Some of us took a marketing course in college, and some of us avoided it because it didn’t sound like something we would ever use or be interested in learning more about it. Either way, marketing is an important aspect of growing our aging in place businesses. Still, not everyone is comfortable talking about marketing or devoting any energy to a formal program of lead production.
Unless we have all of the clients and revenue that we will need to sustain us in the years ahead, marketing is essential to our business success. We might do it ourselves, or we might have others do it for us, but it has to get done. Marketing can take on many forms. Advertising is probably the oldest and best-known type of marketing, but social media, press releases, newsletters, articles, and referrals also are marketing.
Simply put, marketing involves generating an interest for a product or service so that sales can result.
Notice that sales and marketing were used in the same sentence. Like salt and pepper, two other items frequently linked and discussed together but distinctly different in their usage and flavor, sales and marketing are two different, but often related, concepts dealing with business success and sustainability.
There are many definitions of marketing that people use, but the easiest way to keep sales and marketing separate is that marketing is everything that happens to produce the consumer contact or inquiry and sales is everything that happens after that.
Potential customers and clients can materialize in various ways. We can do activities that are aimed at attracting them from among people that we don’t currently know in the general population, we can work with existing clients and customers to attempt to generate more business from them (“repeat business”), we can rely on word-of-mouth referrals being produced by satisfied client and customers when they people they know about us, and we can identify referring businesses and professionals who can share their clients or customers with us or have us help them with what we offer.
There was a time when print advertising – newspaper and magazine ads, flyers, direct mail, brochures, and business cards – were the typical form of marketing. Radio and TV worked for many businesses also. This was pre-internet. Now, everything has changed. There is still print advertising being used, but some of that printed message is online. Additionally, everyone has a website, and many people have a social media presence for themselves or their businesses. There are additional opportunities for online advertising in addition to just having an ad.
Nevertheless, before we start printing brochures and running ads for our businesses (in print or online), there is a very key point that needs to be decided. Without this, our money will not be well-spent. Before we can effectively begin looking for, spreading the word, and attracting people that might be interested in what we have to offer or what we can provide – regardless of how they learn about us – we must know precisely what we want them to know that we do.
We must have a clearly defined business model (a subset of the business plan) that describes a typical client or customer, the type of project that ideal for us, and the style or location of the home that we want to work with, the type of client we are seeking, and the price point or range of our favorite job. We don’t have to spell this out in our advertising message word-for-word, but this knowledge helps us formulate the direction of our marketing.
Once we decide the scope of our services, we can target certain neighborhoods or zip codes, rehab hospitals, public adjusters, property managers, renters, empty nesters, seniors on a limited income, Baby Boomers, gated communities, 55+ communities, luxury owners, or any other market segment that seems to align with what we are offering.
Our website message, any printed message (newspaper, brochure, vehicle wrap, or flyer), electronic messages if we choose to use them (radio, TV, or podcast), booths at trade or home shows, and everything else we use to connect with people who might use our services or refer people to us – including direct personal contact by us, must be consistently framed with our primary products or services. If we can’t describe to ourselves, our team, strategic partners, referring professionals, and the public what we do and who we are trying to serve in a couple of succinct sentences, our marketing efforts are going to be fragmented, and we are not going to be happy with the results.
We must present a clear image to potential clients and customers of the aging in place services we provide and underscore our reputation and ability to deliver what they need and expect from us.