Sales and marketing working together is the theme of the monthly marketing webcast by corecubed at noon today, and, in preparation for that webinar I have been thinking hard about the buyer’s path to finding and selecting home care for a loved one or a professional client. Home care, unlike many other services, is an unknown entity. How do you find the right provider? What kind of care is needed? For how long and at what cost?
Seems to me that there are really two paths for the buyer. One is the interested party, family, friend or professional who thinks there might be a care need in the future, and they set out to explore what is needed. This path is fairly traditional. First they explore, then they make some choices to narrow down the options, then they research and interview and then they are ready to make a decision.
The second path is why we have post-acute care. There is an acute episode (hospitalizations, falls, unexpected loss of caregiver) that ramps up the buying process into an emergency and the decision making has to happen rapidly (and is oftentimes emotionally laden). Both of these buyers’ pathways to a purchasing decision, however, have one thing in common: the first search will be the agency website and social media.
Google announced today that the searches for in-home care have recently risen. This is no surprise as a) home care is starting to be more mainstream, b) more and more people are aging and will need care and c) almost everyone wants to have care, when possible, at home.
So, thinking through what the buyer, whether just in first research mode or in acute problem solving mode, might want to find on a website and social media, it is clear that the answer is whatever will help them make a decision for their specific target that needs the care. And, that is the crux of the difference in home care marketing and sales: each and every situation is different and is based on the needs of the client/patient. And, it is not like buying shoes, where you know that you want something to fit the need (dressy, athletic, warm boot, etc.) the issue is that the consumer may not actually understand the need. Someone mired in the day to day care, or someone coming in for a holiday, or someone who lives down the block or a professional who sees the client/patient at irregular intervals…each of these will have a perception of need based on their knowledge and experience. And the client/patient will also have many variables: financial means, disease state or frailty, informal support system and personal preferences and habits.
So, how can we help the agencies who hire us as a marketing partner better understand that buyer’s pathway, and how to help that buyer make a better decision? We offer marketing and sales opportunities that make the agency website and social media resources that the buyer will find helpful and capture their attention so the agency gets the buyer no matter which avenue they are taking.
The agency website and social media should shout, “We educate. We offer helpful resources. We listen and respond. We guarantee staffing and oversight. If it goes wrong, we fix it. We are with you, in your specific struggle for solutions 100% of the way.”
So, since home care is now being searched for more often, and since we all know that the aging population is upon us an growing rapidly, it makes sense to me that an agency would seek out professional help to make certain that their selling and marketing processes are aligned with the buyer’s path to making a decision.
Join us today at noon eastern for a webcast, the first in a series of three about sales and marketing working together for best results. The professional team at corecubed has been providing marketing partnerships and resources to the home care industry for a long time. We understand the industry, the issues facing agencies, and the processes of aging. We want to be in this with our clients so that we all grow together. How about it?
Whether aging yourself, running a business that services those who are aging, or creating products or services that serve an aging population, there is one thing for certain, you need to understand aging and what that means. Agism is rampant in our thinking and our communication. Ask anyone what age is old, and it will inevitably be at least 10 years past where that person is. The younger the person, the younger the age “old” is perceived to be.
Recently at the H3IT Summit in DC, I listened as enthusiastic students created products and services through technology that will serve the aging population. Age they are targeting? 65+
The Wall Street Journal has a wonderful article on the advances in relationships between grandparents and grandchildren, and technology is being used widely to communicate. Whether social media, Skype and Face Time or online groups, the ease of keeping in touch is expanding to all ages. No longer is technology usage just for the young. It has reached into all ages, all economic strata, and it is making a difference in how people perceive aging.
Death is certainly the reality and the end of life, but death is not really related to age. I had a dear, dear friend die on December 22nd, and she was 66 years old and sitting at her computer, with no presenting health issues. Jerome H. Stone, a founding president and honorary chair of the Alzheimer’s Association died at 101 yesterday. The difference between that 66 and the 101 is what I am referring to as Aging Reality, and what needs to be conveyed in 2015.
We are a diverse society. We are a technical society. We all age at different rates based on our lifestyle and genetics. We know that to “keep young” you have to socialize, use creativity daily, eat right, exercise, have some spiritual connection and think positively using humor as a tool. Aging is in the mind, but it is also in the body. A painful existence is not conducive to keeping young, keeping positive, and using humor.
So, start taking baby steps in realizing that aging is not the criteria for needing services. Frailty is. One can be frail at any age, and need assistance. Targeting “old folks”, whether for a business, or just to be conversational, needs to change to “targeting needs”. The age factor is one of the least important in determining what services one may need.
corecubed specializes in aging care marketing. What that means, is that we are focusing on those businesses that service the growing industries that are accommodating the needs that arise from frailty. Medicare certified home care services apply to those over 65 with post acute care needs. Hospice services are for those at the end of life. Private pay home care services are for those who need care, regardless of age. We find targets, regardless of age, and hone in on how best to reach those targets.
So, make 2015 your year for “Aging Reality” and rethink your stereotypes as to what age is old, and to what an “old person” can do and looks like.
Just tying up some loose ends for some MOST clients, and realized, that, once again, branding is something that most home care businesses do not completely understand. When you do understand branding, and then systematically implement it, it truly works. Well branded businesses (it is proven) do have greater success, partly because a good brand generates more permissions and more opportunities than lesser known brands. One of my favorite articles from several years ago, makes it easy to understand, discussing the “Five Permissions” that a well branded company can expect.
Access. Having a good brand makes doors open easier. Whether trying to sell something or just talk to someone, being from a well known and recognized entity opens doors. In home care, it is harder, because having a brand is harder, but, consistency is the key, and when consistently using a well-developed brand, the entry to referral sources becomes easier.
Latitude. Because a well branded company means a more trusted company, those from that company can expect more latitude in taking chances. Having proven oneself to the public means that more permissions will be granted in areas unproven.
Recovery. Permission to recover is granted to a well-branded company. A smaller business may not be given permission to restore confidence when a mistake does happen. And, in home care, mistakes do happen. Getting permission to make it right is sometimes golden for a long term relationship.
Scale. Trust and perception are built into a well branded company. It’s this greater trust in the brand that allows permission to grow and take on bigger projects.
Set standards. Unknown services, products or technology are oftentimes given a chance simply because a well branded company has a proven track record and it is believed that the company, if they are recommending a product, service or technology, are doing so because they believe will eventually be a standard.
Also, to understand branding, you have to understand it from both the buyers’ and the sellers’ perspective. From the buyer’s perspective, the brand reinforces what the buyer will get. From the seller’s perspective, the brand should serve to educate the potential buyer and perhaps even reduce the impact of price on the purchasing decision.
Doubters of brand value will argue the real reason behind the greater margin is better quality of service, or reduced risk based on track record. No doubt, these come into play. At the same time, alumni from these companies will attest that the differences are not as great as might be imagined. The bigger difference occurs at the margin – and in terms of “permission”.
If you want to discuss your agency and your branding, contact the home care marketing experts at corecubed. We certainly do know how to help you develop a brand platform and execute. Happy New Year!