Promoting your aged care services

Whenever I talk with clients in the Aged Care sector, the question of how to get aging people to start thinking of their care needs in their later years inevitably crops up.

Some of the difficulties that need to be considered include:

  • When is the right time to start the discussion?
  • Who should be included in the discussion?
  • Who will and how can the discussion be broached?

Many of us wait until there is a crisis, (a fall, a sudden realisation that someone is not coping at home) before tackling the subject.

This is such a very sensitive issue that people who have worked in the aged care industry for years struggle with it. Those of us who have worked for years in communications struggle with it as well.

So I was horrified to see an ABC report recently about a service who tried to tackle this issue by inventing THE BOO MAN.

The BOO Man was part of a campaign to encourage older Australians to consider their living options. He was “a shadowy figure who preys on the aged, scattering their thoughts and turning everyday tasks into hazards.”

Below is an excerpt from the ABC transcript Beware the Boo Man

In a leaflet distributed in the Geelong area, promoting the Freedom Aged Care facility in Grovedale, cartoon-like frames show a shadowy figure lurking behind an elderly woman in her home…

FREEDOM AGED CARE LEAFLET (voiceover): The Boo Man preys on the aged, bringing fear.

RACHAEL BROWN: …and then reaching out towards her temples.

FREEDOM AGED CARE LEAFLET (voiceover): He will turn thoughts into fog, harmless objects into dangers and daily activities into struggles.

RACHAEL BROWN: It was designed to get older people thinking about their options.

The last cartoon frame shows the elderly woman sitting down with someone, apparently talking through her options, with the Boo Man finally at bay in the background.

Fear has been used in other social marketing campaigns – The grim reaper and AIDS, smoking and TAC ads. There is also a marketing term called FUD, fear uncertainty and doubt.

When I look at a campaign, I always look for, and consider the emotion that is created and generated. We know that emotion – how something makes us feel, is more compelling in marketing than function – how something works.

So, yes emotion is important, but fear? For older and often vulnerable people? No.

This is not to say that marketers should not take risks when promoting a product to older people. Doing something different in a busy marketplace can help you to stand out in a crowd, but you do not want to be remembered for frightening vulnerable people.

If you are considering contracting someone to help to promote your facility, program, centre or anything at all come to that, there are some things that can be done to minimise risk:

Get a recommendation – don’t use an unknown source (equally, don’t use a staff member because they are not too bad at graphic design – you need someone with skill, experience and a thorough understanding of the ethics.

Have a really good understanding of your audience – culture, age, education level, family situation, support needs…..

Craft key messages that will resonate with your audience. Speak to their emotion, but in a positive way.

Focus test. And if you have gone for a bit of risk, test more than once, more than twice. Make sure that it hits the mark. You do not want to throw money away, you do not want to compromise your reputation. But you do want to take your readers, their family and carers on a journey. A journey that acknowledges all the milestones coming up in a gentle and supportive way.

At Agility Communication we know the aged care, health disability sector inside out and we understand how to market these services effectively & positively. We would love to help you build a marketing campaign, review your current communications or help you build a brand new marketing strategy from the ground up. Contact us now and find out how we can help you further.

Lonely older woman