Marketing IDD Services and Supports
Choice is incredibly important in the world of IDD services and supports. Because people with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities have historically been denied choices and were often the victims of systematic abuse and exploitation by unscrupulous service provider monopolies, rules and laws now ensure that people are afforded the right to choose services and the people and organizations who provide them.
Choosing where and with whom to live, choosing the details of services, and choosing a service provider can be confusing and scary. How do people know the difference between Provider A and Provider B? Local Authority Service Coordinators are required to assist in the selection process but prohibited from promoting one provider over others so that they don’t unduly influence the person’s right to choose. Service recipients and their families are provided with long lists of providers and questions they should ask as they seek to find the “right fit,” for their specific desires and needs.
Marketing isn’t prohibited solicitation. It isn’t “buying” or “bribing” clients with gifts. It isn’t a bad word. It is the process of interesting potential customers and clients in your services. Providers of IDD Services and Supports are, by their very contract obligations, the same. Every Provider is required to offer the same services, is subject to the same rules and regulations, and receives the same pay to do so. To be interesting, a Provider must be able to show difference. Seeing your company name on a long list won’t inform prospective clients who you are and how you’re different from everyone else on that list.
Without an opportunity to meet prospective clients face to face (provider fairs are few and far between these days), many provider organizations are at a distinct disadvantage. Enter the basic marketing plan.
So how ARE you different? Developing a marketing plan forces you to do more than say, “We’re different because we CARE.” Guess what? Everybody in the field cares. Nobody enters the highly-regulated world of providing IDD services and supports as a means to make huge profits without an emotional connection. Providers need to be able to clearly articulate the actions that demonstrate the emotion. Rather than telling people how much you care, point to the proof – how people can experience that caring. Buyers respond most strongly to what a product/service will do for them/make them feel (benefits) as opposed to a long list of what a product can do (features). So don’t just list features (eg 3-person group homes with regular day hab); instead list the benefits (eg comfortable, climate-controlled and secure client accommodations with fun, educational and empowering day hab activities).
Since every provider of ICF, HCS, or TxHmL services receives the same pay for the same services, you should point to how your organization adds additional value for no additional cost. Provide concrete examples to prospective clients and their families in your communications. Your value-adds don’t have to be flamboyant or costly but should point to the flavor and culture of your organization.
Are you faith-, religion-, or ministry-based? Market your engagement in church or ministry activities. (services, inclusive classes, camps, etc.)
Do your services focus on physical wellness? Market your involvement in sports and leisure activities. (Special Olympics, fitness and organized sports teams, etc.)
Is your organization focused on families rather than individuals? Market opportunities to interact in family-friendly activities (game nights, family picnics, etc.)
This doesn’t mean that you don’t address the quality of services & supports, or compliance with regulations, just that you FOCUS and concentrate marketing efforts on the things that make you stand out from the crowd (or provider list).
You have a lot to offer! Finding effective ways to communicate your value to others will serve to increase visibility, strengthen the relationships you already enjoy, and promote growth!
We’ll explore more tactics to build out your marketing plan and discuss how to measure success and make course corrections in future posts, so keep reading and learning!
Meanwhile having your foster/host home care-givers, nurses, case managers and other full-time staff use a value-added EHR can really help your company become more efficient as well as project a modern, polished and streamlined image. It will also look great in your marketing campaigns! Call Focused Software today so we can show you just how much we can do for you and your team.