It’s interesting to note that many services believe that their target audience for advertising materials are the end user – the aged care consumer. However, are these people actually the decision makers?
For those who have to operate in a competitive environment, a recent study by ‘TNS Social Research’ might be an interesting read.
The researchers looked at the impending reforms and the potential impact on both consumers and organisations. What they found was that many consumers were happy with their current provider and expressed no desire to change, even where there may be perceived benefits to doing so.
It was a different matter when looking at family carers though.
The study found that family carers were much more likely to research options for care and support, even when their family member was already receiving services and expressed satisfaction with that support. Carers appear to be keen to ensure that their relative or friend received the best care possible, as well as getting value for money.
It is interesting to note that this has already been recognised by larger organisations. Now, I don’t usually watch a lot of television, but when my favourite show ‘Escape to the Country’ is on, I make the time. I think it must be a show that appeals to the Baby Boomer generation, those of us who have older parents who may be accessing or need to access care support.
It's interesting to note the advertisements (ads) that were aired during the program.
One ad was consistently aired. The ad, from a home care service, focussed on providing care support for an elderly father. The adult daughter was reminiscing about how her dad had been there for her through the years, now it was her turn to make sure he got the sort of care he not only needed but wanted. While the ad appeared to be focussed on ‘dad’ receiving care his way, the ad was clearly appealing to the daughter's desire to make sure dad received the best care possible.
So what does this mean for your service?
First and foremost, determine who you need to market to.
Is it the consumers themselves? It is, if you have a number of people who are self-determining – they don’t have family carers who are involved, for example, older, single migrants who have no family connections and whose friends have passed away. You need to ensure your marketing materials meet the needs of those individuals and support their decision-making process.
If I am right (and I’m guessing that marketers have done their research) the target market for ‘selling’ services will be the family carer. If this is the case make sure your materials, and staff, understand who they need to focus on. Yes, the consumer is the key person in the equation, however you will also need to market to, and assure, the other stakeholders – their family.
If you are operating in a mainstream setting where consumers and their family carers are literate, then ensure that your advertising materials clearly outline the benefits of your services, not just describing the services available.
Once you have identified your target audience, what message do you need to present to them?
Well, don't just talk about the bare facts, for example: ‘We are the largest aged care service in this area'. People can find that out for themselves. Likewise, don't limit the information to standard phrases used by everyone else – sell yourselves with the benefit to the consumer themselves or to their family carer.
Rather than simply stating, ‘our organisation employs qualified and experienced staff’ use a more descriptive phrase such as ‘our skilled staff are able to provide specialised care at a time that suits you or your loved one’.
Instead of ‘We cater for special diets’ try ‘Our chefs develop delicious and nutritious meals to cater for you or your loved one’s special dietary needs.’
Instead of ‘We have staff who are multilingual’ think about ‘To ensure your communication needs are met, we employ staff who speak your or your loved one’s language.’
If you are working in rural and remote settings, often the family members are included in any discussion as a matter of course. Focus on the benefits of your services. ‘This help will allow you / your mother to stay living at home’ or ‘this sort of care can help you / your father to stay strong'.
These more descriptive phrases, which are aimed at the individual, mean more to people. People want the benefits, not just the bald facts.
So think about your marketing strategy. In the coming months, with the changes to the Home Care Package program, you may find a need to ‘sell’ the benefits of your services as never before.