Agencies spend thousands of dollars each year on educating staff. Agencies also spend thousands of dollars on advertising and performing marketing services. But how much time and money is spent on educating the public about your agency and what your agency can do for people?
There is two approaches – one will work and one is a waste of time and money. In order to effectively educate, you need to know your market, your ideal patients and where these ideal patients come from. The second method is to do large scale, education to the masses. The second type of marketing usually doesn’t see good results. If you are asked to advertise on the radio, on TV, Facebook, Twitter or some other medium that doesn’t specifically target your ideal patient profile, you are wasting money.
The name of the game is to get the biggest bang for the buck. Therefore, an educational form of advertising that doesn’t come off as selling services (ask a long time hospice marketer how selling death for 5 years takes its toll) but as a knowledge, memorable source of information. Your marketing materials should also reflect this and have a unified approach.
Planning educational marketing isn’t difficult, its just using your connections and knowing how, when and where. For instance, having a seminar on insurance options during open enrollment to let elderly residents and their family members understand that Medicare Advantage plans are similar to a contract with the Devil will go over very well. The same can be said for states that are going to managed care Medicaid plans. If you agency relies heavily on Medicaid and your state allows residents to opt out of managed Medicaid plans, you would provide a seminar on this topic. Again, you need to know your elderly population and plan the where and when so you are speaking to the correct audience.
Another great way to market is to set up educational sessions based on a series – create your own lecture series. Using your qualified nurses, therapists and other staff who are knowledge, create a presentation based on issues that affect your community and educate the local residents on how your agency can help overcome those issues.
Make sure your marketing educational sessions are entertaining, informative, and interactive. Don’t do a boring PowerPoint and stand at the front of room and read the slides. (This also goes for regular meetings – who wants to be read to – we’re adults, this isn’t story time.) Present information and understand your audience. If you see people drifting off, stop and pause, open the presentation up for questions and discussion before moving on. It will take practice, but after a few of these presentations, you will get the hang of it and learn how to educate that particular audience. Each audience will be slightly different so picking up on how to tailor your presentation to each of the audiences will also be important. These skills will come with practice.
Who should lead the educational sessions? The agency owner – you and your senior staff. You might not realize it, but your presence in marketing your agency is your best asset and you don’t always have to worry about your marketer running off with referral sources and patients. Remember – be informative, authoritative, listen to the audience and don’t be boring unless you are a hospice then in that case, you might want to try the PowerPoint option because you will likely have a few patients by the end of the night.