I love the start of a new year. It brings to mind that the possibilities are endless, and for many of us, it's a great time to start something new or different in our lives.

I'd be a rich person if I had a nickel for everyone out there who has decided to open a new in-home care agency, open a professional geriatric care management practice, or start some sort of elder care business. (I get a call or email about this at least 3 times per week consistently!)

What I know for sure is that there is plenty of business to go around. As we live longer, as our parents and grandparents live longer, we create an unlimited opportunity and need for senior related services.

The key is to create an appropriate and realistic business and marketing plan that generates clients and results. The key to the senior market, is not surprisingly, their adult children.

If you have been in the senior market for any amount of time, you know that families often contact senior service providers when they are in crisis due to an acute illness or other event that signals the need for services and support.

So whether you are just starting a new senior/elder care business, or already own one- think about marketing to more than just seniors. Your target audience may be a little younger than you imagine!

Consider some of the other things we have talked about over the last few months:

• Issues related to senior living options, senior care options, and financial issues that affect seniors require education, so educate your prospects.

• Advertising with vanity ads and the "same old thing" is "OUT", and offering information in the form of a free report, CD, seminar, or consultation is "IN".

• Directing messages to baby-boomers who HAVE aging parents is key. Finding them is not as easy as buying a "list".

• Understanding financial options for seniors is a MUST for all senior service providers. It's impossible to offer good advice to a family if you aren't up on the latest programs and strategies.

• Networking is possibly the most effective and least costly form of advertising and marketing. You should attend only the networking events that make sense for your business. Pick 2-3 key groups and stick with them. (But try as many as you can, it never hurts to check out a new group!)

• Finally, when you are budgeting for your marketing, budget for consistency and frequency, not the big bang. This market does not work like that.

o The reality is that you must touch a consumer 6-10 times- either through print, radio, or TV, in order to get a response. o Running a radio ad 4 times and pulling the ad because you didn't get a phone call is not the way to execute a marketing strategy.

o This is a sensitive subject for many (long-term care needs), so in short order you must articulate your message, interrupt your target (ie get their attention), engage them, educate them, and then make an offer.

o Offering something for free- your time, your printed report, your audio CD, etc, will get the most response. Some people like to remain anonymous...so let them, but engage them.

Finally, this is a very good year to live your dream, be an entrepreneur, and serve the greatest generation of all time. Take a realistic, slow but steady and consistent course of action, and you will succeed! We need more senior service providers who really know their stuff. We need senior service providers who are educated, efficient, and trustworthy. Best wishes for continued success in 2008!

For more information and a free ezine on Senior Service Marketing visit http://www.ultimateseniorservice.com

Author's Bio: 

As seen on NBC’s Today Show and CNNFN’s “Your Money” with Ali Velshi, speaker and author, Valerie VanBooven RN, BSN, PGCM is one of the nation’s leading long-term care experts and consultant for consumers and professionals.

Professionals and business owners who serve the senior market want to know the secrets to obtaining more private pay clients for longer periods of time. This includes in-home care providers, adult day care, assisted living, long-term care facilities, elder law attorneys, and financial advisors.

They want to know how to fill prospect funnels with consumers who need their help, and they want to accomplish this in the most efficient and cost effective manner possible.

Senior service providers also want to know how to reach adult children of aging parents with their message. Valerie offers consultation and coaching for any business owner, marketing director, or franchise who wants to learn those secrets.

Sign up for Valerie’s FREE ‘Amazing Senior Service Business Booster Ezine’ by visiting www.ultimateseniorservice.com.

To learn how to market elder care services using a step-by-step NO B.S. approach visit www.marketingmyseniorservice.com.

Planning ahead for long-term care needs is more important than ever. However, many families find themselves in the midst of crisis with an aging family member, and need immediate assistance and answers to all of their questions.

Valerie addresses both of those issues through her speaking engagements and through her books Aging Answers: Secrets to Successful Long-Term Care Planning Caregiving and Crisis Management, Copyright 2003 , and The Senior Solution: A Family Guide to Keeping Seniors Home For Life! Copyright 2007.