Strategies for Marketing a Memory Care Program
Effective marketing is important to a memory care program’s success. But rather than using marketing techniques and messages intended for a larger senior care program, it’s essential to develop techniques and messaging specifically for memory care. From understanding the types of marketing that are most effective to understanding how to have initial conversations with families of potential residents, marketing a memory care program requires a unique approach.
Challenges of Marketing a Memory Care Program
Marketing a memory care program involves unique challenges. Bette McNee, BSN, RN, NHA, assistant vice president at Graham Company, explains that marketing efforts need to be cognizant of the education gap that exists around memory care. “When people are reaching out for nursing care, they understand the need for medication administration and for their parent to have healthy meals and some engaging activities,” explains McNee. “With memory loss, cognitive decline, or Alzheimer’s, many times the families don’t have a lot of education around the disease progression, what diseases are causing the cognitive decline, and what that care looks like.”
“Marketing really comes down to seeing that you’re educating on these processes and care needs, and then how your organization best meets those needs,” McNee says. Not only does a memory care program need to market its services, but the program must also educate people about why those services are necessary.
Types of Marketing for Memory Care Programs
From direct mail to social media to online advertising, there are many potential types of marketing to choose from. Social media and online marketing offer several advantages. “I think that online marketing is very important,” says McNee. “People need to do their research and understand what’s going on with their loved ones, what services are based in research, what’s available, and how socialization, activities, and medication support someone who is going through that memory journey.”
When a provider offers up that information online, people can sit down at the computer on their own time and access the information at a time that’s right for them. On social media, a provider can offer up information and then still be available to answer any questions that page followers might have. “It’s an exceptional solution for families that are dealing with a very difficult diagnosis,” McNee explains.
Additionally, referrals can be a highly valuable form of marketing. McNee recommends that memory care programs work to establish and maintain relationships with local home care providers. “Home care is very personalized, and it’s a natural transition into a memory care focus,” she explains. As a family needs help caring for a loved one, they often contact a home care provider. That provider will have been working in the home and often becomes a trusted support. “A beloved home caregiver can say that they have a great relationship with a memory care provider down the street, and that they actually know those people,” she says. “In those situations, you want your loved ones to be cared for by the people that you trust.”
Marketing Best Practices for Memory Care
When it comes to marketing memory care programs, McNee cautions operators to avoid overselling what the programs do. For example, some programs advertise a safe environment. “The problem is, there are so many variables when people are in memory care settings, that there might be an issue of safety or security,” says McNee. In a situation where someone suffering from memory loss manages to slip out, the family may be very upset because the program had been marketed as a safe environment. “You need to make certain you’re not overselling safety and security,” McNee states.
It’s equally important to understand that families searching for memory care services are vulnerable. “Sometimes families think healthcare can offer a cure. We do the best that we can to manage risk and try to give someone an extreme quality of life and fulfillment, but we can’t cure dementia,” she says.
When having initial conversations with families who are reaching out for more information, McNee emphasizes the importance of learning how to be a good listener and to ask the right questions. “As marketing folks, we often like to boast about our programs and our organizations,” she says. “Often, we’re quick to talk about what we have, but I think that marketing folks should be very skilled at not just asking why you’re seeking services, but in also trying to discern how much the family understands of the disease process. Have some standard questions you ask, but really do a lot of listening.”
Topics: Activities , Alzheimer's/Dementia , Business Marketing Including Social Media and CRM , Featured Articles , Resident Care , Senior Environments