Director of Development
& Community Relations
A Few Clients:
Hospice Marketing with Online Resources
Re-position your hospice "upstream"
Now you can move from the expert in death-and-dying
to the expert in serious illness.
If you are looking for a way to reach family caregivers earlier in the process, consider offering online educational materials on topics of concern to Boomer daughters and sons. Many families are hospice-appropriate long before they are hospice-ready. They can admit Mom is seriously ill, but they cannot say "Mom" and "hospice" in the same sentence, let alone type in a hospice web address. This doesn't need to be a problem. You just need to be creative in marketing your hospice.
You can connect with the "pre-hospice" audience by providing branded, online educational resources and launching a campaign:
"Caring for someone who is seriously ill? We can help. Go to www.seriousillness.org/[yourcommunity]."
Distinguish yourselves from your competitors. Stand out from the crowd. Not only can you connect with families, but these bookmarkable, online resources provide excellent hospice marketing tools for your account managers to network with professionals.
You receive an area exclusive.
None of your local competitors can license this service.
Below are some ideas for using our brandable Web resources to market your hospice:
- To elder care professionals
- To the community
- To the media
- Using paid advertising
- Using the Internet itself
To elder care professionals
- Give them a brochure about your web resources for families. Suggest that social workers include it in discharge packets, or that physicians leave it on the waiting room. (Doctors, for instance, are much more willing to display a brochure about an educational resource for family caregivers than they are to display a brochure on hospice.) Ask about the trifold brochure we can brand for you.
- Pass out flyers about the e-newsletter. With rotating content, your sales staff now has fresh new resources to highlight and share every month. Check out a sample newsletter flyer.
- Provide a table of contents. Give physician office staff the downloadable Table of Contents and show them how the website can be used as on-demand education and referral information. (Every page that they print and pass along will have your name and logo on it.) Some hospice liaisons have even been able to bring in a lunch and tour the doctor and staff through the site: Hospice marketing that is actually a useful inservice as well.
- "Bookmark this page." Highlight key pages, such as the online referral form, and the Community Programs page. You can even suggest they bookmark their page in the "For Professionals" section so they can have easy access to your continually updated list of online professional resources for doctors, for social workers, etc.
- Speak at the local meeting. The local Medical Society may be quite willing for you to give a presentation on your online resources, in particular the section with links for professional development. Other professional groups are also looking for presenters. (Think in terms of your local elder care professionals, local social worker organization, a local gathering of long term care facilities, etc.) As long as you focus on the resources and steer clear of a direct hospice marketing, your talk will be quite welcome. Ask about the PowerPoint presentation we can brand for you.
- Write an article for their local newsletter. Many elder care professionals have a quarterly publication for members. Just as the education director is often scrambling for a speaker for the monthly meeting, the editor is likely on the lookout for pertinent materials written by others. Give them a call and see if you can help them complete their next issue.
To the community
- Speak to community groups about local resources for family caregivers. With your area exclusive, you can position yourselves as THE local experts in family caregiving and serious illness. You can get in front of many more groups with a talk on local resources for family caregivers than you can with a talk on standard hospice topics. Give attendees a PowerPoint tour of the e-library, for instance, showing them the educational resources and the services they can find in the online community programs directory. Point out the free monthly e-newsletter. Ask about the PowerPoint presentation we can brand for you as a unique hospice marketing tool.
- Pass around a sign-up sheet for your monthly e-newsletter. Any time you go to a community gathering, health fair or other event, circulate a clipboard so family caregivers can sign up to subscribe. It's free!
- Partner with other organizations also seeking to reach family caregivers. For example, assisted living facilities are glad to put on a "Family Caregiver Night" where you can present about local resources for family caregivers by giving them a tour of your online educational resources. Other partnerships include brown bag lunches at large employers, and a presentation at church groups supporting family caregivers.
- Put up a flyer at community bulletin boards with the web address on a pull tag. Family caregivers are everywhere. While it may not be for every organization, you can attract attention, market your hospice, and drive traffic to your site, with a widely posted pull tab flyer and the lead line, "Caring for someone who is seriously ill? We can help. Go to seriousillness.org/[yourcommunity]."
To the media
Find the reporter on the senior beat. These are busy professionals, but you have something to offer that will make their life easier, as well as providing a robust resource for their audience. Give them a tour of the site, in particular:
- Submit a Press Release about the launch of your e-library and/or e-newsletter. Ask about our draft press release and our Caregiver Fact Sheet. November is an especially fortuitous month for sending in a release as it is National Family Caregiver Month.
- Show the reporter your Resources for Media Professionals page, as well as the Research Results page.
- Offer to help them find statistics if they need some for a story. (Feel free to call us if you can't find what they are after.) If you make it clear that you are the expert in more than death-and-dying, the reporter will start turning to you for attributions on a wide variety of pertinent stories.
- Show the reporter your educational pages and your online directory of community programs. Since this is not your company website, but in fact is an educational offering at seriousillness.org, suggest that any article about family caregiving, pain management, advance directives, or simply the day-to-day realities of living with a serious illness would benefit from a notation: For more information, go to seriousillness.org/[yourcommunity].
- Use your e-newsletter for story ideas you can feed to the media. While you cannot directly give the text of your e-newsletter stories to a newspaper to print—there are copyright issues as their paper may circulate outside your contracted territory—you can use the topics and cited resources to help reporters focus on a story of topical interest.
- Regularly check the "Share Your Story" quasi-blog. You never know what stories a web-viewer will submit. One may be especially well suited as a human-interest story with the local press. Talk to the person submitting the story and let them know how moved you are by their account. Suggest that you go with them and guide them through the process of taking this to the local paper, radio station, or whatever medium seems the most appropriate. By bringing reporters stories about family caregivers, you expand beyond traditional hospice marketing and position yourselves in the mind of the local media as the local caregiving experts.
- Create a radio public service announcement (PSA). The FCC requires your local radio stations to broadcast information about community events and resources periodically throughout the day. Choose a station with your target demographics (Boomer daughters and sons) and consider asking the administration to produce something like the following:
Middle-Aged female voice: "Dad is needing more and more help, and Mom is exhausted. I want to support them, but I'm not sure what to do."
Soothing, professional male voice: "Are you caring for someone who is seriously ill? If so, we can help. Go to www.seriousillness.org/[yourcommunity]. We have online educational resources available 24/7 to help you find the information you're looking for. Plus, we have an online directory of community programs... Taking care of an ailing loved one is hard work, but you don't have to do it alone. Go to www.seriousillness.org/[yourcommunity]."
Using paid advertising
Take advantage of the seriousillness web address and promotional campaign:
"Caring for someone who is seriously ill? We can help.
Go to seriousillness.org/[yourcommunity]."
Hospice marketing ideas within the realm of paid advertising include:
- Advertising on the side of a bus. Nearly 2/3 of family caregivers are employed, meaning they likely spend time in traffic going to and from work. Exterior bus advertising is inexpensive and serves as a moving billboard visible to anyone driving in a car. A picture of a middle-aged daughter with her older mother will capture the attention of your target audience. And the seriousillness.org address is not difficult to remember (an important point since drivers do not have ready access to pen and paper). Many outdoor advertisers will give price-breaks to non-profits.
- Banner ads on newspaper sites. If the demographics of the local newspaper's website visitors correspond to that of Boomer daughters and sons, you might consider placing a banner ad as a means to draw traffic to your educational resources.
- Radio "Caregiver Challenge". In conjunction with a local radio station, host a weekly contest asking listeners to go to your website and find the answer to a question. The first listener to call in with correct answer will win a $25 gift card to [you decide the appropriate merchant]. Local radio personalities will know how to chat up a listener. You might also plan to be on the phone to verify that the caller has the right answer. In addition to increasing your visibility, this is an excellent collaborative opportunity for a local business to donate the gift card and get some publicity of their own.
Using the Internet itself
- A monthly e-newsletter is a fantastic way to put your brand in front of prospective customers on a regular basis. You can grow your list using many of the ideas noted above. And with an e-marketing account at Constant Contact, you can also take advantage of the "viral" nature of the Internet by asking your internal stakeholders (people with a vested interest in your success) to pass on information about your online resources. For instance, an email from a respected leader in your organization can go out to employees, volunteers, the Board, and even your donors. You can express excitement to these stakeholders about your new e-newsletter for families, and ask them to forward the announcement to friends and colleagues they think would find it useful. People dedicated to your mission will see the benefit of sharing your resources with their community. If you don't have an e-newsletter with an e-marketing account, talk to us about setting one up for you. We make it easy!
- Put links on your company website. Link often to your e-newsletter and e-library. One benefit of such incoming links is that you will receive a higher "credibility score" from the search engines, giving you that much more of a lift in search engine results.
- Put links in the signature of all employee emails. Imagine a link that says "Check out our resources for family caregivers". Every time an employee corresponds with a client, a referrer, or any other professional or community member, they will be marketing your hospice via your online educational offerings.
- Consider a reciprocal linking campaign. If you have licensed the Community Programs directory for your online resources, you are set up to leverage this feature on 4 fronts:
- First, call businesses listed in the directory and let them know they have been included. This establishes goodwill and may even result in an extended conversation about networking opportunities.
- Second, ask if you can bring brochures by their place of business that they can pass out to their customers. (They are much more willing to pass along information about an educational resource than they are about a hospice.)
- Third, ask if they will put a link to your online resources (e-newsletter and/or e-library) on their website. As a rule of thumb, 25% of people get to a website from a link on another site. With a link on a colleagues' site, you increase your Web visibility.
- Fourth, you will gain "credibility points" on Google, meaning your pages will rise closer to the top in a search engine result. (In-coming links are interpreted to be cyberspace word-of-mouth recommendations. The more links TO your page, the more the search engines value your content.)
- Do an e-mail trade. Very likely there are businesses in your area who are not competitors but who also target family caregivers. Offer to send an email announcement about an upcoming event of theirs, or to put information about it in your e-newsletter. In exchange, ask them to put an announcement about your new offerings in an email message or e-newsletter to their clientele.
- Co-brand a family blog. For a nominal fee, Lotsa Helping Hands will allow you to put your name, logo, donate button and About Us information on a private blog page that families can create to communicate with their support circle of relatives and friends. Gain targeted, repeat exposure to people actively involved in family caregiving. Talk to us about arranging a co-branded family blog account
- Talk about your online resources on your Facebook page. For those who are on social networking sites, adding links on Facebook is a great way to get folks who are already Internet savvy to partake in your powerful Web resources.
- Tweet about e-newsletter topics. Twitter is all about what's new. Every month you can include tweets on the topics we cover for you in the e-newsletter. Include links to your e-newsletter page using http://bit.ly and you're set to Twitter on! ;-)