So you’ve decided (wisely) that the best way to generate positive exposure and powerful word of mouth for your nursing facility will be to invite the public into your building. You want the community you serve to be impressed with your new renovations, award-winning programs, and/or an excellent staff whose commitment to customer service is just as strong as their superb clinical protocols.

Long range planning needs to take place before jumping into event planning to diversify your marketing strategy

Where do you begin?

Let’s first understand where not to begin.

Before you jump head-first into organizing a senior tea party, a clinical presentation, or a community health fair – first, sit back and think about your audience. Who do you want to target and why? Make no mistake, any individual who walks into your facility and has a good experience – whether it’s a patient’s 14-year-old grandchild, a baby-boomer touring your rehab wing before a knee surgery, or a physician from a major referral source – will make a positive impact. Word of mouth is incredibly powerful in this industry, whether it’s within the clinical community or in surrounding residential neighborhoods. It all makes a difference.

So, back to our 14-year-old grandchild, the pre-op baby boomer and the physician – which should you target? The answer, of course, is all of them.

This is why you need a plan before you plan. That is, see the forest from the trees before stepping onto the rut-laden path that is event planning. As you may imagine an attraction for a 14-year-old will not be the same for the baby-boomer, and likewise for the physician. This may seem like common sense. Unfortunately, I’ve seen too many facilities fail to diversify their audience with a robust series of events. Ironically, often buildings get stuck because of success they’ve had with particular events.

Clinical presentations are effective, but just one or a variety of events that make up a diverse marketing strategy.

Staples like the monthly (free) healthy breakfast, ice cream socials (Yum! That sounds good!), and the free blood pressure screenings can draw a consistent crowd to your building each and every time. That’s great, don’t stop. But soon you will realize that there are diminishing returns. This is because it will tend to be the same demographic, and ultimately, many of the same people. Again, there is significant value to building and solidifying these relationships. A good political candidate knows that the union vote alone won’t win the election, he or she needs to get a percentage of soccer moms, veterans, etc. Similarly, decision-makers who choose (or don’t choose) your nursing home come in all different forms.

To look at it another way, just as senior care facilities are striving for greater payer mix to diversify financially, you have to mix it up to diversify your marketing plan and your audience.

In Part 4, I will talk about brainstorming and rolling out a calendar of marketing events and tasks that will make sure your attendees reflect the wide range of people who will determine if your facility will succeed in building and maintaining census.

John Krol
President of OneEighty Media, Inc., and lead communications consultant for this full-service marketing, communications and advertising firm. John’s extensive experience in journalism, broadcasting, public relations, government relations, SEM, community outreach and marketing provides a unique perspective for businesses looking to re-energize and diversify their marketing efforts. Read more...