Stop Press! Your prospective customers will shopping for disability providers online in an NDIS world – so your website and online marketing is CRITICAL.

In 2016 providers to the disability and mental health sector in Western Australia will be operating in a competitive market as we move to an individualised funding environment brought about by a transition to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) or the WA state Government’s MyWay scheme (may the best scheme win!).

There’s no doubt providers will compete for business… so, is your marketing up to scratch? Have you got everything in place to win the work you should be winning?

Here are my top 8 marketing trends providers need to employ to win the work they should be winning.

1. Your prospects start with Google

This first one is a no-brainer. Get your website right. Your website has to quickly, easily and effortlessly communicate what you offer and who you are offering it to.

Most of your new clients will search for services online so it’s absolutely critical your website is set up in a way in which your prospects can quickly and easily understand what you do, the value you offer and most importantly if you have the services they need. So you’ve got to make sure you understand who your clients are and what their drivers are.

Your prospects are going to build their trust in you online – read this again so it sinks in. Your website is your front door, your front of house, your virtual reception. If your online presence doesn’t look and feel inviting and doesn’t you justice, you will lose business, no matter how good you actually are. This mean ensuring your website:

  1. Can be easily found on Google Search (is optimised for search, SEO)
  2. Clearly defines the services (value you offer)
  3. Clearly defines who your services are for
  4. Looks like the organisation you are and what you want to be for your customers
  5. Allows prospects to start a relationship with you via an email sign-up form or by following you on social media

2. Everything is going mobile

In 2015 Mobile became Australia’s #1 choice for accessing the internet, surpassing desktop for the first time. So, if your website isn’t mobile enabled you’re in trouble, and you’ll also be penalised in Google Search Engine results, which is a double whammy. A responsive site is the term for a website that will automatically optimise regardless of the screen on which it’s opened.

You can check if your website is mobile friendly with Google’s free Mobile Friendly Test Tool . While you’re there why not check out your main competitors’ sites as well.

3. Online advertising is where it’s at

If you’re not advertising on Google Ads, Facebook, LinkedIn Ads, Instagram (or whatever online platform is right for you) then you’re behind the 8-ball. Online advertising needs to be a key part of your marketing budget.

4. Social media is no longer a sideline

Social Media will play a critical part in winning new clients and will help to build trust with new providers for a number of reasons.

An active and engaged social media presence provides social proof that you are what you say you are – an active and large online community builds confidence.

A large social community also provides you with extended ‘reach’ to new prospects and gives you a way to distribute and share stories and valuable content to help you get the message out and build awareness of your brand. Yet less than 20% of companies in the sector have a dedicated social media strategy across the social media platforms.

(My own Facebook page has been sadly neglected in favour of LinkedIn but I’m kick starting it in 2016 so please hop on over to Facebook and Like my page).

5. Video should be a big part of what you do

Nothing works better than video to tell a story. Remember services get you in the game but experiences keep you in it and using video to tell your story and the stories of the people you are helping is a great way of converting prospects into clients.

In an individualised funding world evidence and stories about what you do, your successes stories and who you are as real people is critical to building trust online.

6. Email marketing and list building are still tried and trusted

Email marketing lost its shine there for a while but it’s back and should be a central part of a marketing campaign. Attracting prospects and getting them to subscribe for more information (your email list) remains the core function of most digital marketing strategies.

Email marketing should be a central part of your communication with new prospects and with existing clients because you need to maintain a close connection or you’ll run the risk of losing them to a competitor that communicates better.

7. Helping not selling

The days of broadcast media selling are over. The goal today is to help your prospects and customers by providing them with valuable content that builds trust in you over your competitors. So if you think about it your goal is to ‘out-help’ your competitors to win business. The provider that does the best job of helping prospects and customers to understand will always be a front runner in the race to win the prospect’s business.

8. Blog, Blog, Blog

See point 7 (help not sell!)

Every blog page is a searchable page on Google, that simple, so if you’re writing a blog a week for a year about the things your prospects and clients want to know about you’ve got 52 targeted searchable pages on information your clients are looking for.

So if you haven’t started already, begin by understanding who your buyers are and develop buyer personas for them, then start to develop a blog calendar.

Final Thought

The power now lies with buyers and consumers of disability and mental health services in Western Australia and they are going to be doing their research and building their trust with prospective providers online.

To thrive or even just survive providers are going to need to develop brand and marketing strategies that match the buying process and set themselves apart from their competitors.

We all want to industry the flourish and for people to get the best support they can. In the age where helping not selling is what marketing is all about providers need to get their marketing strategies documents and action plans in place.

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