Agencies spend thousands of dollars each year on staff education. 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 are 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 net 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 your buck. Therefore, focus on an educational form of advertising that doesn’t come off as selling services, but rather as providing knowledge in the form of a memorable source of information. Your marketing materials should also reflect this, creating a unified approach.
Planning educational marketing isn’t difficult, it’s just using your connections and knowing how, when, and where. For instance, having a seminar for seniors and their family members on insurance options just prior to or during Medicare’s open enrollment period would go over very well. Helping your potential client base understand both sides of the Medicare Advantage Program is a win/win. They’ll be able to make an informed decision when the hard-sell from the insurance companies begins and you’ll have the forum to expose the inherent short-comings of the more restrictive plans and the payers who do everything but pay. (You can call it, “Hello from the Other Side.”) Even if you achieve nothing more than making people aware that they need to notify their healthcare providers of any changes they make in their insurance coverage, your time was not wasted.
States that are going to managed care Medicaid plans have a similar opportunity. If your agency relies heavily on Medicaid and your state allows residents to opt out of managed Medicaid plans, you could provide a seminar on this topic. Again, you need to know your target audience and plan the where and when so you are speaking to the right people. And, all kidding aside, be sure the speaker you select is able to provide useful information without appearing to be biased for or against any option in particular. You never know who might be in your audience.
Another great way to market is to set up educational sessions in a series. Use your qualified nurses, therapists, and other knowledgeable staff, to 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 just do a boring PowerPoint and stand at the front of room reading the slides. Provide handout material with your agency logo prominently displayed on each page. You want people to take your agency home with them and share it with others. Bring business cards for interested people who may have questions later. Present information that both you and your audience are interested in. 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 group 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. Nobody recognizes the value your agency can bring better than you do. Remember – be informative, authoritative, and listen to your audience.