- DR. MARION'S METHOD
- CAREGIVER TRAINING
The Apps May Be Useful, But Can You Even Give Them Away?
Selling To Seniors
Imagine spending the time, money and manpower to develop one of Apple's most content-heavy apps, only to wind up giving it away, along with a $16.95 book as a premium gift.
The case of the Elder 411 and Elder 911 apps, developed by the firm founded by eldercare expert Marion Somers – best known as "Dr. Marion" – is an example of how difficult it is to market to caregivers, both professional and family.
"I won't lie to you, we're not moving hundreds of thousands of units," Craig Caryl, CEO and co-founder of Dr. Marion Inc., tells Selling to Seniors. "It's a tough sell. Caregiving's tough. Getting people to focus on this subject is very difficult and the problem is people ignore it until there's an emergency then they're under water. Our goal is to really get people to start thinking about this and spend a couple thousand dollars making the home safe for your elder and save tens of thousands of dollars and heartache and expenses. It's an uphill battle."
The hill might not be as steep in the future. The National Family Caregivers Association sponsored this month's (November) "National Family Caregiver Month," asking their supporting organizations to encourage caregivers to "Reach Out for Help," the month-long theme. There are other initiatives underway by such organizations as the National Center for Assisted Living and the National Alzheimer's Foundation of America.
Elder 911 is specifically focused on the hospital visit, Caryl says. The scenario supposes the Boomer caregiver has received the call that "somebody fell and they've been injured and they end up in the hospital, and the Boomer jumps on a plane, grabs a cab and rushes to the hospital where it's a very confusing environment. Things can go wrong from the get-go."
Elder 411, also intended for the caregiver, "has roughly 500 of the most commonly asked questions and answers," Caryl says, "from how to take the keys away from someone who shouldn't be driving any more, to safety tips to the home, to how to walk with an elder. We try to cover very important subjects in the Boomer's world in dealing with caregiving."
Partnership With Presto Proves Valuable
Marketing the apps began last winter with online announcements intended to reach "people who already have a comfort factor with this type of technology," he says. No traditional print ads were planned or funded.
A partnership with Presto Services Inc., makers of a computer-less email delivery service whose clients are primarily aging-in-place residents, helped get banner ads in places Presto advertises as well as on each Presto confirmation notice sent to customers. In addition, "we culled their list and our list of registered users and sent out about 30,000 emails letting them know the app was available," Caryl says.
Despite the marketing and the social media presence, the company chose to make the apps free in August. "That's just Dr. Marion's ethos," Caryl says. "Her attitude is she really wants to get the information out and help people."
"We're far from done promoting this tool because this information is evergreen," he adds. "Forty million people are dealing with caregiving on some level; 90% of them are learning it as they go and making costly mistakes and suffering hardships; 16% of caregivers will die before the people they're taking care of. And that's not coincidence, it can be completely overwhelming."
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