How Eldercare Marketers Can Win Consumers

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50 shades of gray

 

The “Silver Tsunami” impact on health care is well documented – as is the fact that more than 75% of wealth in the US and the UK is owned by people age 65+ (globalchange.com).

 

So why don’t healthcare marketers of senior-targeted services – home health, assisted living, and even skilled nursing facilities – do a better job of identifying with older consumers as individuals?

 

People age 65+ control significant wealth, yet are often treated as a long, gray, frail, homogenous cohort because society tends to “disappear” older people as consumers. Marketers shouldn’t make the same mistake.

 

Applying persona development to the senior sector

 

Healthcare marketers who are interested in segmenting and attracting seniors should apply the same criteria that would be at work in any effort to identify buying personas.

 

The essence of this type of research involves going beyond demographic data and drilling into psychographic states that reveal attitudes, fears, hopes, obstacles, and perceptions.

 

Just because a person is over 65 doesn’t mean they stop being an individual – and the point of persona development is to create individual profiles that serve as archetypal characters for marketers to focus content around.

 

How to address the issue

 

There are many ways to approach persona development, but here’s an overview of some pointers that have worked for us.

 

Start with the data you have. The first goal is to create some buckets – catch basins of people who share a set of common characteristics such as age, ethnicity, HHI, and geography. And don’t forget education: Just because someone is 65+ doesn’t mean their education is irrelevant to their identity.

 

Overlay demographic criteria with health criteria. There’s a relationship between a person’s health and their mindset, attitudes, and perceptions. People with serious health issues cannot be treated the same as those without. So if possible, develop your personas by cross-segmenting them in terms of their demographic data and their physical and mental health.

 

Don’t be afraid to conduct research online. The misperception that older Americans don’t rely on the internet is not only untrue; it becomes more untrue every day. Consider online focus group testing, in which recruited participants visit an online chat environment 2-3 times during a week, answering questions, responding to moderator probes, and interacting with each other’s thoughts.

 

NOTE: Sample sizes for online FGs can scale up to 100+ people, so you get a lot of data, which increases the confidence you have in your conclusions about personas.

 

Don’t stop acquiring and analyzing data. The hard truth for healthcare marketers in eldercare services is that your customer base is closer to the end of life than the beginning. Their health will decline and so will their ability to process and participate in marketing content. So you’ll need to keep segmenting to monitor how personas are shifting over time.

 

Sound daunting? Not with the right partner.

Contact us for a conversation.

Professional services firms: Brand your people

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The longstanding argument in accounting, law, financial, medical, and other professional services firms is that the company’s brand has to transcend the identity of any one person.

 

Eponymous consumer brands like Gillette and Orville Redenbacher have invested big-time resources to emerge from the shadow of their originators, so professional services firms should do the same (right?) because the brand will ultimately earn more good will if it’s perceived as being greater than the sum of its parts.

 

Not so fast.

 

Why you should brand your best people

 

Yes, a central brand is important – and too many professional services firms ignore developing one. But we do not believe it’s necessary to abandon building the identity of everybody who lives under the logo.

 

Why should the people who make the brand breathe – in client and patient contact, new business development, and everyday conversation – take a back seat to the uber brand?

 

One response is, “If I invest in developing the visibility of key staff, whenever those people leave for another job, my investment has failed.”

 

Again, we disagree. We think developing professional identities and reputations for your best people is the best retention (and recruitment) strategy available. Who doesn’t want to work at a firm that honors accomplishment?

 

Getting rid of Either/Or thinking

 

So start by assuming that you can have both worlds: A strong, central brand identity with defined attributes – as well as individuals whose professional brand identities coexist with it in an interdependent way.

 

Big Picture

 

The first thing to do is get a sense of what the Big Picture brand looks like. There are plenty of experts in professional services branding (like us) that can help pinpoint the attributes, map the brand pillars, and build a strategy for it. But in our experience (and we’re not alone), this means selling the idea at the top. Without some top-down support to analyze what makes the firm tick, most branding efforts fizzle.

 

Small Picture: 3 ways to get started

 

Once an overarching brand strategy is established, you can develop individual identities beneath it. There are lots of ways to do this tactically. Here are a few:

 

  1. Blogs

Blogs play a big role in consumer decision making.

They also play a significant role in B2B purchase decisions. But good ones take time and planning. Start with an editorial calendar and see if you can brainstorm 12 topics, with a frequency of 2x per month for a 6-month footprint. Build some consensus around the content, the name, the approach. Identify potential authors to feature and byline. And remember that having a guest blogger or two can be useful.

 

  1. Video. Shoot a series of short segments featuring your internal stars. Keep each one to 60 seconds. Make it a quick, personal interview with the person focusing on one or two key professional insights. Again, keep it short, around the duration of an elevator ride. Bookend each segment with some animated graphics to lock the content into the parent brand. And because it’s important to say something 3 times, remember, less is more.

 

  1. Q&A. Create web pages with articles formatted as a Q&A, as you see in magazines like Interview and Rolling Stone. This makes it easy to read, scan, and get to know the interviewee as a person and as an expert.

 

There’s more, but every blog should know when to stop. For a conversation, contact us and we’ll buy you a cup of coffee.