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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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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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How a small airline stands out from the crowd

When was the last time you flew with a truly memorable airline?

Anyone who flies regularly will be very used to the routine of airline travel. In spite of their best marketing efforts, very few airlines seem to differentiate themselves from their competitors, unless it's due to infamously strict baggage policies or a reputation for cheap-as-you-can-get, "no frills" service. The most any of us can expect from the majority of airlines seems to be a slight variation in the quality of in-flight entertainment, the amount of leg room, or the standard of food service (if there is one). 

This is why, on a recent flight with Icelandair, I found myself both surprised and delighted by a completely unique experience.

What makes Icelandair so special?

 The moment I stepped on the plane to find my seat, I knew I had a winner. Although the plane itself appeared a cut above average in terms of technology (it came equipped with obviously new high-resolution screens on the back of every seat), the touch which first charmed me came in the form of little conversational tips on the headrest of each seat. They said things like:

Good night is "góða nótt" in Icelandic. It has a soft and cuddly sound.

"Hraun" is the Icelandic word for lava. It sounds strong and durable.

The throne of Ó∂inn was named Hli∂skjálf. We just call this one: your seat.

My blanket came with a similar message: Missing the hot springs? Warm yourself with this instead. Even the pillow came with an Icelandic lullaby printed with an English translation. 

Once I turned on the display on the display screen, the start-up played through several advertisements for Iceland, as well as a small boast from Icelandair itself: instead of frequent flier miles, Icelandair will allow you to extend your stay in Iceland for up to seven additional nights at no extra cost (and they encourage you to tag your pictures with #MyStopover). They even filmed the standard safety announcement to tell the story of a woman hiking through the Icelandic countryside.

#HumbleBrag 

Perhaps what I found most special about the airline was that very few of these little touches promoted the airline itself, but rather served to showcase the natural beauties of Iceland and the quirks and accomplishments of the Icelandic people.

This is what, in Internet hashtag terms, could be known as a "humble brag": something which manages to be both proud and self-deprecating at the same time. Although these can take on an obnoxious tone when used wrongly, because Icelandair chose to employ their boasting toward the benefit of Iceland the country and the Icelandic people, it felt more like a person boasting about their best friend rather than themself. 

Icelandair's strategy works well for them, because promoting Iceland as a great travel destination indirectly promotes their own airline as the best means of reaching it. Meanwhile, their humble-bragging strategy succeeds because it plays into your psychology: we're more likely to trust what someone says about another person's merits than what they say about their own.

So if you happen to have a business that might benefit by promoting others, don't be afraid to #HumbleBrag about your friends. 

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We all view ourselves as the protagonists of our own life stories. Connect to that in your marketing, and your buyers will respond.

#weeklyword 

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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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The fastest way to build brand loyalty is through a company culture your target market identifies with. Lead with the thing that gives your company purpose, and customers will follow. 

#weeklyword

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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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Good advertising is about clear communication. Speaking directly to your target audience may turn some leads away, but that just means they weren't your ideal customers to begin with.

#weeklyword

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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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Millennials are a notoriously difficult audience to appease, but we think Fiat Chrysler's chief marketing officer has hit the nail on the head with this observation. Whether you think they're confident or cocky, picky or discerning, reaching this group is all about showing them something new.

#weeklyword

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What can baseball teach us about branding?

Possibly the greatest closer in baseball history, Mariano Rivera made his career on one pitch: a cut fastball with such a reputation for shattering bats that opposing hitters dubbed it "the razor." They used to face him with backup bats to spare their best from utter destruction. Rivera refined his signature pitch to devastating effect—so much so that at the peak of his career it comprised over 80% of his pitches.

Find your one pitch

As in baseball, so in life. A successful brand strategy doesn't require you to be all things to all people. Instead, it's about finding the signature characteristic that sets you apart from your competition and marks you as a leader in your field. 

Concentrating on one skill also provides a clear story about your brand that can be easily transmitted through your marketing efforts. Rivera once summarized his job as "I get the ball, I throw the ball, and then I take a shower." That's the kind of succinct messaging you build your marketing around.

The Mariano Rivera Principle

Rivera's dominance set records for over a decade, gaining him the respect and admiration of his bitterest rivals. But he didn't need a broad repertoire to achieve this feat; he only needed that one pitch.

Focus your effort on establishing a key message about your brand. Let it become your trademark. Have one thing you're good at, but be better at it than anyone else.

That's the Mariano Rivera Principle.

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Marketing on the web isn't about forcing yourself on others—it's about providing value that will draw them to you.

#weeklyword

 

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Show me your granite countertops.

Imagine for a moment you're a prospective homebuyer. Which of these descriptions sounds more appealing?

1) Fantastic, spacious kitchen!

2) Gourmet kitchen with granite countertops.

The second one, right? Do you know why?

"Fantastic" is a matter of opinion. "Granite countertops" aren't.

What words to use in real-estate copywriting.

If you're a fan of Stephen J. Dubner and Steven Levitt's book Freakonomics, you may remember an excerpt from Chapter 2 in which the authors list a number of words commonly associated with real-estate ads. They are: fantastic, granite, spacious, state-of-the-art, "!," corian, charming, maple, great neighborhood, and gourmet. The authors then pose a simple question: which of these words do you think are correlated to a higher sales price, and which to a lower?

The five words most commonly associated with lower sales prices are: fantastic, spacious, charming, great neighborhood, and "!". These are all wiggle words. They're vague. They avoid the truth.

On the other hand, words like "maple," "state-of-the-art," and "corian" conjure specific images. Even if you aren't the sort of homebuyer who gets excited by the mention of "maple wainscoting," someone else sure is.

Be specific.

Specificity in marketing is an important but anxiety-inducing exercise. When you pin yourself down to an exact product or service you inevitably lose prospects who aren't interested in your offer. But when you don't narrow your focus you risk becoming generic, bland, and unappealing. Something vaguely but indefinably "fantastic" with an insecure "!" tacked on the end out of sheer desperation. 

Don't be afraid to get picky about your target market. Prospects who want your product will be more likely to choose you once they make a connection to your unique offer. Because marketing isn't about pleasing everybody—it's about finding and pleasing your people.

It's about providing them with something they can really grab hold of.

It's about showing them your granite countertops.

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The position of social media manager is a relatively new one. Most people don’t realize the amount of time and effort invested to develop what appears on their newsfeeds or Twitter streams. There tends to be a shroud of mystery surrounding social media, including what exactly social media managers are expected to do, and what it takes to be a good one. Generally, when I tell people that I work in social media, they respond with “Oh that’s nice! So… what exactly do you do?”  Let me give an answer here.

A social media manager is a hybrid position.  It requires that the person filling the role draw from a wide range of skill sets to be effective.

b2ap3_thumbnail_social-media-manager-description.jpg

 

Account Executive

In almost any marketing position, the agency must have a relationship with the client. Social media is no different. The manager must be able to manage relationships with the client, communicate effectively and understand the client’s business and their goals in order to inform the strategy.

Strategic

Perhaps one of the most overlooked aspects of social media is strategy. A social media manager must be able to develop a strong and creative strategy that takes advantage of the power of social media and is able to fulfill the goals of the client.

Content Creator

Most obviously, a social media manager must be able to create content. They have to be a unique fusion of clever copywriter and creative graphic design. In addition, they must have the know-how to adapt content to fit each platform.

Fingers on the pulse

Social media is all about being relevant and plugged in. A social media manger must have strong monitoring skills for trends and breaking news and be able to curate content and adapt it to fit their strategy.

Community Manager

Social media is first and foremost a community. As a result, they must be able to engage with the community, stimulate discussion and create engagement with their audience.

Data Analyst

Finally, they must be able to mine the data. Not only must they run the appropriate analytics, they must be able to collect and synthesize information and draw conclusions that will influence the overall strategy.

 

Now, when someone asks, you can tell them EXACTLY what a social media manager does. Whether you’re trying to better define a position, hire a new candidate or simply communicate what you do, feel free to use our infographic to communicate what it takes. And if you can’t find the right mix, know that we at MOVE are always here to help you #MOVEahead in your social media. 

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Advertising gives the information to the people and let's them decide what they want and what they don't. Do you agree that advertising is at the heart of democracy? 

#weeklyword

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A friend of mine, Mike Sullivan of Halo Creative Group, tells a story about the balsa wood and the beam.  He says that any piece of communication is fragile like a piece of balsa wood.  Put too much messaging weight on it, or bend it around with a committee-full of requirements, and it will break.  But lay out one simple, elegant communication after another and eventually, layered together, they become a beam that can support the weight of any challenge in the customer’s mind or competitor’s claim.  So, as you think about your communications today—whether you’re tweeting, airing a radio spot, or launching an outdoor campaign—see this event as one more piece of balsa wood in the brand experience you’re creating.  Keep adding on a next piece each day and you’ll have a beam that will support the expectations of more and more customers.

 

What piece of balsa wood are you laying down today?  If you want strategic support in shaping your beam, consider giving us a call at MOVE.  We love building brand beams together.

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It starts when we're little kids.  Remember this request? (Or perhaps you hear it now with your own children each night.)  “Mommy, Daddy, tell me a story.”

There's something about a story that captures our imagination, stirs our emotions, and when well told, leaves us delighted.  And, of course, another one or two is always needed at the next bedtime.

Your business can leverage “the power of story” to attract like-minded customers. Because a story engages emotionally, you can make a faster, more authentic connection with a current or potential customer.

You can tell your story through any medium—and you should use many different paths to connect with your various customers.  However, because of the ubiquitous presence of the internet in our lives, video has become the dominant medium for communicating a story to the broadest audience.  It is very powerful because it works at a visceral level. With the stimulus of both sight and sound, a video draws an audience into your brand experience immediately and stimulates them to see themselves in relation to what they’re hearing and seeing more directly than when you appeal to them rationally.  If you do “rational” first, then they will kick into “analysis” mode and begin problem-solving in order to evaluate whether or not you make sense to them.  There will be ample opportunity to make that case later in your sales process.

So how do you go about building your brand story video?  By answering the following questions, you’ll be able to define with your creative team the story you want to tell.  You’ll also be able to develop the related budget to appropriately reflect your brand and achieve your desired image and impact.

1.      What is the key message you want your audience to remember?  Express it here in 3-5 words and then also in 2 or 3 sentences.

2.      What images or scenes are critical to communicating your story?  Name them.

3.      Is there anyone who must appear on-camera in order for the story to be well-told?  Who?

4.      Brand videos vary in length.  Is yours concise or does it require more exposition?  Do you think yours can be told well in 1 minute?  90 seconds?  3 minutes?  7 minutes?

5.      Budget is based on the amount of creative ideation and the level of production values needed to accomplish your video.  To help you establish the budget that you will need, think through the following checklist:

o   The least expensive video involves interviewing one person and including text graphics and an end logo. Will this work for you?

o   If simply doing an interview is not going to get the job done for you, you’ll need to develop a Creative Idea for the story. When you have your idea, you’ll need to develop a budget for production (videotaping) and post-production (editing).

o   Define the production and post-production elements needed: 

Can this idea be produced well with just text on screen and still images?

Is this an iPhone video or does it need a more polished look?

Are interviews required?

What are the key elements for a script?

Will this idea require videotaping on location?

Will it require multiple days?

Does it require an on-camera narrator?  One of your team or an actor?

Is a voice-over narrator needed?

Would it best be expressed as an animated presentation?

Does it require original music?

 

Once you’ve answered these questions, you’re ready to tell your story and make some magic that will work like a magnet.  If you need help crafting your message, give us a call.  We’ve been telling stories for over 31 years…and we love a happy ending.

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Tell the truth and people will listen. 

#weeklyword

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