What does it mean for the person receiving support?

Self-directed support shifts the balance of power to the person receiving support. If they choose option 1 or 2 they are the commissioner of their own support and therefore have choice over the range of support providers in their area. Organisations that effectively convey what they do through a marketing strategy will help the supported person to be able to make an informed decision.

What does it mean for the support provider?

Providers currently operate in a context where the commissioning authority is the primary purchaser of social care. Some providers have described the shift as ‘wholesale to retail’ moving from marketing that draws in high value block contracts to individualised, tailored support that is commissioned on an individual basis.

What are the challenges?

Providers have concerns that:

  • A focus on marketing may increase expectations to unrealistic levels while the reality is that budgets are going down and people are worried about getting basic support.
  • It is difficult to market ethically while operating in a competitive environment.
  • In a context of reducing budgets and (potential) decrease in market controls that decisions will be made on price alone and quality and effectiveness will not be seen as important.
  • Marketing ‘feels unethical’ support is not like selling double glazing – how to balance the need to clearly articulate the offer to supported people while avoiding the hard sell.

Top tips

  • Focus on providing good support-providers tell us the majority of their business is via word of mouth- not expensive advertising campaigns.
  • Organisations are already distinguished in the market by a number of characteristics such as quality, values, reputation, the way they work, expertise, relationships, history and purpose. Thinking about this is a useful basis for communicating your offer to supported people.
  • Think about your market in the widest sense, identifying influencers, champions, people who use your service now; supporters, referrers and people who might potentially use your service.
  • Map how people actually come to your service this will help you identify the right marketing approaches to encourage them in.
  • It can cost about five times more to attract a new customer than to retain an existing one (Graeme Reekie http://www.wrenandgreyhound.co.uk/) how are you focussing on the people you already support?