Marketing Connects Change to Success

“Whosoever desires constant success must change his conduct with the times.” Niccolo Machiavelli 1532

Changing your conduct with the times and looking at your organisations from another perspective, requires a marketiing approach, that is, to know how others see you and to understand what benefits you offer.

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Aged Care has the opportunity to use marketing to change with the times

We live in a society where there is anxiety about the ageing process, and lack of interest until such times as a crisis in health occurs. Yet for many of those who have positive experiences of Aged Care, or are employed in the sector, they know the value that Aged Care offers its residents, their families and the community. As organisations you can make your own tasks easier if people are better informed about the ageing process and what you do.

As the population ages, those Aged Care facilities which take a marketing perspective have an opportunity to position themselves as leaders in the industry, and make an even greater difference. This paper outlines the key elements of Marketing used as a management tool. In a competitive environment, Marketing is used where resources are limited (e.g. staff), or to differentiate an organisation from its competitors. As a people-focused process, Marketing connects people and ideas and builds reputations and trust.

For many Aged Care facilities, where the focus is internally on residents’ high, 24/7 care needs, there may only be spasmodic attention to some elements of Marketing. Why bother when demand for beds exceeds supply, the brochures cover all the legal requirements, and the web site, if there is one, is nice to have, even though it is not used effectively and not reviewed regularly. Wherever there is growth there is competition, maybe not for residents, but for staff, building approvals, and finances to maintain and to grow the organisation.

All professions use language and systems that are exclusive to them. The medical and legal professions are masters at this. This paper introduces you to some of the words and concepts of Marketing, a word much used, but not necessarily understood. A Marketing focus is not an occasional activity. For any business, a Marketing Plan should support the Business Plan objectives with a three to five year window.

Most facilities will already have a name, logo and perhaps a motto. Some may need to review if these really reflect the organisation’s values. These brand elements form the basis for ready recognition. In consumer marketing, brands are valuable assets to organisations. They generate awareness, build reputations and ideally sales and loyalty. Brand building requires many channels of communication used in a sustained and disciplined way. Brands are use on the web site, brochures, uniforms, signage, stationery and advertising. As consumers, we know brands by their word association. These words convey not only the name of the brand,  but something about the brand’s attributes, and how the brand meets people’s needs, for example: No other store like….; Just do it…. O what a feeling!…. These words promise benefits or special experiences. The benefits are delivered through the businesses’ management practices, the quality of the goods and services offered, where they are offered or distributed for access, how they are promoted, at what price, and importantly how their people service the end users.

The models for brand building in Aged Care are the same as in any business. The difference is where the emphasis is placed. The first element, brand building need not be an expensive exercise, but it does require an analytic study of the brand, and disciplined use. A SWOT analysis, including a competitive analysis and consumer research are basic tools used to build brands.

The second elements are strategies. Sound strategies are based on research. They are part of the road map for a business, and an integral component of the corporate strategy, mission, values and goals. They define what is required to:

  • achieve an organisation’s long and short-term objectives,
  • identify and successfully engage current and potential clients,
  • build alliances (for mutual benefit),
  • review competitors (not just the obvious ones),
  • deliver sustainable financial outcomes.

As clients (including the government) constitute the source of Aged Care revenue, the Marketing strategy is closely aligned with income generation and client service.

Most organisations gather data about the environment in which they operate, but Marketing analyses relevant information from the customers’ perspectives.  It stands outside the organisation and looks in. Research is often neglected, simply because in high stressed, complex organisations, the tendency is to focus on internal operations.

Ask yourself:

  • Do you look at what is happening in the wider industry?
  • Do you analyse your business to know where your clients are sourced and why they come?
  • Do you know what your clients want and what are their priorities?
  • Do you know what kind of reputation you have?

And remember the same questions could be asked about your staff.

If you do not know the answers to these questions then you will have trouble formulating the right strategies.

Strategies and tactics are the third elements of marketing. Marketing strategies are multi-faceted and must be cohesive, coherent and creative (not a “me too“).  Your organisations are unique in many ways. Strategies define the parameters of what an organisation wants to achieve; tactics define how. Strategies are based on research that identifies the decision makers, their influencers, their expectations and the benefits they perceive from key product attributes. It also identifies how to communicate with these potential customers.

Strategies employ several means of communication including advertising, public relations, lobbying, training, events, incentives, staff training etc. Tactics define where and when to activate the communications. Both reinforce the key messages, organisational values and support measurable, key outcomes.  No single element stands alone. In operations where dollars are limited, some are more effective than others elements, if well managed. Sound Marketing encompasses all these elements. The right mix varies with each organisation.

The fourth elements in marketing are the “Ps”. Classic marketing texts refer to the Four Ps for   - PRODUCT, PRICE, PROMOTION, and PLACE. In increasingly competitive environments and sophisticated businesses, the list adds POSITIONING and PEOPLE.

No matter what size the business or community organisation, the following attributes also deserve special attention, and are integral to the Six “Ps” for Marketing to be effective. The attributes have a ready fit with Aged Care: Philosophy, Planning, Productivity, Processes, Preparation, Public Relations, Packaging, Partnerships, Physical Environment, and the attitudes are Persistent, Proud, Persuasive, Passionate, Purposeful.

Sound Marketing requires sound thinking and sound action. The advantage is that Marketing Aged Care benefits the whole community directly and indirectly, because it focuses on “connecting communities”.

While Aged Care has been the basis for this paper, the principles apply to any organisation which markets a product or service and employs people or engages volunteers.

Copyright Niche Solutions International Pty Ltd