Buyer Personas development is going to really matter in creating marketing messages that deliver hyper focused messages for a specific consumer.

The driving concept behind this blog and the Senior Care Marketing and Sales Summit we’re planning for later this year is that senior care marketing has changed – and that we all need to reorient ourselves to new realities. Buyer Personas development is going to really matter. Today, across all industries, the “buyer” is now in control – that’s the reality of the Internet Age. Consumers and professionals alike are searching for relevant information to make decisions for the long- and short-term issues they face around senior care. They spend time educating themselves, developing ideas and preferences about the quality of care, resident and family reviews, staff turnover, star ratings, the list goes on …

Feed the Audience

Smart organizations that want to build a relationship with these audiences and ultimately make the sale are feeding this appetite for information. Add it all up and it means our marketing needs to be audience-centric. By focusing on delivering information and messaging that you particular customers crave and want, and you’ll build a relationship and draw them in closer.

Seinfeld Says …

But first, you have to be able to answer the old Jerry Seinfeld question: Who ARE these people? That’s what we all need to figure out. It begins with building in-depth personas of the target audience. Once these are established, they become the focal point of marketing.

Building buyer personas begins with research – asking questions of the families of current and past residents, and also of folks who chose another option. The goal is to understand their situation, their motivations, and what they’re searching for. You want to conduct interviews so that you can identify persona attributes in order to make your marketing more targeted. Here are some of the other attributes you should seek to uncover:

  1. Age, sex, zip code, approximate income and wealth, etc. of the person you are targeting, whether professional or consumer.
  2. Their Challenges.  The specific issues, problems and pain points faced by the specific persona. What pressures are they facing? The goal is to identify universal challenges, but also be very specific in pinpointing them.
  3. What is leading them to contact your organization or facility? It could be a parent’s birthday, an injury, or perhaps an acquaintance had a recent experience that got them thinking. Is it that the place that the discharge nurse was planning to send their patient is full? Understanding the events that compel prospects to begin researching their options is an important piece of the puzzle.
  4. Interaction Preferences. How do they like to receive information? Do they go online and figure it out for themselves? Do they ask a neighbor? Do they still read newspapers, or are they watching local TV news? In the case of referrals, are they using old lists, or counting on old relationships? How do they want to be contacted by your organization?

You also want to make sure you’re reaching out to your professional referral base to understand how they’re using digital channels. Find out what information you may deliver to them. Ask when they’re referring. Find out if they’re only using preferred providers – and if so, what do they do and where do they go to get more insight and information when those beds are full. Identifying these attributes should not be guesswork; this is a significant project that will take some time.

Experts recommend conducting fifty (50!) interviews per persona if you really want to do this right; this eliminates anecdotal evidence and begins to provide hard statistical data that you can apply to building audience personas. This might not be viable for smaller businesses, but it should not prevent you from going as deep as you realistically can in identifying your buyer personas; at the very least, it demonstrates that this needs to be a serious effort. Then validate those personas with the sales team to make sure that these are the people they’re encountering. Building these personas reorients your marketing towards the customer, and like it or not, the customer is in charge now.

We Want to Know What You’re Doing!

One of the ways we’re looking to help you is to let you know what others are doing. Can you help us feed the flow of information by taking this quick survey on persona and senior living? Take our poll here: Learn more at the Senior Care Marketing and Sales Summit– SMASH 2014 – and hear from the top expert on Building Buyer Personas,  Tony Zambito, in his session Turning Buyer Insight into Buyer Foresight.