It seems like just yesterday that we were all shuttered away by the COVID pandemic. Virtual meetings and phone calls were the only way to maintain referral partner relationships. Home care companies were too busy fighting fires to nurture new referral sources.
Fast forward to 2023, and the pandemic is, for the most part, behind us. In-person networking should once again be top of mind. How can you ensure your home care agency stands out from the competitors vying for referral partners’ attention?
Why Is Marketing Home Care Through Education Important?
The key to connecting with referral partners—and being remembered by them—is to provide solutions in the form of helpful, educational content. Your goal should be to establish your agency as the expert on care issues. You can accomplish this by sharing professionally branded content that addresses specific pain points for those seeking care services.
So, how educational are your marketing materials? There’s a big difference between an advertisement for services and something helpful and informative. Here’s a quick way to assess whether your focus is on selling services or solving problems for consumers and educating them: If you remove everything related to your agency and your services, what’s left? If there isn’t much left, it’s not a solutions‑oriented, educational outreach.
Is Print or Digital Best for Home Care Marketing?
The simple answer is there’s a place for both. We live in a digital age, so having an eye‑catching, user‑friendly website with downloadable content and videos is crucial. But as a home care provider, it’s still incredibly important to offer some printed collateral for your referral sources to share with their clients.
For example, many people are confused about the different models of in-home care and how to pay for care. You can offer a printed resource that explains the differences between non‑medical home care, home health, and hospice and how those services are paid for. Be sure to include your agency name, phone number, website, or a QR code leading the reader to your website.
Steps to Success With Home Care Referral Partners
Whether you’re just getting back to in-person referral partner nurturing or have been at it for a while, following these steps can help you with two major hurdles: getting past the gatekeeper, and standing out from the crowd.
- The initial meeting. When you first meet with a new referral partner, plan to leave behind your business card and a branded agency brochure that outlines your services and includes contact information. Find out as much as you can during your visit about how their office works and how they engage with their clients. Demonstrate a clear intention that you want to be able to partner with them. Listen to what their concerns are, and what kinds of challenges their clients are facing. For instance, they may have a number of clients with a diabetes diagnosis. That could be an opportunity for your agency to provide educational content on how home care services can help someone with diabetes follow a diet plan, get the right amount of exercise, and keep up with doctor appointments and health tests.
- Following up. After the meeting, send a personal note, written on an agency-branded notecard. Mention something of relevance to your meeting (such as their influx of diabetes patients) and thank them for their time.
- Schedule another meeting. When arranging for your next meeting with the referral partner, let them know that you have created a helpful resource for their clients, related to the particular challenge you discussed in your first meeting.
Are You on “The List?”
Referral sources often have lists of recommended home care agencies. If you’re not on the list, providing solid educational content that resonates with their customer base could be a great workaround or help you to get added to the list.
Forget the Fruit Baskets!
Gifts like donuts or a fruit basket only go so far. It’s much more effective to provide something helpful. When you go back for subsequent meetings, the materials you bring should always provide value.
Other Dos and Don’ts When Visiting Referral Partners
- Continue to stay in communication with your target in meaningful and constructive ways that are mutually beneficial and not one-sided.
- Follow up with new tips/tools for their clients that are educational and that the referral will find useful.
- Email your company newsletters that include educational articles on topics related to aging care.
- Take time to hand-write personal notes on branded notecards to say thank you or acknowledge a win on behalf of a shared client.
- Don’t just bring and drop off more of your agency’s brochures. If your only reason for visiting a referral source is to bring the same sales literature again, you’re wasting your (and their) time.
- Don’t shower your target with gifts and marketing gimmicks. Save gifts for meaningful opportunities to thank the referral source when an exchange takes place, such as when they refer a client to you or when they take time to come and educate your team.
With all of this in mind, take another look at your marketing materials. If they were to be placed in a resource area at the doctor’s office, would they stand out? Or would they blend in with all the other home care provider flyers? If you’re not impressed with your marketing materials, you can be sure your referral sources and their clients won’t be either. Now may be the perfect time for a refresh.
Let our care marketing team help. We can provide you with professional educational content and materials that position you as the expert in care in your target market. We will help you choose topics that are common among those seeking care services and brand your educational materials with your company logo, colors and contact information.