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Creating Competitive Advantage in Home Care through Branding

By Stephen Tweed
Let me begin today with a statement that is highly controversial, and will probably get some of you upset.
“To have a highly effective marketing strategy for your home care business, you must make a strategic decision to focus on either consumer marketing or referral marketing.  
You cannot do both well.”
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
Every time I make this statement, I get the argument, “We’re doing both.”
And I say, you can’t do both well.  You need to focus on one or the other.  And then I get more arguments.  In my experience over the past 25 plus years in working with home health, hospice, and private duty home care, I had not seen a single organization that has done an excellent job at both consumer and referral marketing. I have seen some who have made the transition from one to the other, but never one organization who has done both extremely well at the same time.
That’s not to say that if you decide to focus on consumer marketing and branding that you can’t do some referral marketing.  And if you focus on referral marketing, you can still do some consumer marketing.  But if you think you are doing both equally well, you are kidding yourself and missing the opportunity to develop clear competitive advantage in your local marketplace.
OK.  Now that we have that out of the way, we want to discuss some of the principles of branding. 
What is a Brand?
A brand is a name, logo, slogan, or design associated with a product, service, or company.
Branding is the process of defining what you want your brand to mean to your current and prospective customers, and then applying the best practices in marketing and public relations to create that perception.
For the last several issues of Private Duty Today, we have been talking about creating competitive advantage in home care.  One of the seven sources of competitive advantage is Branding.
You can differentiate your company from your competitors by creating a positive brand perception in your local marketplace. 
How to Build your Brand in Home Care

Branding is about getting your target market to choose you over the competition. It is about getting your prospects to see you as the one home care company that provides the ideal solution to their problem.

The objectives of a good brand include:

  • Delivering the message clearly
  • Confirming your credibility
  • Connecting to your target prospects emotionally
  • Motivating the buyer
  • Concreting User Loyalty
When you study the marketing processes of some of the leading consumer brands in our country, you can see the patterns of how they have crafted their message, and then applied the principles of repetition and consistency to create a connection with their target customers.
What are your personal favorite brands?  How have these companies built their brands?
Build your Brand by Telling your Story

At the core of every great brand you’ll find a mythological narrative that transcends “marketing” activities. Within the DNA of highly valued brands lies a storyline that inspires the actions, beliefs and behaviors of its devoted tribe members over the long term. 

Brand storytelling is about the art of connecting the hearts and minds of internal stakeholders and customers alike to shared values and ideals that define the “sacred truth” of why the brand exists and who benefits from its existence. Compelling brand stories serve to reveal and remind all audiences of something sacred and valued about themselves rather than the ubiquitous marketing of new product offerings, features or additives. 

Think about some of your favorite brands, and consider the underlying myth.  How about Coca-Cola ® and it’s secret recipe.  We live in Louisville, Kentucky, home of Kentucky Fried Chicken ®.  The story is about Colonel Harlen Sanders and his secret recipe of eleven herbs and spices.  The original piece of paper with the Colonel’s recipe written in his own hand is still stored a large vault at company headquarters.

A brief history of the KFC Brand

While you probably don’t have a secret recipe, you do have a story.  As we have studied the leading companies in hundreds of local markets across the country, we see owners of home care businesses telling there personal story. It is the personification of the owners and team members that makes the story come alive.

Building a Consumer Brand or a Referral Brand

Now, I go back to my original statement.  You can focus on consumer marketing or referral marketing, but I’ve not seen anyone do both well.  So what is your brand message, and who is your target audience.  

How will you reach out to your target audience? 
   
What media will you use to send your message? 
  
How often will you repeat the same message for the same market in order to leave a lasting impression and build your brand?

In all forms of sales, marketing, and public relations, repetition and consistency are key.  No matter which methods you choose to use in your marketing, they will only be successful through repetition and consistency.

That’s why I say that you need to make a strategic decision about consumer marketing or referral marketing, so you can focus on repetition and consistency in reaching your target.
We’ll have more later as we get into the top techniques for home care sales, marketing and public relationships in future issues of Private Duty Today.

If you agree or disagree with the premise, leave us your comments.  We’d like to hear your experience about brand building in home care.

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