Does your target audience currently consist of the deaf and hard of hearing? If not, you could be missing out on a huge opportunity to boost your customer base and gain more brand loyalty.
Unfortunately, the deaf and hard of hearing are an underserved market in today’s society. Many companies choose to ignore them or have no idea where to start when marketing to this demographic.
To do an excellent job of making your marketing more accessible to the deaf and hard of hearing, you may need to make some changes. However, it’s a lot simpler than many people may think.
In this article, we’ll look at how common the deaf and hard of hearing demographic is and what your business can do to include them in your marketing strategy.
How Many People Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing in the US?
The deaf and hard of hearing are a much more common demographic in the United States than you probably think it is. Approximately 37.5 million or 15% of the population in the US are deaf or have some level of hearing loss. Hearing loss generally progresses with age. The age group that experiences it the most is 60-69.
Hearing loss can begin to progress in young adults as well. People who are exposed to loud work environments like construction sites and club venues are most likely to develop hearing problems earlier on in life.
2 to 3 out of every 1,000 children are born deaf or hard of hearing in the United States. Most of these children come from parents without trouble hearing.
Should Your Business Market to Deaf and Hard of Hearing?
The short answer is yes.
Since deafness and hard of hearing is such a common demographic, as a business owner, you should consider taking extra measures to accommodate them. Tweaking your target audience to include the deaf and hard of hearing could result in driving more business and gaining a whole new group of loyal customers.
Plus, I’m betting it’s not raining businesses that market to this demographic in your community. You could dominate this entire market section.
Besides gaining more market share, including the deaf and hard of hearing will strengthen your public image. People applaud businesses who do the right thing.
Are you ADA compliant?
In 1990, the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law. This act prohibits discrimination and guarantees that anyone can participate in mainstream American-life activities.
As a business, you must be compliant with the ADA. Companies that have 14 or fewer employees or are in business less than 20 days per year may be exempt from the ADA’s laws. Generally, provisions apply to companies that provide services to the public, regardless of size.
Does being ADA compliant mean you’re ready to market to the deaf and hard of hearing?
The ADA is a great system that has been a turning point for those with disabilities. At the same time, the ADA focuses on a vast range of disabilities and doesn’t narrow down to specific groups.
Having said that, a business that wants to accommodate the deaf and hard of hearing and is compliant with the ADA should know the ADA’s regulations don’t apply solely to the deaf and hard of hearing.
To accommodate this demographic, you will need to take a few steps further than the basic ADA recommendations.
How to Market to the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Are you ADA compliant? Check.
Before you start marketing to the deaf and hard of hearing and have them flood your store or business, make sure you make a few adjustments so your new customers feel welcome. Here are some things you can do:
- Teach staff basic sign language.
- Ramp up visual helpers – visual cues on smoke alarms like strobe lights. Place visual indicators in washrooms.
- Train staff by acting out some simulations.
- Buy a TTY telephone.
If your store is now ready to accommodate the deaf and hard of hearing, you’re ready to start including them in your marketing. Below are the best ways to market to the deaf and hard of hearing, so they know you’re here for them.
Use Transcription to Improve Business Outreach and Accessibility
Transcription is turning spoken language into text, and it’s the best way to include the deaf and hard of hearing in your marketing strategy. You can use a transcription company to convert any audio or video content you have into text.
Transcription Provides a Variety of Content
The beauty of digital communications is that you can present it in different ways.
Audio components in your marketing campaign like Facebook and Instagram ads can be transcribed and made accessible to your deaf and hard of hearing audience. Interestingly, reading is still the preferred way of absorbing information for most people — transcribing video content can be equally beneficial to your hearing audience as well.
You can transcribe any audio content, including YouTube videos, podcasts, focus groups, etc. and repurpose it into articles, blogs, marketing materials, testimonials, and more.
How to let your deaf and hard of hearing audience know you transcribe audio content?
Link trust is a struggle every company experiences these days. Random links on pages could be clickbait for a spammy site.
Always name your links so people know where it’s going to.
Also, ensure your deaf and hard of hearing audience knows you’re providing transcribed versions of audio content. Send them an email explaining where to look for these files.
Include Captions on Your Videos
Video is one of the most popular forms of content online, so almost every business uses it in their marketing strategy. If you want your videos to be more accessible, be sure to include open or closed captions.
Captions are great for the deaf and hearing-impaired because they transcribe dialogue and show important sounds that deaf or hard of hearing might not pick up like cars beeping and phones ringing.
Including captions makes your content more accessible to everyone, and it boosts your views since many users watch videos with the sound off.
Provide a Variety of Contact Options
When a user clicks your ad, it should bring them to a persuasive landing page. What contact options do you offer on your landing page?
Offering a phone number is the fastest and most effective way of communicating with potential clients. Not everyone can communicate this way.
For this reason, make sure you offer different communication options like text and email.
Include the Deaf and Hard of Hearing in Your Marketing Materials
Your company brand can be inclusive by integrating the deaf and hard of hearing in your advertising campaigns as models, actors, and spokespersons. By placing a person doing sign language or holding their service dog in your advertising materials, you are speaking very loudly to the deaf and hard of hearing community.
You can also gather testimonials and feature them in marketing campaign emails, landing pages, and your website. This incorporates social proof into your marketing strategy that points specifically to this group.
Be Open to Suggestions
Businesses should always be open to listening to customers. The best way to make yourself open is to interact with your deaf and hard of hearing audience.
Send survey questions that ask if your products and services are satisfyingly accessible to them and how you can improve.
You can also have survey papers and comment forms in your reception area.
Whatever feedback you receive, respond in a way that shows you care about their buyer’s experience, and you’re ready to make the necessary changes.
Marketing to the deaf and hard of hearing is a rewarding action that barely takes an arm and a leg to do. Making sure your business is ADA compliant, fixing up your store, and adding to your marketing strategy are some great steps to getting started.
In return, marketing to the deaf and hard of hearing opens your business to many new opportunities. You’ll grow brand awareness, gain loyal and repeat customers, and make more sales. What are you waiting for?