Monday, April 16, 2018

"We Can't Win New Business Unless We Engage The People We Want To Reach"

To provide our aging in place services, we need to locate people who can benefit from what we offer. We need to find referral sources who need us to help their clients, or we need to locate people we can communicate with directly. There are several ways we can find people who can refer their clients to us as well as those who might want to work with us directly. It all starts with meeting and engaging people.

The best way to locate people to serve is by having a conversation with them to introduce ourselves and allow them to get to know us. From there, the relationship can be developed until they are comfortable in deciding to refer people to us (for hospitals, rehab facilities, social workers, or other professionals who want us to help their clients) or in working directly with consumers who are comfortable in inviting us into their homes to work with them. Creating trust is a large part of getting to the next level with anyone we might be serving before we actually get an opportunity to discuss their needs and begin designing a solution for them.

We can't be everywhere, so we have some tools to help us introduce ourselves to people without the necessity of being face-to-face in front of them or talking with them by telephone at the moment of that first meeting. The internet helps accomplish this in terms of websites and social media.

Nearly everyone has a website of some form today - some better than others in how helpful they seem to the people attempting to use them, the basic approach they have for appealing to the public, how easy they are to navigate, and their general tone and message. They need to provide good content to keep people engaged and feeling good about the possibility of developing a professional relationship with us without them feeling like they are being left with more questions than answers or that they were being sold something.

We must strive to have an honest connection with them that discusses our experiences, knowledge, professional approach, and successes so they can relate to what we might be able to do with them and not feel that our website was totally self-serving or too strong of a sales message. Obviously, our site is about us and our abilities, and we want them to contact us so we can discuss how we can serve them, but it has to create a good customer experience and not just be an electronic brochure. 

The same type of approach works for the social media platforms we choose to use. We need to present ourselves as knowledgeable and approachable. We want to show (to the extent that we can within the amount of content and testimonials we can post) that we have the experience to serve them that we are extremely well-qualified, and we are capable of helping them.  We need them to feel that we are interested in serving them and not in just selling them our services.

The language we use online is very important. We need to convey professionalism (with enough action verbs and tenses to show that we believe in what we do and have the ability to help them but not a lot of jargon or special terms that might not be understood by everyone). We need to use softer words and phrases rather than words that might be more direct or assertive (or sound like a strong sales message). We should suggest that we are open to creating many types of solutions (according to what works best for addressing their needs, budget, and timing) and not just offering a limited range of more typical approaches.

Engagement is the first step toward building relationships and finding people we can serve. Personal contact is the preferred method of doing this, but this takes time and planning to accomplish. Websites and social media help us to make the introductions we desire when we can't personally be there for that initial contact. Either way, we have to engage people in a way that invites them to get to know us before we can eventually serve them.

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Steve HoffackerCAPS, CEAC, SHSS, is a licensed Certified Aging In Place Specialist-Master Instructor and best-selling author of universal design books. To learn about this and other programs for aging-in-place or universal design, visit stevehoffacker.com or call 561-685-5555. Also, check out the "Aging & Accessibility" groups on Facebook and LinkedIn.