In an era of economic challenge, increasing competition and uncertainty about the future, having a strong, credible brand has never been more important to senior living providers. Along with your people resources, your brand, i.e. how others see you, is probably your most precious asset – and the heart of your business strategy. To quote Robert Burns, “O would some power the gift to give us to see ourselves as others see us.”
Creating a robust brand is best accomplished by assuring that your “brand promise” and your “brand performance” are completely aligned (Source: The Business of Brands, white paper by Navvis Corporation). Superior brands are built most powerfully through the customer experience. Therefore, in addition to having an effective operations strategy, it’s essential that senior living providers “tell their story” and engage their various customer groups in the most compelling ways possible. Doing this is no simple task and requires sufficient thought, preparation and planning.
In her article in MarketingProfs entitled, “How to Tell Your Brand’s Story: Four Questions You Must Answer”, author Beth McKenna offers advice on how your brand story can be developed successfully. Says Ms. McKenna, “Today, the art of storytelling remains critical to any brand strategy, but how you tell the story, and the tools you use, has evolved—and to our benefit. Advertising, earned media, video, e-newsletters, Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, blogging—you name it, you must consider it.”
She continues, “However, just as a surgeon may have hundreds of tools at his disposal but may not take every one into each surgery, these channels are tools to be used strategically, depending on a company’s objectives and the message it wants to communicate. “So, how do you develop the right story, delivered at the right time, to the right audience, through the right channels? The answer: with forethought and careful planning. So, before you take pen to paper, ask yourself the following four questions.”
Do I have the right people?
The shift in tools requires that, in addition to the writers, experts in digital have to be in the first meeting. With the need for sharable, translatable messaging, public relations specialists should also be front and center. Integration across functional areas will ensure the story is both compelling and consistent.
What do I want this story to be?
A fact-based history is likely to elicit a much different emotional response than a playful employee anecdote would, and the scope and focus of the story will also affect how it should or can be told. A single instance of a customer experience may serve as a reminder of the overarching story, or it may become the keystone in an ongoing campaign. Consider how the story will fit into your current messaging and brand strategy.
What is the best way to tell the story?
Brands and communicators have an incredible suite of tools at their fingertips, but it is crucial that the medium fit the message. For example, Video can more easily demonstrate your product or establish a relationship with a prospect, while infographics can turn complex data into an easy-to-digest narrative that is more engaging and understandable.
How does my audience want to interact with this story, and what tools will I use to push this information out into the market?
In addition to the best medium for the message, consider the best medium for your audience. For certain audiences, tweeting a quick quip and an accompanying link might work best. For others, an e-newsletter could be the ticket. A combination of advertising to prep the story and Facebook to continue the dialogue might accelerate the conversation, or an inspirational photograph shared on Instagram may best illustrate who and what your company represents.
For providers that do not have the requisite internal resources or skill sets, businesses that specialize in the senior living industry can be a valuable option. Some of these firms possess both the operational expertise and marketing talent to assure your operating strategy and your communications initiatives are aligned most effectively. Because your brand is such a valuable asset, it’s worth taking the time to do your homework and select the right partner!