#MOVEahead

Insights from a group of Ann Arbor Marketers that will help you and your business #MOVEahead.

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Don Hart

Don Hart

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MOVE Communications is doing something different to bring together Ann Arbor and Detroit.

I grew up in Detroit and went to grad school in Ann Arbor at U of M. That’s where I met my wife, Carol, and we ended up raising our family. So I have roots in both places. More recently, some of our family members have been living and working in Detroit, and it seemed like a natural to reach out and bring people from both places together. So we're creating an event through our company to make that happen. We call it #MoveAhead.

It’s based on a core belief at MOVE Communications, that everyone should be able to move ahead in their life and their work. To express this we're shooting a video based on the idea of the “first follower.” The video story goes like this:

“There's a man dancing, wildly, in a park. On his own, he looks like a crazy person… until someone joins in. Suddenly, the dancing man doesn't look so crazy anymore. And then it catches on—as the thing to do. More join in, each adding their touch, as they come together. That's a movement.

Start yours.

You've got the moves. Let us help you grow your movement. #MOVEahead.”

Well, we needed a crowd for the last scene—because moving ahead really means doing it together. So we're inviting everyone to come to Roosevelt Park in historic downtown Detroit at 6 PM, Thursday, July 20. They'll first enjoy a free, delicious meal from Cordwood Barbecue, live music from the Daylites, and then choreographer Gina Danene Thompson, break dancer Maurice Archer, and director Jim Pinard will lead our crowd of 100 to 200 people to start moving together. As a group in motion, we'll be creating the end shot of the video where the drone camera pulls up to see all the people with the city of Detroit in the background.

We decided to shoot the video in Roosevelt Park near the former Michigan Central train station because it sets us in the Corktown neighborhood and gives a great opportunity for people from the neighborhood to join us along with others from Detroit and Ann Arbor.

No one can really go it alone. And we're all aware of how many barriers get put up between people that prevent us from moving ahead together. This event is one small expression of getting us to move together, and just maybe will create a small ripple effect for good.

We hope you can join us. #MOVEahead

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The Power of Purpose: Advancing Senior Care through Knowledge and Advocacy

Do you know who your state representative and senator are—not federal, but state?

Do you know how many votes it takes in Michigan for a bill to pass in the senate? In the house?

Is Michigan’s legislative body called a congress or a legislature?

These were all questions posed to me and about 400 attendees recently at the beginning of the LeadingAge of Michigan annual conference. Why these questions…especially at a conference focused on helping non-profit continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs) and in-home service providers address the needs of seniors?

Because they showed us that, to best serve our senior citizens, we need to advocate on their behalf.

1. Become an influencer.

Our work as professionals in this industry requires that we find ways to advocate for the specific health and wellness needs of seniors. To do that we need to be aware of the issues in local and state government and how to make connection with those representing us. When these questions were asked of the room, the majority of us, to our chagrin, did not know the answers. Our civic involvement was discovered to be lacking, both as individuals and as organizations. Low involvement means low influence.

2. Know your stuff.

These questions were not the only questions posed at the conference. Great interaction regarding policy, employee engagement, stress management, training, infrastructure, finance, future trends and marketing were posed at the general sessions as well as in some 30 workshops.

3. Don’t get too comfortable.

Timothy Skubick was our gadfly in the opening session on Monday. With unapologetic directness, he probed into our knowledge of all things happening in Lansing, the state capital of Michigan. Skubick hosts “Off the Record” on WKAR PBS, the longest running Michigan political affairs and analysis program on television. He made it uncomfortable—for our good—as he went from person to person around the room digging away with tough questions about the industry and our connection to the legislative process. Of course, as a Michigan State University Spartan his first question was, “Could everyone who is a University of Michigan fan stand?” And once they did, he asked them to leave the room!

4. Hold yourselves and others to account.

Kasia Roelant, Director of Member Relations, LeadingAge Michigan, did an excellent job with her team putting together a breadth of content and presenters. One that I found particularly interesting was a presentation by President and CEO of Affirmant Health Partners, Dr. William Mayer. Affirmant is what is known as a super-CIN, a Clinically Integrated Network. CIN’s allow smaller systems, hospitals, and physician organizations to leverage infrastructure costs, governance and health management as well as financial risk while retaining their independence. Affirmant has been approved as one of the six new Medicare-accountable care organizations (ACOs) in Michigan. Dr. Mayer’s point was that current rate of increase in health care is unsustainable. It will bankrupt us. So a different solution must be developed. How do we hold one another accountable to achieve this? Affirmant’s approach is to require financial risk on the part of the CIN but within an arrangement with health systems that guarantees a scale of patients to make significant change possible, makes big data sharing possible and allows for participation in a financial up side. Keep an eye on their progress.

5. Live with purpose.

The theme of this year’s conference was The Power of Purpose. Dave Herbel, President and CEO of LeadingAge Michigan gave this perspective: “This theme speaks to mission-based providers in terms of how we collaborate, share our vision, make a difference in the lives of those we serve and collectively transform the aging experience. Purpose is one of our defining characteristics as human beings and it’s a fundamental component of a fulfilling life. We all crave purpose…it helps us find meaning and live longer. Studies show that people who seek meaning beyond themselves are healthier, happier, and live longer. Together, with purpose in our lives, we can accomplish more than each of us can alone.” As we live with purpose, we will find ourselves growing. And that is one of our greatest gifts in life to ourselves and to others.

6. Leverage the power of collaboration.

As I attended, I felt a real sense of camaraderie and a spirit of collaboration. The attendees are all trying to deliver, or support the delivery of compassionate human care. Those on the frontlines have the daily challenge of servicing individual clients whose situations require attention to detail and a commitment to continually find ways to enrich their lives even if certain capabilities are waning. I witnessed at the conference a level of honest conversation and encouragement that reassured me of the value of meeting together and reaching out to find help during the year.

7. Be tenacious.

The workshop I led was on Deepening Brand Engagement through Storytelling. I started my session by retelling the Aesop fable of The Tortoise and the Hare. You remember the plot—the busy rabbit, full of himself, challenges the slow turtle to a race. Interestingly, after all of these years, the tortoise still wins the race. I encouraged my audience that marketing and really service to seniors is not a sprint but a distance race that takes commitment, patience and tenacity. But if you follow through, you will see winning outcomes.

So, after gaining insight at the conference, I came home to my family and, around the dinner table, we looked up the answers to Skubick’s questions:

  • Jim Hune is the state senator representing the 22nd State District where my family lives. He is one of 38 senators.
  • Donna Lisinski is the state representative of House District 52. Donna is one of 110 state representatives.
  • Michigan’s legislative body is referred to as a legislature. Congress is the federal legislature.

OK. A few questions for you.

  • Do you know your state senator and representative?
  • Check me on this one and email me to let me know if I’m right or wrong: It takes 20 votes in the Michigan Senate and 56 votes in the House to pass a bill.

Be a Tortoise. Go deep. Stay Involved!

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We hear a lot these days about how we are an image-driven society. Selfies on Facebook, pins on Pinterest, YouTube videos. There’s no question that visuals have attraction. And yes, a picture can be worth more than a thousand words in its ability to imprint an image on the mind. But let’s flip this for a moment. Go counter to current conventional wisdom. What about the power of words to ignite the imagination and stir the heart?

“Government of the people, for the people, by the people shall not perish from the earth.” —Abraham Lincoln

“Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” —John F Kennedy

“I have a dream…” —Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

“E = MC2” —Albert Einstein

“Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.” —Mother Teresa

“You can imprison a man, but not an idea. You can exile a man, but not an idea. You can kill a man, but not an idea.” —Benazir Bhutto

Words can sink deep into the psyche and when they do, they change the course of history by stirring women and men to action. They inspire courage when all around seems hopeless. They paint a vision of what could be. They remind us of what is important and what should be sacrificed for.

Likewise, in business, words can change the playing field by framing an idea.

The world is flat.

Seven Habits of…

From Good to Great.

Lean in.

Start with Why.

And you have access to this power, to the power of words, as you market your business. It is the words of your story and the ideas you communicate that ultimately determine how well you connect in the market. Because words carry your clarion call to action and catapult your brand out of the clutter.

“Just Do It.”

“When You Care Enough to Send the Very Best.”

“Finger Lickin’ Good.”

“Melts In Your Mouth, Not In Your Hand.”

“The World On Time.”

“Zoom Zoom.”

“Think Different.”

What will you ignite in the minds of your customers about you? Sure, show some pictures—especially since they are now part of your searchable content by Google and contribute to your SEO strength—but don’t forget to capture some places in the heart, then go deep into the soul, through the power of words. That’s not just searchable, it will get people talking then returning to your brand.

If you feel you need some word work, consider getting in touch with our wordsmithing team.

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I heard a great story recently. Many of you may have heard it already if you love the outdoors.

It's about REI. Their point of view as a company is that a life well spent is a life spent outdoors. This became real in the lives of its staff and customers in a new way on Black Friday 2015.

We know that Black Friday is traditionally a major shopping day and retailers count on large crowds to help make their sales numbers for the holiday season. REI took a different approach. They decided to close their 143 stores on the day after Thanksgiving and pay their 14,000 employees for the day off so they would get out and enjoy the outdoors…and they encouraged their customers to do the same.

Time outdoors makes you healthier and happier. And there are so many ways to get out. No need to be extreme. Just find a place near you, then open the door and head outside.

Seemed like a risk to go counter to the retail trend. But what happened is that REI customers, when they heard about it through a video announcement and social media, were inspired that this brand was behaving in a fashion that was congruent with its values. And perhaps more powerfully, congruent with the values of these customers—with what was inside them. And that was—to get outside.

Millions of supporters chose to #OptOutside.

b2ap3_thumbnail_REI-opt-outdoors-campaign.png

“What began as a group of 23 mountain climbing buddies is now the nation's largest consumer cooperative. But no matter how large we grow, our roots remain firmly planted in the outdoors…Our core purpose guides everything we do: we all work to inspire, educate and outfit for a lifetime of outdoor adventure and stewardship.”

What happened? Loyalty grew and along with it, sales. These customers in support of REI came back the next week and the company sales went beyond what they would have on a normal Black Friday. Why? Because it was authentic. It wasn't a trick to fool the customer into coming in later. It was an authentic statement about why REI exists and what they believe in. It gave a unique opportunity for REI’s staff and customers to live into those values in a new and unique way and create their own stories outdoors.

Marketing is about building relationships with people—your customers, your staff and your community. Telling your story is one of the most powerful ways to connect with an audience, draw them into the experience of your brand, and ultimately build relationship with them. As REI did, you can shape the future for good by the stories you tell today. The story doesn’t have to be totally unique. It just has to be true to who you are as a company. It could be a story about a member of your team going beyond what was expected in service to a customer. A story of persistence on the part of a team member to strengthen stability in your organization through an improvement in your IT systems. A story about your company’s involvement in a community cause. A story about a product you're rolling out and how this fulfills your promise in a new way. Whatever the story, let it be authentic to who you are as a firm—something that expresses your values and how you live out your mission.

As a leader in your firm, you have to decide each day how you will allocate your time. At first, telling a story may not seem like a wise use of that time or a critical business function. Try it. You might be surprised. Just like it happened for REI, it could change the narrative of your bottom line for the better. It’s not rocket science. But it can have rocket power to take you places you’ve never been before. Like outside.

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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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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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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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So, using our free eBook, "How to Create Buyer Personas to Better Serve Your Customers and Grow Your Senior Living Business," you have already created several Personas to capsulize the kind of customers your organization is best suited to attract and serve well. 

Now what?

Now you shape your marketing plan to draw in that kind of customer, tuning everything to the Buyer's Journey. Every purchase decision involves three phases: Awareness of a need, Consideration of possible solutions, and the Decision to purchase a particular solution.

 Today, we'll look at the first part of that process, Awareness, through the eyes of one of our Customer Personas Marlene (see our December 3, 2015 blog post, "Boost Brand Engagement by Leveraging Customer Personas"). 

Widow Marlene's declining health prompted her to accept her daughter's invitation to move in with her and her husband. Now Marlene wants to explore senior services available in her area in case she needs care that goes beyond what her family can provide. She's not ready to choose services, she's simply aware that she needs to know more. Where will Marlene turn to get perspective? Peers and family members? AARP Magazine, perhaps? The local Senior Community Center? The Internet?

When your organization uses the Content Marketing model, you become one of Marlene's resources in this awareness phase—a source of information, not advertising. The point is not to sell your services, but to help educate Marlene so she can approach the issues fully informed. 

You can disseminate the information in a variety of contexts and media—broadcast, online, print, in person (seminars, community fairs, etc). The goal at this phase is to embed your organization in your community, serving as a trustworthy resource.

In a future post, we'll look at connecting with Marlene in a more focused way in the Consideration 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.comAnd to learn even more about your customers, please download our free eBook available here.

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Achieving high quality service requires knowing your customer. Only then can you structure your organization to serve effectively. Developing Customer Personas helps not only focus your service offerings, but also helps market your services to attract the market segments you serve best—effectively coordinating your quality improvement and marketing strategies. 

Customer Personas are fictional representations of specific kinds of customers. Personas allow you to personalize and target both your services and your marketing and sales efforts to the specific needs, behaviors, and concerns of different segments of your actual and potential customer base. Personas help focus your Brand and keep it successful, improving the future for your organization, your staff, and your customers. 

Here is a simplified example of a Customer Persona:

Name: Marlene

Description: 75 years old, widowed, living alone, good cognition and memory, but declining physical health.

Situation: Marlene's married daughter has invited her to move in with her and her husband. An old friend recently moved to a Senior Care facility, and raves about it, but after visiting, Marlene decided to accept her daughter's invitation in order to remain in a home setting.

Need: Marlene wants to explore senior services available in her area in case she needs care that goes beyond what her family can provide.

Personas can be "Personas for Pursuit" or "Personas for Referral." Personas for Pursuit describe people your organization is designed (or being re-shaped) to serve well, people you want to attract, who are likely to become very satisfied customers. Marlene would be a Persona for Pursuit for in-home services providers.

Personas for Referral describe individuals whose needs don't match your organization's strengths, and are unlikely to become satisfied customers. They are the ones you would refer to another organization. Personas for Referral can help you understand where not to spend your marketing and sales dollars. A campus-based senior living facility would consider Marlene a Persona for Referral. 

In a future post, we'll discuss how to use Personas to help you tune everything in your marketing outreach to the Buyer's Journey. 

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

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Superior senior care organizations have bold aspirations. As you seek to meet many of the physical and emotional needs of a diverse and growing senior population, you aim for:

• Congruence between who you say you are and your customers' experience of who you are. 

• Customer health outcomes that validate your organization's quality.

• Low turnover in both staff and customers.

• Strong financials that equip you to fully live out your mission.

Each of these builds on and reinforces the others. But you face some powerful challenges in achieving them! The wide variety of needs and changing preferences in the burgeoning senior population, for one. Reduction in Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement rates—coupled with increases in compliance regulations—for another.

What's required for success? You know the list: excellence in clinical outcomes, improvements in technology, effectiveness in staffing models, strategic capital improvements. But another key factor that helps your organization thrive and stay on mission is often overlooked: Brand.

Your Brand is really "who you are" as an organization. It's your promise to all you serve...and that includes your staff. Though it's expressed in your vision, mission, and values statements, its real impact is when these statements come alive in your team. 

Senior care is a people business. Growth and long-term success rely heavily on the quality, nature, and nurture of people-to-people contact. The goal is to build consistency that feels personalized. Anyone who comes into contact with your Brand should have, through your team, the same satisfying experience, over and over again. That's when things take off!

To achieve this brand consistency, team members must be ambassadors of the Brand. You need to see them, and they need to see themselves, not just as resources to be applied to a need but as sources—sources of new ideas, of trustworthy service, of personal connection.

As team members come together with a common mindset, they will create an exceptional experience for their clients and fellow staff—an experience that will generate word of mouth recommendation and buzz in your community. And that is the most powerful marketing of all!

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

Additionally, you may also be interested in our Buyer Personas eBook, which will help you target your ideal customers in the senior living market. To get your free copy, click here.

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Brand is driven by culture, content, and connections. Let’s begin today with culture: How does your Brand get expressed in your culture?

Culture is really about how you treat people within the boundaries and purposes of your mission. Building culture has two indispensable parts.

I. Defining “Your Way” of doing things. “Your Way” expresses itself in service behaviors. Of course, there are certain non-negotiables – your facility must be safe, tasteful, clean, with no smells. Your staff must be technically and professionally competent. But what are the things that make you distinctive?

For example, do your people care enough about your clients to know some details about each one before they come to your facility or before you enter their home? What do your customers and their families and friends feel when you enter their home? When they walk into your facility? When they engage with someone from your campus either in person or on the phone? From admissions to daily interactions to discharge, what do these experiences communicate to clients about themselves?

• Do they feel that they've been welcomed as a friend, or that they've interrupted someone who's busy?

• Do they feel that their thoughts—whether positive or critical—are respected? Taken seriously? Enjoyed?
 

• Are family members confident that they can trust—truly trust—their loved ones' care to you, or is there a nagging, perhaps unconscious, concern?

This is all about your staffing and customer service.

But defining your culture is not enough. Even carefully implementing your culture is not enough.

II. Sustaining “Your Way” of doing things. You must also sustain your culture. Your corporate infrastructure must include an ongoing learning management component.

Who regularly instructs your supervisors and holds them accountable to your cultural standards (things like how to confront someone if their behavior is inappropriate)? What helps your staff see their work not just as a job or a career, but as a calling? Who helps your team understand that everyone who works in your organization is involved in the healing process?

You must keep the culture conversation alive. Without one or more people diligently encouraging and training staff to consistently implement your cultural values, the culture will gradually but inevitably change in ways you may not want.

We will talk about the content component of your Brand in our next article. In the meantime, if you have questions or want to learn more about the importance of brand, and how culture, content and connections work in helping you achieve your sales and marketing goals, please contact us at dhart@movecommunications.com.

Additionally, you may also be interested in our Buyer Personas eBook, which which will help you target your ideal customers in the senior living market. To get your free copy, click here.

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Most senior health care organizations have some bold aspirations.  They’re looking for:

·       outcomes that validate how good their organization really is

·       congruence between who they say they are and the customer experience

·       reduced turnover in staff and customers

·       strong financials that equip them to fully live out their mission

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This weekend I had the chance to watch the documentary, I’ll Be Me, for the second time. I’ll Be Me is the story of Glen Campbell’s final tour following the announcement that he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.  The first time I saw the documentary, I was at the world premier in Nashville at the national Leading Age conference.  This weekend, it was shown at the Michigan Theatre in Ann Arbor.  It didn't lose its poignancy; it's a moving example of marketing for the social good.

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Entrepreneurs filled the room with their heads buzzing with pitches for the next new thing, excitement and anxiety melded together to create a nervous energy that was palpable in the room—that was the vibe this last week and for the last fourteen years at the annual A.C.E. (Annual Collaboration for Entrepreneurship) conference in Metro-Detroit.  Everywhere you turned, you found energized entrepreneurs walking the halls ready to pitch their elevator speech at a moments notice.

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