: I was going to say, that sounded very Italian.
Gianluca: It is very Italian, yes.
Dean: Welcome to the More Cheese Less Whiskers podcast. I'm very excited. I want to hear all about what you've got going on, and how we can help. Tell me what you're working on.
Gianluca: Sure. I just did your scorecard, and I scored very low in everything.
Dean: Uh oh.
Gianluca: It's a big uh oh. I just ... I'm really early stage with what I'm doing, but I have like a big dilemma, and I thought maybe you could help. So I'll give you a little bit of background. Yes? Start from there?
Dean: Yes, please, please.
Gianluca: The project I'm working on is in the hearing loss space, so I'm trying to build ... I've built, actually, an educational info-product to help hearing aid users to basically communicate better. I teach them communicational strategies, and I also teach them a bunch of things that they should know if they want to communicate effectively, things about how hearing aids work, or how sound works so that they can basically maximize their quality of life with hearing loss. This comes from ... Basically it's a passion of mine. It comes from personal reasons because I grew up with hearing loss myself, but I didn't wear hearing aids until I was 20 years old. I spent my whole teenage years pretending that I could hear when I couldn't. I've been really involved with old emotional aspects of denial and pretending that come with hearing loss.
My background is in ... I have a technical background. I worked in the tech startup scene in London for various years. I'm new to business, so this is a new thing for me. I played at startups quite a bit, but nothing serious. A year ago, I launched this educational product, and I could tell you a bit more about what I've been doing, and the marketing side of things.
Gianluca: Basically, my dilemma is that I'm doing something that nobody else is doing in the sense that a lot of people are doing online courses in many different fields, but no one is creating, has created an online course for people who wear hearing aids, so communicating online, hearing rehabilitation program, if you want to call it that way.
Dean: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Gianluca: I'm finding that it's ... Well, it takes more effort in terms of education, but it's not the only point. It's like it's associated to help. I have the feeling that people don't make the link between "I want to hear better therefore I take an online course." So even if there are some niches where there's no online courses available, but you could tell that if you want to learn something, that the usual way to do it is ... or one of the ways, is by taking a course. But it's not immediate, in my opinion, the association "I want to hear better therefore I'll take a course," especially because whoever wants to hear better, the go-to solution is to go to an audiologist, or a hearing aid seller, and buy hearing aids.
Gianluca: Then when the hearing aid doesn't work so well, the person doesn't think, "Oh, I have to get a course and learn how this works." That's kind of my dilemma. I've tried ... I've launched the course, and I had some people using it. I had some interesting results, but I've also started exploring more B to B option where I'm actually helping audiologists kind of deliver a better service solution. So there are a few directions that I'm exploring and I'm like, "Well, I could test a lot of things, but what should I not test?"
Dean: Okay, so have you got a ... what's the result, the outcome that people will experience after going through your course? What's the difference that it makes? What's the transformation kind of thing?
Gianluca: Well, most of the people that went through my course ... We're not talking about a lot of people, but we're talking about maybe 15 and 20 people. 15 paid for it, and-
Dean: How much do you charge for that? How much does the course charge?
Gianluca: I tried different price points. I tried $69, $99, and $200, so on average $99 and $150.
Gianluca: Yes, what's the added value? The benefit that I'm creating, the results that I'm getting for users ... Most of my customers are people maybe between 30 and 60 years old who are having some sort of hard time with communication at work. So, I didn't market it that way, but ended up ... All my students are professionals. There are no people who are retired, or people who are in jobs they don't care about. Everyone is well educated and has a good job, like they are managers, they manage a team. So, the main result is for them to be able to live a more confident life, and work life. The can communicate better at work, and also in their private lives.
Dean: How would they know ... What would they experience after taking the course that would be "I used to not be able to do this, but now I can do this," or "I used to ..."? You know, what would be the noticeable ... How would they explain that it actually worked? That they feel better about it, you know? What would be the kind of areas where they would notice the difference?
Gianluca: Well, there are some things that are more practical, so many people will find that their conversations over the phone have improved. This is mainly because not many hearing aid users know that there is some accessory, technology that they can use to stream sound directly into their ears, which is what I'm doing right now. Otherwise, it's really, really bad to hear over the phone. This is one example. But then there are things that are much more emotional. It's harder for me to describe, but it generally has to do with basically stop pretending that they hear when they don't, because this creates a lot of stress for them to basically have a realistic expectations to people around them that they can hear when they can't. This basically lowers those levels, because they are more confident and they tell other people, "Look, I have a hearing problem. This is how you have to speak to me from now on." That just makes them feel relieved and more confident that they can take a promotion, or they're more confident in what they want to seek. Is that too abstract, or does that make sense?
Dean: No, no. I'm just trying to get a sense of like where the ... what they're looking for. So on one hand, I mean I'm hearing you describe it that people are kind of ... Nobody wants to admit that they have a hearing problem, sounds like. And I hear that from other people that I've talked with in the hearing field, that it's always kind of a ... Nobody's proactively coming to the audiologist trying to like ... at the earliest sign of hearing loss. They kind of wait until it's either really too late, I mean where it's really an issue, or somebody brings them to, like a spouse, or whatever brings them to the audiologist for hearing aids. I'm wondering where ... And the course itself is not in place of hearing aids, right? I just want to be clear on what it's not. It's not helping me physically improve my hearing. It's not rehabilitating my actual hearing loss.
Gianluca: No, it's a compliment, of course.
Gianluca: There is-
Dean: In compliment to actually having a hearing aid, right?
Gianluca: Yes, yes, yes. Sorry. Go ahead.
Dean: No, I was going to say also, so then it's ... The interesting this is the popularity of hearing aids has probably gone up dramatically the less conspicuous they've become. That it's almost like people can have hearing aids and really be almost undetectable, right?
Gianluca: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Dean: That has really kind of increased the usage, I guess, right? Like the acceptance of it has really kind of risen along with the ability to kind of not have this big hearing aid visible.
Dean: I'm wondering, is this something that people are looking for? Like if they were ... If we take 100 people with hearing aids, is this something they're looking for? What would they be saying? "I wish there was this...”
Gianluca: Yes, no, actually. That's the problem. I don't have specific keywords that I can target on AdWords, for example.
Gianluca: The keywords that exist are used by the health industry, by the hearing aid, or the hearing loss industry. My course as a solution would classify under hearing rehabilitation, or oral rehabilitation, so what I'm doing is done by scientists. There's a scientific validation that a holistic approach for hearing loss results rather than just giving someone a hearing aid and then just leaving them alone, but involving their significant other as well as teaching them communication strategies, and awareness, and managing expectations. So all these components delivered together form hearing rehabilitation, but two thirds of hearing aid users don't know that this exists, so they're not looking for it.
Dean: Right. If they knew that it existed, would they be like, "Oh my god, this is a dream come true. I've been waiting for this. I didn't even know I needed this, or I didn't know I've been waiting for somebody to have this," or do you have to sell them on it? Do you have to educate them about it?
Gianluca: I have to educate them. It takes them ... They have to go through the whole thing, or almost half the thing, to realize that it's something they actually need.
Dean: So that becomes the real thing. So, how long does it take to go through the course?
Gianluca: Six weeks. It's like six weeks of lectures, and then I have like a Facebook group where they can stay as long as they want.
Dean: Okay. So, how much time involved in the six weeks?
Gianluca: I think I've timed it around a few hours per week, two hours a week. Yes, between two and four a week. But it can be done over longer, if they have commitments.
Dean: So I've got to put in ... I'm just thinking about what the price of this is. This is the thing. Like the price of this is the money that you're charging, whatever that is, secondary to the time investment in this, which is going to be 15 or 20 or 25 hours of time.
Gianluca: Yes, yes, it's a lot of time.
Dean: Okay. When I look at that, I wonder is the ... Yes. What would be the fastest benefit? Is there a magic trick, or a ... I use magic trick as a loose word. Is there something that you can give somebody an insight that gives them an immediate reward that is encouraging, and exciting, and has them leaning forward saying, "Wow, tell me more"?
Gianluca: Yes, absolutely. As I say, there are things that are more practical that people don't know, like the phone trick, knowing how to hear on the phone properly. That will be like a big win. Then there are things that just take longer because they are more ... they have to do with emotions and also a shift in mindset.
Dean: Yes, I mean, your whole ... It almost seems like, is this ... The phone situation would be an extra device that they would have to get in addition to their hearing aids?
Gianluca: Yes, I mean yes. Maybe 10%, 20% of people have this device already, and they're not using it properly, but usually, yes, they would need to get some extra things. This is one of the other reasons that I'm debating whether the solutions stand alone when they make sense in the first place. Also because of these potential upsells that come from sales, and it's not just the loss of potential revenue. It's also that I can't control the journey at all. So I can tell someone, "Look, if you buy this accessory, you will hear better over the phone, but I can't sell it to you, so you'll have to find it yourself."
Gianluca: I helped one of my students find a new audiologist. After I had a chat with her, I was like, "Look, your audiologist's probably not good for you. You should find another one." And I guided her through the process of finding a new audiologist, finding a new pair of hearing aids, and then she was much happier afterwards. But I didn't get any of that revenue, and also, I had still in that her journey was outside of my control.
Dean: Who else is in the hearing ecosystem, let's call it? What other people are somewhere in the world on a phone call, or in a conference room saying, "How can we reach people who have hearing loss?" Who else is in that kind of environment? Who else is a service provider, product provider, care provider, education provider? Who else is in there that's monetarily involved in the world of people who have hearing loss?
Gianluca: Usually the classical figure is the seller of hearing aids, or that is called audiologists, or just simply hearing aid technician. They are usually the one stop, the go-to place for hearing aid users. There are some online retailers, as well, but regulations are very strict to-
Dean: I bet.
Gianluca: ... how hearing aids can be sold online. Basically the offline way's still I think the most popular. Then there are chargers. Chargers are the ones who are offering service most similar to mine, so they offer hearing rehabilitation courses, usually for free. They get funding, and then they also do services. The audiologist also, some of them offer hearing rehabilitation therapy. It's a very small minority that offers this. There's also a group of academics that are advocates of the holistic approach of hearing rehabilitation, and I have a lot of connection with these academics. But they ... Basically all they do is to prove that this works, but they couldn't prove that it works commercially, because like if the hearing aids ... if the audiologist has to offer consultation and it doesn't automate it, then it's going to take a lot of their time, and that's why usually the hearing aid dispensers, they just focus on the sale of the hearing aids. The whole thing revolves around that. But there are no more parties, as far as I know.
Dean: So nobody's really interested in kind of the after unit of the hearing business, because once somebody ... the big money event is that somebody buys the hearing aid. That's the thing, and all of the diagnosis, and the fitting, and everything to get to that point, and then after that, the revenue peaks at that point, and then kind of drops off, but there's no ongoing services that people need, or ongoing things that they can provide, or supply?
Gianluca: Well, there is. There is ongoing service in the sense that hearing aids usually last around four years, so there is frequency in there. Yes, there's some repetition in there. Once the hearing aids are sold, especially for first time users, there are a few follow ups needed over the course of a few months. Then sometimes, depending on the audiologist, they also do yearly follow up. They also sell batteries, which I think are very marginal in terms of revenue.
One thing I should add is that I'm helping a retailer, a hearing aid retailer to build, basically a condensed version of my course. Just basically for the post-purchase, or basically post-trial. It's a post-trial sequence. I was approached by an online retailer that finds leads and prospects online, and then works with local clinics in Australia to basically to fit hearing aids. They control the transaction, but they don't control the journey. So they wanted something to lead the hearing aid user by the hand from the day they start the trial until the end of the trial, so that they wanted to increase ... decrease their return rates essentially, and also increase the transaction.
Dean: Now we're getting somewhere. There we go. This is where I was going to go with this, was that the ... If the idea is that ... How much are hearing aids by the way? How much would somebody spend on this process of getting diagnosed, and fitted, and everything to get their first hearing aid?
Gianluca: Oh, it's a ridiculous amount. It's like between ... I think average would be around $5,000 for a pair of hearing aids.
Dean: Okay. Perfect.
Gianluca: But you can easily get higher than that like $7-$8,000, or some people go lower like $3,000.
Dean: And then they would need that again in four years?
Gianluca: Yes. I mean personally, I've had my hearing aids longer, but yes, average four, five years. Yes.
Dean: Okay. So every four or five years, somebody's got to have that kind of thing. Where you really fit then ... It feels like where you could add the most value is for somebody who has just got hearing aids, and that you can make that experience better for them as an after sale. I would fit that in like a profit activator six and seven type of situation where you're providing after-sale service to somebody who's gotten them to the point where they're walking out the door with their hearing aids, that they automatically then go into this six week after care program that's going to help them have the very best experience with having their hearing aids.
Then on your educational stuff, all the new stuff to have a quarterly, or so journal, or newsletter, or you know something that is keeping in touch with people over those four years til the time that they're ready to get another hearing aid. You're kind of like that bridge. There's value there. It may not be that it's something that the consumer would recognize, or be willing to pay up front for, but if you're getting $199 ... Was that on the high end? What was the pricing that worked the best for you?
Gianluca: Yes, $199 was the highest I charged so far, yes.
Dean: Did that work better, or did you have to lower it to get the acceptance? Did you start out high, or did you start out-
Gianluca: To be honest, $99 seems ... Yes, I started at $99, then I went up. I started at $99, and I sold a bunch easily. Then I raised it, and it became harder. I lowered $99 again, and then ... but then it was still difficult.
Dean: I got you. Right. Right.
Gianluca: But I don't think it's price. I think it's more of a time commitment like you said, rather than price itself.
Dean: Well part of what I was thinking was you may be able to ... because it seems you have a passion for this, and this is really where your thing, your role could be as an ambassador kind of thing for some particular either manufacturer, or a particular ... if you were independent of that, for audiologists to have a ... almost look at what their relationship with you as nurturing lifetime relationships with the people who are their clients. What do audiologists do right now in profit activator six and seven?
Gianluca: It's a good question. I don't think they do much to keep in touch. I mean they have-
Dean: Right. They're all front-end loaded, right? They're all the before unit.
Gianluca: Yes, and also they don't do a lot. Some of them do the trials and all, it's a trail before a transaction ends up, which is profit activator, but definitely sometimes they do the trial without following up, and so the trial doesn't lead to a sale.
Gianluca: There's also earlier in the, I don't know if you say, before unit.
Dean: But is seems like you could be in a position to provide, for the audiologists, almost like an insurance policy for them. If you looked at it that a repeat business insurance policy kind of thing, right? Like if they're getting $5,000 and they were to earmark 5% of that, $250, if they were to say for this $250 that you will provide this amazing six week introduction, or process for them, and send them a quarterly journal on behalf of the manufacturer, or audiologist, or whoever you're advocating for to get to the point where when they need a new hearing aid, they're going to come back, and that they ... you can orchestrate referrals from those people. Because when you look at it, we talk about ... Referrals are certainly a big piece of any business for opportunity, but if you think about it that our main approach to referrals is orchestrating them, and that means realizing that all referrals happen as a result of conversation, and people who have hearing aids, or hearing loss, or using hearing aids are probably going to be in conversation with people who are just getting them, or going through this process, or somebody ... You can imagine somebody might be asking the person with hearing aids to talk to their husband, or talk to somebody who they're encouraging to get hearing aids. That could be directed to the audiologist, or that brand.
Gianluca: Yes, absolutely. Yes.
Dean: Yes, and that way, because I think it's one of those things where the clearcut, the benefit is more ... would be more greatly appreciated and received as an after-care onboarding process, than something else that they would seek out now in addition that they've got to buy after they just spent $5,000. You know?
Gianluca: Yes, yes, I totally agree. How would you go about proposing this ... I mean, how would you see this proposition? Because right now, as I say, this was very interesting for me to ... it was a complete inbound contact that asked me, that gave me $5,000 to create this course purchase journey for him. I was like, "Wow, that's interesting." Obviously, it's not scalable if I have to rewrite for everyone ... Also, I've spoken to a couple of manufacturers. There are only like six major manufacturers. I talked to a couple of them. They are interested in something that, obviously, will reduce return rates and increase upsells. Yes, but the thing with the main manufacturers I spoke, and they were like, "Look, this looks amazing, but it's not ready to go." They're basically so big that they don't have the manpower, or I don't know, the interest to build a solution with me.
Gianluca: So how would you go about it?
Dean: You're exactly hitting on the head there, that they're ... and this is for everybody: everybody wants things to be easy. So, you need to think about this idea as "Where are you going to move the needle for people?" If you get it in where people are trying a hearing device, hearing aid, and they're not ... they're returning it, that's a problem for the manufacturer. That's what they're saying one of their issues is that they're trying to solve? How do we convert more of these trials into actual buyers?
Gianluca: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Dean: Okay. Then I'm sure the other issue that they're trying to solve is, "How do we keep these people? That when they get our hearing aid, that they're going to get the next hearing aid, and the next hearing aid from us."
Dean: Right? Then the other thing that they are definitely not paying attention to is the referral opportunities. The opportunity to really make it easy to refer the people who they're having these conversations with, you know?
Dean: So if you're able to look at and identify for them a metric ... This is where you've heard me maybe talk about this term. I call them proprietary metrics. Where, if you look at a metric that's specifically described to overlay on their existing data, like if they're getting ... They might know how many people take free trials, or trial periods, and don't buy. That that number is a knowable number, and if they could ... if you could show that if people were just educated about the ... it's not so much the hardware that's the problem, it's their emotional understanding of it, or the something that they're doing that could increase ultimately their happiness with it. So that more people would be ... They would have a nicer, smoother transition, and be happier overall. That's something that you could definitely show.
The other thing that you could show is the referral rates. If they're not even measuring their referrals, that's an opportunity for you, because that's something that you could certainly enhance for them. Even with a quarterly ... And you know, I say a quarterly as a minimum for a print like, something to go to them ... would be a really great turnkey thing that you could provide for them. What they ultimately want is if you could just say, "Why don't you just give us the names, and we'll run this program for you?" That would be the thing, because otherwise they're going to have to take it in-house.
It could be something where you could do a case study, you know?
Gianluca: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Dean: You could say if you did it with a group of people, and you show that of 100 people that took trials, and the baseline is that, what percentage of returns would they have?
Dean: Do you know how many people would be-
Gianluca: Oh, sorry. You were asking me. Okay.
Gianluca: I don't know off the top of my head, but I did once help in the capacity of consultant a charity that was commissioned to do a survey to try and figure out why there were too many interrupted trials. It is ... So, a retailer with 25 brick and mortar shops, they were aware that they had this problem. I don't know what the number is, but I know that it is considerable. It's significant.
Dean: So there we go. This is where, and especially if a retailer has 25 shops, if you were to take one of the shops, or two, or three of the shops, and institute this test against the norm to be able to show that, "Wow, these three stores have the highest acceptance rate among trials in our whole chain." That becomes your proof study.
Gianluca: Yes, yes, absolutely.
Dean: And that makes a big difference. Then when you look at it, of 100 people, like do they measure right now ... How long has this company been in business, this retailer who has 25 locations?
Gianluca: Oh, this was the one I did the survey for?
Gianluca: I don't know, but more than 10, or 15 years.
Dean: Okay, so they've had enough cycles to see that they'll be able to know how often, what percentage of people come back. Like if they sell somebody a hearing aid that in four years, that person comes back. Is there any required adjustments, maintenance, servicing, check ups, ongoing connection over that four years, or is it pretty much set it and forget it?
Gianluca: No, there is check ups at least every year, and then repairs, maintenance.
Gianluca: A few touch points over those four years for sure.
Dean: Okay. So part of this, I think that that's really managing this four year journey experience for people, and looking at the things that you can affect which would be the that they're happier onboarding, that they're having a smoother transition, that they are coming back in four years when it's time, and that they're referring people over the course of that four years. So, you look at it that if you looked at those, what economic impact that would have for one location, just to get a sense of how big the opportunity is.
Dean: That would be a really valuable study.
Gianluca: Yes, yes. Absolutely.
Dean: And the good thing is, you know I say this, but four years is a relatively short period of time in the context of a business that is growing and has intention of being a long term provider in the space. The space is not going away. It's certainly a need, and there's ... Once people get a hearing aid, it's not that they're going to decide, "You know what? I don't need these, or want these anymore." There's a need for it, so they have to have them.
Dean: I think that's really where this comes down to is that you have the makings of a really great transition into the after unit that can have a really big impact on people. It sounds like if there's that much information in the ... that there's six week’s worth with two, or three, or four hours a week of stuff, sounds like there's other things that you could provide, or share with people if you spread that out, isolate, or remind people, or highlight certain things over the four year period if you had 16 sort of newsletter journals.
Gianluca: Yes, I mean I've written a newsletter every week for also like six, eight months, so I have a lot of stuff to talk about.
Dean: Yes. Well, it could be interesting that even doing something like what we do with the World's Most Interesting Postcard of if you could condense that stuff into even an 8.5 x 11, or an 8 x 10, or 8 x 4, is that what's the regular London, or European size paper? ... postcard that would be easy to mail, but then along with it, orchestrating the referral elements by having something that they could use to refer people who are entering the process of getting hearing aids.
Gianluca: Right. Would you ... Could you give me an example, who would you work with the ... give something to the existing customer as well as the other potential prospect?
Dean: No, here's the thing. Our approach to referrals is really about the fact that the reason people refer anything is because it makes them feel good. They're not referring as a favor to the audiologist, or as a favor to the manufacturer. They're referring because they want to add value to their friends. They want to be helpful, useful, informative, that they've got a short cut. This goes all the way back to our days when we were hunters and gatherers. You want to let the tribe know about all these good things. "Hey, I found some blueberries over that hill there." Right? You want to add value by bringing those things. No, seriously. That's the kind of thing. So, you're adding value to people. That's where we're genetically wired to do that.
The mechanics of how that happens is that all referrals happen as a result of conversation. That means that people are in a conversation and something about hearing loss comes up, something about hearing aids, something about whatever it is, hearing issues, something, talking on the phone, any of the conversations that people might be having about hearing loss that they have to notice that the conversation is about hearing loss. They have to think about you. They have to introduce you to the person that they had the conversation with. So, if there was a conversation that came up about hearing aids and somebody has asked somebody, is asking them questions because they're thinking about that it might be time, or they're asking them because their husband, or wife, or child might need hearing aids, and in that conversation, if they can ... if there was something that they could get to give to that person that was asking the questions, or brought up the conversation about it, that would be a win.
If there was a book, or a guide, "Your First Hearing Aid," "10 Things You Need to Know About Buying Hearing Aids," or whatever the appropriate right title would be ... If you were on this postcard, or on this communication that we're sending as an educational piece, if you were to use the pattern that we use of "Just a quick note in case you hear someone talking about hearing aids, about getting hearing aids, or wondering if it's time for them to get hearing aids. Often that's a difficult transition for people. They've got questions. They don't even know how the process works. If you hear someone talking about it, give me a call, or text me, and I'll get you a copy of our hearing aid book ... whatever the title of the book would be ... to be appropriate to give them, and it'll answer their questions, and give them helpful advice for looking in to hearing aids."
If somebody had that at their finger tips, that they could just give that to somebody, that would be very helpful, right?
Gianluca: Yes, yes, yes. It's brilliant. It's brilliant.
Dean: That's what we want to orchestrate. Just highlight the, "Hey, when you hear people talking about anything to do with hearing aids." Even the strategies you were talking about. There must be a depth of knowledge that you're sharing with people over the six weeks, so I imagine there's no shortage of different types of conversations that people would be in.
Gianluca: Yes, I mean there is one tip that I give. It's about how to position yourself in a loud room. You should sit with your back to the wall because it kind of cuts the noise down, you can hear better. I can see a lot of elderly people there always have this problem. They are in room playing cards, or whatever, they're celebrating, or whatever, they always have this problem where they don't know where to sit. It's because they don't have enough information about sound awareness, and it's such a small, digestible tip. "Okay, just sit there next time."
Dean: That's the perfect thing. So, if you've got all these things that that ... that could be illustrated and show that. If that's just like really life pro tips. I mean, that's really what that is. If somebody just knew that, that's going to have an immediate impact for people. Those are definitely the kinds of things. I like that a lot. I think that would be very helpful.
Gianluca: Yes, I had a ... I was invited to my girlfriend's grandma's 80th birthday, and she wears hearing aids, so I help her. She came to me, and I talked to her about this. I talked to her a lot about this, and she came to me and asked me, "Gianluca, where should I sit in this room?" There was like a massive room with 10 different tables, there was 60 guests. Then 50% of all her friends wore hearing aids. So I had this conversation going on and on about the same topic. Yes. I felt like I was home finally.
Dean: That's awesome. Yes, yes, right on. That's funny. That's great. I mean, these things that you've got, you've got something that is really going to be valuable to a retailer, or whoever's in this ... whoever wants to stake their relationship with these people. That's really what you're able to do, and I think if you can do that for ... the $99 is going to come from the retailer, or the manufacturer, or whatever it is, with you positioning it as they're getting an ROI on that in terms of we're going to increase the trial, and you look at it as, let's say ... because this is right now, you don't know what you don't know. So, you need to be able to go in and say, "What is reality right now? What's the problem where if we take 100 people and line them up who are taking trials, how many of them are not following through?" That becomes your opportunity. Can you decrease that number of failed trials, or increase the number of successful trials?
Gianluca: How would you go about approaching the first partner? I already have one partner that is-
Dean: That's all you need.
Gianluca: ... as I told you random ... That's all I need. Just go with-
Dean: You need one as a proof thing. You've got to be able to go in with numbers, not just the stuff ... Everybody can agree this is very helpful, but the honest truth is everybody is in the economics of it. It's not something that the users, the people who have the hearing aids are going to recognize that, "Oh, yes, I need to invest in this," because it's an uphill thing, right? You've got to kind of educate them about this. Whereas if you're offering it as part of the after sale service, part of the comprehensive service of somebody getting hearing aids, that seems like it will be received as a very helpful, valuable thing.
It will be received well, but what difference is it going to make? Is it going to make ... I think that we identified the numbers, the metrics that you could actually affect, which would be the more people having successful trials, more people coming back when they need their next hearing aid, and more people referring people. Those three things, if you look at it that you can manage in those ... over that four year period. But the first two, increasing the trial acceptance would be great, and orchestrating referrals, you could make those two happen faster than four years from now when they come back. That's really what we want to look at is what is the total yield for a bundle of 100 new people taking trials of hearing aids.
Gianluca: Yes, yes. It's amazing. So, you solved my dilemma essentially. I'll leave the B to C for another time.
Dean: You'll leave the what, sorry?
Gianluca: I basically won't pursue the B to C, the direct approach for now.
Dean: Right. Because the thing is you've got a ready. I think if you were going to pursue something on the consumer side, it would be ... that might be the next level of this for you, if I were looking at it, too. Look at then doing a B to C to introduce people to the idea of getting hearing aids, the before unit stuff. But it just feels like you've really got something that is most useful, and really fits in with the during unit transitioning into the after unit.
Gianluca: Yes, yes, yes.
Dean: Also the big play, the big idea would be that you are working with your one outlet that you have, that you could demonstrate those numbers on, and maybe getting to the point where you've two, or three people that you're working with, and you can chart and show the difference, like show that before we did this, they had a trial acceptance rate of X. After we did that, we improved their trial acceptance rate by 20%, 30%, 50%, whatever the improvement you can do is.
Gianluca: Right. There's another question I had. In the UK, the national health service basically is the largest buyer of hearing aids in the country.
Dean: Right. Yes.
Gianluca: Because there is a ... Yes, hearing aids are free in the UK. I mean, not the top range, but basically 80% of hearing aids in the UK come from the national health system. They are notoriously over loaded with whatever service they offer, and so the follow ups that I was telling you about, so every year, or every few weeks in the beginning of the journey, is usually for what they call private audiologists, so when you actually pay for the hearing aids. If the national health system gives you free hearing aids, they see you after 10 weeks, and that's the end of it. Basically the result rate is even lower, and especially because people get the hearing aids for free, so they don't feel like they've spent the value. They're ... Anyway. I think that a service like this, an additional package, would really help. I don't know. They're really large, and I'm really small. How would you go about ... Do you think that it would be a good idea of approaching them? At what stage, and how?
Dean: Yes, so then everybody ... What problem is it going to solve for them? They're not really invested in ... This is what I'm wondering. Are they ... What is it that they're looking to solve that would be ... Because they're giving the hearing aids away to people, so they're going to get them for free. They're not motivated by the economics of it, or that people refer them, or ... Is it enough that they would just want people to have a great experience? Would that be something that they would be willing to bundle with every hearing aid? Would they be willing to pay for this course for people?
Gianluca: I think there are two kinds of reasons why they would, or probably would. One is that the NHS, the National Health System, they are basically a socialist kind of institution, so they're really public, and they really want better outcomes. That would be one maybe reason. The other reason is cost cutting. If people show up less to the NHS, or they could essentially reduce the amount of time doing follow ups, because the follow ups happen online-
Dean: Ah. So there you go.
Gianluca: ... then yes. There's also the cost cutting opportunities.
Dean: Now you're on to something. There you go. Again, you've got to be able to ... That's got to be your proposal. Not to ... You've got to begin where you are. You've got to propose that, and show, or be able to do a case ... a test study in a particular city, or in a town, or with a particular number to be able to contrast, and show what the cost savings is. What's the return on education in this?
Gianluca: Yes, yes. Okay.
Dean: I think you got it. You got it. You're in the right mindset.
Gianluca: Thanks. Then do you see it as something with this initial partner, what I'm seeing is that he wants to own the content, because he sees this as an investment, so the course would be his. He wants one of his audiologists on a video, and a piece of educational content. I'm thinking how do you produce it? Is it a white label? As a product? But I think every audiologist would like to show their patients that this is stuff that they came up with. They probably wouldn't want to see my face on the videos.
Dean: No, exactly. Right. Yes, I think if there was a way that the audiologist gets the reflective glory of it. That's what they really want.
Gianluca: Absolutely. Yes.
Dean: Yes, you have to do it that way, so that it looks good on whoever your benefactor is, whoever's the person who's doing this. They have to look good in this.
Gianluca: Yes, okay. Cool.
Dean: Well, that's exciting. I mean, it's interesting. You mostly found ... When we do episodes like this, most of the time people are very front-end, before unit loaded, but there's definitely opportunities, and roles within the after-sale and transitioning to the after unit that most businesses, not just ... and I'm hoping that when people listen to this, it's about the big picture about it, that there's so many opportunities to help people really have a great transition into the after unit. That's a good example of it right here.
Gianluca: Yes, yes. It's perfect. I'm just glad that ... I think I was kind of going in that direction, but you know, I invested a lot of time into the direct to consumer just before I realized, "Look, there is no competition here. There must be a reason for it."
Dean: Right, because they're not looking for it. Right, yes.
Gianluca: Yes, yes, exactly. Like okay, I could spend more time and try to make it work, or maybe change direction, and you've confirmed it. This is really, really helpful.
Dean: That's awesome. Well, I really enjoyed it. It was a great conversation. Thanks for participating.
Gianluca: Thank you so much for your advice. It feels like it's really a privilege. I almost forget to tell you. We have a friend in common, I believe. It's one of your copywriters, Tanya.
Dean: Oh great, yes.
Gianluca: Yes, I mean, that's one of the reasons I got to know you online, and yes. She's really longtime friend of mine.
Dean: That's awesome. Tanya's great. I'm going to see her in London in a few weeks here, so looking forward to that.
Gianluca: All right. Cool.
Dean: Thanks, Gianluca.
Gianluca: Thank you very much. Bye, Dean.
And there we have it. I think we really turned that into something that can be an amazing lesson for everybody. It's very often that the episodes that we do on More Cheese Less Whiskers end up being very before unit oriented, finding people, running the before unit ads and conversions to get people to ultimately buy something. It's very rare that really starts once somebody has bought something, and transitions them into having a really great experience with that, and ensures that they will have a nice passage into the after unit where they will become lifetime clients, and refer people.
This is really a little different type of episode, but I think very valuable in that it's rare that we get to talk about that. So, if you've got something that can make an impact in a big way on somebody who is already doing business in the during unit that you could compliment, that you could add your product, or service on to in a measurable way that provides and impact for them, that's going to be received very well. It's another...
It's one of the great opportunities from a consulting standpoint. If your business is helping businesses grow, that something that nobody is really helping people with. There's a lot of competition for funnel building, and Facebook ads, and lead generation, and all that stuff, but nobody ... There's far less competition for the impact of providing after-sale service, nurturing lifetime relationships, orchestrating referrals, which are often the lowest hanging fruit in businesses.
So, I think this was a very valuable exercise. I hope you got a lot out of it.
If you want to be a guest on the show, go to morecheeselesswhiskers.com, download a copy of the More Cheese Less Whiskers book, and click on the Be a Guest link. If you want to see how the eight Profit Activators that we talk about are affecting your business, go to profitactivatorscore.com. Try our online profit activator scorecard. It's free. It'll give you all kinds of great insights into where you currently stand, and where the opportunities are to grow your business.
So, that's it for this week. Have a great week, and I'll talk to you next time.