Creating the Warby Parker of Hearing Aids with Chelsey Nelson Seabrook of Audicus

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Nikki Festa O’Brien
November 27, 2023
Creating the Warby Parker of Hearing Aids with Chelsey Nelson Seabrook of Audicus

Many of the moments our clients make happen occur long before we start working with them, and one of our favorite parts of collaborating is being able to not just pull from our past experiences but also learn from theirs.

Today, we sat down with Chelsey Nelson Seabrook, VP of Marketing at a consumer health company focused on hearing loss Audicus. An entrepreneur in her own right, Chelsey has been behind some of the industry's most exciting brands, from ensuring devices are charged with Duracell, perfecting everyone's hair at P&G with Nioxin and Wella, and ensuring parties have all they need with Anheuser-Busch, to empowering women's reproductive journeys at Glow — her experiences span a broad spectrum. 

Now, focused on serving the 48 million Americans experiencing some degree of hearing loss, which can contribute to many other conditions, including dementia, Chelsey is leading the charge when it comes to promoting hearing aid accessibility.

We sat down to learn more about how all these moments got her here.

You’ve had some exciting roles in your career; which of these roles was your favorite and why?

Glow holds a special place in my heart. The focus on women's reproductive health and the supportive, close-knit culture of the team made it a unique and fulfilling experience. Working in a space where personal and sensitive topics are openly discussed and being part of a team with this unique camaraderie created a memorable and impactful chapter in my career.

It's interesting to note your entrepreneurial spirit, especially with your post-college venture into the frozen yogurt industry. Can you tell me more about that experience and what you learned?

When I graduated college, Pinkberry had just started taking hold in LA, with celebrities spotted there daily; the hype was spreading. After graduating from Arizona State University, I looked around for a place to get frozen yogurt and noticed that there wasn’t a single frozen yogurt shop available. So, my sister and I founded Yogurtini, and things accelerated quickly from there.

Probably the most important thing I learned was dissecting and entering a market. Being able to foresee challenges not yet realized, quickly understanding the complexities of the food industry, and how to market and scale a business were all important lessons for me. While I did go on to get my MBA, the experience provided a well-rounded blend of hands-on entrepreneurial experience and corporate expertise, allowing me to take on whatever I wanted to do next.

We expanded to 29 locations across 10 states and were acquired only five years later by Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory in 2013. This experience has undoubtedly enriched my perspective, and the entrepreneurial spark is still alive and well inside me, ready to reignite when the time is right.

How did you get up to speed in so many different industries? Was there a red thread?

I think the main thing, especially as a marketer, is understanding consumers and getting into the mindset of the consumer. At P&G, they drill into you that everything starts with consumer insight. I've always said that I can work on marketing any product as long as I can empathize with the consumer and truly understand what motivates them.

So, if we're talking about a red thread, I'd say consumer insights are the common element. It's not necessarily a singular insight because the consumers in each industry are quite different. From reproductive health to batteries, there isn't a uniform consumer insight, but the key is understanding their needs and motivations. That's been my main focus in navigating these diverse industries. In my current role, I'm tackling another critical issue — hearing loss – where I had to think less through my own lens but through the lens of others.

Now, as the VP of Marketing at Audicus, what is the company’s mission and vision? Are you approaching this role differently than the roles you've held in the past?

Audicus is on a mission to disrupt how hearing tests are performed, and aids are received. We're offering these services for 70% less than traditional hearing aids, coupled with a lifetime of support from a top-notch service team. Many have likened us to the Warby Parker of hearing aids, making it easy for individuals to access the hearing assistance they need.

As for our vision, it's always been about breaking down barriers and ensuring that hearing health is as accessible and fair as possible. We want to make a difference in people's lives, and that commitment is deeply rooted in our approach. The consumer is at the core of everything we do – the person seeking hearing help. In every team meeting, we read reviews from our customers, emphasizing the importance of their experiences and stories. This constant connection with our consumers keeps us focused on our mission.

Approaching this role differs for me in a significant way. When I think about the consumer, I often picture my dad. Caring for him and wanting the best for him provides a personal connection that keeps me on track. It's about transparency, providing the best experience, and doing what's right. This commitment to integrity becomes even more crucial when you see instances in the market, like the recent Mucinex situation, where brands compromise on doing the right thing. We value the trust our consumers place in us, and that's why doing what's right is at the heart of Audicus. It's not just about providing hearing aids; it's about ensuring that people can trust the help they receive.

Our team is focused on supporting you through the moments that matter but also creating the moments in between. What has been one of the most notable early successes of the program?

Overcoming the challenge of being absent from the media landscape for an extended period of time. It was always frustrating for me to see numerous articles about the hearing aid industry without our name being mentioned. In response, we took proactive steps to engage with industry media and get our name out there. Being part of the conversation and having our name recognized has been incredibly rewarding. It's not only about visibility but also about establishing ourselves as a significant player in the industry; by actively participating in industry discussions and getting our story out, we're not only building awareness but also creating connections. It's fulfilling to see people in the industry reaching out to us, signaling that our efforts are making an impact. This progress is a testament to the team's hard work and dedication to the program.

A few standout pieces for us include our CEO being quoted in a piece about over-the-counter hearing aids becoming available, winning the Hearing Health and Technology Innovator award, and being included as one of the Best Hearing Aids of 2023 by U.S. News and World Report as well as one of the Best Hearing Aids According To Experts by Forbes Health.

Right now, we're focused on getting the word out about Audicus Premier, a program that allows you or a loved one to lease our Series 2 hearing aids, with automatic upgrades every 18 months at no additional cost, instead of buying a pair up front. The holidays are our busiest time, and this is a truly unique offer for the market. The piece your team secured in CNET was huge in explaining the benefits of this new offering: Audicus Announces New Hearing Aid Line, Monthly Program for Upgrades.

Thanks so much for your time, Chelsey. It was a blast, and I look forward to sharing a yogurt – or whatever else you dream up next – soon!

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