Mr Thomas is one of four panellists on the Gruen Older: Re-imagining how we market aged care being held on Tuesday, 11 October, Day 3 of the Leading Age Services Australia (LASA) National Congress.
“Marketing high care, where someone won’t be leaving is very different to marketing home care, where you are empowering someone to stay in their home,” he points out. “Plus the decision makers change – children may be deciding about a parent’s residential care, while it may be the individual is looking at home care - so you need to target the message accordingly.”
“No one shoe fits all,” he says. “Providers need to establish and develop their brand and make it suit what they are doing, not what they think they are doing.”
They also need to work out what they’re offering. “Service delivery must be working well, systems and processes must be in place to deliver the service; getting staffing levels and customer service right is vital – marketing isn’t just about advertising, it’s about putting all the aspects of service delivery together.”
Mr Thomas points out you’re probably not likely to return to a hairdresser if the instruments are dirty and staff are rude, even if the haircut is great.
Once these have been established, providers need to create the desire for people to want to live in the residential home or use their home care services, and then give them information to keep the desire strong. “If it is a complex decision, I tell all my clients you need to give people something to take away,” he says.
When it comes to social media, providers primarily need to know who their target market is and their primary marketing channels.
“It could be through doing activities with the local community, and then sharing these on social media,” he says.
What providers are saying on social media is important too. “For instance, if you’re a home specialising in retired sailors, the chances are you and I aren’t going to Tweet about a home for retired sailors – however if you’re doing some great sailing related activities, we may well tweet and share posts saying ‘look at the cool stuff these guys are doing’. And residents are also more likely to share on their social media too,” he points out.
So, when it comes to marketing an aged care facility what would Mr Thomas’ messages include? Dignity, stress free, great food and caring staff are some points to highlight, while for home services, relieving troubles and stress.
“But it’s also about why something is good for the customer,” he says. “It’s all very well saying you’ve got a 4:1 resident/staff ratio, but you need to point out this ratio means better service and care for the customer.”
At the conference, the panel will also discuss the affect baby boomers are having on the industry. “Baby boomers are great embracers of social media and they are changing the world to suit them; the industry will need to change to suit their needs,” he points out. He also believes attitudes need to change and the Government can help by advertising ‘it’s not bad getting old’.
The LASA Congress Gruen Older session is aimed at helping aged care providers to think differently about how they market their services in preparation for increased market contestability. As an industry aged care needs to work together to change its image in the eyes of consumers, and this starts with how service providers present themselves.
A panel of marketing experts will discuss how other industries have done so through examples of image-shaping campaigns and how this can be achieved on a range of budgets. Facilitated by Dan Gregory , President and CEO of The Impossible Institute, the Gruen Older Panel consists of and Lisa Murray, Communications Director, FerosCare, Graham Thomas, Director, Red Fred Creative, Andy Ward, Creative Director, Publicis Mojo and Mark Collis - Chief Creative Officer, Precinct.