Caregiver's Home Companion
The Caregiver's  Home Companion

May 31, 2006
3-Ms for Success: Message, Market, Media

May 10, 2006
Marketing Your Services Means Covering All the Bases

March 29, 2006
Selling Value Over Price Is Worth Every Effort

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Posted: July 05, 2006

Professional Caregiving

Identify Your Market for Effective Use of Messaging and Media

My last column discussed matching the right message to the right market and then using the right media to spread that message. Sounds simple, but it’s much harder than you might imagine!

This time, let’s discuss MARKET. What is your target market? When it comes to senior service providers, we think in terms of older adults. AARP defines a person as hitting that "senior" mark when they turn 50 (God forbid!! I know a lot of 50 year olds who don’t appreciate that at all!) In fact, there are a lot of 80 year olds who think of themselves as youngsters. However, with all of this being said, we still need to define a market segment that "typically" utilizes our services.

There are dozens of ways to define your market. Here’s an example: If I were considering a direct mail piece regarding reverse mortgages, I am going to choose people age 62+, who own a home, who have an income of $80,000 per year or less, and who live in my geographic area. I might also choose to narrow that list down to people who have credit card debt, or who subscribe to Reader’s Digest magazine.

If I were marketing an independent living facility, my target market might look much different than this. An upscale community will target an upscale market that may have members who are as young as 55.

Moving on, a home care agency might have a more specific "geographic" target market.

What about the adult children of aging parents -- their caregivers? How do we target those folks? An adult child of an aging parent might be your 30-year-old next-door neighbor with two small children and a full-time job. It is very difficult to do a "mailing" to that market, because it could be anyone!

Here’s my secret: Mass media works a little better to reach adult children of aging parents, because you can never get an accurate targeted list of those people. This is also why consistency in your message is the key. (Those who have NO issues with an aging parent today might be faced with many challenges a week from now!)

For about four years now, we have advertised on a local talk radio station in St. Louis (population approximately 2 million) by having the talk show host do a "live testimonial" for us on his show. His father died of Alzheimer’s disease, so he understands the importance of having a team of professional caregivers and experts at one’s fingertips! When this man speaks, the phones start to ring. He gets it. His listeners are a more male demographically, with an age range of 25-55. At first glance, this would seem like a disastrous move for advertising, but it actually hits the mark.

Men call to get more information for their wives, sisters, etc. The guys know that their wives and sisters are doing most of the caregiving, and this is their way of reaching out to get some relief for their loved ones.

Advertising in the newspaper (with a specific, non-vanity ad) is also effective. Don’t forget that no matter what market you choose, your message must contain an irresistible free offer, and your media choice must be consistent.

Message, Market, and Media . . . this is the formula for success!


(Comment from the Editor’s Desk: to follow up on Valerie’s point about the difficulty in finding a targeted marketing list of elder-caregivers, I should add that our parent company, Pederson Publishing, actually has a very large, highly targeted marketing database that was built for the very reason Valerie described -- reaching the hard-to-identify, decision-making caregiver with marketing messages. This list was compiled because, frankly, we could find no one with such a list. The list is used internally, and also is rented to companies and organizations wanting to reach the caregiver.)



Valerie VanBooven RN, BSN, PGCM, is a registered nurse, professional geriatric care manager, author, and professional speaker. She is a leading expert on long-term care planning and crisis management. Valerie is president of Senior Care Solutions, a private geriatric care management practice in the St. Louis area. Her books include Aging Answers: Secrets to Successful Long-Term Care Planning, Caregiving, and Crisis Management and her website is She can be reached at .

© 2006 Pederson Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Commercial use, redistribution or other forms of reuse of this information is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission of Pederson Publishing.

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