Hospice care is one of those industries that don’t bring about a lot of joy to most families. Someone they love has been just discharged from a doctor’s care and now they’re setting up hospice care because there aren’t any other real options available. It’s the first step, in many minds towards having to plan for a funeral for a loved one. It’s a difficult time for everyone and your marketing strategies must incorporate this fact in order to be successful.
It all begins with your ability to provide someone with the quality care that they need as they approach the end of their life. If you are there when you say you’ll be there, can offer as needed services for those emergency situations that always creep up, and can provide a sympathetic ear to those who are struggling, you’ll establish a reputation of empathy that will spread throughout your community and help bring business your way.
Hospice Marketing Strategies that Work
1. Provide Access to Care
One of the first tasks you must take on as you develop a marketing strategy is to identify potential barriers to care within your community. Having meaningful access to hospice care has been a lot easier since the 1982 passage of the Medicare Hospice Benefit, but not everyone has access to your services in your community. Review what could be blocking access and remove it as the first step toward marketing your services.
2. It’s About Positive Competition
Because people should have the ability to access end-of-life care when necessary, the focus of any marketing campaign should be positive instead of negative. Hospice care isn’t about providing unfulfilled promises or inadequate services in order to improve profit margins. You simply promote what you do well and leave things at that because you want to make a good first impression.
3. “Hero” Class Customer Service
Although it is difficult to work in this industry, you will distinguish yourself by being the best hero you can be to those who need care. It’s really the epitome of what hero class customer service is all about – being strong in the face of adversity to make sure someone receives the absolute care that they deserve. The best superheroes will always make a splash in their community.
4. Look For Referrals
Instead of marketing outward to your community, try marketing inward toward your local hospital and patient care industry. Many patients come from hospital referrals, so get in good with your local medical care facilities, build relationships, and show these providers that you are the provider of choice when it comes to hospice care.
5. Open Up Communication
When you have open lines of communication between patients, your business, and your local provider network, then you’ve got a recipe for success. Make sure you open up all of the lines of communication that are available so that a family knows for certain what is going on. This could even include social media and other online options, but be careful with these as HIPAA laws may apply and you could find yourself in a lot of unintentional trouble.
6. Be Strategic
A media presence is always critical to expanding the presence of a hospice service, but it must be a strategic presence. If you’re putting your hospice branding in front of a funeral home, that might not leave a great first impression! Use media to educate and inform, not sell, and put these efforts in places where people tend to pay attention. A 30 second advertisement on Hulu Plus that’s targeted locally might be more effective than a local radio ad.
7. Set Up Objectives
Every contact you make is a chance for you to set a future objective that can be achieved. Let the conversation flow naturally, but don’t leave without setting up some sort of follow-up. This could look like a future appointment with a family, agreeing that you’ll be the hospice provider of choice in their care plan, or that a doctor will make you the first referral for hospice care. Always plan ahead and you’ll find those plans will pay dividends eventually.
8. Be the Captain
You’ve got to make sure you’re steering your ship in the right direction every day. You’re going to be out in the field consistently, which means you’re going to know when your customers have availability. Plan a monthly calendar to discuss your services with local providers, have plenty of sales aides with you to take advantage of every situation, and never turn down an opportunity to have a conversation.
9. Plan to Listen
You don’t need to have a polished speech in order to make a good first impression with people. Much of hospice care is about listening to the individuals so that you can actively provide them with what they need. You can demonstrate this easily in a conversation that occurs regularly. “Hi! I work in hospice care. What do you do?”
10. Be Different
With a focus on positive competition, you’ve got to highlight your strengths in order to differentiate yourself from other hospice providers. What do you do that no one else does? What kind of services can you provide a community that are better? Don’t put this into a negative campaign! Just tell people that you can provide these strengths and to contact you if they need them. You’ll get calls if you solve a problem.
11. Develop Metrics
If you’re not tracking for success, then you’ll never know if you’re ever successful. Develop metrics that can track revenues, marketing strategies, and community outreach efforts so that you can keep doing what works and avoid doing what is essentially a waste of time.
12. Expand the Network
Sometimes referrals come more frequently if you have a wider range of services that can be provided. Speak with your local provider network to see what kind of expansions they would like to see in local services like yours. Consider expanding outside your community as well for future growth opportunities. Expand in a way that makes sense and you’ll have an effective marketing strategy implemented.