Why Marketing?

Clarity of mind means clarity of passion, too; this is why a great and clear mind loves ardently and sees distinctly what it loves. Blaise Pascal (1623 - 1662)

Love is the triumph of imagination over intelligence. H. L. Mencken (1880 - 1956)

You may wonder why we open this article with a definition of love. Words written long before modern management coined the word Marketing, apply just as readily to how marketing is best used to connect communities. Confusion still reigns about just what marketing is. Words we hear frequently lose their meaning. Consider words such as love, hero, success, courage and, for our purposes here, marketing. All have different levels of meaning dependant on our experiences. At their deepest level, each word transcends the individual and influences communities. When not present or misrepresented, we know and experience the consequences.

As consumers we are subject to Marketing in our everyday activities, but still many organisations do not take a professional approach to Marketing. They wonder why they fail to deal with change, lose market share and profits.

The following article addresses a single industry sector; however the principles of Marketing apply to any industry. Professional Marketing enhances an organisation’s wellbeing, delivers healthy, sustainable growth and ability to respond to change.

hands.jpgWhy Market Aged Care?

Aged Care facilities are big business. Comprising various management structures, they deliver complex health care services, and require a range of interconnected skills. They operate in communities with different needs, mores and expectations, in an increasingly competitive market place. This paper is the first in a series of three that will outline the benefits of using marketing as a management tool in the Aged Care Industry.

Familiarity with the word marketing obscures the subtleties and complexities of marketing as a management tool. Marketing has a relatively new role in businesses and organisations (around sixty years), necessitated by increased competition, more sophisticated ways of identifying, analysing and communicating with target audiences, and the need to deliver sustainable business growth.

The most successful businesses are those that use marketing at the senior levels of the business to optimise business performance, facilitate change, and as with all management tools, marketing is used to plan and measure results.

Confusion still reigns about just what marketing is. Words we hear frequently lose their meaning. Consider words such as love, hero, success, courage and, for our purposes here, marketing. All have different levels of meaning dependant on our experiences. At their deepest level, each word transcends the individual and influences communities. When not present or misrepresented, we know.

Marketing is pervasive. It influences us both consciously and unconsciously. In a busy and complex world, experts influence our decisions. These influences are present when you watch TV, listen to the radio, read newspapers and magazines, where we shop, the brands we buy, the cars we drive, the food we eat, the clothes we wear, or how we vote. Marketing is not just about advertising and selling. Yet these are only two of the tools that are used. Effective marketing activities use multiple channels with messages that are researched, focused and sustained, and which differentiate the organisation from competitors.

Take the example of McDonalds, a brand name with which we are all familiar. They do not just sell fast food. They focus on the benefits to the customers they wish to attract. McDonalds position themselves as good corporate citizens, for example, providing accommodation for families of seriously sick children, and initial business training for young part time workers. Recognised globally, and advertised widely, a greater portion of McDonalds’ marketing is below the line and spent on research, public relations, and alliances with suppliers and their communities. They sell an affordable lifestyle destination and community interests. Their objectives are to generate profitable sales at store level and long-term good will for the brand. All their people and systems are integral to delivering these outcomes. They constantly review their offers, and marketing activities are designed to meet a changing market place and keep a competitive edge, while maintaining their core values. They bank the value of that good will. And they have fun doing it!

So why Market Aged Care?

The Marketing tools as cited above are relevant in principle to Marketing Aged Care. The Aged Care industry:

  • Operates in a competitive market place
    • increasingly the focus of big business
    • often part of a conglomerate which includes financial services, insurance, child care centres, retirement villages etc
    • providing opportunities for new and smaller operators
  • Requires funding
    • to meet high levels of investment demanded to set up, maintain and grow
    • from government for which it is accountable
    • to deliver an acceptable return on investment and maintain care standards
  • Requires operators
    • to ensure high care standards and management systems
    • to meet and exceed industry standards for accreditation
    • to disseminate current knowledge and practices about the ageing process
    • to provide a built environment that enhances life style and work place care
  • Requires people
    • who offer a wide range of skills
    • who deliver consistently high levels of care
    • who are kept up to date with current practices
  • Services a wide range of clients and their families
    • Many of whom are wealthier, more discerning, better informed
  • Targets residents in the communities in which they operate
    • at a local level
    • or a number of locations
  • Has greater competition from other service providers
    • at-home support services
    • community and private nursing care
  • Is cognizant of changing social systems where
    • communities isolate or ignore the aged
    • there is less time available for families to care
    • the village is a thing of the past yet basic human care and need to connect remain

In summary marketing always takes a people-centred approach, and this has a ready fit with Aged Care as a people-centred, service industry. In Aged Care, effective marketing can:

  • strategically differentiate an organisation from its competitors
  • enhance how residents, their families and the community connect with the organisation
  • empower its people
  • attract quality staff
  • deliver sustainable business results

Rather than a cost, marketing adds value to the business, and improves the lives of those who live and work there. As a management tool it is one of the building blocks of a successful organisation.

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.

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