In the old world of block funding marketing your organisation was superfluous. Clients worked with the provider mandated by government, you provided the supports deemed necessary within your existing scope of services with the funding allocated to you after the cost of running your organisation was accounted for. No so any more. For most disability providers NDIS funding will be the major source of income for providing supports. There is no plan B.
NDIS has completely changed this model in five major ways, each of which raises a vital new question;
1. Participants have the power to ‘choose’: Under NDIS funding is allocated to the individual, not to organisations or disability support providers. In effect, participants of the Scheme become ‘customers’ and have a greater level of choice and control over the supports they receive, who provides them and how they are provided. Plus the NDIS aims for up to 40% of participants to self manage their funds which means even greater choice and control for these people who can even choose to work with non NDIS registered providers.
The marketing question is: will your customers choose you?
2. Increased competition of all kinds: All trial sites saw an increase in providers entering the market of over 100%. NDIS full scheme roll out will see further dramatic increase including for profit providers of all sizes as evidenced by the existing large proportion of sole traders and the entry of large organisations such as Australian Unity, Circo and BUPA. Many of the providers we speak with indicate a preference for working collaboratively with other providers and we agree, to a point. Collaborating to compete is can be an important strategy but not at the expense of protecting your own organisation from more hostile competitors.
The marketing question is: how are other providers engaging your clients?
3. The NDIS Insurance model: Regardless of where you stand on whether the NDIS truly is or is not an insurance model, that is, investing early to reduce the lifetime cost of supports, one fact is clear; the new message is “capacity building”. This means, the basis on which you develop and promote your service must speak to its contribution in supporting clients to live an ordinary life.
The marketing question is: do your clients value your services?
4. Fixed pricing: Mandated pricing for NDIS registered providers has caused a great deal of concern among existing providers, many of whom are realising their overhead costs are too high and their workforce planning inefficient. There are a variety of views on the challenges of operating within NDIS prices including insufficient training and travel allowances within the unit price, the prospect of participant cancellations, insufficient funding for higher intensity supports and, the costs of delivering services in major populations compared with rural and remote areas. While many providers still hold out hope that NDIA will loosen the reigns on pricing the reality is that new-start operations, providers with innovative technology-based models and for profit organisations are all managing to make the current NDIS pricing work. The key to success for most (probably all!) of these organisations is specialisation. They have found the place where their unique strengths and the NDIS opportunities intersect; they have found their sweetspot.
The marketing question is: where is your NDIS sweetspot?
Marketing is THE commercial discipline used in business to adapt to rapid changes in the operating environment. NDIS brings profound change and providers must adapt to survive. Only marketing can provide the answers to these frightening new questions.
But it’s not all bad news because; there is a final major change;
5. Double the funding: Before NDIS there was $11billion invested in disability supports in Australia each year. At full roll out that value will increase to $22billion. It will mean that 1% of everything sold in Australia will be a disability support. The opportunity for growth is huge and thus the ferocity of competition. However, the history, knowledge, experience and community connections that most existing providers possess are valuable. These assets can provide a firm foundation for establishing a strong point of difference from the crowd of providers but only if refined, articulated and communicated.
The marketing question is: will new clients choose you?
This extraordinarily exciting time for people with a disability and their families in Australia could be very frightening for existing service providers who chose not to acknowledge that NDIS has completely changed the game. Marketing is the only discipline that can provide the answers you need to adapt.
There is no plan B.