Personalizing Your Brand: Meet Loretta

This blog post was contributed by Julie Sheedy, Loretto’s Chief Marketing and Engagement Officer, who plays a vital role to Loretto at all times, but especially as we overcome the challenges of pandemic marketing.

Every industry comes with its own unique challenges in marketing products or services. And, as we have all experienced, the COVID pandemic adds another layer to it. The good news is, regardless of industry or challenge, there are a few steps you can take to ensure your marketing breaks through the noise and reaches your audience.

The ultimate goal? Personalize your brand. I’m excited to share steps we recently took to re-energize our brand at Loretto – in the hopes that they might inspire you!

Get to know your target audience.

I’m sure you have a few pieces of demographic information that you refer to as your target audience, but when was the last time you revisited it? When did you last talk with people in your target audience? Have you created personas that capture your target audience(s)?

For Loretto, we have two primary target audiences:

  1. CNY families with older adults needing care immediately or down the road
  2. Professional referral sources – organizations who engage with potential residents and their families and assist with making placement recommendations.

It’s important to document the demographic information of your target audience and consider their interests and emotions. Going beyond the demographics is part of what can lead you to a more personalized brand.

Empathize with your audience – understand the problem they need to solve.

It’s an old marketing strategy: problem-solution. There’s a problem your target audience has that you can solve – what is it? Listing the problem is a start, but personalizing requires you to dig a little deeper to truly understand your target audience’s feelings.

In the long-term care industry, we’re facing the “normal” challenges of reaching people in the midst of what is often a very sensitive and emotional decision – that a loved one can no longer completely maintain their current level of independence. While you may see the writing on the wall, understandably, loved ones often aren’t ready to give up a level of independence, which can make things even more challenging.

At the same time, the media’s recent coverage of New York’s nursing home death controversy has led to even more hesitation in making decisions surrounding moving their loved ones into assisted living facilities. While there have always been concerns about trusting a facility to provide a high level of care, many have become even more skeptical.

The problem is quite a predicament – acknowledging there is a need for some level of care, either in the home or at a facility – but also feeling like they have no one they can trust to provide care to their loved one. Put yourself in their shoes.

In our case, families struggle with being the ones to make the decision about a loved one’s care. They feel guilty, but at the same time, know they can’t do it alone. They want mom or dad to still “live the life they want to” but know they need to do it safely.

Rethink your message.

What can you say to them that shows you understand, and presents a solution? How can  your message be relatable, especially at such an emotionally charged juncture? How can you break through the noise to reach them? As a rule of thumb – authenticity with a touch of humor can go a long way here.

Marketing teams look different – for this step, it may be beneficial to reach out to a third party. Getting a fresh perspective can be helpful, and it’s something we’ve taken advantage of at Loretto.

In our case, Loretto is fortunate to be uniquely positioned to provide an innovative continuum of care –whether the need is assisted living, skilled nursing, and memory care, and even enabling people to stay in their homes receiving community-based care through PACE CNY. It’s easy to transition from one area to another. So, if the level of care needed now is transportation, educational and social activities while remaining in the home, Loretto can come to you. If and when an additional level of care is needed, there will be a place for you at Loretto.

Humanize the brand in a way that people can relate to.

Think: “Flo from progressive” or “Jake from State Farm.” Now, Loretto has “Loretta.” We’ve decided to introduce a campaign that shows our audience that we get it – to personalize our brand. The campaign revolves around a fictional feisty 80-something character named Loretta. She’s headstrong; dare we even say a bit stubborn? She recognizes when she needs help but isn’t ready to ask for it (sound familiar?!). Loretta is a character we know captures a personality present in many CNY families we want to reach, so there is an immediate connection with our target audience. The bottom line? She finds care on her terms at Loretto. Loretta is now our ambassador, our story teller. She conveys our message using humor and spunk – while touting the continuum of care that we offer – from a trip on the PACE bus to the Day Center to home care and more.

Loretta shows that making those emotional decisions about care can result in a best case scanerio for parents – continuing to live the life they want to, with assistance in the areas they need it.

During our brand research we learned a few very important things:

  • Our residents don’t see themselves as “old.”
  • Our residents value three things:
    • being able to live full lives,
    • being as independent as they can be,
    • and having a sense of “family” wherever they are.

I’m hopeful that these steps, and our example, will inspire you to revisit some of the basics of your marketing message to re-energize your brand. Authenticity often goes hand in hand with personalizing your brand – and that’s a characteristic that resonates with many of us.