For any business to be successful and profitable, including those in the home care industry, a steady stream of new clients is a necessity for business growth. Marketing is also a necessity that helps induce that growth, and it’s something that needs to be an integral part of a home care business strategy. However, two factors are present which make traditional marketing theory obsolete. One is that marketing home care is different than marketing other products and services. Secondly, with the increased use of the Internet to find services, the distinction between consumer and referral marketing is no longer applicable, in many ways.
The Home Care Marketing Difference
Let’s discuss why marketing home care is different first. Home care is a complicated product/service. Without all the emotion and other factors involved in making a decision to search for care, the care itself is complex and full of silos for specifically reimbursable services. And, to make matters worse, more often than not, the medical community does not know the differences, and can give wrong or even bad advice, however well intended. So, the traditional pathway that one would think to take – asking the doctor for advice – is probably the worst thing that someone seeking in-home care options could do. Again, there are exceptions, but this is definitely the norm and not the exception.
So, secondly, how has technology changed how people buy home care services? Research shows that a larger and larger percentage of adults are online and searching for services and products, and those adults have multiple devices they use, at multiple times during the day, each and every day. What this creates is a constant opportunity for home care marketing moments, and each of those is related to being online. Social media, websites, review sites, email….all are accessible to all, all the time. So, when someone is seeking to learn about home care, to make a referral, or to just explore options, they do not GO to one place, or show some aggregate interest; they search from where they are, and whatever device is available to them at that moment.
Traditionally, “consumer marketing” refers to marketing efforts that are aimed directly at the potential users of your services: your clients. To quote Aaron Marcum of Home Care Pulse, “As with all marketing, the goal of consumer marketing is to let people know you exist and help them understand the services you provide, hopefully converting these prospects into new clients.” Pretty well said.
And, some traditional examples of “consumer marketing” are ads in newspapers or on the TV or radio, billboards, car signage, building signage, speaking at community events or participating in health fairs, your website and SEO (search engine optimization).
Most of these kinds of marketing efforts, other than speaking, building/car signage and your website/SEO, are not as necessary as they were previously. Why? People are actively avoiding being sold to and instead are getting the information they need when they need it online.
Referral Marketing Has Changed
So, what is traditional “referral marketing”? It’s aiming your targets directly at specific referral sources, like the traditional medical referrals (doctors, SNFs, assisted living facilities, rehab units) or industry services that are compatible with aging, like trust departments, aging care life planners, some insurance companies, and the Area Agencies on Aging. Referral marketing simply means that you are trying to build relationships so you get referrals as they gain trust in you and your services. However, because of access to technology, people are now much farther along the buying process before they call or contact you. So, they start building that relationship far before you actually are face to face or voice to voice.
So, the reality is that whether the home care consumer is an adult child, a current client, a referral source or an industry vendor, the buying process is complicated by the fact that services are just not “one size fits all.” Each person who is seeking care, or having care sought for him or her, has a specific set of circumstances that relate to their physical condition, their emotional or cognitive state, their ability to pay for services, their formal and informal support system, plus other factors.
Can you effectively market to both consumers and referral sources? YES! How do I know that? We at corecubed have been effectively marketing for our clients to anyone who needs services or needs to know information about services. Yes, targeted specific referral sources with collateral material that is helpful to their clients is one of the tactics used for them, and not for the consumer, but most of the information that is helpful to referral sources is also helpful to the consumer. If placed on a website or shared on social media, that information serves both the consumer and the referral market.
Henry Ford once wisely said (about developing the automobile), “If I had asked the people what they wanted, they would have said ‘faster horses’.” I feel the same way about taking the information about what agencies think is working for them as the gospel, when we as expert home care marketing professionals know what gets results, and sometimes it is not what our clients are requesting that we do. Most home care agencies do not really measure and keep data, so they are doing what they are comfortable doing and do not know the possibilities if things were done differently.
Eventually, our clients start to believe us, trust in us, partner with us, and watch the results. After all, the results speak for themselves. Both referral sources and consumers will know you exist and not only understand the services you provide, but know how you can help them, specifically, and that helps convert these prospects into new clients.
If you are looking to improve your agency’s marketing strategy for both clients and referral sources, we are a phone call or an email away. Give us a shout and we can effectively and efficiently help reach clients and referrals who need your services.