We did it. We got through 2020, and while it did a number on many businesses, the home care industry gained opportunities like never before. The COVID-19 virus has drastically hit long-term care facilities. A survey of more than 460 nursing home providers found that 72% responded that they will not be able to sustain operations for another year at this pace. While 55% responded they are operating at a loss but an overwhelming 97% of nursing homes are reporting they’ve lost revenue. This leaves families looking for new safer options for their aging loved ones, with home being the safest place to be. So, what does that mean for home care? It means now is the time to focus on your agency’s marketing so you can be prepared to capture a share of this growing market. The best thing you can do for your agency right now is to set a marketing plan. We know that a failure to plan is a failure to succeed, so we want to help you not only set your goals but reach them. Getting your marketing strategy right will help you do this but if there is anything 2020 taught us, we need to be flexible. The only constant in marketing is change. This can be difficult to plan for, but one way to stay ahead of the game is to be on top of industry news. Know the latest happening in the home care industry and do everything you can to stay informed. There are some great resources out there to help you accomplish this such as Home Health Care News, Home Care Association of America, Care Academy, and My CNA Jobs.
So where do you start when you are putting your plan together? Digital marketing must be part of your marketing plan. When COVID-19 hit, everyone flocked to the safety of the internet. Was your website ready? Could potential clients find your agency in an online search? And if they did, were they familiar with your brand?
First, you must set a budget. According to the 2019 Home Care Benchmarking Study, the median average that home care agencies spend on sales and marketing is around 4%. As you are building your brand, a new agency may need to spend more revenue on marketing compared to an agency whose brand is already well established. A potential client is more likely to click on an agency name in a google search if they are familiar with that name. The biggest mistake you can make is to cut your marketing budget, especially when you are looking to increase your market share. Putting an adequate amount of revenue towards marketing is one thing; knowing where to spend it is another.
USE TECHNOLOGY TO YOUR ADVANTAGE
Here are three ways to make sure you are using technology to take advantage of the market.
- Website & SEO: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is one way to make sure your website is visible in search results. By using keywords on your website landing pages, you are helping search engines index your website. Phone books are a thing of the past. With potential clients turning to Google before contacting a business, it is imperative that your business can be found in a search. Your website must be mobile-friendly, easy to navigate and load quickly, or potential clients will move on.
- Google My Business: Another way to take advantage of local SEO is optimizing your Google My Business (GMB) page. This gives you the control to keep your information updated and accurate such as name, address, and phone number. It allows you to appear in maps, offers free advertising, increases SEO, creates reviews, and funnels users back to your website. Home Care clients are searching for companies in their community, and if your GMB listing is optimized, your business could come up in the coveted Google local three-pack. Meaning your agency would show up before organic listings.
- Social Media Platforms: Your target customers are on Facebook and Instagram. There are over 3.61 billion people on social media and 2.5 billion active monthly users on Facebook alone. It can be very difficult to reach your customers, even if they like your page, without using a paid strategy. Both Facebook and Instagram are pay-to-play platforms. The reality is only 5-10% of people will see your posts unless you pay to reach them. But here is the good news, it is highly targeted, giving you the ability to control what demographic sees your post. This ensures the right people are seeing you, increases your engagement and visibility while exposing you to a new audience. Contact your Account Manager today if you need help getting started.
BUILD A STRONG PARTNERSHIP WITH A HOME HEALTH AGENCY
As more families reconsider congregate settings as a long-term care option, it not only keeps home care on center stage, but it will challenge the home care industry to change. The industry will likely need to expand its services to accommodate those who typically would have chosen an elevated care facility. Families will look for alternative solutions that can provide similar services of a traditional facility. Agencies should consider partnering with a home health agency to give the family a one-stop experience. A partnership allows the family to have one contact who handles the total care. This responsibility should be shared between the home care agency and home health agency. The partnership provides a holistic approach that is often appealing to families as they look for solutions. Partnering with a home health agency can also offer an expanded client base, co-marketing opportunities, shared caregivers, and additional referral sources. If you already have an established partnership, sit down with the home health agency, and draft a referral process and co-marketing plan. This co-marketing plan should be included in your overall marketing strategy.
INCLUDE A BRAND AWARENESS PLAN
Although home care was widely discussed in 2020, many will not retain it because they do not have a need for home care. Brand awareness is crucial because it helps future clients recognize, recall, and relate with your brand and the service you provide. It helps families connect with your brand when faced with a need for extended care for a loved one. Positive brand awareness can also help with caregiver recruitment. Understanding what a caregiver does and the reputation of your brand will likely draw caregivers to your agency. Brand awareness is a part of the foundation of your marketing strategy. By creating brand awareness, you keep your agency top of mind across your community.
How do you build brand awareness?
- Make your presence known on social media through blogging, posting on LinkedIn and Facebook, encouraging your staff to share your post to their circle of friends, and engaging with your referral sources on social media platforms.
- Tie your brand to a noteworthy charity that is relevant to the home care industry. Actively support and fundraise consistently. This will include year–round involvement, not just at an annual event. Ideally, volunteer to serve on a committee or board. Getting involved locally will not only give you the ability to be more involved, but you will also get to meet and be a part of the lives it touches. Organizations such as Honor Flight Network, Wreaths Across America, Alzheimer’s Foundation of America/Alzheimer’s Association, and Second Wind Dreams1 focus on senior adults.
- Sponsor and/or participate in local events. Supporting local events will not only build brand awareness but will support your community. Parades, festivals, community celebrations, and charity walks provide you the opportunity to show your brand’s support. At a community event, agencies can interact with current and prospective clients and their families, educating them about the benefits of home care, provide marketing materials and small giveaways with your agency name on them. Additionally, agencies can form potentially valuable relationships with other local businesses. According to Aventri2, 95% of marketers agree that live events provide valuable opportunities to develop in-person connections in an increasingly digital world. Hosting your own event can be costly and time–consuming but done correctly could be a big win. Examples could be a senior fashion show inside a mall using clothing from the retailers, a craft show showcasing senior adult crafters, a drive-in movie featuring a classic film, or a senior adult dance. Being active and known in your community will drive your brand awareness to the top.
- Car Wraps are customized designs that can cover your entire car and will grab the attention of everyone on the road. This is a one-time expense that will continue to build brand awareness as you travel around your community.
KNOW YOUR COMMUNITY
Each year an agency should research their community to highlight changes. Who are your biggest competitors? Who are your new competitors? What do they offer that you do not? And What do you offer that they do not? Divide your community into four quadrantes 1) where do most of your clients live? 2) where are most of your caregivers coming from? 3) what areas of your community have the fewest clients and 4) where is the most concentration of Veterans. Year over year, an agency should highlight shifts or changes when developing their marketing strategy. Are you marketing in the right areas? Is there a reason a part of your community has few clients? Do you need to advertise or have a more significant presence in that area? Is there an opportunity to concentrate on the area where most of your caregivers are coming from to find more? Is there a marketing plan in place to reach all Veterans in your community? Are you taking advantage of the marketing materials VCC provides to reach Veterans? Do you ask your current Veterans to help you locate others? These are the questions an agency should ask to target the right areas and audience.
SET STRETCH GOALS
How was 2020? Did you meet your revenue goals? 2020 was undoubtedly a year none of us will ever forget! But don’t let it be the excuse for being mediocre. As mentioned before, home care currently has center stage. It is time to think big and put together a stretch goal for your 2021 marketing strategy. Many agencies use S.M.A.R.T. as a guide to set those goals. Goals should be SPECIFIC. When developing a specific goal, make sure it has who is involved, what outcome is expected, how it will be done, when it should be accomplished, and why the goal is important. The goals must be MEASURED. Set markers that will indicate if the goal can be reached. For example, if an agency wants to add 36 more clients in 2021 and lose on average two clients per month, they will need to add a minimum of five new clients per month to meet their goal (2 x12=24 + 35=60/12=5). Each month the net new customers should be five. If it is three, the deficit of two should be added to the next month. A review of the marketing plan will indicate if an adjustment needs to be made to get the goal back on track. A goal must be ACHIEVABLE. The goal should be a stretch but defined in a way to allow the team to see it is feasible. The goal must be REALISTIC, meaning that you have the resources and time to complete it. And finally, the goal should be TIMELY. Goals cannot be open-ended. There must be a timeframe in which it should be accomplished. This provides a goal line and motivation for your team. For more information on developing SMART goals, search the internet or go to https://www.smartsheet.com/blog/essential-guide-writing-smart-goals
A successful marketing plan needs to be strategic but don’t get overwhelmed. Your VCC Account Manager is here to help guide you through the process. Our goal is to help you reach your goal. Contact your Account Manager today to get started on your 2021 marketing strategy.
 Honor Flight Network https://www.honorflight.org/
Wreaths Across America https://www.wreathsacrossamerica.org/
Alzheimer’s Foundation of America https://alzfdn.org/
Alzheimer’s Association https://www.alz.org/