Remember the customer is different from the client
When marketing elder care, you need to distinguish between the client (generally an older adult with some frailties) and the decision-maker (the “customer”). The client is not usually the decision-maker for your services. He or she may not even be the one to pay the bill. The person you market to is the customer.
Who are your “ideal customers?”
We love our customers, right? But truthfully, some customers simply resonate more than others. There’s a clear bell tone that rings when you provide your service. They love what you do, and in my case, because I’m creating websites for elder care professionals, the “ideal ones” embrace the project and we co-create it together.
The value of “personas”
It’s a good idea to know what those ideal customers are like so you can do your best to attract them. And better yet, if you meet one by chance, you know it and can respond accordingly. To aid in this, marketing and sales people often create “personas”—fictional customer characters—and develop their materials and approaches specifically to attract and eventually close with these personality types.
Identify common threads
Reflecting back on your business so far and those clients that were truly a joy to work with, what qualities did they have in common? In my business, I sell to other small-to-midsize business in the elder care field. Big corporations are not a good fit. My ideal customer has a strong love of education with an ethic (even a passion) to empower clients, yet does not have the time to write.
The Elder Care persona
In most/many elder care situations, the primary decision-maker—the customer, as opposed to the client—is an adult daughter or son. Two thirds of the time it’s a daughter. There is a strong desire, or at least felt obligation, to be sure the parent is well-taken care of, but there is usually a lack of time or skills to do so. Living far away from the parent, and/or being an only child, contributes to a stronger need for your services.
Demographics matter for media choices
If you are trying to decide on which marketing channels to invest in, demographics matter. From a marketing and sales standpoint, a radio station, newspaper or social media (e.g., Pinterest) that caters to younger people, or even the general public, is often a waste of time or money. According to a family caregiver study by the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP, the average family caregiver is
- A 50 year old woman
- Employed outside the home
- Takes care of her 75 year old mother who lives 20 minutes or more away.
That’s enough for marketing hospice or home health.
Income and education matter
If you are marketing home care or care management (i.e., are a private pay business) add to this a need for a higher than average income. Although it may break your heart you wonderful nurses and social workers, without the Medicare reimbursement, you cannot balance the checkbook at the end of the month working with clients who have no money. Your elder care persona is likely in the top 10-20% income-wise, and probably has a concomitant higher-than-average education level (college or professional education).
More than one persona
Likely there are several characters that make up your customer base. Start with your favorite 1-2 and then flesh out the others as you have time. You also want to make personas for your ideal referrers. (See our blog post on Referral Marketing for Home Care and Care Management). From there, you can create a customer journey and identify the times, places and media that are most likely to put you graciously in their path.
Specializing in elder care marketing
Elder care marketing is a very different kettle of fish from the standard e-commerce model. If you would like marketing assistance with a professional well-versed in marketing care management, home care, hospice and home health, give me a call at 707-477-0700, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to learn more about your business and help you co-create personas and media to attract your ideal customers.