Before you start trying to market your business to potential clients, applicants, referral sources, and your community, you need to understand your differentiator. This is also known as a unique selling proposition or a value proposition.
Most agencies reading this would likely answer something about their exceptional quality of care or their compassionate caregivers. You’re probably one of them.
Now, don’t get me wrong—it’s absolutely important to take pride in your quality of care and the compassion of your agency’s caregivers.
But the harsh truth is that when nearly every agency out there is trying to use quality as a unique selling point, it’s anything but a unique selling point.
If your agency’s marketing message is built around the idea of giving higher-quality care than your competitors, you’re probably shooting yourself in the foot.
Let’s talk about some strategies for developing and identifying a unique selling point.
Do Your Homework First
Don’t try to choose a unique selling point without open-minded market research. You should be trying to validate a hypothesis (“I think there’s demand in my market for an agency that specializes in clients with COPD”), but you should also be looking for ideas that might not have occurred to you had you not engaged in the research. You’d be surprised what turns up.
There are a lot of ways to go about doing market research, but here’s what I suggest if you’re starting from scratch:
- Secret-shop your competitors. Build a spreadsheet with your competitors, their focuses, geographic areas, price points, and anything else you can learn. Start to build a picture of the competitive landscape.
- Reach out on community Facebook groups and search for home care-related keywords in the groups’ history. What are people saying about providers in your area? Who do they recommend and why? Are there people who have had a hard time finding the right agency for some reason, and is it a need that you can meet?
- Talk to referral sources in the area, such as hospices, hospital discharge planners, and social workers. Do they have any frustrations with their current roster of partners? Are there any types of clients that they don’t have an agency partner to take? Do they have any other unfilled needs?
- Talk to family and friends who have used different agencies around you about their experiences with the agencies. What did they like? What didn’t they like? Were there types of care or services they weren’t able to get?
Put in the time to clearly understand your competitive landscape and you’ll put yourself ahead of most agencies right from the get-go.
Types of Unique Selling Points to Consider
There are ultimately a lot of different options you can choose to make your agency stand out. Here are some basic approaches you can consider taking. Which best describes your current strategy?
- The premium care provider. Like I mentioned above, most agencies are currently taking this approach. Rather than marketing themselves as ideal for a particular group of people or set of needs, they’re focusing on having exceptional quality. One advantage of this strategy is that (properly done) it sets you up to be able to charge the most in your local market, bolstering what are typically narrow margins in home care. The catch is that since everyone is trying to take this approach, it’s unlikely to be very memorable or effective unless you can back it up with:
- Quantitative proof (satisfaction scores)
- Third-party proof (awards such as Caring Stars from Caring.com, Best of Home Care from Home Care Pulse, and/or prestigious local awards)
- Very strong Google Reviews
- Stand-out client testimonials.
- The low-cost leader. It’s not uncommon for agencies to take this approach—essentially being the Walmart of home care. Unfortunately, it usually sets you up for failure in the long run. Home care already has low margins, and intentionally planning to be the cheapest on the market sets you up for less money and more stress. This is essentially the strategy of many Medicaid agencies, and there’s. . . a rea$on that so many agencies want to focus more on private pay.
- The specialty care provider. I generally encourage agencies to take this road, as there are many different options and it’s relatively simple to identify and commit to a type of care that might have unmet demand in your market. Is there a need for caregivers in your market who specialize in serving clients with specific conditions like Alzheimer’s, COPD, or diabetes? If so, invest in training and certifications to make your agency the go-to for people with these specific diagnoses.
- The unique guarantee. This is common in most service industries but underused in home care. Choosing and committing to the right guarantee typically requires you to build your processes and priorities around meeting that promise, but that’s what ensures that your competitors will have a hard time copying it. Some guarantees that I’ve heard of:
- Staffing all new shifts within a certain amount of time, such as 24 hours
- Money-back guarantees if you don’t love the quality of care
- Guarantees of caregiver quality (“We have a 12-point screening process for all our caregivers”, etc.)
- The niche community agency. Is there a specific group within your community that would benefit from a home care agency with a unique understanding of their needs and background? Examples of the type of community could include religious groups or people of a specific nationality.
The 4 Tests Your Unique Selling Point Needs to Pass
Let’s say that you’ve done your market research, considered your strengths and weaknesses, and settled on the idea of creating a specialty program to serve clients with a particular chronic condition.
How can you determine whether you’ve taken the right approach?
There are four tests you should use.
- It needs to be a unique niche in your market (can’t be widespread).
- It needs to have unmet demand by potential clients and/or referral partners, or demand that you can serve better than is currently being served.
- It needs to be relatively difficult for your competitors to replicate.
- It needs to play to your business’ strengths.
What You’re Probably Thinking Right Now
Can you succeed without a unique selling point to differentiate your agency?
Sure. Plenty of agencies do, especially in today’s high-demand home care market.
However, it’ll be much, much easier for you to grow your agency if you have a well-chosen unique selling point. Every aspect of running your business—marketing, recruiting, and even care delivery—will go more smoothly when you’ve zeroed in on a client segment that you’re uniquely positioned to serve.
When you’ve chosen a differentiator and are ready to start marketing your business, make sure you’ve signed up for Client99, our (free) online event series to help home care owners scale their businesses to 100 clients and beyond. For our first event of the series, our friends at Home Care Marketing Pros will be giving a deep dive on how to maximize the results you’re getting out of your website and Google Reviews. If you can’t make it, register anyways and we’ll send you the recording afterward.