For senior living communities, the future is now. With the convergence of new digital marketing tools and an exploding senior market – 10,000 Americans turning 65 every day – the future is indeed bright for senior living.
But that’s not to say that there won’t be bumps in the road, particularly when it comes to the ever-increasing competition. And that leaves communities with a critical, overarching question to answer if they want to grasp that opportunity in front of them – how do you market a senior living community when so much in the market is changing? To help answer that, I have four best practices to keep in mind as you build or refine your community’s marketing strategy.
Keep Your Website in Tip-Top Shape
I’m starting with what might seem like an obvious best practice but, in reality, is surprisingly underutilized. Competition is already fierce in senior living, and only seems to get stronger by the day. Prospects and their adult children have seemingly countless options to choose from, making it extremely important to differentiate yourself from the crowd. And what’s one of the best ways to do that? With your website.
Too many senior communities still rely on dated websites that don’t convey an attractive image of their culture or commitment to excellence. Simply put, if your website looks old and crickety, then there’s a good chance people will assume your facilities, staff, and caregiving are the same. And as the saying goes, you don't get a second chance to make a first impression.
Instead, strategically update your website with relevant information, use easy-to-understand copy, and include pictures of staff and residents enjoying themselves. Embedded videos are an especially powerful tool in this area, giving the user a glimpse of your community's culture, daily life, and your exemplary senior care. Above all else, your website should be easy to navigate, attractive, and provide a memorable experience that stands out from your competitors.
Use Testimonials to Create Trust
We live in an environment where recommendations from friends and product reviews carry enormous weight in buying decisions. In fact, 72% of people say positive online reviews and testimonials increase trust toward a product, service, or provider. And as you know, developing trust is critical for assisted living marketing to drive move-ins and occupancy rates.
Imagine how powerful it is for prospective residents and their loved ones to read or, better yet, watch testimonials from your current residents or their family members about your senior care community’s culture and the high quality of life you provide. Testimonials are a potent way for you to generate positive word of mouth and form emotional, lasting connections with prospects and referral sources.
Speak Directly to Your Audience
You must first identify and understand your audience to engage them effectively. In other words, marketing for an independent living community should be different from that of a memory care provider. One is engaging the prospects themselves while the other focuses on the adult children of a potential resident. Therefore, your marketing efforts should provide relevant information that your audience segments want rather than taking a one-size-fits-all approach.
Whoever your target audience is, you want to speak to their specific needs to make the decision-making process as streamlined and informed as possible. Leave the industry talk for internal meetings; lead with your heart. For independent living communities, address the potential resident’s autonomy and desire to enjoy life with less stress and more fulfillment.
Likewise, a memory care community will naturally want to lead with empathy as the adult children inquire; communicating that they know life is complicated and emotional, but their incredible staff is trained and ready to relieve everyone’s worries. Ultimately, your marketing should demonstrate that your community listens to your audience's particular needs, addresses those needs, and makes this important decision easier for the prospect, family, or both.
Pave Digital Highways
One of the most significant benefits of a comprehensive digital marketing plan is the access it provides to different communication tools. From social media and email to SMS and beyond, senior living marketing and sales teams aren’t lacking ways to build relationships and engage with prospects and their family members.
However, unless you’re using all of those amazing marketing channels and tools to their fullest extent, you’re leaving something on the table when it comes to lead generation and conversions. Granted, a simple text message or email newsletter to touch base with a prospect helps keep your community top-of-mind. When you embed something like a personalized OneDay video in a text or email, though, you’re amplifying the effect and demonstrating how special that prospect is to you and your team, differentiating your community in the process.
Further, expanding your digital marketing strategy allows you to better leverage an online referral program, publish real-time unit availability, and conduct virtual tours of your facilities. And to generate more traffic to your website, search engine optimization (SEO) techniques through blogging will boost your Google rankings with a bit of practice and perseverance.
Although marketing senior living communities haven't traditionally included cutting-edge technology, that’s changing by the day. Now I'm not saying that traditional marketing is completely forgotten, but it would take a lot of direct mail to create even a fraction of the impact that a finely tuned digital marketing campaign can generate. And as an integral component of such campaigns, OneDay is proud to do our part in helping communities drive their top lines to new heights.