Bursting out of everyone’s mailboxes come sparkly snowflakes, prancing deer, jolly elves and silver bells – it’s the holiday season, and everyone wants your money. Though the holidays are a marketer’s heyday, it’s important to remember some cardinal rules for relationship-based marketing that works better than pushy solicitations topped with a santa hat.
Keep it family-focused.
Many Comfort Keepers are intimately involved with their clients’ lives – so much so that they are considered not just a caregiver, but part of the family. While it’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the season, remember that relationships with adult children and their parents end up generating word-of-mouth marketing and referrals. Make a special effort to continue a great level of communication with families of seniors during the holidays, and relieve a little of that end-of-year stress for all.
If you do send out marketing materials at the end of the year, one of the best reasons is to give thanks to your customers. A real, sincere human sentiment is more motivating than any commercial note or promotion. Cards and letters should be personalized — tell a story, show photos of real people or be in first-person (“I’m so thankful this year for you.” not “The business is thankful for its clients.” A handwritten signature is a must.
Make it a gift of your time or experience.
The holidays are a time to give back to your community, and you can use your expertise in working with seniors to educate others. Maybe someone has a church group who would love to hear your perspective on aging gracefully, or a gym club who wants ideas for senior exercise techniques. Be generous with your time, even during the busy holiday season, when time is a hot commodity.
Your staff can be the most important grassroots marketing tool in your toolbox. Paying attention to their ideas and needs can not only help you keep improving your services, they can spread the word about the great work you do. Make time to ask other franchisees or staff for 2010 ideas — you never know what will come up. Recognize outstanding 2009 employees. Validating their concerns, thanking them for their hard work and truly listening is the best gift you can give.
Don’t be afraid of the tough stuff.
Your positivity and optimism can be infectious. For seniors who may be a long ways from family, you play a crucial role in connecting them with good things of the season. It’s been a tough year for many across the country this year and travel may be especially difficult. Recognizing that and showing compassion and understanding are important. Expect extra requests from families and do your best to accommodate them. They’ll remember your kindness long after the holiday season ends.