NCP Guidelines: Domain 1 - Structure and Processes of Care
December 8, 2018
Marketing that Meets My Needs
March 4, 2014
I'm on a mission to help hospices, palliative care organizations, associations and vendors improve their marketing. We can do better! In a previous blog post I gave a mini-rant about logos, now let's focus on another one of my Top Five Marketing Mistakes Hospices Make:
#1 Listing the services you offer: Please don’t tell me what you do; tell me how you will help me. The purpose of your marketing is to give people a reason to choose your organization, purchase your services, partner with you. Period. The specific services you will provide to me are secondary to the value you will bring to me. Spend time thinking about the value you bring to people (patients, caregivers, physicians, hospitals, payers, donors) and let the value you provide guide your marketing.
Go to your website and scan your home page. If you list the services you offer, you are wasting valuable real estate.
Look at the search terms people are using to find your site now. If you have Google Analytics enabled you can look at the keywords (paid and organic) that people searched to find your site. Your web master or website consultant should be able to help you with this.
If you are a hospice – are your visitors searching for non-profit hospices? What about hospices that have interdisciplinary teams? I’d be surprised if they are…
Prime Real Estate
I just Googled “hospice” and randomly went to the fifth page of results. The first hospice website I clicked on has a very visually engaging looking website. I really like the look and feel or it. It’s fresh and makes great use of color, white space and photos.
And then, in the bottom “half” of the page, it all falls apart. There is a list of six sentences that all start with “We:” We have…; We are… The list, which starts with their tax status – see #2 on my list of mistakes) features items such as:
How many staff and volunteers they have
They have physicians that make house calls, and
They have a hospice center
What a waste!!
Let me illustrate why I think that’s a waste. If you’ve ever purchased a car, did you:
Pick the car because it had 4 tires?
Look to see how long the company had been in business?
Ask how many people worked in the service department of the dealership?
No, you didn’t. Instead, if you are like me, and most people, you thought about why you wanted or needed the car.
If you have a family or pets that ride in the car, you might have selected a car or an SUV with more room. If you travel long distances and want to maximize gas mileage, you may have picked a smaller car or a hybrid. If you love feeling the sun and wind on your face, you might have looked at convertibles or cars with a sunroof.
All cars have tires, just as all hospices (now) have physicians that make house calls. So if we drill down a bit, all the major car manufacturers sell SUVs, cars with good gas mileage and vehicles with a sunroof.
The challenge is to communicate how the services you provide are going to meet the needs of your customer. The car companies don’t need to tell me they have tires or a sunroof, they need to tell me why their sunroof, gas mileage, trunk space, etc. is to going to create the best experience for me.
A few weeks ago my son and I were watching TV and he saw a commercial for the Ford Escape with the hands-free liftgate. His immediate reaction, “we need that.”
Now, the truth is we don’t need that and we’re not in the market for a new car, but I have to agree with him that I can see myself using that feature. When my arms are full with dry cleaning or groceries or I’m loading my three dogs into the car – a hands-free liftgate would come in handy!
I didn’t know I needed it until I saw (heard, read) about it. The folks at Ford met a need I had never expressed. Genius!
You see where I’m going? I know the car has wheels. I don’t care how long Ford has been in business or how many people work at my local dealership. If I were in the market for a new car, I’d definitely go check out the Escape with the liftgate. I still may go take a peek (and I hate car shopping) because I absolutely know now that I need that liftgate, even though I don’t need a new car. How have I lived without it for so long?!
Identify the Need and Demonstrate How You Meet It
People who aren't familiar with hospice, or who are trying to choose between two hospices do not care how long you’ve been around or how many staff you have. If they research several different hospices they’ll soon learn that all hospices have teams of professionals, so don’t list the team members. If a geriatric care manager is trying to find a hospice for their client, they are going to find the hospice that sells their ability to meet the client’s needs.
Let’s walk through a two-step process you can use to begin identifying and marketing to the need.
Step 1: Create a buyer persona for each of your target “customers” – individuals, referral sources, partners, etc. Think about what you know about that customer group and use that information to craft your messaging. At the end of this post is a link to a template I created to help clients develop personas.
If you have recent community needs assessment or market research results, start with that data. If not, review your patient, family and physician satisfaction surveys, especially the comments, to learn what people value about the services you provide. There’s also some great data you can use, including CAPC’s 2011 Public Opinion Research on Palliative Care to think about the needs of consumers in relation to palliative care. If you have a student, volunteer, staff member or consultant who lead a focus group to gather data to complete the buyer persona, all the better!
A few years ago I was able to help shape and listen in to NHPCO’s focus groups of consumers and healthcare professionals – some of our assumptions about what they knew about and wanted from hospice organizations were spot on. However they provided a plethora of new insights that enabled us to gain a greater understanding of their needs. And that’s just what you need to create a buyer persona.
Step 2: Review the persona for the target audience, focusing on what they need, and use that to create messaging that demonstrates your ability to meet their need.
How can you uniquely meet the needs of your audience?
What are the compelling reasons you are most qualified to serve their needs?
What value can you add to their experience? What will be different when they receive your service?
How will you help them, in ways your competitors can't?
There are two tools to help you develop messaging in the templates linked below that feature these questions to shape your message development.
It’s Like Barbie said, Message Development is Hard (or was that Math?)
As I was writing this and refining the templates to help you communicate your value, I changed the messaging on my home page. I made the change because I realized that I didn’t do as good a job as I thought I had in selling the value of my firm.
Communicating the value you provide based on the need of your customer is hard! It’s so much easier to list the services I provide to clients than the value I offer (especially since I’d rather market my clients than my own firm!). So I asked a few folks and they helped refine my message to focus on the value I bring to them. And that’s what you can do too.
Use the tools in the resource linked below to draft messaging and then test it with people who have experienced your services. If you are a hospice, ask a couple of physicians, discharge planners or volunteers who are survivors. If you are a vendor or association, ask those who have paid for your services or a partner.
Always keep in mind that your potential customer may not know they need the value-add you offer (think about that hands-free liftgate) until you tell them. Pretty soon I’m sure more car companies will offer a hands-free liftgate (unless I’m part of a small minority of people who needs that), which will require Ford and its competitors to market why their liftgate can best meet my needs.
Similarly, all your competitors may offer the same or similar features; your challenge is to convince people why your “liftgate” can create a better experience than your competitors.
Marketing the Best Kept Secret in Healthcare: Templates, Worksheets and Resources (posted as a resource for my presentation at NHPCO’s 2014 MLC.