Key Marketing Strategies for Long Term Care Facilities

Tapping available resources to reach the right audience

In the past 15 years, the personal care and/or financial assistance given by an adult child to a parent has more than tripled. About one-quarter of all adult children, many of which are Baby Boomers, provide the care for a parent. That number is expected to continue rapidly growing, making it essential for long-term care providers to understand where their marketing should be focused.

Too often, marketers lump everyone age 55-plus in the same category. They’re thought of as just one demographic but they need to be segmented. A 55-year-old Boomer does not respond the same way as a 65-year-old or a 75-year-old – and it’s not even close. Boomers are more demanding in terms of questions that need to be answered, as well as assurances, and they’re willing to do their own research to find it. They’ve grown up with and adapted quickly to rapidly advancing technology; they’re not afraid of technology as too many marketers presume.

Using the Internet — and not just from a desktop, but also with smartphones and tablets — is how Boomers are starting to form opinions and the basis for their questions. The growing number of options for long-term care — in both location and amenities — is a driving force for LTC facilities to differentiate themselves in their internet and mobile marketing efforts.

Currently, LTC facilities are doing a fairly good job on their websites. They use testimonials, and the services offered are filled with necessary information that would attract a qualified prospective resident. What they need to do now is persuade their market more; give the prospective resident a reason to initiate contact to find out why this facility is special. There are three key areas where LTC facilities can improve:

Learn to persuade — Draw them in, don’t push them away. People are looking for answers and while you don’t have to give them all, you should give enough to get them to engage further with a phone call or email. So stop hiding the email forms and quit burying the phone numbers. And make the information dynamic for mobile optimized sites by having recent pictures and blogs about services and events. Cut out the static parts — especially on mobile — and start engaging more. Persuade them to follow up by offering downloads of free guides on “How to Insure Your Loved One’s Safety” or “How Do You Know It’s Time for LTC?” Give them a reason to take action.

Show your value — Offering resident or facility manager testimonials is good, but consider using adult caregiver testimonials too. “I entrusted my mom to XYZ because they give me weekly reports on…” That resonates with the ones who often make the financial decisions about long-term care. And while you’re at it, don’t forget to spice up your website with differentiating values. Marketing materials are often dry, but they don’t need to be if you’re showing off the large size of the rooms in the facility or the specialty training for staff and other unique propositions. Wouldn’t you want to hear if it had “private patios for families to visit and enjoy a family meal together”?

Take away the fear — Making a decision about long-term care is not easy. For most people, it’s actually pretty scary or nerve-wracking. Alleviate the worry by understanding the fears about safety, abandonment by the family, conflict with a nurse/facility staff or resident abuse. Speak to these concerns by providing honest feedback and optimism about the prospect of living there. Address accreditations, inspections and certifications; use visuals to show how Internet facilities are available for Skyping with family and testimonials about nearby hotel deals for visitors; and talk about your employee policies and how you address training and background checks. The subject matter is difficult, but don’t be afraid to face it head-on. And test what you put on the website. Test it again and again and refine it so that the message is exactly right. Those who do will stand out.

Why do you need to put all this focus and effort into multi-channel marketing? Because together, everyone 65 and older spends $7 billion online annually, and controls 77 percent of the financial assets in the United States. They make up half of the spending in the country. They know how to find what they want in a way that’s comfortable for them — through the Internet.

While Boomers and Seniors are becoming more willing to use technology for their research, that is not a signal that they are willing to try just any new thing. As people grow toward retirement, their level of acceptable risk is lowered. They go from willing to take on a mortgage and spending money on credit cards as a reward to themselves, to having less tolerance for risk. They become surprisingly cash oriented. They are much more conservative with their money — unimaginably, shockingly conservative as they begin to worry about not out-spending their means. It’s a time of life when value is more important than rewards.

Understanding how Boomers see themselves is the most important factor of marketing to them. They are active, active, active. They want to see how a facility addresses self-directed exercise, not just nurse-directed rehab. Their expectation is that the LTC will have the medicine administration or memory care under control, but they also want to know how they can continue their active lifestyle as long as possible. The same goes for their adult children caregivers. Both groups are more health conscious than previous generations that settled into retirement and needed long-term care. Address the food and how your facility will serve residents better and more healthy meals. Address all of the options — vegan, raw, vegetarian, organic — as Boomers will demand it.

The value proposition should tend to revolve around women’s activities as two-thirds of LTC facility residents are female. The imagery needs to include beauty, fitness and well-being. Letting them picture themselves in the facility will help them find the information more trustworthy, and trust is vitally important.

More than any other generation, Boomers want to hear the good and the bad. They are interested in honest reviews to help them feel like they’re making the most-informed choice possible. Boomers know what they want and how they want to receive it. Now it’s up to you to put the ball into their court and make them take action.

Ken Robbins leads Response Mine Interactive (RMI) under the foundational principle that wielding meaningful data can create the efficient acquisition of the right customers.

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