Elder Care Business in 2006: Opening and Marketing Your Dream

Valerie VanBooven

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I love the start of a new year. It brings to mind that the possibilities are endless, and for many of us, it’s a great time to start something new or different in our lives.

I’d be a rich person if I had a nickel for everyone out there who has decided to open a new in-home care agency, open a professional geriatric care management practice, or start some sort of elder care business. (I get a call or email about this at least 3 times per week consistently!)

What I know for sure is that there is plenty of business to go around. As we live longer, as our parents and grandparents live longer, we create an unlimited opportunity and need for senior related services.

The key is to create an appropriate and realistic business and marketing plan that generates clients and results. The key to the senior market, is not surprisingly, their adult children.

If you have been in the senior market for any amount of time, you know that families often contact senior service providers when they are in crisis due to an acute illness or other event that signals the need for services and support.

So whether you are just starting a new senior/elder care business, or already own one- think about marketing to more than just seniors. Your target audience may be a little younger than you imagine!

Consider some of the other things we have talked about over the last few months:

  • Issues related to senior living options, senior care options, and financial issues that affect seniors require education, so educate your prospects.

  • Advertising with vanity ads and the “same old thing” is “OUT”, and offering information in the form of a free report, CD, seminar, or consultation is “IN”.

  • Directing messages to baby-boomers who HAVE aging parents is key. Finding them is not as easy as buying a “list”.

  • Understanding financial options for seniors is a MUST for all senior service providers. It’s impossible to offer good advice to a family if you aren’t up on the latest programs and strategies.

  • Networking is possibly the most effective and least costly form of advertising and marketing. You should attend only the networking events that make sense for your business. Pick 2-3 key groups and stick with them. (But try as many as you can, it never hurts to check out a new group!)

  • Finally, when you are budgeting for your marketing, budget for consistency and frequency, not the big bang. This market does not work like that.

    o The reality is that you must touch a consumer 6-10 times- either through print, radio, or TV, in order to get a response. o Running a radio ad 4 times and pulling the ad because you didn’t get a phone call is not the way to execute a marketing strategy.

    o This is a sensitive subject for many (long-term care needs), so in short order you must articulate your message, interrupt your target (ie get their attention), engage them, educate them, and then make an offer.

    o Offering something for free- your time, your printed report, your audio CD, etc, will get the most response. Some people like to remain anonymous…so let them, but engage them.

    Finally, this is a very good year to live your dream, be an entrepreneur, and serve the greatest generation of all time. Take a realistic, slow but steady and consistent course of action, and you will succeed! We need more senior service providers who really know their stuff. We need senior service providers who are educated, efficient, and trustworthy. Best wishes for continued success in 2006!

    Valerie VanBooven RN, BSN, PGCM is an author, professional speaker, and professional geriatric care manager. She speaks nationwide to professionals and consumers about aging, long-term care, and marketing to seniors and adult children of aging parents. Did you know that you can write reverse mortgages yourself and you don't have to refer the business away? It's true. Valerie is currently the Director of Marketing and Public Relations for Next Generation Financial Services, a division of 1st Mariner Bank. She can be reached at valerie@nextgenfinser.com or on the web at http://www.theltcexpert.com or http://www.ngfs.net

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