Health care is in a state of flux and chaos. With health care reform steam rolling, aging services providers are trying to figure out how to be the partner of choice in accountable care organizations. Suddenly, the consumer may not be the ultimate decision maker. One thing is certain though, seniors and those looking for elderly care will have more and more information to choose care providers if they are in that role. Here are ways to assure you attract both providers and consumers in your marketing.
- promote transparency
- educate the consumer
- measure quality
- know that the experience of care is the marketing
- leverage word of mouth
- use mass media advertising extensively
- do social media badly
- forget that employees are your first audience
- think a fancy building is your best marketing tool
- forget to extend your brand
There is very little you can hide these days about your operation, so embrace transparency in all areas. Whether it is in pricing, or in quality to online reviews – the more information you provide for people to choose, the more they will respect and remember you.
More than ever the public is confused about long term care. Educate them about the options available and how they are paid for. Provide resources for caregivers to help ease their burden.
Each segment of the industry measures itself. A metric emerging now for nursing homes and assisted living is the number of readmissions that occur for patients discharged from hospitals and into skilled nursing or assisted living. The more quality metrics you provide to potential hospital partners, the more information they have available to see if you are a fit for being their partner.
Your marketing comes down to one thing, the experience of care. The better the experience, the more people will talk about your level of care. Word of mouth is your best marketing tool, period. So make the experience the best it can be for residents, patients, employees and families.
Even before social media was pervasive, word of mouth was spread in other ways. Adopt causes. Bring like-minded communities of people together. Give something in order to build long-term good will. Know your customer’s preferences. These are still tried and true strategies. Now you can amplify them using social media.
It is beyond me why hospitals continue to duke it out in the mass media wars. In addition to wasting tons of money, it helps escalate health care costs. Mass media, including newspaper advertising, should be viewed as a luxury. Use it as part of a multi-pronged strategy and as a complement to the rest of your marketing and sales strategy.
Health care providers of all types and sophistications use the social media improperly. These sites are not about re-broadcasting your press releases and brochures. They are about educating, starting a dialogue, and stepping out of the way.
Health care providers typically are some of the largest employers in their geographies, yet most forget that the employee is their first audience. Tell employees news first, empower them, and give them the tools to help spread your messages.
Many providers think that by building the latest state of the art facility they will solve all of their patient/resident experience issues. Amenities help, but it is the people delivering the care that matter the most. Take care of employees and they in turn will take care of customers.
In today’s marketplace, providers of care who succeed think more broadly about what it means to provide health care. A smart nursing home will start looking at home health and hospice as extended offerings. If you do not think more broadly, others will simply step in and exclude you from the conversation.
Long term services marketing is about building relationships and trust over a period of time so that when people need your type of service, you will be top of mind and choice. Health care services are not wanted by and large. You are not selling iPhones. People do not want what you offer. That is sobering. But people may eventually need it, and that relationship starts well before they actually need care.