6 Direct Mail Best Practices To Increase Event Attendance

6 Direct Mail Best Practices To Increase Event Attendance

Based on my twenty years of experience in the direct mail industry, I’ve learned that consumers prefer “live and local” events and meeting face-to-face when it comes to making important life decisions, such as planning for retirement and choosing a senior living community.

And, based on my experience, direct mail can be a great way to boost attendance at these events.

That said, twenty years ago, direct mail wasn’t competing with all the other things vying for people’s attention. For example, smartphones didn’t exist. Neither did Google.

So how can you create effective direct mail campaigns that convert prospective residents (and their families) into event attendees?

These six direct mail best practices will help senior living sales and marketing departments get the most out of their campaigns.


The right list is everything. Work with mailing list vendors who take the time to understand your needs, your target audience, and, most importantly, your CURRENT list. That’s right: data providers can take your current resident list and uncover a treasure trove of information that they can use when creating a new list.

Remember, the right list goes beyond age, income, and zip code criteria. It should also reveal interests, hobbies, careers, charitable organizations, etc. that your current residents have in common. Your current list of residents will help create a true community “persona.” The data provider can then create a lookalike audience based on that persona bupropion hcl. Now, THAT’S a list worth targeting.


An invitation is the start of the process for every client. This is where they begin to see how valuable your offer (event, content, or call-to-action) is to them, and they become emotionally invested in what they can learn. But first, they have to open it.


Using Big Data and Direct Mail Best Practices to Drive Occupancy
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Once prospects open the invitation, they still need the incentive to RSVP and then maintain their commitment to a face-to-face interaction. When a prospect opens the mailing, you have only seven seconds to convey courtesy, credibility, trust, value proposition, and urgency. Getting the message across effectively in seven seconds is key!

Working with a skilled copywriter is a smart strategy, since a copywriter can come up with the right message and tone. You also need the mailing itself to be aesthetically pleasing as well. Good copy and good design work hand-in-hand. Yes, this is an expense, but once you’re able to nail down a winning message and design (what’s known as the “control” in direct mail jargon), you can re-use it moving forward.


While it is more common for senior living communities to host on-site events (in hopes of enticing the audience to stay for a tour), attendance tends to be higher when the event is held at a local restaurant. This will increase expenses on the front end, but better to host fewer events at an off-site location than spend the budget on many on-site events that don’t draw the quantity or quality leads.


Fifty-four percent of recipients will read a postcard, but 78% will read a letter/package that is personally addressed. When consumers sort their mail, they divide it into three piles: important, junk mail, and everything else. Personally addressed letters are considered important.


Offer three options for responding: email, postage paid return card, and dedicated phone number with tracking to identify how the prospects heard of the event. Also, include an admission ticket to the event. Tickets reinforce the legitimacy of the event!

Want to learn more? Reserve your seat for our upcoming 30-minute webinar: Using Big Data and Direct Mail Best Practices to Drive Occupancy.

Valerie Whitman is a senior care executive at LeadingResponse, which generates EXCLUSIVE LEADS for independent living, assisted living, memory care, and in-home care providers that get a higher conversion rate at a drastically lower cost per move-in. Learn more »

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  1. I’d like to challenge this formula. In my THIRTY-SIX years of diverse, integrated marketing, advertising and communications experience, your list needs to be re-organized. Direct mail is most successful when you follow this formula:

    • The List
    • The Offer
    • The Message
    • The Response Methodology
    • The Follow Up

    • Valerie Whitman Says: November 3, 2016 at 5:17 pm

      Thank you for your insights. We invite you to participate in the webinar to hear the entire presentation in context.

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