A not-so-complimentary NY Times hands-on review of the AARP RealPad.
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Community call services and PERS (Personal Emergency Response Systems)
At first glance, this article was a human interest story about a free service for seniors in Columbus Ohio. There were only 4 enrollees in a program that provided automatic safety calls (reverse 911) at preset times. With no answer after 3 tries, the police were dispatched. The service helped a senior who had no nearby relatives and had lapsed into a diabetic coma -- when she didn't answer the phone, police followed the safety call procedure and broke into her home, saving her life. The program cost the local council on aging $44,000 to set the program up. But adminstrators admitted lack of signup -- seniors don't want to admit frailty and may not have wanted the police to break into their home. And finally, lack of awareness marketing didn't help.
Now, fast backward in the cycle to the PERS vendors like Visonic, or Philips whose channel is regional dealers -- in a market that is largely driven by incident -- after a fall, a senior is now motivated to wear a watch or pendant. Why shouldn't those dealers and service providers offer a free safety call service for seniors in their region in partnership with local councils and centers on aging. Market the free service (limited time only) as extending beyond reverse 911 -- into automated medication reminder call times. Advertise the free service in the local newspaper. With signup, use that registration process to share information on PERS and home monitors as a means of never having to use the free service.
Why suggest a program that didn't work in Columbus? Because it wasn't framed in a strategic (and more complete) context. I would be interested in hearing why this isn't both a good marketing approach and a public service at the same time.