31 Hospice Marketing Insights in March--Numbers 1 - 10

March 9, 2018 - 7:30am -- bill.taylor@mul...


  1. This may the most important post of all: Sit down with your marketing team. Ask them what needs to be fixed in your organization. They hear it from the outside every day. But nobody asks them. They know your organization’s weaknesses and warts from the outsider’s point of view. Listen to them. Here’s the truth: Your organization isn’t as good as you think it is. People judge themselves and their organizations based on their own feelings, intentions and sense of self-worth. It’s not accurate. Before you can tailor your message (and perhaps your program) to the outside world you need to know how the outside world views you. You think you know. People gush over you because you’re in Hospice. But your marketers hear a different story. Referral sources tell marketers exactly what they think of your organization. You need to believe the tough-talk more than you need to believe the continuous stream of accolades. Make a list of your weaknesses. An honest list. Do you have variability in care? That’s a standards problem. Do referral sources not trust you to manage pain? Maybe they’re right. That’s a teaching problem. All fixable. But you can’t fix it until you know it.  Sit down with your marketing team. And listen.


  2. Does your Marketing team have (and use) a CRM—a customer relationship management tool? You need to know
    1. Names and contact information for all potential referral sources—people and organizations
    2. Information on all communication with that source—especially the date of last communication
    3. Who in your organization is assigned to work with whom

You don’t need anything expensive. A Google-Sheet may do. Or you might check out  Zoho’s CRM. (https://www.zoho.com/crm/lp/demo1.html) It’s cheap, effective and customizable.

  1. Are your facilities mad at you? If you’re not paying them on time they are. Fix that. You want your facilities to love you. Do this
    1. If you’re behind on payments to your facilities, the CEO needs to hand deliver a check today. Honestly tell the facility manager why and how you’re changing your process to prevent it in the future.
    2. If you’re behind in payments because the facility is late billing you . . . again, here’s what to do. Someone in the accounting department is accruing expense anyway (right?). That person should alert the facility by email that the invoice is late. Copy the facility manager and the Hospice CEO. The larger objective is to demonstrate to the facility manager that the Hospice is ready to pay.
    3. Let the marketer or clinical manager hand deliver checks each month to the facilities. Another good face-to-face opportunity.
    4. (You know you can never recruit staff from your facilities, right? Of course you do.)
    5. (You also know that your staff in the facilities have to have stand-out-from-the-crowd uniforms. They need to know they need to be seen and heard {in a good way} every day. You can’t give your facility managers any reason to say, “I never see your people here.”)
  2. Traditional advertising doesn’t build census. You won’t be successful if you try to use it that way. However, it builds awareness. The best uses for traditional advertising are
    1. To build name awareness when you enter a new market
    2. Recruiting
    3. To promote your thrift shops
  3. Your volunteer program is directly linked to your marketing program. Happy volunteers are cheerleaders and recruiters for your organization. Another reason to have a strong, volunteer-run thrift shop presence. Each of your volunteers should be trained on the visit. They need to understand the greater purpose they are serving. High volunteer standards lead to high volunteer retention. And they also lead to bought-in volunteers. Top Hospice marketing teams have contacts in large churches—people who know and promote the Hospice organization. Your volunteer program is the place to begin that.
  4. Have your marketing team certify on your visit just like everyone else. They need to understand it more than any other indirect. Last year I was working with a Hospice that implemented the Model. They went all in. Lots of good things started happening. Quality measures increased. Net income increased. But there was another unexpected increase. Census. No one saw it coming, but the marketing team took off. Maybe when they had to certify on the visit they caught a greater sense of what they were selling. Whatever it was census spiked by 31%. It settled lower than that, but not as low as it was.
  5. I’m not sure anything beats “feet on the street”, but a digital presence is huge among younger referral sources. Get “Small Business Owner’s Guide to Digital Marketing” by Troy S. Scott and “The Art of Digital Marketing” by Ian Dodson. I know they’re written for businesses, but they’re applicable to any sales-based endeavor and they’re an investment in your future. On the digital note, don’t build your website with the thought, “What should be on my website.” Instead, ask, “What do I want my website to do for me?” Most Hospice websites are the same stuff. Same phrases, same colors, sometimes even the same pictures. Blah. Put your website to work for you. Turn it into a go-to resource for referral sources or a pipeline for recruiting.
  6. What can you do when you see a competing Hospice representative open his trunk and give hundreds of dollars’ worth of meat to a nursing home manager? (No, I’m not making up this example.) We don’t know either. But we do know this: The key to you long-term census success is not swag. It’s in upgrading the quality of your Hospice—starting with the visit. You marketing team needs to sell the visit every day. There will always be unscrupulous people out there—both in Hospice and in facility positions. Some days they win. Long term? Go with quality of care. Invest in your visit structure. Invest in teaching to strong standards. Reward accountability.
  7. If you’re short-staffed or if you’re in growth mode, do not let your clinical staff anywhere near your marketing team. If marketing hears woeful tales about over-work and “census is too high,” they’ll take their foot off the gas. You can’t let marketing do that. Ever. It’s the other systems you need to fix—efficiencies, systems or the recruiting pipeline.
  8. No one knows how to hire the perfect marketer. You can’t tell by the resume. And you surely can’t tell by looking. So hire the most interesting, energetic and integrous person you find.


Program: People Development & the Model:
“FANTASTIC WORKSHOP!!! Everything from start to finish was completely valuable and very worthwhile!”


D. Tompkins