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Looking Toward the Future of Senior Care Marketing

As MOVE Communications looks back at the past year, one event that stood out for us was LeadingAge’s Annual Meeting and Expo in Indianapolis over Halloween weekend. There’s no better way to immerse yourself in the non-profit senior living field than to attend the Annual Meeting and Expo!

The 2016 edition featured keynote presentations by national and international figures ranging from Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Charles Duhigg (author of Smarter Faster Better) to Angela Duckworth (author of Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance) to neurosurgeon and medical journalist Sanjay Gupta (author of Chasing Life) plus a raft of education breakout sessions, plus, of course, vendor booths.

But what I remember most is conversations at LeadingAge Michigan’s “Michigan Night Out,” held at the NCAA Hall of Champions that Monday night. Amid colorful exhibits featuring college athletes in pursuit of excellence and victory, representatives of Michigan’s leading senior services organizations chatted informally, sharing perspectives on where the field has been and where they see it going as they pursue excellence and victory serving the growing senior population.

I felt privileged to be part of multiple conversations about improving and expanding care options. Here are just three samples.

PRESBYTERIAN VILLAGES OF MICHIGAN (PVM): Dedicated to Michigan

Presbyterian Villages of Michigan is the state’s largest non-profit provider of senior care services, with 29 senior living communities across the state, including 8 in Detroit alone (and another under construction there).

The organization focuses on increasing the availability of quality senior services in the state, especially to financially challenged populations. PVM has invested more than $67 million in six low-income senior communities in the city of Detroit, significantly contributing to revitalization in each of the neighborhoods. According to its website, PVM is ranked 75th nationwide by LeadingAge based on total senior living units, and 9th based on affordable housing units.

I met several PVM leaders, and was struck by their broad experience, professionalism and commitment. In the course of conversation, Board Chair George Millush, Jr., expressed resolutely that serving the financially challenged is central to PVM’s  mission—and that if that ever changed, he would no longer have personal interest in participating in the work! This kind of dedication to core values is key to the senior care field, whatever niche you or your organization fills.

UNIDINE: Fresh Food, Fresh Thinking

We also spoke with Susan McGinley, VP of Operations at Unidine’s Senior Living Culinary Group. Unidine’s focus is on improving the physical health of CRCC residents—and the financial health of CRCCs themselves—by improving the nutritional quality, taste, and presentation of foods using fresh, natural ingredients, cooked from scratch in-house.

It’s no secret that pre-packaged foods are rife with unhealthy ingredients. Susan was shocked to find the daily intake of salt at one client site to be 12,000 mg—nearly 5 times the government’s RDA of 2,300 mg! Of course, that has health ramifications, especially for older people, such as increased risk of swelling and altering the effectiveness of medications. Susan’s team is changing that site’s menu, carefully weaning residents off of the high-salt diet.

Unidine’s “Lead with Dining” approach integrates restaurant-style dining into a CRCC’s care model, not only to promote happier residents, but to increase occupancy, improve clinical outcomes, reduce hospital readmissions and control costs. The program includes training for dining and nutrition staff to help them recognize changes in a resident’s condition that may signal trouble.

Susan’s dedication to the health of her client’s residents was clear and inspiring.

FELICIAN SISTERS: Industry Perspective

Based in Chicago, David Ward is Senior Ministry Advisor and Executive VP of Senior Living & Healthcare for Felician Services, which operates nine residential senior care centers nationwide, including three in Livonia: Angela Hospice, Senior Clergy Village, and Marywood Nursing Center.

What struck me most about David was his joy—despite decades in the trenches of healthcare and senior care planning and administration. I was also impressed by his long-range perspective (and his command of the numbers!), drawn from experience in both the public and private sectors.

One observation particularly hit me. When David was working at CMS back in the ’70s, it was already planning ahead for the demographic shift from baby boomers to senior boomers. But the changes envisioned then, he said, are only now truly being implemented in the industry.

Looking Ahead

It’s exciting to see innovations in senior care. As David’s reflections indicate, we have to make up for lost time. Thanks is due to LeadingAge (and LeadingAge Michigan!) for their work supporting and linking senior care providers with each other and with organizations providing them services. We at MOVE Communications were honored to be welcomed among such a dedicated group of folks, and look forward to working with you as the new year unfolds.

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Staying on top of developing treatments can help differentiate your senior care organization.

Some of us at MOVE recently attended the Leading Age conference for senior care organizations. One of our key takeaways was how staying abreast of industry knowledge can help senior care organizations differentiate themselves in a competitive market. By demonstrating an awareness of the latest treatments, these organizations can show that they are working to provide the best care for their residents. As an example, we’d like to share some of what we learned from the conference regarding Alzheimer’s treatments.

Alternatives to Drug-based Alzheimer’s Interventions

The big disappointment in senior health news last October was the failure of Eli Lilly’s experimental Alzheimer’s drug, solanezumab, to yield results any better than a placebo in their latest clinical trial. “It’s not going to be disease-modifying therapy for mild patients, so that’s heartbreaking,” said Lilly’s incoming president, Dave Ricks. In fact, the company announced it no longer plans to seek regulatory approval for use of the drug in treating symptomatic patients.

While the search for a medication that can stall or reverse Alzheimer’s continues, non-pharmaceutical approaches have already shown promise not only for symptom relief, but for dementia prevention.

Symptom Relief and Reduction of Dementia Onset

At their 2016 Annual Meeting in Indianapolis in November, keynote speaker Sanjay Gupta highlighted an NIH-funded, longitudinal study called Advanced Cognitive Training for Independent and Vital Elderly (ACTIVE). This study of over 2800 seniors showed cognitive improvements—processing speed and reasoning abilities—in subjects who participated in ten, 1- to 2-hour cognitive training sessions over a 5-week period. Remarkably, the improvements persisted for 10 years after the original training sessions. Even more encouraging was the 33% reduction in dementia onset over the 10-year period for those who participated in the processing speed portion of the training, compared with a control group. The reduction was even more significant (45%) for those who took “booster” training. The processing speed training software used in the study is now commercially available for individual use at www.BrainHQ.com.

Symptom Relief and Reduced Medication

Also at the LeadingAge meeting, LeadingAge conferred their 2016 National Excellence in Research and Education Award on a recent study called the Birdsong Initiative. This six-month study showed statistically significant improvements in symptoms both for dementia patients and for their care-givers when the patients regularly used touch-screen computers to interact with “enriching content customized to their personal interests and cognitive ability.” In addition to improved ratings on the Affect Balance Scale (measuring psychological well-being), 40% of patients in the study were able to have their antipsychotic drug doses reduced, with the potential for lessening or avoiding the side-effects associated with these medications. The study also resulted in reduction of systolic blood pressure—a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease for people over 50—for residents using the computers. Plus, caregivers experienced reduced stress based on the Perceived Stress Scale.

“We can improve lives of those suffering with dementia through creative, non-pharmaceutical approaches,” said J. Benjamin Unkle, Jr., CEO of Westminster-Canterbury on Chesapeake Bay, the senior care facility whose Foundation Board Member Susan Birdsong, proposed and funded the touch-screen computer study. The research was conducted at Westminster-Canterbury’s Hoy Nursing Care Center in 2015 in conjunction with the Eastern Virginia Medical School.

Sharing the News

As prospects in your market consider various senior care services, they want to find organizations that they trust and that offer exceptional value. One way to achieve this is by providing insights on emerging therapy breakthroughs. Your organization can distinguish itself as a reliable destination for relevant and authoritative content, which you can share on your website, or in an email campaign or monthly newsletter. Or, like Westminster-Caterbury, you can even serve as a research collaborator and let your community know about your involvement.

Sources:

Eli Lilly and Solanezumab

Alzheimer’s drug fails in large trial.

Experimental Alzheimer's drug Solanezumab fails in large trial.

ACTIVE Study

Preventing Alzheimer’s Disease: What Do We Know?

Training improves cognitive abilities of older adults

Cognitive training shows staying power

www.BrainHQ.com

Birdsong Initiative

Study Shows Computer Engagement Improves Life for Those with Dementia, Reduces Caregiver Stress

Birdsong initiative shows success with reducing antipsychotics

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Senior Care Storytelling Lessons from LeadingAge 2016

A 75-year-old man visits his doctor. After giving the man a physical and running a series of tests, the doctor declares the man healthy. “What does that mean, doc? I mean, am I going to live to 85?” “Well,” the doctor asks, “do you drink much alcohol?” “No,” the man replies. “Do you eat many fatty or high-sugar foods?” “No.” “Do you participate in any risky sports?” “No.” The questions continue and, each time, the man answers, “No.” Finally, the doctor asks, “Then why would you want to live to be 85?”

Dr. Sanjay Gupta used this story (paraphrased here) in his keynote address at LeadingAge’s 2016 Annual Meeting and Expo in Indianapolis last week to illustrate his theme: Looking at Longevity.

His talk asked the question: Why do we want to live longer? What makes living meaningful for us? Spanning topics ranging from nutrition to technology, the upshot of Gupta’s presentation was that the person’s individual story matters. The Individual’s perspective and sense of purpose should be the driving forces behind our decisions and behaviors. Senior living organizations can play an important role in helping individuals live that out intentionally.

The Brain Story

Of course, as a neurosurgeon, Gupta talked about the brain, but less about surgery than about the relationship between aging and memory, reasoning, processing speed, motivation, and dementia. He pointed to a ten-year study which indicated that spending 10 hours over 5 weeks playing an Internet-based game designed to increase brain processing speed dramatically reduces the likelihood of developing dementia.

The Nutrition Story

Gupta also talked about nutrition: About balanced meals (eat 7 colors of food per day, and you probably won’t need vitamin and mineral supplements). About how the low-fat craze in American culture led to the damage of a high-sugar food diet (cut sugar in half for 10 days, he said, and you can significantly reduce your likelihood of getting diabetes). Despite nutrition’s importance to health, Gupta pointed out that most doctors aren’t trained in it. The medical world, he explained, is often geared more toward “disaster mitigation” rather than wellness optimization.

The Attitude Story

So much of our approach to aging boils down to how we view aging in ourselves and others. Studies confirm what we know anecdotally: our views change as we age. The older we are, for example, the less we tend to identify as feeling our age. Gupta urged that we keep our minds active by doing new things. Continuing to take on challenges that are meaningful to us matters. Making an impact on other people’s lives matters. “When was the last time you did something for the first time? Do something every day that is new, that feels risky. It will stimulate your brain and promote health.”

Marketing Success in senior care is a matter of connecting your story with your customers’ stories.

While Gupta’s work spans medicine and journalism, senior care organizations’ work spans an even broader range of fields: medicine, social services, housing... and marketing.

What stories drive you and your customers? What makes life meaningful for them? How does context affect their desires and choices? What makes serving them meaningful for you? What successes encourage you? What challenges inspire you to do things differently? These are the stories you must tell and as you do, you will attract those who believe there’s good reason to live longer.

Gupta is one of a handful of doctors who have successfully spanned the fields of medicine and journalism. A practicing neurosurgeon, Gupta is also an Emmy-award winning correspondent for CNN and CBS, a Time magazine columnist, and the author of several New York Times bestselling books, including a novel that was adapted into a television series. View Dr. Gupta’s CNN bio and some of his broadcast reports here.

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Living your brand story

Your marketing materials tell a story about your organization. Does your organization live that story?

Marna has just moved into a newly refurbished apartment in at SCF Senior Care Facility. On her second day, she notices a large puddle of water on the bathroom floor between the toilet and shower, and calls building services. Within 5 minutes, an engineer has arrived to investigate.

Steve is cheerful and polite. He checks out the toilet—no problems there—and then discovers that the new shower door wasn’t hung properly. Water easily splashes around the door frame and onto the floor.

In another 5 minutes, he has adjusted the door so it hangs square and blocks splashed water. Marna thanks him for coming so quickly. “We have 5 engineers on staff,” explains Steve. “If it were a weekend, you might have had to wait a little longer, but usually we’re able to take care of things right away.”

Brand engagement one story at at time

Marna has cheerfully told this story to both family and friends. Her experience speaks volumes about SCF’s care for its residents. Their response was immediate. The solution was quick. The repair rep was kind. The building supervisor even stopped by later to make sure everything was OK.

Creating your brand engagement stories

Does your facility have a story like this to tell? If so, tell it! If not, start reshaping your organization’s internal narrative (including your policies and practices) so you do have stories like this to tell.

Stories are how customers engage with your brand. The stories you tell about yourself set their expectations—and the expectations of your staff. The stories they tell about you confirm or refute your brand claims.

Your brand engagement is effective only when your customer experience matches the story you tell.

Tell it!

Live it!

Tell it again!

Have questions about how to increase your brand engagement through storytelling? We’re ready to help. Contact us at dhart@movecommunications.com.

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Brand engagement through stories

The goal of marketing is for customers and employees to engage with your brand—not just to recognize your name or logo or tag line, but to experience the value of the brand that these represent. This happens (or fails to) each time a customer interacts with your organization, whether on site, by phone, via the Internet, at a community seminar presentation, or in any other way.

A tale of two brand stories

Lillian is 95. She just moved into Snappy Senior Living. Now, she is standing in front of an elevator, gripping her walker as she navigates her new home for the first time without her daughter’s help. On the wall are four buttons, arranged vertically. The two on the bottom are plain white. The next one has a red metallic ring around it. The top one has a black ring. Nothing is marked ”UP” or “DOWN.”

Lillian hesitates. She finally pushes the bottom button – an educated guess, but still a guess – and the elevator doors open. As Lillian turns her walker, the doors shut and she is left still standing outside. She pauses, reaches back to press the button again, readies herself, and rushes inside when the doors open. Then she turns and searches the dimly lit panel for the correct button to take her down to the dining hall.

Across town, Elizabeth is standing in front of the elevator at her new home, Care Counts Senior Campus. The two buttons on the wall are clearly labeled “UP” and “DOWN.” Without a second thought, Elizabeth presses the one marked “UP” and, when the doors open, slowly and carefully enters the elevator. The doors remain open long enough for her to take her time. Once inside the cheerfully lit space, Elizabeth quickly finds the button to take her up to her second floor apartment.

Which story can your organization own?

If the first brand story is yours, it’s time to change it. It’s an example of failing to care for your residents and visitors. Like Lillian, you’re heading down. But if the second brand story is yours, tell it! It’s part of the way you subtly but effectively care for your residents and visitors. It is one of the many little scenes that contribute to the story of who you are as an organization and where you are headed. And, like Elizabeth, you’re going up!

Brand engagement success

Successful brand engagement occurs when the sum of your customers’ and employees’ interactions form a consistent and coherent, positive story. This happens when you carefully develop and disseminate not only your tag lines and vision statements, but when you implement and repeatedly tell the story organization-wide.

TELL IT!

If you have questions about brand engagement, or would like help telling your story, contact us at dhart@movecommunications.com.

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Branding is more than just a logo.

We talk a lot about branding: brand awareness, brand reputation, brand storytelling… But what is a brand to begin with? A logo? A product? A font set and some fancy style guides?

All of these things make a brand, but a brand itself is more than the sum of its parts.

What does your company stand for?

Does your company hold transparency and efficiency as core values? Is environmental sustainability an intrinsic part of your organization? Maybe you believe in giving back to the local community, or lowering technological barriers through open-source software.

Whatever your values are, they should form a key part of your brand. But they won’t if they aren’t embraced by your company, because your customers need to see these values to believe in them.

In other words, you may say you’re an honest person. You may even care very much about honesty. But if you don’t behave in a honest fashion, then no one will perceive you as being honest. If your company says it values transparency, but isn’t actually transparent, then transparency isn’t part of its brand.

Your relationship with your customer defines your brand.

At the end of the day, you can’t define your brand as any single, concrete element of your company. It’s more of an abstract concept: anytime anyone interacts with your company, they experience your brand. That means they experience your brand when they:

  • look up your website
  • receive an email from a member of your company
  • enter your office building or brick-and-mortar store
  • make a customer service call
  • see you on social media
  • hear about your business from a friend

So if you want to build your brand and incorporate into it the values you hold dear, then those values have to be present in each of those interactions:

  • If you value transparency, your customer has to be able to find the information they need when they look at your website.
  • If you value efficiency, your emails should be clear and to the point without leaving out crucial information.
  • If you value environmental sustainability, your customers should be able to find recycling bins when they walk into your location.

Your brand is defined by how a customer feels whenever they interact with your company. Have you made that relationship a positive one?

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"A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person." —Jeff Bezos

How well do you guard your reputation? If you're like most of us, you care what people say about you. You want to leave a positive impression, and you want to be remembered for your good qualities.

Your brand represents your company in the same way your reputation stands for you as an individual. How well do you care for it?

#WeeklyWord

#MOVEahead

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What is Your Brand Story?

If a reporter were to tell the story of your company or organization, what would she say? What vignettes would she include to illustrate what you do, how you do it, and why you do it?

Don’t wait for a reporter. Tell the story yourself!

Stories define who we are--individually, as families, as organizations, as societies. They tell who we are and where we have been. They tell where we are headed, and they determine whether or not we will get there.

Your Story Matters for Brand Engagement

Stories are the best way for people—employees and customers alike—to engage with your brand.

Our brains process stories differently from individual facts and statistics. We forget lists. We forget bullet points. But we remember stories. They create connections and emotions that mere facts often don’t. Your constituents are much more likely to remember you if you present your strengths in the form of stories.

The Best Brand Stories are Human Stories

The best brand stories are stories about people, about how your services, products, or staff have improved their lives.

So, choose a scene from your organization’s story that illustrates who you are and where you are headed. Then tell your story.

Tell it to your staff.

Tell it to prospective employees.

Tell it to customers.

Tell it to prospective customers.

Tell it to yourself.

Tell it to the world.

TELL IT!

Let MOVE Communications help you tell your story to increase your brand engagement. Contact us at dhart@movecommunications.com.

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How to make an advertisement into a podcast feature

My brother recently introduced me to a new podcast, Mystery Show, which, if you haven’t listened it it already, you should. The premise is simple: if you have a mystery in your life which needs solving, Starlee Kine will be your sleuth. The only rule is it can’t be solved via the Internet.

Starlee narrates her investigation with all the intimate, disarming charm inherent to the podcast genre. However, as endearing as the show is itself, it also features my newest favorite advertisement—for Kind Snacks.

Starlee’s advert on her podcast begins in the standard manner: she reads off some scripted ad copy leading up to one of Kind’s taglines: “ingredients you can see and pronounce.” This is where genius strikes: The Ingredient List.

Get the cast involved

The Ingredient List is a show within the show. In my favorite installment, “Cinnamon,” one of the cast members explains, “Kind snacks are made from ingredients you can see and pronounce, except: little kids can’t pronounce cinnamon. So can we just have kids trying to say cinnamon for 30 seconds?”

And then follows 30 seconds of the host of the show and other cast members trying to coax little kids to say cinnamon. It is cute, funny, memorable.

What’s impressive here is that the ad is new every time. The Ingredient List features a new ingredient from a Kind snack each week, and then it plays around with that ingredient. “Quinoa,” for instance, which you can’t pronounce when your mouth is full. Or “Mixed nuts,” which you can see, pronounce, and use to prank your friends.

And much like the “MailKimp” ad from Serial, the success of this ad hinges on authenticity. Because we can hear the cast having fun with the ad, we believe them when they promote the product. And from their side of things, they get a chance to run an ad that stays in keeping with the spirit of their show.

Turn your ad into a segment of the show

Mystery Show’s Kind advertisement does something that very few advertising campaigns are able to accomplish: it advertises the show as much as the product. It’s kind of like how half the Super Bowl audience tunes in for the legendary commercials rather than the game itself. The advertising entertains so well that we want more of it. We look forward to it coming on. When it starts, we ask others to be quiet so that we can listen.

So if you’re looking for a podcast to sponsor, here are our top takeaways:

  • Don’t just pick a podcast based on its audience size. Think about who they are, and if they fit in with your brand. Do the hosts like and use your product? Will a promo from them feel authentic?
  • Involve the cast in the writing of your ad as much as possible. Have them work with your writers so that they have something that feels as much a part of their podcast’s brand as your own. Think about the ad spot as if you are promoting each other.
  • Podcasts are a more intimate, casual genre than other mediums, so don’t be afraid to do something that sounds more off the cuff.

Do you run a podcast? What kind of relationship do you like to build with your sponsors?

#MOVEahead

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Which numbers matter on social media?

Social media is full of metrics: How many impressions did your advertisement have? How many likes, shares, retweets, and faves did your post generate? How many people clicked through to your website? How many followers do you have?

All of these mean different things depending on the channel you’re on, but the question is, which of these numbers are the most important? The metrics can largely be broken into three groups: audience size, views, and engagement. Here’s a breakdown of what they mean and how you should value them in relation to your sales efforts.

How big is your audience?

On Facebook, your audience size is determined by the number of people who like your page, while on Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn, your followers are your audience. Different nomenclature, same concept. These are the folk who have asked to hear from you, specifically, and your posts will appear on their feed. You don’t have to pay anything to speak to these people, so the larger you grow this number the lower the cost of getting your message out.

As we said previously, you want to give your fans a lot of love, but don’t push a sale too hard or you’ll push them away.

Who’s seeing your content?

When you make a post, you want to know how far it goes. This is usually measured by the number of impressions the post received, or by how many people the post reached. The difference between the two is that while reach measures the number of people who saw your post, impressions measure how many times it was seen (even if it was seen by the same person multiple times).

The number of impressions can get quite high, particularly if you’re putting money into an advertising campaign. However, their value is limited. Imagine you’ve put up a billboard on the side of the highway: the number of people driving by who see your billboard are equivalent to your impressions. But you don’t know if “seeing your billboard” means if they responded to it, or even if they read it fully.

This doesn’t mean impressions are worthless. They do help build awareness for your brand, meaning that if someone sees your advertising repeatedly they may become more familiar with who you are. It is, however, important not to be too focused on them simply because they are a large number.

What is your engagement rate?

Engagement is measured as your cumulative likes, shares, retweets, clicks, comments, etc. In short, any time someone interacts with your content in a meaningful way, it counts toward engagement. These numbers will always be significantly smaller than your impressions, but they carry much more weight because they express interest. Track your engagement numbers month-to-month and compare them against averages in your industry to get an idea of how you’re doing.

Will these numbers help me build sales?

When you get down to the brass tacks, marketing efforts that don’t lead to sales at a certain point waste your time and money. Selling on social media can be fast for some (online retailers) and slow for others (B2B services), but only dedicated effort will get you there.

With all the excitement and publicity viral videos bring, there can be an illusion that social media is a fast track for success. In the real word, social media is much more like a workout: show up every day, put in your best effort, and over time you’ll build your brand and see the result in sales.

Just don’t expect it to happen overnight.

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Building a fan base for your brand on social media

For decades, traditional advertising appeared as an interruption to daily life. Television and radio, billboards and magazine inserts were all about grabbing your attention during otherwise routine activities: the ad itself was never the destination.

Until the Internet.

Today, social media channels, while not ads per say, have provided a venue for advertising that audiences have voluntarily chosen to be a part of. Consumers have adopted brands as part of their identity. They have become fans.

This is not to say disruptive advertising is a thing of the past: most advertising is still an interruption (and it probably always will be). If you’re new on the scene and trying to get people to know who you are, you have to say “hello” somehow. But once people have shaken your hand (i.e. opted-in to your social media channel), you’re no longer working with a cold audience. You’re speaking to people who have chosen to listen to you.

You have to prove your value to them. And that means NOT treating your social media like an advertising feed.

Avoiding the hard sell on social media

In order to have an effective presence on social media, you must stay focused on your audience. They are not interested in a relentless stream of sales pitches.

Imagine you are a tire company. You could waste a lot of time (and money) on social media pushing a lot of coupons and sales that will get exactly zero people excited. Why? Because no one buys tires on impulse. They are in the market maybe about once a year or so (per vehicle they own), or seasonally depending on your climate. If you’re trying to convince them to go buy tires TODAY, you’re wasting your breath.

Instead, you want to be sure that on the day they choose to go buy tires, you are the first company that comes to mind. And you do this by establishing trust and providing value up front. For instance: You could put out tips for how to check your tire pressure, advice about which tires will work best for your climate, and safety infographics about how keeping your tires in good order will help prevent accidents.

And then, when Fall rolls around and the opportune moment arrives, you can promote a special sale on winter tires. Because by then, not only do you have their trust, you’ve earned it as well.

Respect your audience

Cultivating a fan base is about putting them first. It’s about showing them you’re worth their time by giving them value and not asking too much in return. It’s about the relationship you’ve built with your customer, about dialog, and about being a good listener more than just a good talker.

Because in the end, social media is about people. As in: real human beings on the other end of that Internet connection who will be liking, sharing, and retweeting your brand pro bono, simply because they love you and they want other people to love you as well.

Treat them well.

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Is there such a thing as efficient procrastination?

One thing the team over here at MOVE loves doing (maybe too much) is talking about how to be better:

How to be more efficient, more fun, more dynamic.

How to build a process as a team without stifling the workflows of individuals.

How to tell a better story—for ourselves and for our clients.

Recently, I’ve been advocating for a “working ahead” strategy to take some of the stress off of approaching deadlines and allow more time for the approval process. Anxiety is like carbon monoxide in a work environment—an odorless, stifling killer—so anything to take the pressure off seemed like a winning strategy.

And then I read this article in the New York Times on the virtues of procrastination. It connected with a few other things jangling around in my head and shook loose some of my assumptions regarding time management and creativity. If procrastination can lead to more creative thinking, could there be a way to procrastinate efficiently?

Is that as oxymoronic as it sounds?

Surprisingly, I think not.

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When we think of creativity as something mysterious and magical, we put it out of our own reach. Creativity is for everyone, not just the chosen few.

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Fear of failure raises our inhibitions and keeps us from being able to make the creative leaps we need to produce extraordinary work.

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If you’re familiar with content marketing, you know it’s a valuable way both to serve your community and to reach potential customers. But how does a content marketer actually disseminate marketing content? What venues and formats are most effective?

To answer that question, I called my mother. Here’s her top 5 list.

  1. E-newsletters. “I love e-newsletters. They can hold lots of info, and I can save them without cluttering my coffee table. Click, click, click, and I’ve filed it on my computer.”
  2. In-Person Events. “We seniors like to get out, you know. Speaking of which, you should do a presentation at my senior center. I could recommend you. Or you could try the Rotary Club, the ‘Y,’ religious groups, the public library, and such. Be sure they have coffee and donuts, honey. I don’t learn well when I’m hungry.”
  3. Photos and Illustrations. “That ol’ adage, ‘a picture’s worth a thousand words,’ is still true, though I hear they’re calling them ‘memes’ now. A good illustration will catch my attention every time!”
  4. Social media. “Some of us seniors are pretty tech savvy, you know. We use Twitter, Facebook, Google, Instagram! And Pinterest! I heard that the biggest growth segment among Pinterest users is senior women! And there’s LinkedIn’s SlideShare. Of course, that’s mostly for your business types, but I’ve picked up some great info there, too.”
  5. Infographics. “I love infographics! They get so much across in such an easy-to-understand format.”

OK, I didn’t really contact my mother. This list is based on research by the Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs. They asked active content marketers what their most effective B2C content marketing formats were, and came up with the above ranking. (See B2C Content Marketing 2016 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends—North America).

The results were different for B2B marketers, with In-Person Events ranked first, followed by Webinars, Case Studies, White Papers, and Videos. (See B2B Content Marketing 2016 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends—North America.)

Other formats mentioned in the two surveys included blogs, direct mail, mobile aps, and website articles. Formats not mentioned include newspaper articles and radio and TV appearances.

And, of course, word of mouth! As my grandmother said, “Call me anytime, honey. I’m a great networker. I’ll spread the word. But I’ve got to hang up now. I’m meeting my friend Mitzy to go to the Swinging Seniors Dance down at the ‘Y.’”

Please contact me at dhart@movecommunications.com with your questions about leveraging your Brand to achieve your sales and marketing goals.

Don Hart is President of MOVE Communications, a brand engagement company, specializing in the Senior Care market.

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The MailChimp ad.

Do you know the one I’m talking about?



The one from Serial?

For those of you who don't know, in the fall of 2014, Serial took the podcasting world by storm in a way no one could have predicted given the largely niche appeal of the genre at that time. With admirable compassion, it told a tragic, compelling, and immensely complicated story which captured the attention of millions and, in the process, made Serial the first podcast to break into mainstream popular culture.

Taking, along with it, the MailChimp ad.

If you’re a fan of Serial, you know the one. It’s such an ingrained part of the show that it’s almost a second theme song—impressive, given how iconic the actual Serial opening is. The audience connected with it to such a degree that, among the lists of crazy “who did it” conspiracy theories, the “Mail …Kimp?” girl made it on the list. Somehow, Serial wouldn’t be the same without it.

It’s no exaggeration to say that the MailChimp ad became almost as much of a phenomenon as the show itself. People care about this ad. They’re fond of it. They miss it when it’s not there. And as achieving that level of cultural identification is every marketer’s dream, we thought we’d take some time to look at the ad and share some of our insights into why it is so beloved.

1. It sounds like Serial.

Over the course of the show, Serial interviewed a wide range of speakers in a variety of settings. So hearing the successive voices saying “MailChimp” at the beginning of the ad didn’t feel like an interruption. This makes sense, since apparently Serial produced the ad themselves (with copy provided by MailChimp). 

2. “Mail… Kimp?”

The mispronunciation is endearing, but the long pause that precedes it is what really grabs your attention. You know what she’s supposed to say, and you’re hanging in suspense for the word to finish. “Kimp” hits you like an elusive punch line at the end of a rambling joke. And those two things, operating in conjunction, are what make the ad memorable.

3. The imperative tagline.

I love imperatives. I try to use them as much as possible, because it cuts down on the number of synapses that have to fire in the brain in order to transmit ad copy into actionable information. There’s nothing to decode or interpret, just a command to follow: “Send better email.” Why yes, I will, thank you. 

4. Social Proof.

“I use MailChimp.” “You do!” “Yes!” The little line at the end seals the deal. It’s that tiny bit of serendipitous dialogue caught, almost by chance, after the ad seems to have actually ended. No one wrote that line—it wasn’t part of the script—but it’s the part that convinces more thoroughly than any other that MailChimp is a product you want to use, because other people use it, and love it so much that they volunteer that information with no ulterior motives.

Takeaways

So, if you’re feeling inspired to try an ad in the Podcasting world, here are a few lessons you can draw from MailChimp:

  • Know your audience. Podcasts are a much more intimate medium than other forms of entertainment, so sponsor a show you have a good relationship with, and see if there’s a way you can work together to create your spot.
  • Be memorable. You probably won’t have to find someone to mispronounce your name, but you will want to make sure something stands out.
  • Be concise. The MailChimp ad is only about twenty seconds and thirty words long, but nothing’s missing.
  • Get someone else to back your product. You’re not cool if you say you’re cool. If someone else says you’re cool, you’re cool.

You want to create an ad your audience is willing to invest in, emotionally. There’s no magic formula, but starting here will put you well on your way. 

And, for the record… 

I use MailChimp.

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BUYER PERSONA MARLENE: Marlene is a 75-year-old widow, with good cognition and memory, but declining physical health. She has accepted her daughter and son-in-law’s invitation to move in with them, but wants to explore senior services available in her area in case she needs care that goes beyond what her family can provide.

Getting on the Radar Before Getting on the Map

In previous posts, the Buyer's Journey Parts I, II, and III, (December 22, 2015 and January 14, and 29, 2016) we looked at the three phases of the Buyer’s Journey: Awareness of a need, Consideration of possible solutions, and Decision to pursue a particular solution.

When you consider these three phases carefully, you can see that there are really no hard lines between them. You’re educating at each stage of the process, and this has the effect of putting your organization “on the map” of potential solutions for our Marlene.

Connect at the Pre-Awareness Level

But, you don’t have to wait for Marlene to reach the “awareness of need” phase before you reach out to her. Many Marlenes are active in their local senior communities, in civic organizations, and other venues. You can prime the pump through involvement in that community.

For instance, Marlene might “meet” your organization by reading an article in a senior newspaper in which your Memory Care unit is highlighted. Or she might hear your Medical Director speak about memory loss at the local Rotary Club. Or she might see your organization named in a list of care providers when she attends a panel discussion on senior health issues at the library. Regardless of the avenue, Marlene comes to know you as a resource and, as a possible future solution to her need.

Serve your Community Through Inbound

 

Again, keep in mind that the goal in the early stages of “inbound” or “content” marketing is not to sell your services, but to serve the community. Sales comes later, because you have established your organization and your staff as knowledgable, reliable, and committed resources for the community, including those who may never need your specific services, but who may pass your name on to someone who does.

Please contact me at dhart@movecommunications.com with your questions about leveraging your Brand to achieve your sales and marketing goals.

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By Don Hart

BUYER PERSONA MARLENE:  Marlene is a 75-year-old widow, with good cognition and memory, but declining physical health. She has accepted her daughter and son-in-law’s invitation to move in with them, but wants to explore senior services available in her area in case she needs care that goes beyond what her family can provide. 

In previous posts we stepped through the first two phases of Marlene’s “Buyer Journey” for her senior health care needs: the Awareness Phase and the Consideration Phase. In those phases, Marlene experienced your organization as a trusted source of helpful information about senior care options and decisions. Along the way, without any explicit selling on your part, she became aware of some of the services your organization offers.

Today, we’ll talk about the Decision Phase, in which Marlene chooses to take advantage of a particular solution.

THE DECISION PHASE

Marlene had already made one decision—to live with her daughter and son-in-law. But should she tap into any of the other resources she learned about during the Consideration phase—perhaps the new County Recreation Center, or physical therapy services?

In the decision phase, Marlene digs deeper. She has an evaluation by a physical therapist who, to Marlene’s delight, says that, for now, she simply needs to stay as active as possible. Next, she visits the County Recreation Center and loves it! She immediately joins the weekly Water Exercise Class for Seniors. Finally, she tours your spectrum-of-care retirement center that her friend, Anita, just moved into. She likes the staff, and is impressed with the facilities. Though she’s happy she is living with family, she is glad to know about the Assisted Living services offered there, in case she needs them down the road; and she has requested to be added to their Newsletter mailing list.

NO HARD LINES

As you look at the three phases of the Buyer’s Journey, you can see that there are no hard lines between phases. You’re educating Marlene throughout the process, and this puts your organization on the map of potential solutions for Marlene and friends she might speak with, now or in the future.

But your mindset in the first two phases is to not market or advertise your services. Rather, it is to serve Marlene by providing education and insights that benefit her and the community as a whole. This helps all of the “Marlenes” out there—and their family members—make good, educated decisions during an often challenging period of their lives.

In a future post, we’ll look at one more, often un-identified, phase in the Buyer’s Journey, Pre-awareness.

Meanwhile, if you have questions about how to leverage your Brand to achieve your sales and marketing goals, please contact me at dhart@movecommunications.com.


 Don Hart is President of MOVE Communications, a brand engagement company, specializing in the senior care market. 

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Every purchase decision involves three phases: Awareness of a need, Consideration of possible solutions, and the Decision to purchase a particular solution. 

In our December 22, 2015 post, we addressed reaching potential customer Marlene during her Awareness phase. Because of your efforts in that phase, Marlene—an aging widow whose declining health prompted her to move in with her daughter (see a full description of Marlene in our December 5, 2015 post)—knows about and respects your organization as a trusted source of helpful information regarding aging and senior care. She knows you understand the challenges and decisions she faces. And because of that, she knows that you offer solutions that might address her needs.

As Marlene's needs increase and she moves into the Consideration phase—actively contemplating her options—you transition from providing her with general information to identifying specific solutions that could meet her needs. It's still not time for a sales pitch. Rather, it's time to outline viable options, including those your organization doesn't provide!

In Marlene's case, this means outlining the pros and cons of options such as relying fully on family for physical support, hiring in-home care providers to supplement the family's help, moving into a spectrum-of-care senior facility, etc. It means identifying specific public and private support services that Marlene could consider accessing, and comparing the financial ramifications of various options.

The Consideration phase is a "continuing education" phase that provides Marlene with more detailed information in preparation for her Decision phase. 

In a future post, we'll look at working with Marlene in the Decision phase of her Buyer's Journey. 

Meanwhile, if you have questions about how to leverage your Brand to achieve your sales and marketing goals, please contact me at dhart@movecommunications.com. And to learn even more about your customers, please download our free eBook available here.

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Leadership isn't about anticipating trends or outshining your competition. It's about forging a path and being a guide to those who follow after.

#weeklyword

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