News & Social

10th April

A quick guide to your care home website and digital performance

 If your website was built by us, then it will have been optimised for being found on search engines. This includes many things, but our testing procedure will highlight anything which is likely to either slow the website down or rank it lower in searches, like image files that are too large, for example. When somebody finds your site on a search engine without clicking on an advert, this is commonly referred to as “Organic Search”

There is plenty of talk about algorithms in the search industry. These are ever-evolving calculations which are used by search engines to rank the results they display. For example, in the ‘old days’ of the web, it was fine to have one website design which served everything. With the rise of the smart phone and the tablet the shape of the screen was changing. Google eventually decided to rank sites which didn’t adapt or change for mobile devices, lower than those that did. Proliferation of keywords in a non-sensical manner would have at one time fooled Google’s algorithm into thinking a web page was relevant when, really, it was just a trick to rank higher. Needless to say that all of these old ‘black-hat’ techniques to manipulate search results have now been left firmly in the past so that now, to return good search results and therefore enquiries, you need a strategy, a great user experience with plenty of calls to action. To get people here you need a well-researched, creative campaign which solves your clients’ problems, quickly and without fuss.

Monitoring and Reporting

This involves the creation and population of new accounts on various platforms and portals, many of which we will already have agency accounts with. However, it generally only needs doing once and is important to the future success of any campaigns, therefore it is only a one-off cost to you.

Set up Google Search Console (GSC): This is part of Google’s toolkit for monitoring your website and highlighting anything which it picks up which might affect your site’s performance. Through very useful tools, it is essentially a dashboard for us to monitor the performance of the website over time, providing data and tools to effectively manage the ongoing performance of a website.

Set up Google Analytics: This is Google’s tool for analysis of a website’s traffic and performance. It can tell us where people are coming from to the site, how they got there and in what part of the word they are viewing from. It is a powerful tool which enables you make informed marketing and business decisions.

Set up Google Business Page: This is another increasingly important tool from Google. Optimising this part of your company’s public profile enables Google to promote your website locally, using tags on a map, reviews and even its own section below the sponsored (PPC) adverts. Having this set up and optimised is an essential.

Setting up Pay per click (PPC) Google advert account: If we are managing your campaign, we will create your account underneath our agency account and manage it from there. Each month, the advertising spend with Google will be billed from Shuttlefish Creative along with any other items.

Facebook advert account: As with your Google Advert Account, the same is true of the Facebook account. If we are using this for recruitment purposes too, it is a good idea to have budgets for positions within your organisation pre-agreed as this smooths the process – often positions require filling quickly so being efficient is key.

Facebook: Create or rebrand profiles an check for optimization. While on the face of it social media platforms appear fairly straightforward, there is a large number of checks and optimization to perform as well as manage permissions, respond to incoming communications, moderate public engagement and keep the page regularly updated – All of this is manageable from a dashboard and people within the organisation can have different permissions based upon their role. 

Facebook Training & Support: For staff who are new to using Facebook for business, we offer training and support. It is ideal to have staff who are familiar with a platform but not essential. More important is the ability to produce and disseminate content from within the home, to work in tandem with our team working on creative output and targeted adverts.

Recruitment on Facebook: In recent years the ability to reach large numbers of potential employees has increased, while the price has dropped dramatically. In combination with some of the more popular online job portals, Facebook is a brilliantly cost-effective way to reach large numbers of local people. We can manage this process for you.

Dynamic Content Management (Newsletter, blog, events, portals): For a new website, focus should be on generating a mailing list through email capture and FOH staff in the home asking for these details. In addition to this, a sign-up form on the website to a newsletter will automatically update your GDPR-compliant mailing list. This is one of the major factors in creating what most people call “word of mouth” exposure. Human interest stories and content which reinforces your core values and USPs should be the mainstay of these posts and articles, with direct marketing calls-to-action secondary.

Creation of Mailchimp template for digital newsletter: Mailchimp is the leading managing system for mailing lists and newsletters and we use it for that reason. By collecting stories from your business on an agreed basis, we can help create engaging mail for your potential customers. Associated tasks include but are not always limited to: - Gathering of news stories - News posting - Active management of new email sign-ups - Quarterly newsletter Campaign Creative.   

Every campaign needs a focus and the input of quality design and well-written copy. Coordination across platforms is key. Based upon the data from our in-house heat-mapping software we can identify demographics in order to coordinate your digital marketing with your real world advertising.

A basic year’s plan may look like this:

- One overall campaign design for the year

- Quarterly message changes

- Monthly reporting

- Quarterly analysis

Depending on the other work that we are undertaking for you, we would look to tie in the messaging and design with offline materials such as flyers, leaflets, brochures etc.

Ongoing SEO

This is the continual monitoring of site performance reports and acting on results, these include:

Page audit: This is the weekly review of the page using some of the tools listed above and below to automate the process of checking for bugs or problems with a website which may cause it to drop positions in a search listing. By automating this process, problems or potential problems are always brought to our attention immediately.

Google keyword rankings: This provides information to us on any changes in keyword popularity and proliferation. It enables us to act on any required information or copy changes to the website which will help it perform better.

Backlinks: While we do not actively link-build as standard, we are able to monitor and look at those websites which link to yours. This just gives us an idea of who’s reaching out to our site or sharing content from our pages.

Reporting & Analysis:

We will provide you with a clear set of data at the end of each billing cycle (month-end) showing the make-up and origins of your website traffic. If we are looking after Facebook, we will report quarterly using Facebook’s Insights. If we are starting afresh, we need three months’ data before making any meaningful analysis.

This is a simple overview of what we can do to help your care home, digitally.  No care companies are the same, though, and what works for one home or geographical area may not work in another.  That's why we offer all new clients a one hour fact-finding consultation to understand where they are currently.  From there we can build a strategy and plan which will produce results.  Contact us today to book your consultation.

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10th January

How Much Should You Spend on Marketing your Care Home?

How much should you spend on marketing? This is a question we have been asked and answered many times since 2011. As care industry marketing experts we built fantastic working relationships with our clients. We understand the industry; understand the needs of care homes and nursing homes; but also understand the needs of the prospective residents too. We genuinely care. You don't need us to tell you that running a Residential Care Home is challenging. And, within a saturated market, where smaller independent homes are competing with premium/luxury businesses, your job could be ten times more difficult. Which is where your marketing can really make a huge difference.

So, in answer to the question as to 'how much should you spend on marketing a care home?'   Well, in all honesty, It comes down to a number of factors:

What are your goals?

Often the answer to this question is simply, 'we need to increase and maintain occupancy'.

It's not just a case of bringing in new residents, your goal should be to target the RIGHT prospective resident. You need your marketing material to create interest among your target group, build trust and clearly explain what you have to offer. What differentiates your Care Home from the rest? How can your marketing deliver that 'home-from-home' feeling? All marketing needs to show personality, even through a digital platform. Visitors to your website and social media sites should be pre-qualified at that point, to ensure no time is spent (for either them or you) with unnecessary enquiries, or wasted visits.

Do you know your marketing goals?  If not, let's talk it through with you. How much are you  willing to spend and are comfortable with?  Word of mouth will always be the best way gain new business. Referral strategies, in-person networking, publishing testimonials... they're all fantastic ways of getting people talking about how amazing your service is. But lets be honest here, these systems are not always easy to control in terms of results generated. However, as the digital world continually and rapidly evolves, we are approached more and more regularly by  clients to build specialist digital advertising campaigns and direct mailing, create or revise brand and identity, and build entire marketing packages - either as a one-off or on a continuing basis to see consistent results.

Digital marketing is something we can control.

So, the next question to consider is your budget. Do you have a marketing budget set aside? Or are you just starting on your marketing strategy? Making sure your marketing is clear, consistent, and effective will bring you results which will be worth every penny spent. And, we have measurable results to be prove it.  One of our clients' websites reached a 105% increase in enquiries within one year. Another has experienced a 79% increase in conversion rate (people making enquiries after visiting the site). And Facebook likes have increased by 114% for another.  But of course, there is a cost to this, which is covered within the benefits later.

Do you know your target market? After all, to make sure any marketing is effective and hits the right audience, you first have to know who that audience is. You will be looking to target family or carers of your potential residents, the medical profession and local authorities (depending on your facilities, of course). However, you need to be laser focused when you think about each of these groups.

     What income bracket are individuals likely to be in?

     Which social media platforms do they use?

     Where and how are they likely to see your marketing information?

     Where are they located in relation to the Care Home?

    How many other homes are in your surrounding area, and how do you differentiate your services from theirs?

Are you looking for a specific type of resident - self-funding, Local Authority supported, do you offer specific care for Dementia, medical conditions, nursing care, etc?  With so many more options open to older people now, in terms of community support and future proofing their homes, more of the senior generation are hoping to stay at home as long as possible, to save on the upheaval and cost of relocating to a Residential Care Home. So, working together, we will pinpoint your target market, ensure your marketing material is bespoke and generates enquiries, with a pull towards a new positive lifestyle... a new community with dedicated care. Investing in marketing your Residential Care Home.

    • A clear, bespoke and effective marketing plan will help you stand head and shoulders above your competitors;

    • Increased visitors to your website leads to increased enquiries;

    • Creative and emotive advertising helps express the atmosphere and personality of your Residential Care Home, staff and residents;

     • Relationships can be built with your target audience and local community before they even step a foot through the door;

     • The marketing of any business shows how well it is managed. This is true for Residential Care Homes, and we have seen a number of our clients' CQC ratings improve whilst we were working with them - and of course, your CQC rating could be another great marketing point to shout about!

     • Using real location photos to bring out the best in your home allows your target audience to experience your facilities before they enquire.

All of this put together together in your marketing strategy will help you maintain full occupancy But what about the actual cost? We work on an average cost of 1-3% of the full annual turnover of the home. Usually 3% if you need to fill to capacity from scratch, and between 1-2% annually, depending on your competition and CQC rating and report.

Example:  A home with 50 beds at £1,500 p/w = £3.9m annual turnover. Working on an average marketing spend of 1% of turnover, this would equate to £39,000 per annum.   Simply put, the value of one bed for half of one week, is roughly what it takes to keep that bed full for the entire year. 

In summary, we appreciate that how much you spend on marketing your care home will come down to a variety of factors. In this blog post we have shown you some of the key considerations and benefits which we hope will allow you to understand critical factors in more detail. Here at Marketing for Care Homes, we create bespoke packages to suit each of our client's needs and budget, and are here to discuss your needs with you when you are ready!

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17th September

Marketing for care homes: how to be ready for future PHEs

As we adjust to the “new normal”, what marketing strategies does your care home need to implement to ensure it’s prepared for future public health emergencies (PHEs)?

The outbreak of Covid-19 has changed the way we live our lives. From social distancing to personal protective equipment (PPE), the “new normal” is slowly but surely preparing us all for public health emergencies in a global world. However, this presents an array of problems for care homes, especially when it comes to marketing. People are paying closer attention to the smaller details before choosing a care home for their loved ones, making it harder to fill beds.

The key is to learn from the Covid-19 outbreak and to adjust your care home’s marketing strategy now to prepare for future PHEs. Best post-Covid-19 marketing strategies for care homes

1. Tell your lockdown story

As a care home, you need to be transparent and open. With the latest ONS figures revealing that Covid-19 played a part in 20,000 care home deaths during the outbreak, the care home sector is very much under the microscope at the moment. Families who are looking to put their parents and grandparents into care homes in the coming months want to see your story and how your care home is tackling the situation. This includes:

             • Telling stories – use your words to write compelling stories on social media about your patient and staff experiences during the lockdown. For example, post about special birthdays and themed parties you threw. People want to see that the residents are being treated well.

             • Using real photography – using real photography goes hand in hand with telling stories. When someone uses their phone to visit your website or social media pages, they don’t want to see stock imagery.

In this current climate, it’s not safe to host open days. So, you must bring your brand story alive with real photography of the environment and residents. Get this right and you’ll convey your home’s personality and the quality of care on offer.

Suggested article: ‘Make your marketing matter in 2020’

2. Show how things have changed

Communication is a critical marketing strategy for care homes. Your first priority is to ensure the safety of your residents, staff and visitors. To put minds at ease, your marketing needs to reflect this by offering constant updates on the changes that you’re making. Implementing new working processes and conducting regular staff training are major parts of PHE protection. But if you’re not telling families about the measures that you’re taking, it could put them off your care home. One of the easiest ways to communicate these key messages is to include a Covid-19 FAQ section on the homepage of your website which takes them to a dedicated landing page. The FAQ page should include all the training you’re conducting and include answers to common questions.

Here are a few care home FAQ examples to include:

             • What is the visiting policy at your care home?

             • How can you ensure that your staff are safe to look after residents?

             • What measures have you put in place to protect new residents coming into the home? Once you’ve set this up, you can send the link via an email newsletter and social media.

3. Embrace digital

It’s essential that your care home is present in the digital world. More people are spending time on their mobile devices and using social media to research things. You must tap into this audience and showcase all the wonderful things that you’re doing to adapt to the new normal.

This includes:

             • Videos – show the safety precautions you’ve put into place and film precious uplifting moments of everyone enjoying themselves. Despite the circumstances, people still want to see smiling faces and positive measures. Again, this helps tell your story.

             • Virtual video tours – to protect the wellbeing of your residents and staff, you need to offer virtual video tours. It’ll save you a lot of time and let potential prospects know that you’re taking PHEs seriously.

             • Paid ads – if your social media channels or website isn’t generating the engagement or traffic you need, consider investing in pay-per-click (PPC) and Facebook Ad campaigns. Both tools will help you build your audience and increase enquiries which will put you in a stronger position as we adapt to everyday life amid a PHE. #

Suggested article: ‘Facebook for care homes: Three good reasons you should be using it’

The main thing to remember is to be proactive and clear with your messaging. Every week things are changing, and the world is getting more accustomed to the safety precautions required during a public health emergency. As a care home, it’s vital to show families that you’re prepared for the new normal and are in a strong position to look after their loved ones. Sure, you might already have training and safety measures in place, but the outside world doesn’t necessarily know that.

Embrace the digital world and tell your story – it will go a long way in helping you attract more enquiries and prepare for PHEs. For more advice on marketing your care home, contact our team at Marketing for Care Homes today.

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21st June

10 tips to recruiting carers for your care home

Recruitment – it’s one of things we often see as a ‘just do it’ task. Who wants to sift through the CVs of hundreds of carers for your available posts? What if there was a smarter way to find better carers for your home? From open days to mentorships, here are 10 tips to recruiting carers for your home.

1. Brand personality

What does your care home stand for? What is the first impression that someone has when they see your buildings? How about carers’ uniforms? Your website? Your social? These are all the ingredients when it comes to the brand of your care home. And they matter beyond how your next flyer or reception sign in sheet looks. In fact, the personality of your brand matters a great deal when it comes to carer recruitment. It’s mostly psychological. We’re spoilt for choice – whether buying a soft drink, grabbing a pizza, or searching for a new job. We’ve hit the point of option overload. And that means that companies are spending time and effort ensuring that their products are cheaper or their website looks snazzier than the next. But that isn’t sustainable. For your care home, it all begins with the feeling that someone gets when they encounter any one or any thing associated with it. So, while your candidate carers may find you on Reed or Monster, they’ll no doubt seek more information about who you are and what you stand for. Do you talk in a human language, or do you use jargon? Are you writing in passive English, or engaging people with active English that inspires thought and action? Do you convey that you care about your residents, or are you implying that you’re providing peace of mind to the relatives and friends who have suggested they stay in your home? If a candidate reaches your site and feels you’re outdated in how you present yourself, or aren’t the type of care home they want to work in, you’ve already lost that person. Our tip is to ensure that your job description, package, advertisement and supporting recruitment activity are aligned to your brand. If you are consistent in this, you’ll find the right carers and they’ll love working for you, and more importantly – your residents.

2. Digital presence

You’ll notice a trend here for your recruitment in 2020 – ensuring the foundations are in place. And that continues with your care home’s digital presence. When candidates are researching your care home, they’ll look to your social media accounts and Google and Bing Business profiles. Social media has grown exponentially, in fact in 2020 we’re at a staggering 3.8 billion people on social. We’re glued to our devices. On a deeper level, think about what makes a great carer – benevolence, respect, empathy and, above all, caring. Your digital profiles can speak to this: - Imagery of your residents - Stories of charitable work you support - Free advice for anyone interested in entering the care industry At a more functional level, your digital profiles should also sign post for your candidates: - Contact us page - Opening hours - Directions (register your Google My Business account to build a profile that can point people to your care home via Google Maps, Waze etc.) - FAQs about your care home - How you are providing a safe working environment with COVID-19 in mind As for your website – if you have a posting for carer vacancies, use the appropriate schema mark up for job vacancies. This is especially important in the light of COVID-19. Schema markup is the technique which ensures your site can feature towards the top of search engines – where you are most likely to click on a result. You can see an example in the image: Your carers will want quick answers, and your digital profiles being optimised will ensure this.

3. Content

With a clear, engaging brand and your digital presence locked in, you can turn your attention to creating content that will attract the hearts and minds of your potential carers. You know what these people care about, and when it comes to finding a job for a care home it pays to look at what makes your business successful – its staff and residents. So, don’t forget that the biggest advertisement and attraction to your care home are these people. One great way to recruit is to get these people to share their stories. Imagine the impact of seeing a video about Betty, the 93 year old who brightens the day of everyone she comes into contact with. Or, how about David, who left school knowing that college and university wasn’t right for him, but an open day at school planted the seed for care work. Now he’s a senior carer in your team, and what a fantastic, motivating experience that is you can share with potential candidates. We all too often forget that we’re all attracted to stories, to emotion, and a happy ending to those stories. Give your residents and carers the opportunity to share theirs, and in return you’re making it very clear what sort of care home a candidate is applying to be a part of.

4. Digital adverts

Your content serves a dual purpose. Yes, it can show candidates the soul of your care home, but content on its own is not enough. After all, if a tree falls in the middle of a forest and no one is there to hear it, did it fall at all? Well, digital adverts are a means to get the message out about your vacancies. Now, this can be a Facebook and Instagram advert, for example, which simply shows the video and gives a link to learn more about the careers available at your home. Alternatively, if you know the radius you’re willing to take candidates from (which you’ll know from your job description), you can place search based (text) ads on Google and Bing Ads that target postcodes near your care home for searches of your candidates. Some examples can be: - Care home roles near me - Care home roles near Bedford - Carer vacancies CV34 9TW Try any number of those searches and you’ll see limited adverts running. This presents a cost-effective way to create a Google and Microsoft Ads plan that has a modest budget or say £100 a month, and you can find targeted, nearby candidates. A PPC agency can support you in identifying the radius you want to target, build out the adverts which can pull in information like your CQC rating, staff stories, the rate of pay and more. This will help you to find people who are actively searching for roles.

5. Minimum wage

COVID-19 has shown the tough times which fall upon the elderly in the face of respiratory based conditions, especially when combined with other long-term conditions. What has been commendable is the efforts of carers to support the frail and shielded throughout this all. In fact, on a wider-scale it is a call to arms for care homes to really do what is right. At the very least, you should be paying the minimum wage. Better yet, aim for the Living Wage: As of April 2020 the UK's minimum wage was 8.72 British pounds per hour, compared with the voluntarily paid living wage which was 9.3 pounds, and 10.75 pounds for people working in London. (Statista, 2020) Paying either of these, especially the latter, will help you stand head and shoulders above the rest.

6. Mentorships

Moreover, consider mentorship. That’s right, a great way to recruit is to show career progression and the support you’ll give carers. Perhaps they are not native-English speakers. Help them in that regard. Or, if they’re new to the industry, assign an experienced carer to get them up to speed. You can go even further with looking at an employee motivation scheme from the likes of Sodexo Engage, who businesses use to reward staff who go above and beyond in their work.

7. Be flexible

Also, be flexible. It’s the COVID era for care homes. Unprecedented challenges are being faced each week, so consider highlighting in job descriptions the options for flexible working. Additionally, if you’re focusing on people out of school, for example, it’s a different generation where there is great value placed on working experience. The last thing you want is to market for a carer role which is filled for only 2 weeks.

8. Recruiters are still needed

Don’t forget to actually work with a recruitment agency. Perhaps steer clear of too much investment in the likes of Monster, Reed etc., and think about specialist recruiters for carers such as

9. Referral schemes

It’s a novel idea, but the old marketing principle goes that it’s cheaper to maintain existing customers than find new. If we extend that into recruitment, it translates roughly to it’s cheaper to utilise existing staff than pay recruitment agencies. That’s referral marketing in recruitment. Consider introducing a referral scheme internally for your existing carers to find or recommend other carers who would be worthwhile reviewing. Offering £200 to a carer in your home that finds a successful candidate is considerably more cost-effective than a recruitment agency. In fact, it’s a glowing endorsement of your care home if your staff are willing to recommend you to a friend or ex-colleague. However, be wary that if you don’t receive any referrals it may be either because your staff don’t have any appropriate candidates…or there’s an internal marketing effort needed to address why staff wouldn’t recommend your care home.

10. Volunteering and career days at colleges and schools

It’s something that cannot be overlooked. Indeed, volunteering isn’t the same as filling a paid post for a carer vacancy. However, with the likes of the National Council for Voluntary Organizations in existence, you can look towards creating volunteering roles. Those roles can help you to find people who are interested in your local area, and then offer a volunteering role or even a short-term contract. If you are looking for a volunteering role you either are seeking job experience / getting into an industry, or you genuinely care about an issue. Either way, it’s an audience worth exploring. And then there are local Chambers of Commerce where you can work with these to promote your business and vacancies. As the government shifts its focus from university to further (college) education and vocational skills, why not promote your vacancies at colleges and schools? In fact, you can buck the trend. Find someone like David, out of enjoyment with the world of studying, and a smidgen of a clue about what he wants to do – offer him the chance to learn, earn and that’s a scalable approach. The new wave of UK workforce expects more, and what better way to offer than in the world of caring with your presence at a career day. Perhaps you will find a candidate there and then, or perhaps someone to contact in a couple years to see if they’re interested in a career after you send them a newsletter. Plant the seeds today to help get more candidates in the future. It’s all about thinking outside of the box. 

While some items on this top 10 list of carer recruitment tips are stating perhaps the obvious, there are plenty of new ideas for you to help get quality care candidates. Some even leverage old school tactics like referrals or interviewing your staff and residents, but it all comes back to presenting the role and your care home as a place people want to work. If you keep in mind the importance of how you present yourself and delivering a working environment which is attractive, regardless of the how much you spend on the marketing aspect of recruitment, you’ll be inundated with genuine candidates.

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22nd April

Lockdown Diary #2 - Let's Keep Talking

It’s amazing what’s changed in the world since writing our ‘what to do in 2020’ post in January. Even that title now feels empty, as if we just didn’t do enough planning or we should have predicted it in some way. The reality of it is that it has taken everyone by surprise, regardless of whether it should have or not – that’s one for the political commentators.

What I’ve been most interested to observe is the way people communicate is evolving before our eyes. Whether it’s seeing an older relative you never thought would even pick up a device, to the first ever video call with someone you know really well, you know – like, even your dearly beloved? (we just never did video calls!) ..But even with people who I’d considered my closest friends - suddenly we’re all interacting in a new remote space, with different stimuli, in a place we’ve never been before.

It’s impossible for even the most cynical heart to look at the outpourings of honesty, help, love and hope as much as it is hard to not irrationally judge everyone you see in a car, upon realising you are also in your car and you should probably stop being so judgmental. The point is you just don’t know what other people are going through. Be kind, trust in them to be doing the right thing, like you are. 

We seem to be starting to look behind the inane social media posts and ask a bit more about what's actually happening, making new conversations and, as a society, I believe we’re starting to peer over the parapets of our social media echo chambers and see that our commonality and inherent goodness binds us more than suspicion and cynicism divides us. Everyone isn’t one or the other, to be bought, sold or ripped off, we want everyone to be OK - Safe and at home, and we want that for ourselves and our closest people too.

What the landscape will look like later this year is still very much unknown but you can sense the cabin fever starting to set in in some quarters – and unsurprisingly. We’ve been blessed with the most beguiling, forgiving Spring in years – my thoughts have occasionally turned to ‘what ifs’ - thinking about what it would have been like in the most depressing winter in years in 2019/20. What if it comes back? What if things never return to normal?

It’s important, therefore, that we find consensus about the new normal, that it isn’t something to be imposed, it’s to be created. Better to look at 'Lockdown' as a remote collaboration to stop the spread to the most vulnerable in the group, rather than an order to stop you being infected.  It's teamwork, it's looking out for your fellow citizens. 

Through the increase in unity of common understanding and group work-not-groupthink with our neighbours and colleagues, allied to our new experiences of communication tools, there’s an exciting platform from which to make everyone’s lives better.  We need to keep checking in with each other and asking ‘how can I help?’

Hopefully, soon some freedoms will have been restored.  In the meantime, I've shared some photos of the studio and the tuk as Spring happens all around.

Stay safe, everyone.


Tom Threadgill is co-director and founder of Shuttlefish & 

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26th March

Lockdown Diary #1 - Clear Messaging During The Covid-19 Pandemic

There are many outcomes to the current pandemic and it is too early to say just exactly how that is going to affect you and your company. However, what we do know is that in the US & Europe lockdowns and spread is likely to continue into Q3 regardless and so the economic ramifications are going to be felt far and wide for a long time to come. Regardless of these facts, you need to be mindful when it comes to how your company is presented during and after this unprecedented event. From how you act, the news you share and how you’re helping the cause – it’s all important stuff in the strength of your branding and never has there been a better time to get everything in shape. Let’s take a look at some general advice on how to look at your marketing right now.

1. Tone & Language

a. It’s easy to see where your brand could cash-in on a crisis, but it is a number one no-no. How your company conducts itself is crucial to coming through this relatively unscathed.

b. Check all of your existing content and double check to make sure your messaging is still relevant.

c. Make sure you get second and third opinions on all new collateral. This you should be doing anyway, but at this point, a badly constructed message or something which was funny before may now be just pain insensitive.

2. Engage Your Customers

This might seem obvious as that’s the nature of marketing, but you need to be thinking what you can offer, how you can help and what do you do already that would benefit people who are in the midst of a crisis. Your customers will remember what you do now for a long time afterwards.

3. Engage your workforce

Morale and an engaged workforce are more important now than ever. They want to feel safe and part of a family which is working together for a common goal – to get through this.

4. Listen to your Customers

Chances are, your customers’ needs are going to be changing. Is there a way we can help? Do we even know how those needs are changing? What are the long term implications likely to be because of these changes? Taking the time to do this now will impact heavily on the longer term success of your company after the pandemic has ended.

5. Check your lines of communication are working

You should always be available to potential and existing customers, but at the moment, making a check on your processes and systems for receiving communications is key. Do your customers know your position right now? If not, it is time to talk to them.

6. Ditch the competitive streak (for now)

While competition between providers of anything is normal and healthy, at this time there’s just no need to be putting that out there. If you would maybe use an aggressive ad campaign targeting a competitor’s service price for example, people will see it as cynical and missing the point now. Don’t do it. Ask how you can help and go that route instead. You’ll be glad you did when you’re through this.

7. Get inventive with creating assets

Let’s face it, those wonderful outdoor Spring photo-shoots we’ve been waiting for just aren’t going to happen. So, what can we do? Well… your creative team should be on the case thinking about how to get the message across in different ways. There are stock libraries for video and photos and music. There is the compositing of photographs with other assets, illustration, animation and tons more to boot. How can you make these work for you right now?

Whatever you do, make sure you carry on thinking about what you want to say to your customers and how you want to say it. Protect your marketing budgets as much and as best you can because if previous experience of global shocks tell us anything, it’s that when the starting gun goes again on the other side, it’s those companies that are best prepared who come out the other side first and fastest.

Lastly - get ready for a new reality. It is highly unlikely that something so far-reaching and sudden as a global pandemic won’t have long-lasting effects on our future behaviours and the way we live. What those will be, what will remain and what will return we will wait and see. But don’t hide under your desk – embrace the change and find your place. 

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24th February

How does your CQC rating affect your care home’s marketing?

It’ll probably come as no surprise to hear that generally speaking, the better your CQC rating, the more successful your marketing campaigns will be and typically, the more enquiries you’ll generate as a result. But here at Marketing for Care Homes, we’ve drilled down to find out the real numbers and see quite how big a difference your CQC rating makes.

Let’s start by having a look at some care home statistics:

• There are more than 10,000 care homes in the UK
• Only 4% of care homes across England have the CQC’s top rating of ‘Outstanding
• 79% of care homes in England are rated as being ‘Good’ by the CQC
• 16% of England’s care homes have a ‘Requires Improvement’ CQC rating
• 1% of all care homes in England are found to be ‘Inadequate’ by the CQC

Our ‘Outstanding’ experiment

One of our Berkshire-based clients opened in 2016 and earned Top 20 awards in 2017, 2018 and 2019. A recent CQC inspection saw them go from having a ‘Good’ CQC rating to achieving ‘Outstanding’ in all five areas, a rating that only 21 care homes in England had achieved by the end of 2019.

Having had ‘Good’ ratings until now at this specific home, we thought it was the ideal opportunity to compare marketing results between a campaign with a ‘Good’ rating and a campaign with an ‘Outstanding’ rating, with no other contributing factors changing at all.

If there was ever a time to tell the world about how fantastic a home’s care really is, this was it, so we took the opportunity to cover every single base, from banners outside the home and a graphic and news article for their website to press releases and digital ads – these included Facebook and Google Ads. And that’s what we’re going to focus on now, Google Ads.

The results are in

As you’d expect, the results were higher in the ‘Outstanding’ campaign than in the previous ‘Good’ campaign, but by how much?

From research we’ve conducted based on our own clients’ campaign results, things don’t change drastically between a home rated ‘Good’ and a home rated ‘Requires improvement’, especially when it’s clear that the home still has good reviews regardless of the CQC rating. But going up to ‘Outstanding’ really does make a noticeable difference.

Prospective residents and their family members can have complete confidence in an ‘Outstanding’ home – they can move in without having to worry whether the care is good enough, whether there’s enough going on to give residents meaningful occupation, if residents enjoy a healthy, balanced diet, if they’re safe, the list goes on.

Our winter campaign when the home had a ‘Good’ CQC rating had a click-through rate of 1.71% – and we’d generally expect between 1 and 2% – but our next campaign was ‘Outstanding’. The click-through rate for this jumped up to a staggering 5.84%, which is a 341% increase. That led to 6 conversions for the modest payment of £84.03. It goes to show the difference having that top CQC rating can have on your care home’s digital marketing results.

Make your marketing more effective

The best way to make your marketing more effective is of course by improving your CQC rating, but as this can’t happen overnight, get in touch with Marketing for Care Homes to implement a few changes now that can have a significant impact on your enquiries sooner rather than later. With compelling copy, original artwork and all the other tricks we have up our sleeve here as care industry marketing specialists, working with us can lead to measurable results for your digital performance in as soon as a month.

Make your money go further when it comes to marketing by having something good to shout about, something tempting to click on, and if your CQC rating is ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’, it really makes a difference showing that to the world. Going back to the statistics we mentioned at the start, with 4% of care homes having an ‘Outstanding’ rating, there’s still so much for the 79% of homes that are ‘Good’ to play for. 79% equates to over 8,000 care homes, which is a lot of competitors you can blow out of the water with your next digital campaign.

Whether you’ve just gone from ‘Good’ to ‘Requires Improvement’ and need to give business a boost or if your home is ‘Outstanding’ and you haven’t told the world about it, now is the time. Although there is an obvious correlation between a care home’s CQC rating and digital performance, we can advise you regardless of your CQC rating and make your marketing matter.

Get in touch with the team at Marketing for Care Homes today to find out how we can help your home stand out to prospective residents in a saturated and competitive market.

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7th January

Make your marketing matter in 2020

Happy New Year to you all from Marketing for Care Homes! Our team members are all back in the office with recharged batteries after a refreshing Christmas break, and we can’t wait to get started on some shiny new campaigns to kick off the new year in style. So, how can we help you? Well, let’s start with…

Your 2020 care home marketing plan

The saying goes ‘if you fail to prepare, prepare to fail’ and that’s completely true when it comes to your annual marketing plan. If you haven’t yet made a marketing plan for 2020 then that means you won’t have started making the most of your marketing yet! Clear your diary and get cracking as there’s no time like the present.

If you let much more of January slip away, you’ll inevitably end up with fewer enquiries than desired, along with no marketing analysis and therefore no way of telling which channels you need to target to reach your desired demographic.

If you’re unsure how to create your 2020 marketing plan, get in touch with Marketing for Care Homes and we’ll set you on the right track. We can even plan your entire year using our industry expertise, so you won’t miss any opportunities and can generate as many enquiries as possible for your care home.

Implementing your care home marketing plan

At Marketing for Care Homes, we’ve been creating effective campaigns for care homes since 2011. With our industry insight, you’re in safe hands and you can trust us to deliver exactly what your care home needs to help reach your targets. Whether you need to fill beds, you need to attract and recruit new team members or anything else, we’re here to help and our knowledge of the care industry when it comes to marketing is unrivalled.

Once you have a solid marketing plan, we can put this into action for you. We can also manage and adjust this plan throughout the year in accordance with your marketing analysis – which we can also take care of at Marketing for Care Homes – making it as specific as possible, reaching your target audience by utilising the appropriate channels that we know work best when it comes to care.

How successful marketing can boost your care home business

With a solid marketing plan in place for 2020, the sky is the limit if it’s carried out well. With the ability to measure the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns and steer them in a particular direction based on accurate analysis throughout the year, you’ll be able to reach your target audience with maximum efficiency and maximum return. At Marketing for Care Homes, we’re here to help every step of the way.

At Marketing for Care Homes, we offer a wide range of services that can help your marketing make a real difference to your care home’s success in 2020 – our team can take care of creative design, branding and rebranding, web design, marketing support, insights and analytics, brochures, photography and videography, internal and external signage, copywriting and digital marketing. By working with us and utilising our expert services, your care home’s marketing will achieve your desired results.

Speak to us today to make sure 2020 is your care home’s best year yet.

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5th December

Why marketing matters at the most wonderful time of the year

Make the most of Christmas with Marketing for Care Homes

Christmas is getting closer and it’s an ideal opportunity to tell the world how good your care home really is – or at least your target audience. When it comes to Christmas care home marketing, we know what we’re doing at Marketing for Care Homes, and we’re here to help you get the results you want.

There are all sorts of things we can do for you this Christmas, and we know that as we’ve been creating effective Christmas marketing for clients since 2011. Find out what we offer below and if you’d like something we haven’t mentioned, get in touch and we’ll provide a bespoke quote for you. The possibilities are endless!

Branded Christmas cards

If you’re already sending out Christmas cards to everyone affiliated with your care home, don’t miss your marketing opportunity! Whether you’d like your Christmas cards to be traditional with subtle branding or you’d like to go the whole hog and tastefully plaster your home all over your card, our design team can create something unique for you, and your logo will feature on mantlepieces for miles around.

Bespoke menus

When you’re pulling out all the stops to give your residents (and potentially their guests) a traditional Christmas dinner with all the trimmings, a simple piece of paper really doesn’t do it justice. Your menu should reflect the quality of the food you’re serving; that’s why we create high-quality menus with a design bespoke to you. If you’d like any specific finishes such as embossing or foil printing, we can take care of that too to give your festive menus an extra-special touch.

Christmas care campaigns

With years of experience in marketing for the care industry, we know the ideal approach to take in wintertime to generate those vital enquiries you need for your care home. We can create an effective, all-encompassing digital campaign, organic and PPC, complete with all the trimmings – and we’ll also design any required print collateral to reach your target audience from another angle and showcase how great the level of care you provide is.

Christmas event marketing

If you’re holding any events in your home over Christmas and New Year, such as a Christmas market, Christmas carol sessions, family-friendly festivities or special Christmas dinners for members of the community living on their own, does your local community know about it? We can make sure your events are well advertised and therefore well attended, which inevitably leads to enquiries.

December is ticking away but it’s not too late to change the trajectory of your care enquiry levels this Christmas. Give yourself the best Christmas gift this year and get in touch with the experts at Marketing for Care Homes today to make your care home’s prospects look a lot brighter in time for 2020.

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