We’ve reviewed “Employees as a Competitive Differentiator” in our first post and “Hiring for the It Factor” in our second post. Now, in the 3rd and final of this blog series, we will explore innovative marketing strategies that can drive competitive advantage in 4 easy steps:
- Go to the Point of Pain
- Understand the Problem
- Target and Solve the Acute Pain
- Leverage “Dark Social”
Go to the Point of Pain
At the time that a family is reaching out in need of support or services, they are in the heat of decision-making. Ideally there would be some level of brand recognition of your organization prior to the point of decision-making, but if your organization has not had enough time or resources to engage the community in earlier outreach, it is okay! Understanding the “pain points” of decision makers at this juncture is critical to growing your client base.
Understand the Problem
What is the biggest challenge that your prospects are facing? Are they a bit dazed and confused by all the healthcare terminology and the world of prescriptions they can’t pronounce and physical therapy schedules they can’t manage? Is your client base’s biggest problem that they have a full-time job and are now juggling being the primary caretaker of an unexpectedly ill family member? Is everything mostly under control, but it seems emotional needs are not being met and manifesting in less than ideal health outcomes?
Whatever the challenge, developing a sense of what issues your potential client is facing is key. If you can define the key problem characteristics your prospect is facing, you can develop solutions to help solve them.
Target and Solve the Acute Pain
At this point you may be on a list of many organizations that can provide a service that the discharge planner may hand a family member. What will you have that differentiates you from other services? The other services can help prepare meals at home or provide transportation. And you do the same thing. So how do you do more than just that? Provide a broader solution. What is your unique value proposition? Do you work with the client on schedule management including leveraging resources to manage what might feel like an overwhelming calendar of physical therapy, medication reminders, and check-ups? Do you package your services differently to target the needs to primary caregivers juggling ever changing schedules? Be clear about what you solve.
Leverage “Dark Social”
So yes, there is nothing new about referrals here and getting referrals from other providers is still critical. But as technology has evolved, “tell a friend” and provider to provider referrals are now not the only or main channels for reaching potential clients. In fact, dark social accounts for 84% of outbound sharing in some markets.
So what exactly is dark social and how does it affect your organization? Dark social is when people share content through private channels (e.g. closed Facebook groups, group chats on WhatsApp or GroupMe, or direct emails between two people in private conversation). Imagine that your client has an amazing experience with their mother’s home aide and posts about it on their social channel and someone re-shares it. You are reaching an audience through a trusted source: their friend. Can you envision what that could do for your organization? We thought so. But it doesn’t always happen that organically. More often than not, you’ve got to get involved.
Getting involved is as easy as developing meaningful content for your audience. For example, getting your brand in the community can be about developing a branded checklist of steps for setting up a loved one recovering from surgery at home for the first time or providing tools that help guide consumers who are confused about what exactly will be reimbursed by who and what their out of pocket will be. These are resources often shared in closed private networks. In fact, most of what gets shared in these networks is shared because it is useful. Build things that are meant to be shared that introduce your brand in a positive way.
A Place for Mom, a senior services referral agency, uses this content marketing strategy particularly well. In fact, their website includes tools like a State Guide to Assisted Living Records & Reports, a Caregiver Toolkit, and Financial Guides.
Another way to leverage “dark social” is through using your champions in the closed group forums. If there is a forum about “Taking Care of Mom,” but the discussion is centered around working women in the “sandwich generation.” Find someone who is an advocate of your service who has been in that position, and encourage them to share their story. Dark social is powerful because it is less filtered and glossy. It is no longer the polished “case study” but rather the lived experience. Can your advocates easily articulate how you helped them? Is it clear how to access your services and how they can be paid for? These sort of conversations are happening “behind closed doors” in ever growing numbers. Tapping into these unfiltered conversations will become more and more critical in marketing efforts.
By understanding the specific pain points your potential clients are experiencing and speaking directly to their pain, organizations (even those with limited marketing budgets) are able to reach wider audiences and achieve greater community impact. This impact is further amplified by tapping into “dark social” networks.
Read our fact sheet to learn more about how Relias can help you create a sustainable and effective strategy to grow and improve your business.
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