Marketing is a major function of any organization meant to link an organization with its customers or consumers. Marketing can be defined as an organization function and a set of processes for creating, communicating, and delivering value to customers and for managing customer relationships in ways that benefit the organization and its stakeholders (Hartline, 2007). Hartline further concludes that a marketing strategy refers to how the firm will manage its relationships with customers in a manner that gives it an advantage over the competition. Hence, developing a marketing strategy for a senior living facility requires a elaborate understanding of the features of such facilities. Senior living facility often referred as independent living or senior apartment offer the least restrictive type of away-from-home arrangement consisting usually of a cooking area, living area and bathroom so that the resident can live independently. Assisted living facilities are designed for seniors who need help with the activities of daily life, but who do not require extensive medical or health care.
The modern life in the United States is leaving the relatives of the elderly with less time to spend while taking care of the aging population that is on the increase. U.S Census Bureau projects that by the year 2050, persons aged 65 and above will comprise 20% of the total population which is a 400% increase from the statistics in 1995 that revealed that persons aged 65 and over comprised of 4% of the total population. With these statistics, it is logical to conclude that the potential markets for facilities taking care of the elderly such as senior living facilities will tend to remain strong into the third and fourth decades of the 21st century (James & Allen, 2004). This potential market creates a room for competition among the private and public providers of elderly care which requires innovativeness and creativity in the provision of quality care to the aging population.
The marketing strategy of a senior living facility includes the mission statement, the product/services features as well as the marketing objectives. It is also important to put into consideration the legal and ethical implications in the marketing process to avoid deceptive marketing practices.
Committed to the provision of quality and responsive care to the seniors through establishment of facilities best suited to meet the unique social, physical and psychological needs of the elderly thus ensuring the individual's dignity and independence is highly upheld
The features of the products/services offered at the senior living facilities include:
Accessibility: the facilities are easily accessible by the senior's significant others since they are located in the outskirts of the city under serene environment. They also have expedited access to hospitals in case the services of a specialist are urgently needed by the residents.
The facilities are handicap accessible since the indoor settings are handicap friendly. Walking surfaces are flat with no steps or stair cases and surface alterations that could cause tripping or difficulty for people using wheelchairs, walkers, canes or other assistive devices. This is mainly to promote independence among the residents as they get used to relying on themselves to carry out various activities.
Personalization of the resident's room: the residents can be allowed to have wall hangings, photos of their friends and significant others on the walls of their rooms as this enable them to maintain the connection with their families even if they are no longer living with them. Thus the feeling of abandonment by their families is gotten rid off since have psychological satisfaction and feel at home in the senior living facilities.
The senior living facilities including the assisted living and the skilled nursing facilities have call buttons or emergency pull cords to contact staff should assistance be required by the residents. Social and recreational activities: outings and retreats are organized on a weekly basis. Since the residents congregate daily during meals or other activities, opportunities for socializing are provided thus isolation is usually avoided. Gyms are available where exercise and wellness programs are emphasized by the staff that assists the seniors.
Group counseling sessions: counseling is at the core of elderly care. This is because the elderly people find it difficult to accept the changes they are experiencing in their bodies and also social networks. The number of friends usually decreases as a result of death or the societal withdrawal from the aging people. Hence group counseling sessions monitored by professionals are held on a weekly basis where the residents learn from the experiences of one another.
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Opportunities are provided for the reinforcement of the resident's hobbies and interests so that they age gracefully without having to get rid of their cherished hobbies. For instance, there is a garden at the senior living facility for those who have interests in gardening.
Security at the facility premises: round the clock security is provided at the facilities so that the safety of the residents is fully secured. This is made possible by the adequate security staff, alarms and accessible exits in case of emergencies such as fires.
The facilities are adequately staffed to provide assistance with eating, bathing, dressing, going to the bathroom and walking. Housekeeping services, laundry services and meal preparation are provided at an attractive fee apart from the monthly rent paid for the facilities. This is especially the case for residents in the assisted living and skilled nursing care.
Short-term marketing objectives
The short-term marketing objectives to be accomplished include:
To double the sales volume of the products/services by the end of the year
To capture a market share of 20% by the end of the year
To maximize on the short term profits by the end of the year
To achieve excellent customer satisfaction
The legal and ethical implications that could affect the marketing process
Hartline (2007) states that marketing ethics and social responsibility have grown in importance over the last few years because many firms or companies have seen their image, reputation, and marketing efforts destroyed by problems in these areas. Hartline has defined marketing ethics as the principles and standards that guide behavior in making marketing decisions. Thus marketing ethics requires all parties involved, to make ethical decisions and the lack of such ethical decisions in the practice can lead to the violation of public trust. Deceptive practices in the marketing process result when the ethical standards are not upheld such as fraud, exaggerated claims or statements about a product or a service that cannot be substantiated, selling abuses and ambiguous statements in marketing. The legal implications that result from unethical decision making in the marketing process differ from one state to the other. However, no state tolerates any deceptive practices in the marketing process.
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In conclusion, marketing is an important function in any organization and a marketing strategy is a plan that provides the relevant information about a particular product. Thus the development of a marketing strategy for a senior living facility is a skillful activity that needs to put into consideration the legal and ethical implication in any marketing process.