This article attempts to explain and analyze the main marketing strategies, as well as the tools we need at the moment that a Nursing Facility or Rehabilitation Center may use as part of their marketing strategy to attract residents or family members to visit and potentially select as the best choice in the surrounding community for quality care. While this article outlines some of the most common marketing strategies that many Nursing and Rehabilitation Centers utilize, it is by no means the only way to successfully market any particular facility.
As technology continues to grow, and future generations become ever increasingly intertwined with it, there will no doubt become more and more creative ways to market to the next generation. For now, this article attempts to present some of the most effective ways to market this type of facility.
Keywords: Marketing strategies, strategy, marketing, elderly, nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, internal communication, advertising, digital marketing.
Rehabilitation Centers and Nursing homes are very profitable businesses, once you get an ample amount of patients or residents, the facility can start to generate sufficient income to become net profitable, the ultimate goal.
Any product or service that wants to enter into the market, or is already in it, needs to achieve a steady increase in revenue over its competition to maintain constant growth while implementing an effective marketing strategy to help achieve this goal. “The best corporate advertising creates goodwill and enhances reputation by letting constituents in on what the organization is all about, particularly if the company does things that not everyone is aware of.
” (Argenti, 2013, p.108). “Customer relations activities have increasingly become a part of corporate communication as a result of pressure groups among consumers that try to exert their influence on an organization.” (Argenti, 2013, p.73).
There are many tools to attract and retain customers in order to gain brand loyalty and satisfy the consumer’s needs. Here there are some ideas to attract residents or family members for rehabilitation centers or nursing homes: Sponsorships: It is one of the most common marketing strategies and which brands dedicate a good part of their budget. “Product or service publicity almost always includes sponsorship of events for major corporations, such as product or service introductions, golf tournaments, car races, and marathons.” (Argenti, 2013, p. 73). It involves the sponsoring of events, content, videos, workshops, conferences, etc.
The aim of the sponsorship is regularly twofold: on the one hand, there is a commercial objective, and on the other hand, it assists to enhance the brand or facility image. “Given how important such events and sponsorship agreements can be in shaping a company’s image, corporate communication experts are often involved in setting the event’s agenda.” (Argenti, 2013, p.73). The fact that a facility seems linked to certain events and is behind them helps to create and strengthen its branding. Social networks in this situation are used above all to disseminate and promote those Sponsorships.
It is advisable to gain excellent relations with those institutions, organizations, companies with which the facility can establish collaborations. The facility should be able to maintain cooperative relationships with associations, daycare centers or groups involved in assistance to the elderly. In these localities, the facility will be able to organize informative meetings, carry out activities or disseminate information about the facility in visible places. Thus, the objective is to promote the facility and make it known among potential patients, providing clear and concise information about all the services to be provided. Investing in print advertising: Print advertising is still a good resource when it comes to promoting a nursing home or rehabilitation center. It is important to prepare brochures and catalogs that show the services that the facility offers, as well as essential information such as name, address, telephone, logo, and email.
Distribute the advertising in close proximity to areas where the facility knows that the largest population and families reside, hospitals, assisting living, etc. since they will be its potential customers.
First, I’m going to ask you a brief question. Imagine that there are two very famous five-star Rehabilitation and Nursing Centers facilities in the areas that you inhabit, and you are researching for yourself or a family member. You have only known one from seeing it advertised on the Internet and the other one has been recommended to you by several friends. Which facility would you choose? Most of you chose the second option, correct? Well, that’s Referral Marketing! Take advantage of ‘tweet to tweet’ (or ‘word of mouth’) for the benefit of the facility. Because in the end, there is no better publicity than the good opinions that patients or family members express to their community.
The help of friends and family can be essential. Surely they will be happy to recommend the facility to their acquaintances or to any nearby person who needs the services of a facility providing superb care. They can distribute facility business cards and offer assistance with the promoting of the establishment. Word of mouth can be a very important factor in getting customers. As many family members are constantly talking about rehabilitation and nursing centers with more and more relatives requiring care, more curiosity will be generated, and more potential customers may be inclined to inquire about its services. This type of marketing is extensively practiced in social networks, especially on Facebook or Twitter, where the ability to promote recommendations can be almost immeasurable to a company’s bottom line. For this reason, facilities must have frequent surveys from consumers that are either satisfied or dissatisfied with their services to measure the overall feel of customer satisfaction.
Choosing a convenient location: The location will be a very essential factor when it comes to attracting patients. Therefore, the facility should not be far from the urban centers, hospitals, clinics, urgent cares, etc. to facilitate the accessibility of residents and their families. It is also important to locate it in a place where it is known that the population is mostly older. If it is a very modern neighborhood, new construction or with residents too young it will be more difficult to reach potential customers. For this reason, it is very beneficial to research the demographics of the area and carry out a preliminary study of the area in which the facility will be potentially located. For example, East Bay rehabilitation center is located in Clearwater, Florida, where lies between Tampa Bay area and the Gulf of Mexico, the weather is fabulous, and the facility is located near to Morton Plant Hospital, Largo Medical Center and other well-known health care centers in case of an emergency. Also, more importantly, it is nearby to many 55+ retirement communities.
In the U.S. there are a lot of facilities, and surely East Bay rehabilitation center competes with others in close proximity. To stand out between them and capture the maximum number of patients, it is necessary to differentiate. ‘In crowded marketplaces, companies strive for unique selling proposals that can separate them from the competition in consumers’ minds. Corporate responsibility can help build customer loyalty based on distinctive ethical values.’ (Argenti, 2013, p. 128). How can facilities do it? There are several options: Low-cost prices or discounts to groups with low economic income, innovative methods that do not offer in other centers, exceptional care with the latest equipment exclusive activities.
These are just some of the features the facility can offer to differentiate itself from the competition. GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt said, ‘When society changes its mind, you better be in front of it and not behind it, and [sustainability] is an issue on which society has changed its mind. As CEO, my job is to get out in front of it because if you’re not out in front of it, you’re going to get [ploughed] under.’ (Argenti, 2013, p. 129). The facility marketing team and CEO must use their imagination and be creative when attempting to attract patients. Inspire confidence and empathy: Many people will have qualms when entering their relatives in a nursing home. To end their fears and convince them that this is the best option it is necessary to inspire confidence and empathy for the potential new patients.
The best way to achieve this is to portray a close and friendly attitude, showing that the patient is going to enjoy the best quality of care and enticing him or her to select our services over what the competition has to offer. Be innovative: One of the ways to differentiate yourself from others is to get patients by keeping up on the latest and newest trends, and maybe even create your own, innovation can be the key to success and help you stand out among other plain jane facilities that are all offering the same boring events to their patients. Find out about the latest news and apply the newest methods. You can also attend conferences and industry events organized by associations.
This is the kind of marketing that has always been practiced in traditional media. It consists of interrupting the user’s activities and offering them something striking that captures their attention. Consumers are quite tired of this form of advertising because it is annoying. A very common practice when viewers watch TV is to click off when the ads arrive, but Interruption Marketing also has its advantages. It’s proven that the results are obtained quickly and are easy to measure. It’s estimated that in the U.S. consumers receive an average of one million ads per year. One million! This is very high, do you not agree? In order to not saturate the customers too much, Interruption Marketing must be practiced in small doses. The same advertisement always popping up on your computer screen gets annoying very fast!
Indirect or Permit Marketing, Unlike interruption marketing, this way of marketing is not so direct and invasive. It is not pure and hard advertising. It is a subtler way of attracting potential patients by offering content and material of interest to residents or family members. With this Indirect Marketing or Permission, it is possible that the user is often not even aware of the brand strategy behind it. “Corporate advertising is also a way of building morale among employees.” (Argenti, 2013, p. 110). For example, corporate social responsibility is an indirect marketing aspect. “Corporates responsibility contributes “a lot” to a company’s reputation. Studies have also confirmed that the average person’s decisions about what to buy and whom to do business with are influenced by a company’s reputation for social responsibility.” (Argenti, 2013, p. 130).
In advertising, it is often said that keeping a customer costs ten times less than getting a new one. In other words, use methods and resources so customers remain happy and do not leave for the competition. The objective is that the relationship between the facility and the resident is as durable and satisfactory as possible. An effective way to achieve this is by knowing the resident and family members well (knowing their tastes, opinions, hobbies, etc.) then offer them what they are most interested in. Another loyalty strategy is to have special details with the patients such as gifts, offers, discounts or exclusive products or services. This form of marketing works very well on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat or Instagram.
These are the telephone calls that a brand makes directly to customers to advertise their products or services. There is an added advantage in this case: as older people generally have more time, and stay more at home, telephone contact (telemarketing) and door-to-door contact will always be easier and if the facility has effective marketing professionals, better results will be obtained. It is important to promote specific communication channels for the elderly.
Some advertising experts say that every marketing strategy starts within the brand or company. In other words, if you want the residents or family members to speak well of the rehabilitation or nursing center, it must first persuade and assure its own employees. This is Internal Marketing. ‘Between the corporate communication and human resources departments have to think strategically about how they communicate with employees through internal communications. Strong internal communications have always generated a more engaged, productive, and loyal workforce.’ (Argenti, 2013, p. 74).
In order to achieve this, it is important to have your staff happy, motivated, involved and encouraged and in order to increase productivity and improve the business. “More and more companies are making sure their employees understand the new marketing initiatives they are communicating externally and are uniting the workforce behind common goals and corporate strategies.” (Argenti, 2013, p. 74). Everything is related. “The customer relations function within the marketing department require communication strategies that are connected to the central mission of the firm. The communication strategy is linked to the strategy of the business as a whole.” (Argenti, 2013, p. 76). Happy employees are more likely to promote the products or services to potential new residents. If an employee is unhappy at their workplace, why would they feel the urge to promote the product or service being offered!
Neuromarketing is called advertising that sells sensations to the consumer. It is proven that people react to stimulus and that response will lead us to make decisions. Brands, or in this case nursing and rehab facilities can take advantage of that information to achieve their goals. The colors, sounds, smells or images that we see can be decisive when purchasing a product or service. 90% of purchasing decisions are made subconsciously and quickly based on sensations. For example, there are studies about that the smell that comes off when unwrapping Apple products causes comfort and safety. Is it something intentional? Of course, without any doubt.
Neuromarketing is applied to all phases of the creation and promotion of products. The elderly today are cautious buyers that tend to ponder things a little more, whether this is choosing a nursing home or buying a new product. Digital Marketing: “Corporate advertising can be defined as the paid use of media that seeks to benefit the image of the corporation as a whole rather than its products or services alone.” ( Argenti, 2013, p. 101). Consumers nowadays no longer only turn to just newspaper, TV, radio and magazines for advertising content.
Digital marketing has become the wave of the future. Tablets, laptops and desktop computers along with the ever-increasing use of cell phones are accessing websites and social media networks as part of many consumers daily routine. “Investing in web-based communications platforms is another way to bring bloggers and online commentators directly to you.” (Argenti, 2013, p. 162). There are many digital marketing strategies out there to pick from. Of course, on the other hand, digital marketing strategies are not as popular with the older generations, many will not respond to this type of marketing strategy as compared to say print or television advertising. A younger family member that is a bit more computer savvy may respond more favorably to this type of marketing. Internet messages, SMS, and similar forms are generally not the best way to market your services to elderly consumers since they are generally not the typical forms of communication for their generation, or they do it marginally and many with distrust.
The following are most common digital marketing strategies and advertising for rehabilitation centers and nursing homes.
Visual content has proven to be more effective at keeping a potential customer from clicking a comparable and with text base only. For example, “Microsoft has built an online newsroom called “PressPass” within its main website that brings corporate information, news, fast facts, PR contact information, images galleries, and broadcasts into one central location for journalists to access.” (Argenti, 2013, p. 162, p. 163). Online users respond better to visual information than a textual contest. Using Youtube is a good example of advertising taking advantage of consumers that enjoy videos, while cleverly inserting a brief video advertisement not only at the beginning of the video being watched but now even more frequently during the middle of the video as well.