As you plan 2013, start by considering how well you really know your customers and what they think about you. What is it that makes your business more special than competitors for your clients? What is the importance of your customers’ opinion and why is this insight for your business? It is crucial that your clients understand your business and the services that it provides as they are the ones that enable your business to exist.
Therefore, in order to market effectively you must have a comprehensive understanding of the perceptions and opinions your stakeholders have about your organisation. When it comes to marketing and branding, aged care providers are no different – consumers must feel in-tune with the organisation’s values, be aware of its goals, and feel acknowledged in the plan for the journey ahead.
At Ellis Jones, we have adopted a research as engagement model to connect our clients with their respective stakeholders. This proven model is an efficient, cost effective and comprehensive method to gauge where our clients sit with their current customers.
Recently, in collaboration with Vasey RSL Care, an aged care provider serving Melbourne’s ex-service person community, Ellis Jones designed and executed the Together Tomorrow research and consultation project, which ran from July until December 2012. The findings of the research will inform an integrated marketing strategy, brand identity strategy, community engagement strategy and employee engagement strategy.
In Together Tomorrow, the perceptions and opinions of five primary stakeholder groups were assessed: employees, residential aged care residents and families, Community Aged Care recipients and Independent Living Unit residents. It comprised:
- Engagement with key stakeholder groups via focus groups, in-depth interviews and surveys.
- Assessment of competitor websites.
- Benchmarking against other RSL/Veterans aged care providers nationally.
- Assessment of Vasey RSL Care’s brand and current strategic direction as articulated in the strategic planning documentation and marketing/communication materials.
Overall, what we learnt from this research are the characteristics of what defines Vasey RSL Care’s customer experience. There was strong alignment between how employees feel about the organisation and how residents and clients perceive it.
Perhaps the most interesting findings are about the Vasey RSL Care identity beyond associations with veterans.
For Australia, the ANZAC legacy is a founding legend and it is attracting even greater attention as the 90th anniversary approaches. This year Legacy and the Shrine of Remembrance received a huge boost in donations.
Australians entered the Great War welcoming conflict as a test of their nationhood. Their nation had been born amid prosaic debates and referenda, not in war. The official Australian correspondent, Charles Bean, said that at Gallipoli a sense of Australian nationhood was born. The ANZAC legend spans very different emotions: from national pride to mourning. It is a uniting theme and symbolic of our ‘coming of age’.
What has this to do with Vasey RSL Care? As WWI and WW2 veterans pass away, the founding purpose of the organisation is in question. However, what Ellis Jones investigation has revealed is that Vasey RSL Care represents Australian values as Australians like to think of them: mateship, respect, steadfast in the face of challenges, digging in – all the phrases Australians use and recall from childhood.
Vasey RSL Care provides a rare and authentic Australian experience: one that a large percentage of the population seeks now and will continue to seek in retirement and old age, well into the future and despite ongoing cultural diversity from immigration.
It is also an institution of Victorian and national significance that came into being as the nation came of age. Vasey RSL Care is an expression of our values and integrity. These are not military; they are shared by many Australians and part of their individual, personal identity. That’s a powerful advantage for marketers.
Vasey RSL Care now has the intellectual knowledge to not only maintain the services they do well, they also have the insight to improve their services to ensure that current and new customers are completely satisfied. In an increasingly competitive aged care environment, it will be imperative for providers like Vasey RSL Care to continue to engage their consumers to ensure their needs are met.