At first glance it would seem that the formula for marketing the business of assisted living is pretty simple. The senior population is growing, so the need for senior care is growing. All a company has to do is to offer that care and they will have a growing (and successful) business. However, anyone in the assisted living business will tell you that it’s just not that simple.
Caring is actually a necessary part of success in assisted living, and all forms of senior care for that matter. However, just because a company offers good (or even great) care does not mean people will find them, then trust them enough to make a commitment and move in. That is where “Strategic Care” plays a critical role.
Strategic Care allows for the right people to recognize that a company really does care and helps those consumers to place the highest value on that expertise. It drives the 3 R’s of assisted living marketing – Recognize, Remember and Rave about the company…and the care. It creates trust and motivates “move-in” decision-making. It leads to an increase in census and profitability.
This concept is not that difficult to execute. It just takes a business culture that allows, encourages and trains staff members to tie their actions to a desired business/marketing result, along with the desired care result. And this innovative approach can easily be integrated into various areas of the assisted living business that touch the consumer.
- Face-to-face meetings
- Systems of operations
- Collateral materials
- Advertising and PR
- Community outreach
The Progression From Mediocre To Great Marketing
Here’s an example of how an everyday, polite occurrence (sometimes requirement) can be turned into a Strategic Care marketing tool that places high value right into the hands of the consumer.
So many times I have heard “This is our Activity Director, Maria” or something similar when being toured through an assisted living facility. It is polite and it accomplishes a caring function – an introduction. However, it misses an opportunity to communicate higher value, which is a key element of Strategic Care. So the function is completed, while the marketing is mediocre at most.
To add some Strategic Care, that same person could say “Here comes the Game Guru.” (Maria will be encouraged to respond in a favorable way.) “I’d like you to meet Maria, our Activity Director. She has an amazing knack for helping seniors with cognitive problems to enjoy playing games.”
In this case, value has been placed on Maria as a person. Plus, the fact that the issue of cognitive problems was mentioned will also add recognition and value to the services being offered, in this case Activities. Of course, this would work best when speaking with someone who has a loved one with dementia (the “right people” mentioned in the definition of Strategic Care above.)
This simple change creates much better marketing and positioning. Yet it can be taken to a higher level. The emotional introduction can be enhanced by adding a (true) story which includes more value, along with evidence of care being provided. “Maria always gets embarrassed when I brag about her, but Resident Bob’s family thinks she is a magician. When Bob came to us, he wasn’t very social. It took patience, but Maria allowed him to stay in his comfort zone and just watch everyone else have fun. Then, little by little, she helped him increase that zone. Now he’s one of the first people to line up to play. I think your Mom and Maria will be best friends.”
By incorporating a supporting story, more value was placed on Maria as a humble person and on her professional expertise. In addition, the value placed on her by other people was also included – an endorsement or testimonial. To take it even another step further, technology can add more power to this Strategic Care. For instance, “If you want, I can print you a photo of the Game Guru in action, so your Mom can become familiar with seeing her face before making the move to Oak Tree Assisted Living. Or, I can e-mail the photo, if that is convenient for you.”
Drive A “Nice” Increase In Business
In the end, a “simple” introduction turns into a marketing and positioning bonanza that provides lots more value to the assisted living consumer, which can help to ease some of the pressure in their decision-making process. Look at all that is accomplished in this example.
- Shared kindness, as well as a feeling of inclusion to a visitor.
- Provided evidence of expertise in senior and dementia care.
- Demonstrated a willingness to serve and to go the extra mile.
- Provided an endorsement of the consumer’s peers.
- Showed an understanding of the transition process a senior with dementia will most likely go through.
- Made the employee feel special and motivated them to continue to take great care of their residents.
Too simple to be this rewarding? Isn’t this just being nice and caring for others? Absolutely! However, when care is combined with strategy, it becomes innovative marketing and very good business. When Strategic Care is incorporated into the selling process, communications mediums and business culture of assisted living companies, this powerful concept will increase sales.