Promoting Your Services
Creating awareness. Educating prospective clients and referral sources. Staying top-of-mind. Promotion is the strategy for getting the word out about your business. And when it comes to promotion, you run the risk of wasting lots of money.
You could spend tens of thousands of dollars on talented sales and marketing professionals, only to turn them loose on the market armed with little more than a cell phone and a prospect list. It’s inefficient. It’s ineffective. And it’s a recipe for failure.
Before spending your time and hard earned money on marketing, make sure you understand your target market and put a strategy in place.
The Right Strategy + The Right Tools = The Most Cost-Effective Promotion
The key to a great promotional strategy is to integrate the right combination of marketing tools and strategy. And then taking the right approach to designing effective marketing programs.
- DIRECT MARKETING – Targeting well-qualified prospects with a direct promotion and a strong offer. Ideally, direct marketing is integrated with direct sales to maximize response.
- BRANDING – Creating awareness and developing a reputation through advertising, PR and other online and offline media in an effort to attract the right clients.
- RELATIONSHIP MARKETING – Nurturing prospective referral sources and clients to educate, build trust, and make your home care business desirable.
- MARKETING TO INFLUENCERS – Focusing promotions on individuals who already have a relationship with the prospects you want to reach and using the influencer to create sales opportunities.
- CONTENT MARKETING / INBOUND MARKETING – Using educating, entertaining and thought provoking content to attract clients – and caregivers – to your company. Content marketing can position your business as a thought leader while building a steady stream of leads for your team.
Smart Marketing in Rural Markets: Key Considerations
Local Community – Get to know the community, and let the community get to know you. The relatively smaller population size of rural markets means you need to build awareness with a larger percentage of the people in your market. This also means it can be hard to win if there is already a really strong competitor that people in the community trust.
Number of Competitors – Before investing in a specific marketing strategy, you want to know the strengths and weaknesses of your local competitors. Determine how each competitor is viewed by the community. Observe the strategies and activities they use successfully.
Population Density – In a rural market, tactics like outdoor advertising are not likely to be seen by many people. Look for opportunities to be seen that also demonstrate your commitment to the community. This will build awareness, and at the same time will show you are committed to helping your neighbors.
Referral Sources – These are critical in any market. There are fewer opportunities in a rural market, so you must strive to build strong and lasting relationships with every possible referral source.
SEO – Optimizing your website for search engines is always important. However, investing in professional SEO for a rural market should be kept in its proper place. There may be a smaller return on investment due to the smaller population. Strategies like Pay-Per-Click advertising may be more effective in reaching all the right people in a rural market since you can target specific demographics more cost-effectively.
Here are a few promotional tools you might incorporate into your marketing:
- Company website
- Campaign specific microsites
- Caregiver spotlight email
- Aging care topics
- Search Marketing
- Search Engine Optimization – SEO
- Pay Per Click Advertising – PPC
- Internet Lead & Reputation Management Sites
- Social Media
- Industry-specific forums
- Online PR
- Content Distribution
- PR distribution services
- Direct Sales
- Cold Calls
- Drop Offs
- Sales collateral
- Promotional products
- Educational Materials
- Direct Mail
- Sales letters
- Greeting cards
- Dimensional mail
- Direct Response Advertising
- Trade Shows
- Job Fairs
- Printed Directories
- Print Advertising
- Broadcast Advertising
- Outdoor Advertising
- Public Relations
- PR Distribution
- Speaking and webinars
- Market Research
- Event Marketing
- Professional Association Membership
- Community Volunteering
- Custom Publications
It’s cheap. It’s fast. And despite what the spammers are doing, it remains an effective way to share information, develop relationships, generate inquiries and close new clients. The trick is to find meaningful, relevant information you can share, and then make people WANT to receive your information. The best content for email includes: tips and suggestions, statistics, specific “how to” information, and special ideas and offers not available elsewhere.
Best uses: Relationship building communications, education, one-to-one follow-up, special offers and pricing options, and market research.
When it comes to breaking through the clutter, simple is often better. Good old-fashioned personal letters (the kind where you’re really writing to a specific individual), can be an incredibly powerful and effective tool for getting doors opened and bringing cold leads back to life. The idea with personal letters is to make them actually personal and to keep them sincere and to the point. Forget the marketing hype, and write to people like you’d speak to a friend whom you respect greatly.
Best uses: Warming cold calls with specific prospects, thank you’s, follow-ups to sales calls, reaching higher level decision-makers (particularly in smaller companies), nurturing relationships, leveraging referrals (i.e., as a first communication with someone to whom you have been referred), and re-opening communication with former sources and cold leads.
Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, Blogging, Twitter and dozens of other social media tools have become the hottest topic in the world of marketing. The ability to connect with individual customers, share ideas, have genuine conversations, and build networks, special interest groups, and even fan clubs is forever changing the way companies market. Thanks to social media, the customer has a stronger voice than ever before, and companies better start listening! For home care firms, social networks provide an unprecedented opportunity to engage clients, prospects and even job candidates into meaningful dialogs that yield tremendous results in terms of referrals, feedback on services and new business concepts, improved customer service, and building your reputation.
Blogging and microblogging tools offer you the ability to position yourself as an expert and demonstrate you’re caring about individual clients and candidates. And best of all, most social media tools are free to use (although you may need a little guidance to know how to use them best).
Best uses: Networking, prospective client and caregiver research, market research, delivering company news and service announcements, distributing content, personalizing and humanizing your business, increasing referrals and monitoring your company’s reputation.
Everyone knows word-of-mouth marketing is most effective, but how can you get more of it? Just ask! Ask your customers during follow-ups, in customer satisfaction surveys, and with comment cards to refer their friends and associates. Also, ask your employees and ask your vendors. Mostly, teach your sales and service personnel to get in the habit of asking! As an example, Home Care Pulse customers are encouraged to use their Net Promoter Discovery Report to identify promoters and send out “Thank You” cards to them. The cards may include special offers in return for referrals.
Best uses: Developing new prospects, growing relationships with existing clients and referral sources.
Give away information
Are there things you know how to do that your clients and referral sources don’t? Is there information you have that others would value? If so, you have a great opportunity to position yourself as an expert and generate new prospects by giving away your expertise. Consider publishing an email newsletter, creating a blog, writing a column for a local newspaper, and submitting regular articles for local magazines or your local chamber of commerce newsletter. Turn your expertise into your competitive advantage!
Best uses: Developing credibility, positioning yourself as an expert, building trust, nurturing relationships, creating reasons to make follow-up calls, keeping yourself top-of-mind.
Partner with others who need to reach the same customers
Who else is trying to reach the same target market that you are? Would partnering with them increase your probability of success? Partnering can be an effective way to reach more prospects and open doors with people you ordinarily could not get to see. But, it can also dilute your sales message. This technique works best when you partner with organizations that offer complementary services. For example, a home care firm could partner with an elder law attorney or assisted living facility, or a financial planner to offer a wider variety of solutions.
Best uses: Lead generation, selling larger referral sources who want to deal with fewer vendors, creating solutions for smaller firms, increasing referrals.
Every business wants greater name recognition. To increase awareness without breaking the bank, consider these ideas: Donate your caregivers’ time to high profile organizations and media events. Create or sponsor community events. Partner with high profile organizations to be their service provider. Barter your services for airtime with local TV and radio stations. Donate your services to a local charity. Leverage business accolades like the Home Care Pulse Certification and Best of Home Care awards to create awareness of the high-quality services you provide to and for the community
Best uses: Develop community awareness, demonstrate commitment to local population, build trust
Nearly every business owner recognizes the importance of collecting testimonials, but few actively use them in their marketing. For starters, you need to collect testimonials that support your positioning message. Instead of having a client say, “ABC Home Care provides great service,” try to get a message that shows the value of what you do. For example, “ABC Home Care helped my mother finally…” Home Care Pulse customers can use their monthly Home Care Pulse Testimonial Report to collect them. Once you’ve collected the testimonials, here’s how to use them:
- In emails – use testimonials to enhance your email communications. If you have a strong case study that goes with the testimonial, the case study could be the entire email.
- In direct mail – whether it’s a sales letter to a prospect or just a follow-up to a client, including a testimonial can be a great way to build credibility and cross-sell services.
- On fax cover sheets On your website In your promotional materials As part of your on-hold message
- In educational materials you create – there is always room to add a testimonial to any materials you create for marketing purposes
- In trade show displays and handouts
Best uses: Building trust and credibility, cross-selling services, positive influence on reputation
From promotional products to educational information, drop-offs can be a great way to capture attention, stand out from the crowd, and position your services. While you may not get past the receptionist’s desk, the right drop-offs can make a great first impression and help you nurture relationships.
Here are a few ideas for drop-offs:
Consumables: donuts, bagels, candy. Everyone loves a tasty treat.
Promotional items: from coffee mugs to calendars, a branded product helps keep your name top-of-mind. Educational information: booklets, articles, Best of Home Care fact sheets, and even thumb drives can be a great way to teach people about the value of your services.
Sales collateral: the right materials can position your agency and give people a reason to call.
Best uses: Staying top of mind, warming cold calls with specific prospects, thank you’s, follow-ups to sales calls, reaching higher level decision-makers (particularly in smaller companies), nurturing relationships, leveraging referrals and re-opening communication with former sources and cold leads.
Improve your service process
Companies often overlook one of the most critical aspects of their marketing, and that’s their service process. Making improvements that increase quality, improve consistency, and enhance your customer’s experience can be among the best marketing investments you can make. As a start, look at the characteristics of your service that your customers like least. Then figure out how to eliminate those negatives. Next, look at the areas of your service that are most valued and find ways to further enhance your customer’s’ experience. Your goal is to create a defined, repeatable process that consistently delivers the greatest experience that your customer is willing to pay for. Companies like Home Care Pulse, the home care industry’s leading satisfaction management firm, can help you with powerful insights, resources, and data that allow you to provide better care to those you serve.
Best uses: Develop your value proposition, build consistency into service delivery, increase client satisfaction, increase client and professional referrals, increase caregiver satisfaction
Ideas are easy. Implementation is tough.
The challenge to low-cost marketing isn’t just coming up with ideas. The real challenge is creating a process to ensure that you’re marketing on a consistent basis.
- Put together a strategy
- Define your “product”
- Define your target client
- Determine your positioning message
- Define potential referral sources
- Figure out how you will get your message to your prospects
- Plan your tactics
- Select the tactics that fit your goals and budget
- Develop a repeatable process for marketing
- Create a marketing calendar
- Get help
- Assign ownership to every tactic
- Bring in outside help where needed to ensure you look great, communicate effectively, and implement consistently.
Providentia Marketing | At Providentia Marketing, we are home care industry specialists. We offer a range of services to satisfy the marketing needs and fit the budgets of all kinds of home care agencies.
We founded our company with the mission to help home care businesses with great, affordable marketing. Whether you’re looking for an effective way to stand out from the competition or you just need a new website or brochure, we can help.
Our services include: Website design and maintenance, email marketing, blog writing, social media marketing, marketing strategy and creative services.