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The NCPC Marketing and Lead Generation Program

 
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Collaborative Marketing Group

The Concept behind the NCPC Marketing and Lead Program

 

The Program Utilizes a Collaborative Seniors Marketing Group Approach
A collaborative seniors marketing group is a group of like-minded practitioners and companies who band together to provide aging services to the local community.  These individuals and companies work together as an informal partnership to achieve three common goals which are:

  • Educate the public on how to plan for the needs of aging seniors
  • Provide the local community a one-stop shop of aging senior’s services and family support
  • Create a positive reputation for the group through group promotion and service

At the National Care Planning Council we refer to collaborative marketing groups as “Local Planning Councils.”

Even though a local council is not a formalized legal organization, it operates much like a small business partnership with all members working together to achieve the goals outlined above.  Any lead requests coming to the group through its promotional efforts belong to the group and not to any individual member.  A lead request that belongs to the group is never given to a competing outside group member.  This is a key element of the program. 

After the immediate needs of someone requiring assistance are met, an effort is then made to uncover all the challenging issues of the aging senior or his or her family who require the assistance.  This solution-based approach to helping aging seniors in the community allows all members of the Council collaborative group to participate in solving the needs of an aging senior and his or her family instead of just providing a simple one-time sale of products or services from an individual group member. 

Our marketing approach to uncovering all the issues facing an aging senior or for a younger senior facing or in retirement is accomplished in various ways.  Here are some of the ways this is done:

  • Use the free online aging issues assessment or retirement issues assessment available to group members to uncover aging issues and create new leads.
  • Obligate each individual group member to be aware of the services of other group members and recommend those services to potential customers or existing customers of that individual group member.
  • Work together as a team to promote the group solution-based approach through advertising, brochures, website promotion and other means.
  • As an additional and optional lead generation process, agree to work together as a group to promote and conduct educational workshops.
  •  Provide Life Resource Planning or Retirement Planning to create new business.

Our Program Can Be a Challenge for Those Who Use Traditional Marketing
For most people our marketing approach requires some new thinking.  For those who view this as a challenge to their existing methods, they should try it – it works.  From experience, collaborative senior marketing does create more leads and also produces more new business than the more common cost versus benefits, single sales approach.

When we first started doing collaborative marketing many years ago and offered advice and education to the public as a free service, we found those people we were dealing with expected specific guidance to help them solve their problems.  When meeting with those people who were expecting guidance from us, we found that it was not natural to offer products or services but to help them solve their problems first.  Once we did that, then our newfound customers would be more likely to purchase the products and services from members of our group.  We found that a solution-based process naturally led to a sales process.  Where an initial solution-based approach was not appropriate for people who needed immediate assistance with challenging elder issues, naturally we provided service, but then followed up with our broader holistic marketing approach.

Solution-Based Marketing Eliminates the Need for Traditional Sales Approaches
Getting a buying decision based on the principle of identifying and solving customer needs first requires using a different strategy from traditional sales approaches.  Unfortunately, making a sale using traditional sales methods, may result in the purchase not solving underlying problems and the buyer looking for help elsewhere.  We believe there is a better way to sell, using solution-based marketing and avoiding common sales methods to facilitate a buying decision. 

Solution-based marketing eliminates your having to persuade people into buying products or services that may not completely solve their problems.  Through solution-based marketing, you will help your customer identify issues that customer currently has or will experience in the future.  You will then provide recommendations for solving those issues.  Your recommendations are designed to fit all the needs of your customer.  You give them several options to choose from and not force them to take the option that you think they should have.  By identifying all the underlying issues and then allowing the customer to choose his or her own options from a list of recommendations, you eliminate the need for typical sales closing approaches.  Closing is always a part of any sale, but our solution-based approach makes closing a sale an easy process.

The flipside of our approach is that you must be willing from time to time to forgo a sale of your products or services if they don’t fit the needs of the customer.  For some, this is a hard pill to swallow.  Look at it this way.  By providing business opportunities for other members of your group through a solution-based approach, members of the group are also obligated to do the same for you.  What “goes around comes around.”  In the long run, you will receive more business using our cooperative strategy than the more traditional approach of every man for himself.

Solution-Based Planning Results in More Product or Service Sales
If products or services are necessary to implement your solution-based strategies, the customer will recognize that and will typically buy those products or services from you or from other members of your collaborative group.  After all, the customer is trusting you to solve his or her problems and will readily listen to your recommendations if they make sense.  Is a customer going utilize you for advice and then go to someone else for products and services?  Unlikely.

Those of you who use a solution-based approach already understand that this process typically results in more income to you.  You have experienced that this solution-based approach has the potential of selling more product or services than you would have derived from urging your services or products as a first step. 

A common argument from product-sales-first practitioners is that solution-based marketing is too time-consuming and not an efficient way to make a living.  It does certainly take more commitment and more time to use this sales approach.  And you may have to forgo sales of your own services or products to provide the sales for other members of the group.  Or in some cases, you may have to refer the customer to someone outside your group.  On the other hand, those practitioners who use a solution-based strategy and who are genuinely interested in the welfare of their customers know this argument doesn't hold up.  Investing more time in the process results in better customer trust, better sales success, future referrals and a continuing relationship with satisfied customers.

Organizing a Local Planning Council
Existing collaborative marketing groups supported by the NCPC – which we call local planning Councils – tend to have between 5 and 12 members.  We do not dictate how these groups should be run or how they should be set up.  We do provide instructions on setting up these groups based on years of experience. 

For consistency, we recommend that marketing groups use the term “planning council” somewhere in their official title.  This helps tie them to the national and state care planning council websites where we provide the listing services for the groups.  However, the group can choose to call themselves whatever they want.  We don’t dictate that.  

A local planning Council also has a need for organizing an informal support group.  If the Council does not have a member who can meet the needs of someone requiring certain services, the formal group needs a background senior services network to provide those services or products that the Council does not provide.  To differentiate the members of a local planning Council from their informal network, we typically call that larger informal network “the extended provider network.”  But you can choose to call them whatever you choose.

The Planning Council Requires a Commitment to Serving the Community
The purpose of a local planning Council is to establish a community perception of individuals or organizations or companies who are banding together to provide a one-stop shop for aging issues to include advice, services and products.  Not only should this be the perception but it should be the underlying motivation for members of the group. 

All group members must be interested in providing solutions to aging challenges and should have a passion for being involved in the community in their areas of expertise.  Their attitude reflects a sincere desire to serve the needs of others and help others with their problems. 

We have designed our community service concept around simple cost free, no obligation assessments to accommodate this whole person/holistic approach to selling.  Any individual making a lead request is provided whatever service is being sought through members of the local formal group or through members of the extended networking group.  A follow-up is made with that individual to make sure the services were provided.  This new customer is encouraged to complete the assessment to uncover all their aging issues.  The resulting assessment report will then uncover the services of as many collaborative marketing group members as possible. 

If the individual making a lead request does not want to participate in the assessment, the Council member offering the assessment can use those same yes or no responses in an interview working from a paper version and then submit those responses online to produce the final report.  This will also lead to uncovering the aging issues without an inquiring individual feeling threatened by responding to an unknown online process. 

An important feature of our marketing program is for every Council member to adhere to the perception of community service by offering at least one cost free consultation with anyone desiring to meet with that group member.  Only after a member of the group has gained the trust of an inquiring individual does the Council member change hats to provide his or her services.  This method of first gaining credibility and trust with a potential new customer results in far more success than selling products and services as a first step.

Follow Our Model and Be Successful
The objective of a local planning Council is to create leads and generate new business for Council members.  Local Councils that are organized solely for the purpose of producing referrals for the members are generally not successful and eventually fizzle out.  Referrals are only one piece of many sources of leads for a local Council.

We have found over the years those councils that follow our direction by using our model are generally successful.  They stick together, pursue collaborative promotion and marketing strategies, look out for each other’s welfare, produce leads and new business for one another and enjoy the camaraderie and association of each other’s company.

Here is our business model.

  • Follow our direction by identifying and inviting new members who represent our recommended core specialties.
  • When inviting new members to join the Council make sure they understand upfront their obligation to the group.
  • Use the assessment tools we provide you to create new leads and new business.
  • Require members of the Council to participate in promoting the Council website, sharing the Council website resources, and distributing brochures and booklets in the community.
  • Follow our suggestions for using our additional unique strategies to promote the Council in your local community.
  • If the group decides to do educational workshops for aging senior issues these workshops can be a large source of new leads.