So you have decided to open a Residential or Personal Care Home?
You know the need is there. The numbers of elderly needing care is increasing every day. But how do you get noticed? How do you connect with the families who are looking for elderly care for someone they love?
And how do you do it on a shoestring budget?
The Good News
Today there are more opportunities for for small businesses like yours to compete in the marketplace with the larger facilities. The key is to know how to market your business so others can find you.
1. Use Photography
“A picture speaks a thousand words.”
This is an area you do not want to skimp on. If you can possibly afford it, get a professional to stage your home and a professional photographer to shoot pictures. You will need files that can work for print materials as well as online applications.
Not in the budget?
That’s okay. Learn how to take good pictures. The great news is if you have a smart phone it probably takes pretty good pictures.
Notice The Details
Look through the lens and pay attention to all of the details. It the bedspread neat? Are there items sticking out from underneath the bed? Look at each room with a critical eye.
If you have trouble with this bring in a friend to help. Choose someone who is good at decorating their own home. This is someone who will most likely notice the little things that will make a huge difference in presentation.
Even a bad picture can sometimes be fixed.
Once you have the pictures you can crop, adjust lighting, etc. PicMonkey is a free online photo enhancing service. You can hire someone to “fix” your photos for you or you can take a little time to learn how to do it yourself. It is really not that hard.
Look at your competition.
How do your pictures stack up? Does your home present as well as the home around the corner? Or how about the big facility down the street? There are a lot of options for families these days. First impressions really do count. And the picture on your brochure, website or social media accounts may very well be the first impression a family has. It can make the difference whether they call you or not.
2. Social Media Is Here To Stay
Resisting social media is like driving a knife into your business. While today you may be marketing to late boomers and a few X-Gens, tomorrow it will be the millennials. Will you be able to adjust and keep up?
It is easy to get overwhelmed with social media. There are so many channels to choose from. The key is to look at the statistics and see where your ideal client is hanging out.
It makes no sense to market to 18-year old’s in India is your target is 60-year old’s in Houston. While Facebook has a strong 50 + market, Twitter does not.
Just Choose Two!
Then choose two channels and go deep with your marketing. Spend your energy and your time really developing these channels. Spreading yourself too thin will not help your business.
The statistics may change with time so you will want to look at the trends every year. Right Now, your target market can be found on Facebook and Linked In. Facebook will help you connect with the families who are looking for eldercare while Linked In is great for connecting with professionals who can recommend your service. Of course, many of those professionals also have parents. :-)
Learn all you can about how to set up your profile and how to market the right way on each channel. Take classes or join a private social media networking group.
Social Media is not free however and you should expect to allocate some money each month to your social media advertising budget. The key with marketing and advertising is consistency. The more you show up and engage with others the more benefits you will receive.
3. Off Line Networking Groups
Check in your area to see what groups are available. The more people know about your business, the more opportunities you will have. In Houston, there are a lot of Healthcare related groups you can attend. Check out the SRG calendar to find a list.
Every city has a Chamber of Commerce and most towns have chapters for the American Business Women’s Association. Expect to pay a membership fee. Furthermore, it is important to understand that you will get out of these organizations what you put into them. You have to “Give to Get”, as my friend Shelly Roth says. The more you reach out to help other people the more you will see people helping you. This concept works both online as well as offline.
The truth is that people are looking for you online. If they type in your business name and nothing comes up on Google it will be a cause for concern. That said, you do not have to spend thousands of dollars building a fancy website. Your website is simply an online brochure. For most care homes 3 to 6 pages is adequate. Remember to add lots of good quality pictures of your home and of your residents.
There are several platforms that have made it easy for even the novice to build a great website. Wix, Weebly and Website Builder are all great platforms with SEO included. The downside is if you decide to move your business to a different platform you will have to start all over. Most small businesses have no need to move their website so this is not really an issue. Also, these platforms seem to have less security issues than a word press website
Hire A Professional
Again, for a small business like yours you do not need that many bells and whistles. A small website should cost you no more than about $400 to $800 to build including SEO. At Marketing Your Care, we create Wix websites for our customers in this price range. You will pay your own monthly hosting fees.
Video is fast becoming one of the most popular ways to market your business. And it does not have to cost a huge amount of money. You can create animated videos, live videos, video testimonials and more. Using videos in your social media will help you to reach more people. Facebook naturally shows your video to more viewers.
Video Testimonials are Really Powerful
Spontaneous Live Video Is Not Always The Best Choice
Be careful going live on Facebook however. There needs to be a reason for your live video and you should expect to be live for about 20 minutes. It takes that long to get people’s attention. Social Media examiner has a good article, 5 Tips For A Better Facebook Live Broadcast.
6. Unique Creative Content
The content you post on FB and LinkedIn or any other channel you choose should be 80% your unique content. The other 20% should content you share from other businesses who could be good referral partners.
There are lots of tools that can help you create great content. Animoto is a good one for creating animated videos, Pic Monkey and Canva are both good for creating posts for social media. You want your business to stand out and be noticed. Posting good quality information that is helpful, educational, entertaining or inspirational will keep people coming back to your page. You will be on the top of their mind when they need your service or when they meet someone else who does.
Writing about what you know that can help others is what blogging is all about. Studies have shown that having a regular blog can increase traffic to your website by 40 %.
Blogging at least once or twice a month will help to keep your website content fresh. Google likes to see websites that are fresh and relevant. In addition, you can use the article in your social media content to help drive traffic back to your website.
Look at other industry websites for ideas or set up a Google alerts on different topics. Google Alerts will email you articles written about any topic you choose. These can be good sources for inspiration to write your own article. Do not copy an article however. This could get you in a lot of trouble. This is simply a great way to get ideas and inspiration.
You can even hire people to write articles for you.
Try to find someone who regularly writes articles in the eldercare industry. Someone who is also local to your area is a big plus.
There are a lot of websites oversees who offer article writing at really inexpensive prices. My experience with this is that you often have to re-write the article. Even though they may speak and write in English they may not really understand your local culture. As such the writing, often does not feel natural.
If you want to try a service like this order two or three articles. If they look good and you are pleased with the quality, that is great! Just remember this article is representing you and your company. You want it to be a quality article. Furthermore you want someone who understands SEO and can optimize the article for your website.
The world needs more people like you out there caring for seniors. Grow your business so you can stay in business.
Kathryn Watson is a Social Media Strategist. Her focus is on Content Creation, Facebook and LinkedIn Strategy.
Schedule a complimentary 30 minute consultation with Kathryn to see how she can help your business.