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Marketing and Selling Technology for Aging in Place

Time for an update -- more surveys, more vendors. I just updated the Aging in Place Technology Market Overview to incorporate other example vendors and links to studies about seniors and technology. This is going to be a regular task -- lately I have stumbled across a plethora of surveys from MetLife's Mature Market Institute, Nielsen, and the everywhere-at-once AARP. As I find them, I post on the Trends page of this site, most recent at the top. And then there are many more vendors and tech services and websites, way too many for a market overview, but I've added more examples than the previous version.

Advice to marketers -- check. In the market overview and in a blog post, in which I went through the ten steps that vendor marketers should check off as they prepare to go to market with a technology for boomers and seniors. Since I still see some vendor sites that do not reflect the usefulness of the product, that do not place the product in an overall problem/solution context, do not offer a video of a satisfied user or enable the viewer to enlarge text, I am getting a feeling that folks might not have seen it -- or maybe disagree. So here's a recapped list -- thoughts?

  1. Create a boomer-and-senior aware website.
  2. Test usefulness with the target audience.
  3. Narrow scope, broaden messaging.
  4. Be wary of box obsolescence.
  5. Give away device and sell service.
  6. Offer the free trial.
  7. Add related and useful value.
  8. Add the community to the product.
  9. Monitor reputation on consumer websites.
  10. Cultivate members of other markets -- early.

Decision points marketing -- shapes the context.  Although the market overview includes the idea of status changes that may indicate a need for a technology (like home monitoring when safety is an issue), I've been asked recently about life decision points that trigger the need for acquiring a technology (or two or three). The best example is the 'hair on fire' decision, courtesy of Jill Gilbert at Caring.Com (Jill, please advise if that term is from someone else!). This is the decision point at which an elderly parent is being discharged from rehab or a hospital and can't return immediately to their home.  The working adult child (hair on fire) quickly starts searching websites for services that can offer an appropriate solution. So let's list others, not all of them with 'hair on fire' time urgency, but all requiring a redefinition of a problem, opportunity, or need -- therefore, a technology or service becomes relevant and valuable. Thoughts?

  1. Release from hospital or rehab -- can't return home.
  2. Death of a spouse -- need help or can't live alone.
  3. Diagnosis of dementia -- can't live alone or spouse/caregiver needs help.
  4. Onset of physical condition - vision or hearing loss, arthritis, Parkinson's, mobility.
  5. Sudden drop in income -- from job or financial loss.
  6. Adult children or boomers/seniors move away.
  7. Birth of grandchildren.
  8. New hobby or volunteer activity.
  9. New infrastructure becomes available.
  10. Preventive health regime initiated.

Selling technology into the world of senior professionals.  On a recent GrandCare Systems conference call, I listened to participants mull over the best techniques for selling monitoring technology offerings, particularly accelerating closure of the deal. Here are the suggestions -- at the other end of the marketing techniques, of course -- since all selling is by definition, local:

  1. Be a guest speaker for senior housing organization or professional group, like visiting nurse associations.
  2. Participate in resident or family councils.
  3. To encourage organization bandwidth upgrades, demo valuable content to seniors...
  4. ...Who may pressure administrators to upgrade.
  5. Target the grandchildren to reel in grandparents.
  6. Seek testimonials from satisfied residents -- encourage them to tell their peers.
  7. Provide information on how use of technology can help seniors help their families.
  8. Engage residents or senior clients as technology champions.
  9. Clearly quantify investment benefits (more effective staff utilization, risk mitigation from falls, etc.) to categorize purchase as required versus additive.
  10. Help senior industry professionals see ways to generate revenue or acquire competitive differentiation from use of the product.

Requests to elaborate as well as additional thoughts are always welcome.

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Great summary of the challenges technologies face in whatever marketplace they are in. On selling to senior professionals, additional thoughts: ** It must be clear that the technology does not add to staff workload. It has to be perceived as time-saving and at best, making their job easier--for real. ** The reporting itself must be at two levels--the basic, really important stuff and the reports you dig into. Particularly with telecare systems, they are very good at ginning out all sorts of impressive tracking reports, but at a certain point staff goes MEGO (My Eyes Glaze Over) and they tune out. I wrote a comment recently over at Telecare Aware that I believe that there's a place for 'virtual clinicians' to take on the duties of analyzing the reports generated by monitoring systems, then alerting ALF staff to the implications of the data. They could also backstop emergency or serious alerts. Serious ROI analysis is 'chicken and egg' -- not there yet because enough units aren't in use yet so you can't get real numbers...yet. Finally, some comments from my last experience. Making technology a revenue generating add-on is always tricky when the family is paying. In that model, the family seems to need convincing, perhaps because they see a diminuition of the 'human touch' they were sold on. The default is always 'no'. It tends to work better when packaged into the overall pricing. But in the current environment, here's where the consumer blogs, videos and relationship building can work for the AL, if they will let the tech provider into the mix. This would feed very nicely into 'competitive differentiation' but again, someone from the tech company has to work closely with the local marketers to make this happen. Again, very thought provoking.

I agree, and it is imperative that senior care staff do not feel overloaded, that is where education comes in. Planning and implementing an education program for supplemental technology use, is key to implementation and introduction of any kind of aging in place technology.

I will be teaching an Aging and Technology course at the graduate level in January, and I have found this to be true after managing facilities in the senior care industry.

I think your list is good but step one in any marketing initiative is "awareness". Your target market must know about you. And in today's marketplace that means online visibility since most buyers go to the Internet first when searching for new products/servivces they intend to buy. So the goal of any marketing department must be (1) build awareness - particularly online, (2) drive traffic to your web site and (3) convert that traffic to "leads" (engage and interest them). I'd also include a fourth goal which is to improve your search engine rankings (SEO).

And this doesn't mean just sending out a press release about how wonderful your product is - something I see too many "senior" start-ups doing.

One of the bests ways to do this is via "content marketing" (Met Life who you referenced above is great at this) which includes producing white papers, research reports, webcasts, podcasts, articles, tip sheets, videos, etc. You want whole-brain content marketing messages that quickly engage and entice and motivate intellectually as well as emotionally - i.e., I want to know more. Then you use your traditional marketing and PR tactics to get the word out about your content - search-optimized press releases, direct marketing, advertising, trade show exhibiting, Twitter, blogging, etc., etc., etc. It works. And it will result in more visibility, more web site traffic, more leads and better search rankings (and you can measure all these).

An article we wrote (content) talks about this process: and a lot more articles on the subject can be found here including how to use social media in your marketing:

Mark Willaman
Founder and