So you've started a home care agency or you've decided it's time to take your small home business to the next level. How do you create a steady stream of new clients so your business can grow? How do you do this on an annual marketing budget that is less than what some major franchises spend in a day? Most importantly, how do you market a new home care agency in a way that produces return on investment? Here's how. The following protocol applies to:
Non-Medical Home Care | Personal Care | Private-Duty Home Care | Companion Care | Private-Duty Nursing
This protocol can be implemented over time, as budget allows, but it should be implemented in the order displayed here. In short, the procedure is
- Start selling (networking)
- Print brochures or rack cards
- Get a good website
- Pull advertising
- Push advertising
- Never stop selling
The vast majority of new home care agency owners have more time than money, so use that time letting everyone know you are open for business. Ask all your friends to tell their friends. Set appointments with clergy, insurance agents who sell long-term care insurance, case managers, Medicare-certified home health agencies, hospice agencies, social workers, etc. Do not wait for your brochure to get done before networking. Do not wait for your website to get done before networking. The only excuse to not be selling is that you are busy actually delivering the service. Then, when your brochures get done, that's a great excuse to call your contacts back and visit again.
When networking a new home care agency, sell yourself, not the brand. Start working on branding as soon as you can, but keep that part in the background. On your budget, you won't be an actual brand for a while. There are so many home care agencies and brands out there, but there is only one you. Your prospective referral sources will get much more excited by you than they will by just another home care agency.
2. Sales Collateral
This usually means brochures or rack cards. When budgets are tight, rack cards make a great, low-cost alternative to brochures. This marketing project is number two because your sales collateral helps you close sales when people start asking about your agency. With Brazzell Marketing Agency, you have the option of custom-designed brochures based on a marketing consultation or cost-saving brochures / rack cards developed from templates. You can have 1,000 rack cards customized, printed, and shipped for only $169. Then pass out your brochures every chance you get, set them out everywhere a business will let you, and devise other strategies for getting them distributed (for example: a reciprocal relationship with a Medicare-certified home health agency for putting brochures in start-up packages). [More tips for brochures that sell]
In non-medical home care, consumer research on the internet is a huge part of the buying-decision process. Just having a well-designed website adds credibility to your brand when people are comparing agencies. More importantly, having a website prepares you for internet advertising which delivers much better cost-per-impression than older media such as newspapers. Brazzell Marketing Agency can do 100% of the writing and design on your home care website on a budget that makes sense for new agencies. Our website hosting includes a way to edit the text of your website yourself, unlimited company email addresses, and unlimited additional websites on the same hosting account. Brazzell Marketing Agency can develop a custom website based on a consultation with you. A cost-saving alternative is to get one of our customized templates for for FREE when you buy our website hosting & domain package for $99.
4. Pull Advertising / Search Results Now
Because internet searches are such a large part of the buying-decision process in non-medical home care, you need to be on the first page of search results (especially Google) as soon as possible. True search engine optimization takes time to work, but Brazzell's Search Results Now program gets your home care agency on the first page of Google results overnight. What's more, Search Results Now will get your agency seen online thousands of times per month by people searching for home care in your service area.
Priced at $169 per month and up. [Learn More] [Order Form]
Search Results Now is an example of pull advertising - meaning you are positioning yourself where people are shopping. Printed phone books are the most classic example of pull advertising, but they have not traditionally been an effective part of the buying-decision process in home care, and phone books are experiencing rapidly declining influence. Care.com is a directory currently getting good buzz from some (but not all) of our home care clients. As budget allows, this may be another good element in the pull advertising portion of your marketing mix. Also take the time to take advantage of all the top, free business listing media such as Facebook pages, Google+, Bing business pages, and SuperPages.com.
5. Push Advertising
Now that you have positioned yourself for some pull advertising using Search Results Now, it's time to think about building a reputation in the community (in other words: branding). When you have a reputation in the community, everything else works better. People are more likely to set appointments with you, more likely to choose your listing from Google results, more likely to click on your Facebook ads, more likely to choose you when comparing agencies, etc. Branding requires push advertising - meaning you are pushing your message into the public's perception while they are doing something else. Examples of push advertising that can work for home care include newspaper ads, Facebook Target Marketing, radio ads (especially Audio Target Marketing at 4 pennies per ad play), billboards, pharmacy bags, etc. The thing to remember about branding and effective push advertising is that it takes time to work. The general guideline is that it takes 12 marketing impressions to change consumer behavior. Starting and stopping a strategy before 12 impressions is usually a waste of money. So budget accordingly and don't start anything unless you can give it time to make 12 impressions. You'll have a plethora of push advertising options from which to choose, so this is where it can get complicated. In general, you want to decide which push advertising programs are right for you by weighing and comparing cost-per-impression, target audience, and your budget's capacity to get 12 impressions with the average member of that audience.
5 (a) All Points Bulletin: For new home care agencies, the All Points Bulletin program is an excellent first choice in push advertising. We like the All Points Bulletin (APB) here because it is more fully featured than most of your other advertising options. At the $40-per-week level, your branded content is seen online at least 5,000 times per week by older adults in your service area, making the APB like newspaper or radio advertising. However, at less than a penny per verified impression with a well-targeted audience, the APB delivers greater value than you will get from any newspaper or tower-based radio station. [Learn more about Facebook versus Newspaper, Radio, and TV] What's more, the APB gives you an email newsletter system that automatically sends out monthly emails with great articles branded to you. With all the networking you are doing in step 1, with the APB on board, you can collect email addresses and have a system for regular follow-up and reminders with your contacts and referral sources. The APB gives you blogging for your website and automatic social media updates. When people visit your website, they now have a reason to sign up for email newsletters and follow your Facebook page. This is another way the APB enhances your work in steps two and three.
Expect to spend $41 per week.
[Order Form] [Learn More]
5 (b) Audio Target Marketing: The top new push advertising option for home care is Audio Target Marketing. With an all-inclusive cost maxing out at 4 pennies per ad play and the ability to target by age, sex, geography, and income, this is the perfect advertising option where home care can maximize return on investment. Roughly 70% of the U.S. population listens to streaming radio / podcasts. This includes thousands or tens of thousands of seniors in your service area and even more of their adult children. Until recently, that audience was fragmented over many channels. Now Audio Target Marketing combines many of those channels such that you can place an ad once, and have it play over Pandora, iHeart Radio, TuneIn, Entravision and many more.
5 (c) Facebook Target Marketing: Facebook Target Marketing uses the Facebook advertising platform to advertise with high repetition; over Facebook, Instagram, and partner apps; to a very narrowly defined target audience; with a custom strategic advertising message. With a cost per ad view of around 2 pennies, all-inclusive, and the ability to target your ads by age, sex, and neighborhood, Facebook Target Marketing can push your ads out more cost-effectively than newspaper, cable, tower-based radio, or pretty much any other offline medium. Even if you have the All Points Bulletin, Facebook Target Marketing has something to add. You may not have the advertising budget to own your city or service area yet, but we can show you how to be first in the minds of the affluent seniors (or Medicaid eligible seniors) in the neighborhoods surrounding your office. Own your neighborhoods, and then work from there. This program can also be used to advertise to other groups such as doctors and medical referral sources or likely Medicaid beneficiaries.
Expect to spend an average of $146 per month and up.
[Download the PDF Order Form] [Learn More]
6. Search Engine Optimization
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the practice of managing online content (both on your own website and on other websites) to help search engines understand what your website is about and how important your website is. In short, SEO works to make your website appear higher in relevant search engine results and ultimately bring more interested customers to your website.
Technically, search engine optimization might fall under pull advertising. We list it here as number six because the strategies listed above offer higher or faster potential for return on investment. Don't over-interpret that evaluation, though. Brazzell's search engine optimization has a long track record of strong success for local home care agencies. We usually have our clients on the first page of Google for multiple, high-value keywords in one to three months.
SEO is not a duplication of Search Results Now. SEO can increase the number of hot prospects finding your website each month over and above Search Results Now because Search Results Now uses paid results and SEO influences organic results.
Cost: $169 per month (2/11/17)
In conclusion, every home care agency can grow successfully at its own pace. With websites available for $99 and 1,000 rack cards available for $169 (all-inclusive), there's no reason to not have professional-grade sales materials now. When you are ready to use advertising to generate leads, start with pull advertising to get the fastest return on investment. When you are ready to invest in the long-term strength of your brand, use push advertising - especially Audio Target Marketing and/or Facebook Target Marketing.