Find Your Edge in the Elder Care Market: A 4-Step Plan
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Posted by: Nina Dunn
More than 34 million Americans are trying to balance their professional and family responsibilities while providing care to their aging loved ones. They find themselves constantly searching for information on subjects from elder care options and health issues to financial and legal documents, but conventional sources such as the Yellow Pages and local newspapers no longer play the important role they once did.
Marketing strategies need to adapt accordingly: if elder care businesses are to succeed they need to effectively step into the new digital age of marketing. A highly targeted and smart communications campaign will not only help you gain national recognition, but most importantly will guarantee your business the ability to grow and find clients in an increasingly competitive marketplace.
As an elder care expert, you understand the needs and challenges of the sandwich generation and baby boomers better than anybody else. However, few elder care companies use their website and social media to show their knowledge and expertise to prospective clients.
Become a source of information.
Family caregivers go online – at home, at work and on their mobile devices – to search for answers to caregiver-related issues. Don’t wait for online referral sources to mention your company’s name on the 5th page of their yearly lists, rather become the resource yourself: offer helpful tips and expert opinions, generate a regular e-newsletter or newsfeed, and engage customers through Twitter and Facebook.
To attract potential clients to your website, address issues that affect family caregivers: long-distance caregiving, health issues such as dementia, depression, essential legal documents or financial tips. By providing helpful information and practical advice while staying away from a self-promotional tone, you will be viewed as a go-to source on the issues by potential clients and journalists. Websites regarded as a useful resource generate high traffic and create a strong community of loyal followers. So, when the need for professional care arises, your website will be the first one family caregivers will turn to.
In the last decade, the elder care market grew dramatically, and it will continue to do so, with over 50 million baby boomers due to reach retirement age by 2030. Accordingly, the competition in the multibillion-dollar senior care market is tough, as the number of companies offering services and products to this population increases proportionally. To separate yourself and stand out in the eyes of potential customers, you need to be seen as a unique and experienced service (or product) provider and portray this image to your target audience.
For your potential clients to identify your company as their preferred agent, first you need to know what makes your company distinctive. Is it your compelling story? Maybe it is your company’s partnerships and combination of services that allow you to provide the best care possible. Once you have identified what makes your company one of its kind, highlight your unique selling points through all communications vehicles available: articles in local and national publications, online and print ads, your own website and social networking tools.
To win the trust of your current and potential customers, you need to become an expert in the industry. By partnering with a relevant healthcare-related organization like the Alzheimer’s Association or the National MS Society, contributing to elder care articles and blogs, and hosting educational seminars in your community, you will create an image of a credible and experienced organization.
Manage your online reputation.
Your company’s online image can say a lot about the organization in general. It is an example of how the company’s managed and how experienced your employees are. Businesses that spend the extra effort in creating cohesive images on their website and in social media come across as modern and well-structured companies that can be trusted. Incorporating a regularly updated blog on your website will give your company a voice and create a more personable and relatable brand. A sloppy website that lacks content creates a negative image that says: "I don’t care.”
Let them find you.
To turn all this effort in to leads and new clients you need to make your company searchable, so that every time somebody looks for an elder care or home care company online, your website will show up on the top of the results list. Utilize online referral services, Google Places and Yahoo Local Listings, incorporate search terms into the website copy and tag your blog postings. The number of visitors on your website are proportionate to the number of new leads, so take your time exploring all digital media capabilities.
Instead of bombarding potential clients with old-fashioned advertising and a self-serving website, companies who want to succeed in the competitive elder care market must embrace the digital era and create meaningful campaigns. Building and managing a successful brand can be demanding and challenging, but will bring high returns in no time.
Nina Dunn is a communications and media relations specialist at Spector & Associates, a New York-based public relations firm specializing in health care andtechnology. In her current role, Nina works with the agency’s elder care and pharmaceutical clients, helping them develop effective thought leadership campaigns and communications strategies.