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The Caregiver's  Home Companion

July 5, 2006
Identify Your Market for Effective Use of Messaging and Media

May 31, 2006
3-Ms for Success: Message, Market, Media

May 10, 2006
Marketing Your Services Means Covering All the Bases

March 29, 2006
Selling Value Over Price Is Worth Every Effort

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Posted: September 21, 2005

Professional Caregiving

Let's Lose the Platitudes When Marketing Senior Services

I was recently invited to Wisconsin to speak to the Wisconsin Association of Homes and Services for the Aging. They wanted to know more about two topics -- how to get more private pay clients and my thoughts on how we, as senior providers, can do a better job of marketing our businesses to seniors and adult children of aging parents. For this column, I’m going to talk about the marketing piece (and this is only the tip of the iceberg).

I want to let all of you in on my marketing strategy, one that DOES work, but you have to be able to move away from the "norm" a bit.

Do you know what a "platitude" is? A platitude is sort of like a "given." For instance, for all of the phrases below, if you can say, "Well, I would hope so!" That makes the phrase a platitude. All of these come directly from advertisements in the Yellow Pages that advertise senior services of some kind: independent living, assisted living, nursing home, home care, etc. I did not make this up.

My "Well, I would hope so!" List:

• Luxurious dining.

• We treat residents like family.

• Quality Care.

• The BEST in Senior Living. (as opposed to what?)

• Senior Living at it’s Best! (see any similarities here?)

• Spacious apartments.

• Courteous, compassionate staff.

• Park-like setting.

• Resort-like services and amenities.

• Elegant dining.

• Luxurious Retirement Living.

• Full service retirement living.

• We care. For You. (???)

• Care is our business

• Life away from home can be more enjoyable than you ever imagined .(nursing home ad)

If you are a consumer who has never worked in the senior services industry and has never place a loved one into any form of care, do these phrases and words really educate you about anything? Every ad is almost identical. They say nothing, really. Unfortunately, we also have a large population of adult children of aging parents who have no idea where to turn for services and resources (not their fault), and the Yellow Pages is the first place they look to find help. Ugh.

Let’s move away from the platitudes and start educating consumers, instead.

With the foregoing laid on the table, my recommendation is this: If you want to build your database of qualified prospects, and you want to have plenty of business, fill the rooms, fill the beds, etc., .then you or your organization needs to become the trusted resource in town.

Try this. The next time you run an ad or send out a newsletter, make an offer.

Offer a FREE REPORT on the Top 20 Questions You Should Be Asking Before Hiring an In-Home Care Agency…or, Top 20 Questions You Should Be Asking Before Deciding on a Nursing Home (Independent Living Community, etc).

Naturally, make sure you actually WRITE a free report on the top 10, 15, 20 questions people should be asking, and keep it simple, one or two pages at most.

Before you make such an offer, go back to my previous columns where I talked about "inside reality" vs "outside perception." Make sure those match up before you tell people what they should be looking for in a good service.

If you are the facility, or organization that chooses to educate your local community on topics related to what good quality care REALLY means, how to pay for long-term care, what legal documents consumers should have (like DPOA etc), then the community will begin to trust your organization.

Take a look around at the competition in your area. What are THEY doing to educate the community on a regular basis? How can you differentiate yourself from them? Offer something that they haven’t even thought of yet. Lose the platitudes and become an educator. As consumers we can use all the help we can get.


Valerie VanBooven RN, BSN, PGCM, is a registered nurse, professional geriatric care manager, author, and professional speaker. She is a leading expert on long-term care planning and crisis management. Valerie is president of Senior Care Solutions, a private geriatric care management practice in the St. Louis area. Her books include Aging Answers: Secrets to Successful Long-Term Care Planning, Caregiving, and Crisis Management and her website is She can be reached at .

© 2005 Pederson Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Commercial use, redistribution or other forms of reuse of this information is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission of Pederson Publishing.

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