There have been a number of significant changes over the recent years along with a new set of challenges that the aged care sector is facing — from deregulation, the Royal Commission, and shifts in customer preferences. As a result, aged care providers need to find new ways to stand out and gain the trust of their potential customers.
Insight: Organisations that have a strong sense of purpose and are able to communicate it are able to innovate and transform better.
Data: Harvard Business Review and EY report that organisations that understand and are able to communicate their purpose experienced a growth of 10% or more. On the other hand, 42% of those that are not purpose-driven report a flat or declining revenue.
Key Action Point: For aged care organisations to stand out this year, they need to define and communicate their purpose clearly.
The Challenges that Shook the Aged Care Sector
Following the 2017 scandal in a South Australian aged care facility, the Royal Commission was called to investigate the quality of care being delivered in aged care. It brought to a focus what’s wrong in aged care facilities today and the effects of these failures, even if they only represent a small minority in the sector, were massive.
With media further putting the spotlight on this issue, it’s painted a bad picture of the aged care sector, leading to a perception and trust issue amongst customers. It has undermined the rest of the countless people in aged care homes who are committed to giving only the best care.
The announcement of the Royal Commission has shaken up the market, with potential clients scrutinising their options more rigorously.
Adding to that is the confusion amongst customers because of the deregulation leading to care funding being given directly to customers, instead of to the providers. With more choices come more competition, making it tough for customers to know which facility is right for them and for their loved ones.
We have also seen how customer preferences have changed for the past couple of years. Our elderly prefer to stay at home longer and remain independent. This brought about growth in home care but has affected residential aged care services, with people moving into residential at a much later stage in life.
Another trend we’re seeing is that customers are not just using one service — they may opt to use different service providers for their needs over time. This makes the ability for providers to offer continuum of care play a bigger role than ever.
The aged care sector is vital to Australia; it’s essential to our way of life. With all these trends and challenges facing the sector, coupled with the increasing demands of the ageing population, aged care providers need to think of ways to win over customers. That’s why marketing is more relevant than ever.
Below are some key marketing strategies you can implement in order to stand out and establish trust with your potential customers.
From Purpose to Neighbourhood Marketing: Proven Strategies for Aged Care Providers
From “For Profit” to “For Purpose”
With the sector and its customers’ choices constantly evolving, care organisations need to shift the focus from being a “for profit” to being a “for purpose” organisation.
If there is one thing that your customers need to know about you first, it’s your purpose. Purpose is the reason why you are in business. It has the ability to move and inspire you, your staff, and your customers. By making purpose the driver of your strategy, decision-making in the organisation becomes streamlined.
To communicate your purpose effectively, you also need to get clear on your value proposition. Your value proposition is a statement of what you do that enriches the lives of your customers. The decision to move someone into aged care can be a difficult decision for all parties involved, so supporting individuals and their families in understanding the value of what your aged care business can do for them is incredibly important.
By being able to communicate the real value of your service, the pain points it solves, and what your customers can gain from engaging with your organisation, it becomes easier to convince customers to choose you over your competitors.
Related article: What Needs to Change when Developing a Strategy for Nonprofits
Getting Your Internal Culture Strategy Right
According to Harvard Business Review, company culture shapes attitudes and behaviours in the group; it defines what’s encouraged and considered acceptable and what’s discouraged and rejected.
This plays a more important role when it comes to servicing ‘care’. Due to the personal nature of care, it can be extremely harmful to your business and your customers to have personnel, nurses, carers, and the like who are not aligned with and living the organisation’s values.
The culture you define for the business guides your staff when they interact with the people they are caring for. This applies across all areas of aged care including home care where there are ‘remote’ nurses on the road are servicing clients under a ‘brand banner’.
Customer Journey Mapping
Due to not only changes in the industry, but in channels which customers use to interact with businesses, there is a need to to re-address your route to market and communication across the customer journey.
This has accelerated with the recent deregulation as competition has increased, and it is now the responsibility of customers to research and engage providers.
It’s more important than ever to review your customer journey to be able to understand how people are finding you and how your organisation is interacting with your customers across the different stages in their journey. By mapping their journey, you are also able to spot weak areas and improve the customer experience at every touchpoint. This can support not only acquisition but also retention and referrals.
Establishing Your Online Presence
Because people can now choose which provider (or providers) they want, they (or their family members) often do much of their researching online.
With the proliferation of disruptors in the industry, there’s a need for care providers to rethink the way their audience find them, how they get noticed online, and win the war for attention.
Related article: The War for Attention: How World-Class Brands Stand Out
Local Area Marketing
An aged care home’s success depends largely on its residents, their families, and the care personnel. And more often than not, these people tend to reside within the local area.
Location and proximity for family members play a large role in the decision-making process. So it’s important to get your local area marketing and communications right.
It’s also important to engage with your audience through local community initiatives and interact with family members in a way that keeps your facility top of mind. In the end, you want to communicate in the best way possible that your aged care facility is the smarter choice for them.
Example: Bankstown City Aged Care
BCAC is an aged care provider servicing the local community in Bankstown. As a proactive response to the deregulation policy, they began to market their services. We created a new positioning for their brand, “Looking after the community”.
One of the collaterals we produced for them is a manifesto video that established the emotional tie between the residents of Bankstown and BCAC centres.
The deregulation and the announcement Royal Commission brought consequences that are significantly impacting the aged care industry.
To remain successful in the industry, action is needed. This year, care providers need to step up to win their target customers’ attention while remaining top of mind by providing the best care possible and being able to effectively communicate this to the market.