When Beltone moved to a one-on-one marketing model, not only with direct mail but also the Internet, the company began marketing to those aged 68 and older with hearing loss who might use the product. That's until Beltone found Datran Media's Aperture technology. Data from the technology platform identified a new audience: women aged 35 to 42 that have an older person living with them.
The Aperture Audience measurement platform has four modules. Beltone works with the first, Audience Discovery, with plans to start using Audience Finder next, followed by Audience Reach. The platform ties in non-personally identifiable online data through a cookie, as well as offline, such as age of individuals, estimated income, and number of people in the family.
Using this data, Ebel learned he needed to change the company's marketing strategy. So Beltone now targets women trying to help their parents solve the problem of hearing loss.
Although the marketing campaign moved the women to the foreground and the parents into the background, it also created new challenges. Beltone's marketing message actually needed to address two markets of potential users: Baby Boomers and their parents.
"I can't think of another time in history when you have a very large percentage of people where the adults and children are in retirement at the same time," Ebel says. "From a marketing strategy it creates challenges because the two are entirely different types of people."
The post-depression babies are savers, not spenders. They don't like debt. They are self-sacrificing. Their idea of a luxury car is a Cadillac. On the other hand, Baby Boomers don't mind debt. Their idea of a luxury car is a Mercedes. They want the best and don't care what it costs. Ebel says it's an interesting marketing challenge to appeal to both groups.
Beltone had run Internet campaigns in the past, but Ebel wanted a technology that could target consumers similar to direct mail pieces and deliver the perfect content to the exact address based on demographics and physiographic.
The technology also identified another aspect of marketing hearing products: it takes most people about seven years from the time they begin to realize they may have hearing loss to actually do something about it.
Internally, the folks at Beltone call this phenomenon "the river of molasses" because marketers must slowly educate potential clients on hearing loss. It's a challenge because about 50% of this age group is on the Web, but they won't shop online. Instead, they email, share pictures and use the Internet as a way to stay in touch with friends.
Beltone will roll out another campaign in about a month. The Internet campaign will once again tie into newspapers and direct mail pieces. Ebel says with all the competition for consumers' attention, the old ways of targeting mass campaigns doesn't deliver the type of results it used to.
The ability to take both demographics and physiographic data to define the audience, and then use technology to deliver specific ad messages, continues to change the way Beltone does business, Ebel says.