Innovative marketing for the eldercare industry a growing necessity

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Nina Dunn
Nina Dunn
With over 70 million baby boomers reaching retirement age by 2030, senior citizens represent a massive market that will only continue to grow. However, the competition in the multibillion-dollar senior care market is tough: More than 16,000 nursing homes, 20,000 retirement and assisted living communities and some 5,000 senior home care agencies provide medical and non-medical assistance nationwide.

The healthcare market is changing, and so is the way consumers look for healthcare services. It used to be that a listing in the Yellow Pages and an ad in the local newspaper would generate enough leads for an average elder care company. But with the rise of the Internet and social media, the majority of people are looking beyond conventional sources for their information.

To harness the potential of this burgeoning market, companies will need to move away from their traditional communications tactics and enter the new age of marketing. I am not necessarily talking about big budgets and large-scale advertising, but rather about innovative communications campaigns that show your understanding of your target audience, their needs and their wants.

Below are some useful tips that will help you differentiate and grow the business in the most effective way.

Identify yourself

All long-term care providers want to separate themselves from their competitors. To accomplish this, there are certain steps that will help you look distinctive. First, determine for yourself why your organization is unique: Do you have an unusual and compelling story? Are there services or partnerships that make your agency the best care provider?

When you have identified what these distinguishing factors are, you can create messages that will convey this individuality to potential clients—whether it be in blogs, advertising (online and print) or your own website.

Understand your clients' needs

Providing care for a frail parent can be one of the most stressful undertakings any family caregiver will experience. As a LTC provider, you see their struggles everyday and understand their unique needs like nobody else.

So, show compassion for what many adult children are going through — fear, confusion and feelings of guilt  — when they can't provide a constant care for their aging parents. It is easier for potential clients to relate to an organization that understands their needs and challenges.

Become a preferred source of information

Families with elderly relatives face a constantly growing number of questions associated with caregiving. To find answers — whether the question is about elder law, finance, or health and mental issues — they go online. By posting useful resources, tips and expert opinions on your company's website, you will become a resource for these families. If your website is informative, rather than self-promotional, when the need for professional care arises, your company will be the first these families turn to.

Put your best face forward

Your company's online presence is a good indicator of how it is managed and how experienced and knowledgeable its employees are. With the majority of potential clients going online to search for information and select the right nursing home or assisted living facility, any company that spends extra time and effort on its website comes across as a modern organization that can be trusted.

Similarly, poorly written content with typos or even a lack of useful information will negatively affect a company's image and give an impression that you don't care.

Does your website represent your company's unique story and leadership, services and level of expertise? If so, the next section will help you turn all this hard work into new leads.

Be seen

To reach potential clients and win their trust, your company needs to be seen as an expert in the LTC industry through all online communications tools, from online articles, Google search and referral websites, to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube. Assign a media-trained person who will monitor coverage in print and digital media and provide content for your own pages.

A cohesive, professional and personal image will guarantee a high return on your investments and increase lead generation. For example, use Twitter to educate your followers about the recent research on dementia, new elder care laws, changes to Medicaid or even company news such as community outreach.

Coordinating PR and advertising campaigns along with building and managing reputation can be a demanding task. If you need guidance from an outside communications agency, make sure that these professionals not only have extensive experience in traditional and digital media, but also understand the eldercare market, and most importantly, care about it.

Nina Dunn is a communications and media relations specialist at Spector & Associates, a New York-based public relations firm specializing in health care and technology.

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