Think you know today’s caregivers? Did you know that people caring for their aging parents today seek paid caregiving help, go online for advice first rather than seek it in person, and are happier after their aging relative moves into a senior living community? These are just a few of the insights gathered from the nearly 2,100 people who responded to Caring.com’s annual Senior Care Survey of family caregivers and older adults.
During our latest Digital Marketing Academy Webinar, we dove into the survey findings for a deeper look at people caring for an aging loved one as well as seniors caring for themselves.
Among other findings, we discussed:
• Shifting caregiver demographics
• The amount of time and money respondents spent on caregiving in the last year
• How caregiving impacts respondents’ work situations
• What prompted a loved one’s move into a senior living community
• How happiness levels varied based on an aging loved one’s living situation
• How this data can be utilized by senior living communities and home care agencies to better market their services
- Add a call to action like “Call Now” with your phone number at the top of the homepage (and all other pages).
- Showcase and link to third-party review sites, because that’s what your website visitors want to do next, and you don’t want them hitting the “Back” button to return to Google to find them (thereby tanking your SEO mojo).
- Set up a blog and post regularly (to make sure Google notices you and ranks you high in their search results).
According to our poll during the webcast, 85% of senior care providers already have “Call Now” on their homepage. But most of you still don’t believe us when it comes to consumer reviews. And the most common feedback you gave me at the end of the webinar was that while people got the value of having a blog, they weren’t sure how to set one up, and what to post once they did so.
So, for those of you looking for more information, or for those who didn’t get a chance to attend the webinar, here’s my step-by-step blog action plan.
Step 1: Sign Up With a Blog Provider. There are a number of good options. We use WordPress. It takes about two minutes to set up an account with them, and then you need to get your website person to set up a sub-domain and link it from your corporate site (like our URL), which takes about 10 minutes.
Step 2: Start Writing. About what, you ask? I wouldn’t invest time writing about things like “how to pay for assisted living” because companies like Caring.com, Bankrate (our parent company), and ALFA.org already provide robust content around that, as well as teams of people whose jobs depend on us ranking high for those so-called root terms. And I wouldn’t bother with topics like “signs of dementia” because then you’re competing with The Mayo Clinic and WebMD, who also have teams of experts at their disposal.
Instead, you could write about events of interest to people who might eventually need your services, such as
- An event being hosted at your town’s Senior Center
- The local library purchasing additional large-type books
- Position papers for city council candidates on things like handicapped parking spaces
- A quick guide to senior discount hours at your local movie theater
- Reviews of local restaurants with “Early Bird” specials
- Your clients’ or residents’ memories of your town, 50 years ago, and how it has changed
- Commentary or op-ed pieces on aging issues in your community
- Q&A with your staff or executive team
You can also post updates about your community (if you’re a senior housing company) that validate your marketing promises, such as:
- Your chef’s new meatloaf recipe (showcases your dining services)
- Your latest guest speaker (establishes your expertise)
- The Scout troop that came to play games with the residents
- The activities your residents are enjoying this week (reinforces socialization message)
- The most recent nice review you got on Caring.com (see, you knew I’d slip that in)
If you’re a home care provider, how about featuring:
- Profiles of your caregivers (pick those with long service history)
- Stories of services you provided for your clients (names removed, of course, to protect privacy)
- Your clients’ stories of where they were for certain historical events
- A funny thing that happened in your office (especially if it illustrates how caring your employees are)
- The latest nice review you got on Caring.com
How about asking partners to guest post for you? A smart GCM might be happy to do this, in exchange for a link to her own website.
Here are a few links to partners of Caring.com who are using these tactics with their own blogs (since now that you’ve heard the idea, you’d like to see it in action, and I just kept you from hitting the “Back” button to find blog content)
Step 3: Market Your Blog. Don’t forget this step, it’s important. Cross-post to your blog from your Facebook page to drive traffic to your blog (plus, you’re probably looking for content there, too). Put a link to your blog in your email footer. Request links to relevant blog posts from the local companies and partners you write about. All these things signal to search engines that you’ve got great content with which people are engaged, which then causes your site to rank higher.
Have other ideas? Tweet them to me @CaringKatie.
For more of Hendrik’s great suggestions, here’s the recording of our webinar. He’s also offering a free Cyber Guide analysis of Caring.com partner company web sites. Click here for more information. And for a great summary of the webinar, check out this article in Home Health Care News.
There’s a big discrepancy between consumer expectations for pricing and senior housing operator practices.
In a recent Caring.com survey on senior housing tours, we found that 15% of the free-form comments mentioned prospective residents’ dissatisfaction with their access to pricing information.
“The cost is the most important aspect of this search and no one would give me approximate costs. I want that before I visit,” one complaint read.
“With my wife sitting right beside me, it is hard to answer price questions over the phone,” another commenter wrote, citing a bad experience during his pre-tour interaction with a community.
A third commenter put it more bluntly: “Doesn’t matter how nice a place it is or how well it meets your needs, if you can’t afford it, that’s it. Period. Stop wasting my time.”
Yet, in a recent webinar on pricing, we found that 14% of senior housing communities won’t share any price information with prospective residents until the family takes a tour. Little more than half of communities (58%) reported emailing pricing information before a tour, but only 21% post even approximate pricing on their websites.
In the age of the Internet, we’ve gotten used to having every bit of information at our fingertips. You can find out the price of a barrel of oil in 1979, the cost of a new Mercedes, or how much a haircut will run you in London – all without leaving your dining room table.
Just try finding prices for your local assisted living community.
Of course, the amount you’ll pay for senior care depends on a lot of variables, most of which you can’t see from a few clicks online. And most people haven’t really worked out the true cost of living in their own home and compared it to an all-inclusive senior living experience. But making it nearly impossible for prospects to get any idea of how much you’ll charge them gets your relationship off to an uncomfortable start.
So what to do? Here are a few ideas for how to start a conversation around pricing early in the sales cycle.
1. Give people a range. “Our least-expensive apartment is $2,300, but there’s a range depending on what amenities and other services you’re looking for. For instance, some of our units have full kitchens in them, and those cost a little more – I’d love to show you a few options, would you be available on Thursday afternoon?
2. Use care charges as a selling tool. “We charge around $3,000 per month for rent, but depending on your mom’s needs for assistance with things like medication or housekeeping, there’s often an additional charge for care. It’s hard for me to give you exact pricing without knowing a little more about her situation – would you be available to come in for a meeting where I could ask you some questions and help you figure out a specifically what it would cost? How about Thursday?”
3. Become their expert helper. “Our prices start at $4,000 per month, but that includes all meals, housekeeping, and full laundry service, and of course you no longer have household maintenance, utilities, and property taxes, so it often ends up being less than it actually costs to live in a large home, especially for a single person. One thing I could help you with is working out what your parents’ actual budget might be. Would you like to schedule some time Thursday to go over everything?
Here’s another idea: let your referral partner broach this topic on your behalf.
At Caring.com, our family advisors talk to families about the cost of senior housing (in fact, it’s the #1 question families ask us). They help explain rent and care charges, entrance fees and community fees, and discuss strategies to cover the cost. This means the elephant in the living room has already been mentioned, and your sales teams don’t have to cover that first.
It’s good business, too. Communities that share their pricing with our family advisors get three times as many referrals as those that don’t. Consumers are much more open to continuing a conversation when they have a sense of how much it will cost them. After all, research has shown that two-thirds of a typical purchasing decision is made before ever talking to a seller. (Dan Hutson of The Be.Group references the study in this great post).
Finally, consider posting at least your starting-at prices on your web site. You’ll be the only community in your town that does so, which will give you a jump on your competitors. And don’t worry – people understand that the starting price of $35,000 for a Mercedes Benz is just that — a starting place. That starting point helps, though, to figure out whether they should be talking to the Mercedes guy or to the Volkswagen dealer across the street.
If you’d like to hear more, listen to the full recording of our pricing webinar, including a discussion of variable prices from Prorize.
And if you’ve changed your pricing recently but haven’t notified Caring’s advisors, take 30 seconds to let us know.