Senior living organizations occasionally find themselves in a situation where they need to revamp, revitalize, or completely redefine their brands. The reasons may include sluggish referrals and sales, a challenging new competitor in the market, or even an unexpected crisis. Due to the overarching importance of the brand to the organization’s success, this need often requires the experience and expertise of an independent senior living marketing consultant.
Consultants can provide the knowhow necessary to solve problems you might not be capable of handling. According to the article, "Why Use a Marketing Consultant?", the advantages include:
- Adding marketing skill sets and experience not available within your organization.
- Providing an objective, unbiased "outside-in" perspective or viewpoint.
- Asking the difficult questions you and other leaders may not be comfortable asking.
- Adding needed functional capacity to your organization on a variable expense basis.
- Offering specialized training in sales or other business development functions.
If you do decide to seek outside help, choose your partner carefully and be sure to consider the strength of their brand.
Important attributes to look for include:
- A strong track record of success — Does your potential partner have an established track record of strong performance, i.e. a history of success in their industry through strong performance for their clients? Are they growing?
- A solid client portfolio — Do they have a substantial list of satisfied clients that provide positive "word of mouth"? Do they maintain their clients and do continuing work with them? Are they willing to share their client list with you and provide other references you can speak to directly about their performance and operating style?
- A customer-centered philosophy — Are they attentive listeners and customized problem solvers? Are they really all about you, or do they have a cookie cutter approach to working with clients’ needs? Do they view themselves as your vested business partner and do they take the time to understand the unique qualities of your organization and the distinct nature of your market?
- A full service provider — Do they provide a comprehensive scope of client services, e.g. market research, strategic planning and creative services, to provide a seamless and cohesive end product in the form of data analysis, evidence-based business recommendations and messaging strategies? Or do they have to "contract out" some aspects of the work?
- New business referrals — Do they receive a significant percentage of new business referrals from highly satisfied current or past clients?
- Industry awards and recognitions — Have they achieved the recognition of their peers in their industry, e.g. The LTC-Link Elite Supplier Award?
- "Thought leadership" in their industry — Have their team members served as featured speakers at industry conferences, published articles or written blogs that reinforce their position as subject experts and "thought leaders" in their field?
Picking the right strategic partner for marketing and brand development is worth the time it takes to complete your "due diligence". As in any other industry, you’ll find that not all consultants are created equal!