The NDIS and the delivery of community care in Australia is in the process of shifting from provider driven to customer driven. This means customers are in a stronger position of cherry picking what they need to support their health care requirements, and providers are in the position of having to define a strong value proposition and deliver on it.
This hasn’t happened overnight. However, a number of providers have sat in the dark, burning candles, feverishly researching how to stop the undead from taking over when they could have been a little more proactive about making themselves visible to current and potential customers.
The simple fact is that if you are providing a service that is relevant there is no reason for you to go out of business. Sure, there has to be some changes to your business model, your marketing budget and your accessibility but we live in a digital world so all is not lost even if you have not done anything so far.
- Make sure your website is responsive. Responsive websites have been around now since 2010 and since over 70% of people are first likely to check you out on a mobile device, not having a website that works in that format is nothing short of madness. You would be surprised how many businesses in the health care space have websites that only work on desktop.
- Make sure your marketing strategy supports your revised business model. You need to be able to articulate who you are trying to reach, what you offer that is unique to you or your customer, know where your customers are and who is making the decision about where the money is being spent.
- Understand that customer service is 24/7 now. You might only be open 9.30 – 4.30 Monday to Friday, but your customers are talking about their experiences all day every day. If they don’t get a timely response to a phone call or email you are going to find yourself being slammed on social media, even if you’re not there.
- Be on social media. Know what you are doing. Have a strategy, understand what content is appealing to your customers, be consistent and above all, be responsive. Your social media platforms are frontline examples of your offering. They need to be as finely tuned as your face to face interactions.
- Have a risk management plan in place. And make it robust. Who are the decision makers? What are your emergency plans? What does escalation look like for your business?
- Start turning your success stories into case studies and chunks of consumable information that demonstrate your expertise and give customers an insight into your entire offering. It is very common for care businesses to be known for something quite specific even though they have the capacity to offer quite a wide range of support.
- Don’t assume. Don’t assume. Don’t assume. Just because you know about you, your current customers know about you, your ambassador knows about you, and somebody wrote an article about you in 2009 does not mean everybody knows about you. It’s an easy mistake to make when you’re immersed in something to feel that more people know about it than actually do.
- Get written testimonials. Ask the people that already think you’re ace to write a few lines about why. If you are one of 30 businesses offering ‘in home support’ – what does that mean? Why are you better than other businesses? Why do people love you?
- Focus on what the customer wants. Everybody makes the mistake at least once of focussing on what they DO and HOW they do it, without touching base with the customers to see how they could be doing it better from their perspective. There is no shame in changing the way you do things if you’re doing it to make your service more appealing to your customers. I mean they are the ones paying your bills.
- Just start. And start now.
Would love to hear what you think are critical elements of marketing yourself successful in the context of the ‘new world order’!