Better late than never - Marketing under the NDIS
Analysis of 2016 data taken from National Disability Services' (NDS) NDIS Provider ReadinessToolkit - a self-assessment for disability service providers - indicates that marketing practice had taken over from costing and pricing of services as the ‘least ready’ area of readiness for transition to the NDIS.
The top four 'least ready' areas were:
- Marketing practice
- Costing & pricing
- Market research, strategies & planning
- HR strategy & workforce planning
Further qualitative research has shown that this concern stems from lack of organisational capacity and/or budget.
Unfortunately, it might be that many service providers don't start thinking about marketing seriously until they feel the pain of losing clients. By this point, unfortunately, there will be even less capacity and very limited resourcing. The opportunity for growth is huge under the NDIS and providers must adapt in order to survive.
So, now is the time to start.
This doesn't mean a big branding campaign with lots of paid advertising. There is so much work that needs to be done internally that will dictate external communications, and this will save you the expense of big-ticket advertising options.
Below are the key steps to lay the NDIS marketing foundations in your organisation:
Make marketing a priority in your organisation
Hire a senior marketing resource. Or, if you are big enough to have an Executive, make sure marketing sits at the table. Marketing professionals are a valuable resource to your organisation that needs to be drawn upon. Allow them to do what they are good at.
Link marketing to your broader business strategy
Make sure you understand your current and projected service offering and link these directly to your marketing activity. Set measurable objectives and ensure that they align with your organisation's vision, mission and values.
Understand your unique proposition
What do you do better/differently to any other service provider in your region? Ask your staff and your customers and they will tell you. What is going to make you different to your competitors?
Once you understand it, deliver on an experience that is different. NDIS participants have the power to choose their service providers. No matter what your unique proposition is, your service should always be centred on the needs of your customer.
Understand your market, competitors and stakeholders
Conduct market research, or if you are a large organisation, source an external researcher to do so. Market research is an invaluable part of developing your marketing strategy. It will drive the products and services you should be offering and the markets you should be targeting.
Clients and their families value face-to-face interaction in the disability sector. Relationships with your clients need to be based on trust, and this can be strengthened by the role of marketing.
Be adaptable to customer needs
NDIS participants seek flexibility and the ability to access services when required. This applies particularly to parents of young children with disability. Your customer must always come first, and marketing should reflect this. Remember: It is easier to retain current clients than it is to acquire new ones.
Think HQ is running NDIS marketing workshops on behalf of NDS over the coming months. Dates and locations can be found here.