We hear it day after day in our industry: Providers need to market themselves because they’re entering an era of competitiveness like they’ve never seen before. As a marketing consultant in the healthcare sector, I can tell you first-hand that this is 100% true.

There’s no doubt that one of the best marketing tools you have in your arsenal is your people; but what you may not realize is that the inner workings of your facilities may be an even more effective marketing tool (especially when combined with expertise of your staff). In other words, understanding what a potential client looks for in the process of how you care for their loved ones is a powerful referral- and census-builder.

And guess what? That marketing opportunity is driven in large part by the technology you have in place within your facilities. So why not get the recognition you deserve?

Through its Technology Awards program, McKnight’s Long-Term Care News is providing you with a golden opportunity to be publicly recognized for the technology investments you’ve made over the past several years and the results they have provided you. And what’s better? It costs nothing (except a little bit of time) to submit your entry!

Yes, you heard right — free marketing! Whether you’re a large or small provider organization, here are 10 very good (marketing) reasons for entering McKnight’s Technology Awards 2012:

1. You can use this as one more way to network with residents and their families, hospitals, referring physicians, social workers and faith-based communities that recommend nursing homes to their patients or members

2. It helps with your business and technology planning

3. You’ll get invaluable media exposure (at no cost to you!)

4. There’s a free expert assessment of your organization

5. It will boost staff morale

6. Potential investors will be impressed

7. It’s a good way of recognizing staff loyalty

8. New staff will be attracted to an award winner

9. As a winner, you would receive an impressive trophy and the opportunity for a party (another marketing opportunity!) at your facility to receive your prize

10. It will raise your company profile in your region and with the communities you know (and who should know you!)

So let the recognition begin! Go to www.mcknights.com/awards and submit your entry today. (And do it before your competitors get there first!).

Pam Selker Rak is president of CommuniTech, LLC.