GN ReSound, one of the world’s largest hearing aid manufacturers, faced a major challenge in how to market its state-of-the-art hearing aids: Consumers typically consult with an audiologist to identify the appropriate solution for their hearing loss. GN ReSound needed a mechanism to provide audiologists with an incentive for recommending GN ReSound products as well as help to promote the company’s products among its end users.
Through GN ReSound Rewards, Karwoski & Courage was able to garner positive media exposure for GN ReSound AND build a relationship marketing program that allowed qualifying audiologists the opportunity to use a media relations campaign in their own marketing programs, a first within the industry. 
GN ReSound looked to Karwoski & Courage to develop and execute a “co-op” public relations program that would build relationships with its key purchasing influencers, audiologists, while also increasing awareness of the GN ReSound product line among consumers.  Further, the program needed to be self-funding in order to leverage GN ReSound’s limited marketing budget.
  • To strengthen the relationship between GN ReSound and its key purchasing influencers.
  • To provide an incentive for audiologists to do business with the company.
  • To raise awareness of the company’s hearing aids among audiologists and end users.
  • To help audiologists differentiate themselves from their competition and position them as local experts in hearing health.
Through an independent survey done with more than 400 audiologists across the country, we learned:
  • Audiologists were frustrated that the media wasn’t covering hearing health care issues extensively.  Several reported that there seemed to be a general lack of awareness among consumers on issues and recent advancements related to hearing health.
  • Additionally, audiologists requested, and in some instances demanded, that hearing aid manufacturers partner with them in building awareness about the industry.  Audiologists asked manufacturers to “step up to the plate” to become industry educators.
Strategic Approach and Campaign Execution:
Karwoski & Courage advised that in order to build a strong co-op program, it must be multifaceted and include components ranging from media kit development to full-scale event marketing, as well as offering audiologists one-on-one public relations counseling.  The Agency suggested testing the program in the initial year with a sample of 20 GN ReSound customers.  Program elements included:
  • Audiologists enroll with points earned through sale of the manufacturer’s products. Thus, creating a self-funding program.
  • Audiologists receive individual counseling with the Agency’s public relations professionals.
  • Multifaceted program, from basic media kit development to media training to event marketing.
  • Template media materials with information about manufacturer’s products, customized with the individual audiologist’s information.
  • Customized materials that audiologists could use for various marketing purposes.
  • Turnkey manual to guide participants through activity (see enclosed sample).
  • First-of-its-kind within the industry.
  • An advanced level of exposure for audiologists in their local markets, as well as manufacturer product and company mentions.
Summary of Results:
Based on survey evaluations collected from the participants, audiologists reported an increase in their brand awareness among target segment members.  One audiologist commented, “The resulting news coverage has helped to increase visibility for our office and bring new customers through the door.”
Key to the success, Karwoski & Courage was instrumental at placing a number of stories in both print and broadcast media, with both the audiologist and the manufacturer mentioned prominently.  In one particular case, GN ReSound partnered with an audiologist in New York about to tell the story about a new GN ReSound product and achieved placement in more than 20 community newspapers.
In addition to helping GN ReSound garner positive media exposure for its own products, the ReWards program has been successful by solidifying audiologist relationships throughout the country.  This was not a surprise as our previous research had identified that audiologists were seeking this kind of partnership effort to raise awareness of the industry.