I had an interesting conversation this weekend with an attorney. The attorney and a banker witnessed the emptying of a safety deposit box of someone who had recently passed away. The deceased, an elderly woman with no heirs, left all her money and belongings to charity. Neither the banker nor the attorney had known this woman. What the attorney found fascinating were the contents of the box – what things had been so important to this woman that she kept them stored safely away. Included among the belongings were a rosary, a letter from her mother, some family photos and her will.
This conversation started me thinking about the elderly in general and our clientele. How familiar are we with our clients? I started my career as a social worker and it has had an impact on how I view my current profession as marketer and specifically as an elder care marketer. I train my clients to know their customers, especially the customers who can no longer speak for themselves. What was the client’s life like when they were younger and healthy? Did they host their family Thanksgivings or other holiday dinners? Were they the president of their local PTA? Were they homebodies? To me, there is nothing sadder than when a senior citizen has outlived their friends and family and no one really knows or remembers them.
So how does this relate to Focus on Aging and being an elder care marketing consultant? It makes me think about the importance of relating to our customers and being able to meet their needs. If we don’t really know them well, how can we service them? Better service means positive reviews, word of mouth referrals and happy clients.
Get to know your customers. Talk to them and as well as those who visit the customer. You may be surprised about what you learn. Several years ago, I was doing consulting work for one of my nursing home and rehabilitation center clients. I asked the staff if anyone knew anything about the resident or her son who visited his mother every evening. After I followed my own advice and started to learn more about the resident, I found out that her son was the Chief Medical Director of the rehabilitation center’s main referring hospital. Luckily, I also got to know the son who ended up being an excellent referral source himself.
In closing, it is the right thing to get to know our customers and it is also good marketing protocol.
Marla Levie is the President and founder of Focus on Aging, a full-service marketing firm with a concentration in marketing to seniors and other service-related professions.