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The keystone of effective marketing is, “Know your audience.” Often, however, a target audience is composed of multiple segments and important differences may exist among them.

For hospice marketing, let’s take a look at the heaviest users and choosers of hospice services. According to the 2015 edition of NHPCO’s Facts and Figures, nearly 85 percent of hospice patients in 2014 were age 65 or older, with this breakdown by age group:

  • Age 85+: 41.2 percent
  • 75 to 84: 26.1 percent
  • 65 to 74: 16.9 percent

With more than two-thirds of patients being age 75 or older, the largest part of your patient base is a generation called Matures, people born between 1906 and 1945. Matures put a lot of faith in doctors (professionals they consider more educated than themselves) and frequently see a physician’s opinions and instructions as gospel. In addition, if the hospice patient is their spouse, they may be the primary caregiver at home. Targeted messaging implications: Educate physician referrers about how your expertise can help their elderly patients at home during end of life, and advise doctors to include you as they have the Medicare-reimbursed opportunity to provide counsel for advance care planning. Educate potential patients and families about your expertise to help patients stay at home comfortably during life’s final months and your assistance for family members as primary caregivers.

Decisions about hospice care for Matures often are made or greatly influenced by their children, who are part of the Baby Boomer Generation, born between 1946 and 1964 (currently ages 50 to 69). Because of the sheer size of the Baby Boomer population – still some 75 million strong in America – a lot of attention has been given to their impact. Baby Boomers place a high priority on education. They like to know their choices and value independence and control in making their own decisions, which is further fueled by a healthy skepticism of “authorities.” Targeted messaging implications: Position your organization as the go-to resource for information on living with life-limiting illnesses. Emphasize how your team can explain all available options, but that the patient and family are in control of the choices regarding care and quality of life.

Overlapping Baby Boomers a bit, sociologists also have identified a segment called the Sandwich Generation, born between 1956 and 1975 (currently ages 40 to 59). Sandwich Generation members have a parent age 65+ and are raising a minor child or supporting a grown child. Interestingly, 30 percent of this group say parents need their help to handle affairs or care for themselves and a whopping 61 percent say their parents rely on them for emotional support. Targeted messaging implications: Educate this audience segment about your expertise in emotional and spiritual support for the entire family, as well as caregiver training. Encourage them to develop their own advance directives so their children will know care choices and desires when the time comes for the child to care for the parent.

For more insights about hospice marketing strategies based on generational differences, email me to schedule a discussion.

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