Remember the campaign to move to consumer directed care and the great excitement when the NDIS was announced? Facebook, events and grass roots community action were huge factors in the success. In principle, we know it is wonderful to allow greater control and choice for people living with disability and for older people living at home, in terms of their own care.
Yet now many organisations are living through a painful transformation to consumer led care. For organisations and people working in the community care sector, it’s a challenging time.
Whether in an NDIS or aged care framework community service providers now need marketing. The following suggestions consider how best to use marketing in consumer directed care organisations, particularly those in transition.
How can marketing help your organisation transform and adapt to consumer directed care?
- Define your purpose and value proposition
- Be clear about what you offer
- Understand who your target market is
- Frame your services and communication from the perspective of your clients
- Get your profile right on My Aged Care and on the myplace NDIS provider portal
- Measure, monitor and adapt your marketing and communications
- Get your website right
1. Define your purpose and value proposition
What makes your business unique? Why should clients come to you? What is the benefit or value you bring to clients?
Your purpose and value proposition should form the backbone of all your marketing efforts, giving you a clear direction and a means to ensure all your marketing efforts are consistent and aligned with where you want to get to.
In fact your purpose and value proposition should form the backbone of your entire organisation, as this ensures everyone is working together most effectively.
2. Be clear about what you offer
What services do you offer? What can people come to you for? Do you only offer transport or do you also provide cleaning services?
Ensure your organisation agrees internally, what services you offer. Then clearly communicate what your services are, on all materials.
This sounds so simple, but many, many organisations across a wide range of industries fail to clearly explain to prospective clients, what they actually do.
Use language and a tone that suits your likely readers. Try to “think like a consumer”. What words would they use to describe your services?
It is absolutely essential that your messages are well thought through, consistent and communicated clearly.
3. Understand what your target market is.
Who are the main people your service can assist? Among your current clients, what types of clients are a particularly good fit?
It can be tempting to try to target everyone, but we find this leads to wasted time and resources. By being focused, you are more likely to get to the people most likely to purchase or use your services.
Ways you may define your target market include using simple demographics such as age, geographic, by disability or need type, by income level or by special interests.
4. Frame your services and communication from the perspective of your clients
How can you make it easy for clients – both current and potential? What information, resources, or practical guidance can you give them to help their decision making? What process are they likely to go through in deciding a new care provider? And what words and language would they use?
Truly understanding what’s important from your client and potential clients perspective will guide you in the services you offer and the you package them and the way you communicate them.
Helping your clients in their decision making can help build the trust that is needed to form a long lasting relationship. In the new world of consumer directed care, strong and trusting relationships will be even more important in helping your organisation to thrive.
5. Get your profile right on My Aged Care and on the myplace NDIS provider portal
As a provider, getting your profile right on the new government portals is very important. The My Aged Care site has been up and running for nearly a year, and is the only way older people can access home support services. It is no longer possible for clients to go directly to service providers.
The information that providers have on their My Aged Care profile helps assessors to refer to the correct provider, and also helps clients to find the providers in their area. So it is essential that providers have absolutely correct and comprehensive information on their My Aged Care profile about the services they provide.
The myplace NDIS portal will launch in July 2016, and will again be a very important marketing tool for providers of disability support services.
Make sure your profile information is accurate, up to date and fully completed. When you load your organisation’s profile, keep in mind your target audience, as well as other stakeholders who may be accessing your details, such as family members.
Be as clear as possible about your services. And try to impart what makes your service different or unique – to give people a feel for whether they will feel “right” with you.
6. Measure, monitor and adapt your marketing and communications
Which of your marketing activities is working well? What is not working so well? What activities really drive enquiries or new clients? What makes existing clients feel like they want to stay with you?
By tracking and measuring the success of different initiatives you will be able to allocate resources effectively. If your measurement and tracking reveals that a marketing activity has been successful, you can then allocate more resources to this type of marketing, and take funds or time away from those endeavours that have less impact.
If your budget can stretch, undertake regular research. Ask clients, staff and potential clients about their experience using your service. What do they love about using you? What ideas do they have to improve your offer? Where are the most promising opportunities going forward?
Well planned and well executed market research will more than repay your investment by guiding and informing good decision making.
And what if you receive negative feedback about your service or your offerings? Difficult though it may be, this can provide significant guidance and help. Take the feedback on board and act where you can. It will be very important to have a flexible approach as you may need to adapt your offerings if market needs dictate.
7. Get your website right
The majority of potential clients will visit your website to find out what you offer and to get a feel for whether you are the right service provider for them. In mid 2015, Google announced that more than half of worldwide searches are now undertaken on a mobile device.
So your website really should be fully mobile responsive website, with clear and appealing design, easy navigation.
It should be designed and built from a potential client’s perspective, with copy that is clear, concise, well written and easy to understand.
And on a final note
The changes to consumer directed care are daunting for many clients and their families. The choice and change will ultimately be positive for many people but at this point it’s confusing and challenging for consumers and their families too.
So how can you help them navigate the new consumer directed environment? How can you use marketing in consumer directed organisations to best help your clients?