(How to brand your care business in 30 minutes or less)
Does “branding” for care actually matter?
Isn’t offering a great care service and just having a good looking website enough?
When I first started out in marketing I was heavily suspicious of people that focus too much on branding. I thought it was a con. I watched people spend thousands on rebrands and heard stories about consultants who charged millions to change a colour from one shade of blue to another shade of blue.
What a waste of time and money I thought. Get selling, do good, provide value, the right people will find you.
Logos, brand guidelines, tone of voice, mission statement, branding your care business… load of rubbish, right?
On reflection it’s probably why I was never that successful in my first career as a young musician.
I wrote great songs (so people told me), often performed to large audiences, and I had talent, and I could perform well. So why wasn’t I more successful?
What I lacked, in retrospect, was branding.
One song was cheerful, the next sad, the next light-hearted. I played what I felt like in the moment, when I felt like it and said whatever was in my head between songs.
What I failed to identify was that successful musicians all have a “stage persona”, a way of talking to the audience. And a set of songs that roughly relate to each other to form a congruent experience for the audience, (one that they could rely on to be repeated next time they came to a gig).
A successful care business should be like Ed Sheeran, like him or loathe him, you know roughly what to expect when he opens his mouth.
Successful musicians, like Ed, also quickly figured out WHO their target audience is. My target demographic was “everyone with ears”.
I failed as a musician, but learnt my first big marketing lesson:
If you market to everyone, you market to NO-ONE.
The painful lesson I want to help care businesses avoid is missing out a big FIRST step. Having a slightly different shade of blue won’t make anyone successful, but missing out the “branding” step, and the research and strategy that goes with it, is a sure-fire way to fail in your marketing.
Here’s a diagram of how most people market:
The first question I always ask our clients when they talk about websites is: “who is it for and what is the outcome you want”?
The majority of care businesses provide a great service, have at least a nice-looking website, but have never taken the time to think about what makes their offering unique as a business and how not to compete just on price.
Good branding takes time, patience and headspace. Commodities usually in short supply if you run a care business. As a result, most care business marketing output is unpredictable, inconsistent, and the message feels a bit jumbled.
A solid care brand and marketing strategy can sometimes take weeks or even months to put together, but if you don’t have that kind of time and you’ve read this far, I suggest you set aside just 15–30 minutes to think about these questions below.
For your care business, it could mean the difference between “barely surviving” and “thriving”.
1. Competitor research
What is the competition like in your area? (has this changed recently?) List your main 3–5 direct competitors and create a list of “lessons” — things your competitors do well and things they don’t do well.
2. Client research
Who is your ideal client? What do they look like? Are you marketing to the end user of a service or to a family member? Or both? Create a “persona”, an imaginary ideal client, give them a name, an age, a job, and as much detail as you can think of. This will help you know who your message is for.
3. Points of difference
How are you different from your competition? How do you stand out? List your main 3–5 UNIQUE points of difference which will show why someone should pick you over the competition. What do you do better than anyone else?
4. Main marketing message
Based on the above, what is the main message you quickly need to get across in all of your marketing? Your message should be short but still get across as many points of difference as possible.
Now you have your main message, check your existing marketing and see if this comes across clearly. Is it the first thing on your website and brochure? Is it the first thing you and your team mention when speaking to prospective clients and family members over the phone?
Now you know what you do better than everyone else, and what your main message is, you can check this against your current marketing to make sure it’s on-brand.
There is more competition in the care sector than ever before, so it’s worth taking the time to consider your care brand before you start creating any new marketing assets like websites and brochures. Otherwise, you may end up having a great service offering with nice-looking marketing but no new clients.