A panel of senior living marketing professionals will share strategies and tactics for lead generation, nurturing and conversions given current restrictions regarding tours, events and community visits.
If there’s one thing COVID taught us, it’s this: the senior living industry still has a lot to do when it comes to effectively marketing itself. How many times did the media and consumers use the words “senior living” and “nursing homes” interchangeably?
The answer: TOO OFTEN.
Collectively, we all need to do a better job communicating the differences between these terms. We also need to get better at communicating the many benefits the senior lifestyle provides in general, and especially during a pandemic).
So, as you plan your content and senior living marketing for the next 6-12 months, remember the following key messages. Adjust, as needed, for your senior living community.
Important Senior Living Marketing Messages to Promote:
Message #1: Senior living is a great lifestyle.
Capture and share the “great lifestyle” aspect of your community through pictures and videos and share, share, share.
- Residents working out in the fitness center or partaking in a class, like yoga
- Seniors enjoying the pool
- Residents enjoying happy hour at the pub
- Seniors enjoying the comfort of their spacious apartment/residence—show them reading, doing a puzzle, reading, knitting
Message #2: A senior living community is very different from a nursing home.
You need to contrast senior living with nursing homes. Keep it straightforward and high level. Plus, focus on the key differences that matter most to people.
Here’s some copy to work from…
Senior living is an enriching lifestyle for older adults. The lifestyle encompasses the following:
- Active lifestyle communities
- 55+ communities
- Independent living
- Retirement communities (and all of its synonyms)
- Assisted living (sometimes with or without a Memory Care “neighborhood”)
Nursing homes, on the other hand, provide skilled 24/7 nursing care in a residential setting for elderly or disabled people. Senior living communities don’t provide 24/7 skilled nursing care.
While senior living communities weren’t spared from COVID-19, the incidence in senior living communities was typically much lower than in nursing homes. The main reason for this? Nursing home residents often live in tighter quarters with roommates. Plus, nearly half are 85 or older.
Message #3: “My senior living community made me feel safe during the pandemic.”
Gather testimonials from residents, their family members, and your staff about what daily life was like during the pandemic.
Make sure your testimonials cover the following themes, specifically how…
- Residents always had plenty of food/healthy meals
- No one had to worry about prescription refills/pickups
- The community’s industrial supply chain was strong—no shortage of toilet paper or cleaning supplies!
- Family members could rest easy knowing that mom or dad was safe and taken care of
- The staff felt supported, cared for, and valued by the community’s leadership and residents
Message #4: Here’s what COVID-19 taught our senior living community.
You can’t shy away from this issue, so use this opportunity to transparently share how your community dealt with COVID-19.
No one is expecting perfection. In fact, many people would be rightfully skeptical if they heard such a message. If you had some cases, or even an outbreak, talk about it. (Remember, nothing is legally prohibiting you from talking about raw numbers in a general way.)
If your numbers were low, you can promote that fact, but don’t get cocky and gloat. If you had higher numbers than you would have liked, stress what your community learned from this reality. Talk about improvements. Discuss the protocol if there’s a second wave.
Most importantly, keep your COVID-19 resource center easily accessible on your website for the next 12-18 months. Keep it updated. You should have an FAQ section or page. Regularly add answers to the most common questions you hear. Listen closely to residents, families, prospects, and staff—ask them what questions they have.
Share these key messages regularly across various channels, including…
- Social media
- Key website pages (home, contact, COVID-19 resource page, schedule a tour landing page)
- Blog posts
- Local newspaper ads
- Quick guides/brochures (e.g., “X Reasons Why Our Senior Living Community is a GREAT Lifestyle Choice—Even During a Global Pandemic”)
Need help fine tuning your senior living community’s messaging—especially as you emerge from lockdown? Let’s talk.
As a senior living marketing agency, we focus only on the senior living industry. We have decades of experience working in the industry as well, on the operator side. We know your struggles and what keeps you up at night. And we also know your “buyers” and how to effectively communicate with them, even during a pandemic.
When it comes to senior living sales, we’re a long way off from the “post-COVID” era. But we’re (thankfully!) turning the corner on COVID-19 (the first wave anyway).
As more and more senior living communities open their doors and return to this “new normal,” now is a good time to pause and consider the things you’ve learned over the last five months. What worked? What didn’t? And what can you do differently from a sales perspective as you move forward?
Here are three things we’ve learned about marketing during a pandemic. This includes insights from our own clients as well.
Virtual sales experiences can be effective.
In our industry, the in-person tour has always been the ultimate “get” in the sales process. (Well, the ultimate get before the actual move-in!) But what many of our clients have learned during lockdown is this: virtual sales experiences can deliver move-ins, too.
So, what does this revelation suggest?
Well, maybe we’ve been spending too much time thinking about what the sales folks need to move prospects down the funnel. Instead, we should focus on the prospects’ needs. In other words, maybe the sales reps’ role is figuring out how they can help empower prospects to move themselves through the funnel.
That’s just one thing that’s been bubbling up.
It makes sense when you think about the shifts in how people research and buy today. We’ve all grown accustomed to being in control. For example, we all like being able to read reviews or use AI to improve the buying process (“Hey, Alexa!”). In addition, we can lodge complaints publicly on Twitter and ignore calls from unknown numbers. So much happens from the comfort of our couch with nothing more than a phone. People can now buy a car without having to leave their house or interact with a sales person.
So of course people are going to demand more and more opportunities for virtual sales experiences from senior living communities, like a 3D virtual tour. Or a reassuring live chat (with a real human). Or unvarnished videos of your residents and staff experiencing daily life in your community.
An important note: We don’t think virtual experiences are going to eliminate in-person tours. Buying a residence is still very much a tactile experience, and people want to see, touch, and smell. But perhaps sales people need to put less emphasis on pushing the in-person tour. Instead, they should focus on delivering targeted and effective virtual experiences that people crave. The better these experiences are, the easier it will be for the prospect to organically move themselves into the position of requesting the in-person tour when they’re ready.
TAKEAWAY: Rethink your overall marketing and sales process. The marketing team will definitely need to be part of these conversations since they often spearhead the creation of assets the sales team needs, like videos and live chat on the website.
Perhaps consider creating two “paths.” The first path will be the “live” sales experience. The second path can be a virtual one. What would the process look for each path, from start to finish? How would you nurture leads differently? How would you follow up with them differently? Don’t forget about measuring results! What would be considered successful? Will a longer sales cycle be OK if it produces more conversions?
Crisis communication isn’t a one-time exercise for senior living sales teams.
COVID-19 forced everyone to dust off their crisis communication plan (provided they even had one) and put it into action.
How’d yours do? If your answer is “meh,” you’re not alone.
Too often, we simply go through the motions once or twice a year of holding drills and reviewing emergency preparedness plans. But drills and a real life global pandemic are two different things.
Another important point: crisis communications shouldn’t be issued only when a crisis hits. Effective crisis communication is an ongoing task, one that you should mix in with your regular content marketing.
For example, every season brings its own challenges and potential crisis. Perhaps your community is located in an area of the country that experiences severe weather from June to November (think hurricanes). Instead of waiting for something to happen, create and share your crisis communication plan for severe weather NOW.
No, you don’t need to be alarmist. But if your community is in a hurricane zone, perhaps it makes sense to have a section on your website that proactively talks about your community’s approach to bad weather. What happens if there’s a power outage? Flooding? What’s the approach depending on the storm category (the difference between a Cat 1 and Cat 5 storm)? How can families stay in touch? How do you send messages/alerts to families and/or where can they call into?
And this goes without saying, but ALL communities should be working on a crisis communication plan for COVID and flu for the fall of 2020/winter of 2021.
TAKEAWAY: Think about the worst case scenarios that could affect your community. Disease and weather top the list, so you should have content sections on both. Include an overview page. In addition, have FAQs about each particular topic. Other sections to consider: chemical accidents, fire, terrorist events. Yes, we know these are scary topics, but your content can be calming and reassuring.
Promote these sections on social media, to prospects and new residents/families, and to local reporters (who are always looking for go-to experts when disaster hits). Be the resource that residents, families, and prospects crave.
This information will go a long way in demonstrating that your community has put the time and effort into planning. It will also show that you learned from any mistakes/missteps from COVID-19. Because, let’s face it: no one was fully prepared.
When it comes to delivering essential messages, lather, rinse, repeat. And repeat, repeat, repeat.
Over the last five months, have you found yourself repeating things to people because they’ve forgotten you told them already? Have you found that you’ve had trouble remembering things?
You’re not alone. This pandemic has worn out everyone mentally. As CNN.com notes, “Experts say it all has to do with how the pandemic is affecting our cognitive health—meaning, our ability to clearly think, learn and remember.”
TAKE AWAY: Before COVID-19, you typically had to repeat marketing messages anywhere from 7-12 times (at least) before it started to sink into people’s heads. When it comes to senior living sales today, plan on doubling that—even for simple messages.
Ideas for pushing out your core messages:
- Update and republish evergreen blogs that promote core messages.
- Increase how often you share certain content, like a blog post, over time. For example, if you publish a new blog tomorrow, do you tweet and post about it a couple times and then forget about it? Make sure you have a promotion plan that continues to pump out your most valuable content. Marketing automation can help with this. Write a tweet once, but schedule the same tweet 10 times over 30 days.
- Keep messages short and punchy—especially on social media. Make it easy to digest and remember.
- Finally, use a variety of media to say the same thing. Some people like to read. Others like to watch video. Still others like to listen.
Need help transitioning your sales process?
We spent our careers working on the operator side. We understand the challenges senior living sales and marketing teams face—and we have smart strategies and solutions that’ll get you the results you desire.
Editor’s note: The following senior living sales content was inspired by discussions during our COVID-19 Webinar, which you can access for free here.
COVID-19 has forced all of us to change many aspects of our personal and professional lives, and this is especially true for senior living sales pros.
But here’s the good news: The adjustments you make to your sales process right now can serve you well over the long haul. Below are just some of the adjustments to consider:
1. Senior living sales tips: Stop selling. Start helping.
You’ve likely heard this advice before, especially if you’re a regular reader of our blog and newsletter. This isn’t a new strategy, by any stretch. But now is a great time to try it, especially if you’ve been skeptical of the concept.
So what do we mean by “stop selling, start helping“? No one likes being sold to (and definitely not during a global pandemic). But people do tend to be grateful for genuine help and concern.
Whenever you speak to a “prospect,” particularly during these uncertain times, forget the word “prospect.” Don’t think “how can I move this person to the next stage in the journey?” Instead, think of the word “human” and think about how you can help this fellow human.
Begin by asking questions…
- How are you and your family adjusting to social-distancing measures?
- What sort of activities are you doing?
- What do you miss most?
- Have you watched or read anything good lately?
- What do you need help with?
- What supplies are your running low on?
- How can I help/be of service to you right now?
Listen to their answers. Share your experiences as well. And if they need help with something, help them—get them answers to their questions, follow up in a meaningful way, drop off a care package at their door.
And guess what? If you build stronger relationships by making a real connection and demonstrating genuine empathy, you will naturally move people closer to a purchase decision when the time comes. And when the pandemic is over, you’ll find that most of the prospects will see you in a very different (and more positive) light. You’ll have created a much stronger and enduring bond than you ever could have done when you were in constant selling mode.
A final note on this strategy: Yes, these sorts of conversations with prospects will take longer. But you’ve got the time, right? And here’s an important tip: try having these conversations face-to-face via virtual methods.
Which brings us to our next point . . .
2. Senior living sales tips: Make an effort to move from voice-to-voice contact to (virtual) face-to-face.
In the “old” days of just a few months ago, making follow-up phone calls to prospects was the norm. And it worked fine. A phone call was more personal than an email—hearing someone’s voice and all that. But given social distancing and the isolation we’ve all found ourselves in, we’re all craving VISUAL contact right now.
You already know that seeing someone’s face (and being able to read nonverbal gestures) can be critical to the sales process. You now have the opportunity to make visual contact a regular part of your sales follow-up process.
Use apps like Zoom or Facetime to connect with prospects. This visual contact better enables you to develop a relationship with a person, rather than a prospect. It also allows the person to see YOU as a human being rather than merely a sales rep trying to sell them something.
Suggesting video calls right now isn’t a hard sell, either. People around the globe are using these modes of communication to keep in touch with family and friends, so they are poised to accept this sort of communication from businesses as well.
In fact, Axios reports that this year’s Easter and Passover celebrations forced many older Americans to take the plunge and try video conferencing, like Zoom, for the first time. And Axios also wisely notes, “Older generations are usually slow to adopt new technologies, but history shows that when they finally do learn, they’re hooked.”
3. Senior living sales tips: Include more virtual events in your overall event planning.
Why have more virtual events, especially once things have improved? Well, COVID-19 has taught all of us that how we interact with brands and companies—including how we buy from them—can and will continue to evolve.
Not every sale—even for big-ticket items, like new living quarters—has to be done in person, thanks to technology. This is true, even for senior living communities. Some of our clients are reporting to us that they’re still making sales and move-ins during this time, albeit creatively and with much less in-person contact.
And now that consumers are seeing that they don’t need as much in-person time with sales people in order to successfully purchase something, demand for virtual sales processes will likely increase.
As a result, senior living sales and marketing teams will need to get creative and offer more virtual ways to engage prospects. This will be especially true for so-called “bottom of the funnel” events, like in-person tours, open houses, and lunches.
An important caveat: We don’t think virtual events are going to replace in-person events. But including virtual events in your offerings gives people (aka, your prospects) more choices—and ultimately more control.
4. Senior living sales tips: Clean up/update your CRM—and keep it updated.
No more excuses. You have the time to clean up your CRM, so do it.
Of course, the real problem isn’t the cleanup, though; it’s maintaining a clean database by getting in the habit of logging all details after every call on a go-forward basis
Again, you have the time right now. So after every call—even the long ones—get in the habit of immediately updating the contact record in your database with notes, info on the follow-up call, and any relevant tasks. For example, if you were talking to someone who was unsure about senior hours at the area grocery stores, assign yourself a task to get a list to the person ASAP. This goes back to the “stop selling, start helping” point above.
Note: Don’t have a CRM? (Or maybe you’re thinking of making a switch?) Here are six crucial elements to consider when choosing the right CRM.
5. Senior living sales tips: Focus less on lead volume and more on conversions.
Listen, we get it. You’re in sales. You live and die by the numbers. But consider this: would you rather have a ton of leads that never convert or a smaller amount of leads with a high conversion rate?
Lead volumes are down across the board due to the pandemic—some of our clients are reporting by more than half. But our most successful clients are working the leads they have in a sensitive and empathetic manner (see point #1 above) and seeing an increase in conversions as a result.
Think about that, because it’s a powerful point. Nurture leads in a more authentic, real way, and possibly convert more of the leads you already have. That’s not a bad approach right now—or in the future when we’re (hopefully) back to normal.
Need help thinking through your sales process post COVID—and aligning it better with marketing?
We can help. We’ve been in your shoes. We understand the enormous pressures you’re facing! Let’s chat.
MORE HELPFUL TOPICS:
[Editor’s note: The following senior living marketing & sales content was inspired by discussions during our COVID-19 Webinar, which you can access for free here.
So many businesses, including those in the senior living industry, have had to throw their marketing and sales playbooks out the window due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
While many people are mourning the loss of the “old ways,” we’d like to take a more optimistic view. Now is a good time to experiment and get creative, especially when it comes to senior living marketing and sales.
No, not everything you try will work for your community. But you might uncover some fresh approaches that you’ll want to adopt for the long term.
1. Virtual Tours for Effective Senior Living Sales
One of the challenges right now is figuring out how to replace or augment some of the more traditional high-touch tactics, like tours and marketing events, with other kinds of tech-supported and virtual tactics.
As an industry, we tend to rely A LOT on the personal tour and other in-person events. How often do you say things like “Schedule a tour, come to an event, join us for lunch”? It’s easy to make those offers, because senior living sales reps see them as easy ways to engage with people. But have you ever considered if these things are what perspectives want to do? Now is a great time to test whether virtual tours (and other virtual events) can be just as effective as in-person tours and events.
Note: when we say virtual tours, we don’t simply mean those slick, professionally shot videos, either. You probably already have some sort of virtual tour on your site (if you don’t, you should, regardless of COVID-19). We’re talking about taking virtual tours to the next level.
For example, maybe the director of dining services uses his/her phone to record a message and a walk through the kitchen as the team is preparing dinner. Show that well-stocked pantry, introduce people to the sous chef, show the staff plating the food. You get the idea.
Don’t worry about an occasional shaky video—people know the difference between slick and highly produced videos and off-the-cuff authentic ones. Which ones are going to be more believable or have the biggest impact?
Lather, rinse, repeat. Do the same sort of video tours with activities, with the facilities team, with the director of nursing, etc.
- PRO TIP: We recommend Heart Legacy to create these sorts of brand experiences. Note: if you have a library of compelling pictures from your community—for example, all of the architecture/buildings—you can create a video tour out of the photography.
2. Facebook Live.
People are glued to their devices right now and incredibly active on social media, Facebook in particular (Facebook has seen its already-high usage soar since the start of the pandemic).
Facebook Live events are great ways to create “must-see” TV. The best part? You can repurpose this content and share via other social channels, embed on your website, and share in emails.
3. Video conferencing check-in calls with prospects.
Doing video calls right now isn’t a hard sell, either. People around the globe are using these modes of communication to keep in touch with family and friends, so they are poised to accept this sort of communication from businesses as well.
Encourage the sales team to do these sorts of calls with prospects and to focus on helping, not selling.
- PRO TIP: Zoom is a popular and budget-friendly app. Skype works, too, as does Facetime.
4. Live chats hosted by real humans, not a bot.
If someone comes to your website with a question or concern, but they’re NOT ready for a phone call, a true “live chat” with a real human, not a bot, can be a great option.
Why not use a bot? Well, a bot can answer a question, but they can’t empathize. They can’t offer the all-important human touch.
- PRO TIP: SiteStaff is our very favorite chat company hosted by college educated Americans who were hired for their empathy. We train them on senior living discovery skills.
5. Interactive tools/surveys.
Sales reps love engaging with people in person during tours or lunches, but that’s not necessarily what all prospects want or need. Interactive tools and surveys (and other apps) provide a way to engage while delivering what a prospect might need in that moment.
So a senior living sales rep could send an email to a prospect saying, “I’ve really been thinking about you, and I know that you’re struggling to know if senior living is right for you or if it’s the right time to make the move. Here’s a link to an insightful interactive survey that really dives deep and helps people understand what’s best for them and their situation. There’s no obligation and it’s free to use. Give it a try and see what it says. Happy to discuss your results with you if that helps.”
The other nice thing about interactive tools/surveys is that they help create a “sticky” website (meaning people hang out on the site longer), and they provide another opportunity to convert anonymous website visitors into leads you can nurture.
- PRO TIP: Roobrik is our go-to for awesome, insightful surveys.
6. Senior Living Marketing Automation
Marketing automation will allow you to nurture leads in a way that’s meaningful to the prospect.
For example, let’s say the prospect has been interacting with a tool/survey on the memory care page. You can automatically follow up with helpful info, such as an article, related to memory care. On the other hand, if they download a financial guide, they’re going to get very different nurturing. In this case, the message should reassure and provide information regarding how affordable senior living can be.
And when we use the word “automated,” we mean exactly that: the system will automatically trigger a series of emails based on the actions a person takes on the site.
Give prospects lots of opportunities to choose how they want to engage with you (so a mix of chat, guides, surveys, etc.). And once they submit a form—meaning once they “opt in” based on their comfort level and where they are in their journey—then marketing automation takes over and nurtures them, encourages them, builds trust, and gives them more resources that are relevant to what they’ve expressed interest in. Over time, the nurturing will move them into a sales qualified interaction of a phone call or a tour or a virtual tour.
- Pro Tip: We highly recommend HubSpot (we’re a HubSpot certified partner) for marketing automation.
Need help trying new ideas? We’re the app for that! :)
Seriously, we’ve been in your shoes, and we can help. We keep our eyes on the latest and greatest technology. This gives us a sense of if and how it could work for the senior living industry. Get in touch and let’s talk about how we can help.
[Editor’s note: The following content was inspired by discussions during our senior living marketing webinar about the pandemic, which you can access for free here.]
Due to COVID-19 and the 24/7 news cycle, all eyes are on senior living communities, for better or worse.
In a recent article, we talked about how your community can use Facebook Live to help combat negative perceptions. Now, let’s have a deeper conversation about marketing during a pandemic.
In particular, let’s discuss how the senior living marketing team should re-frame your messaging during these unprecedented times.
1. Go longer and deeper with your messaging when marketing during a pandemic.
When it comes to effective content marketing for senior living communities, we usually advocate succinct, punchy copy. Right now, however, most people are stuck at home (whether they’re working or not), so you’re going to have a captive audience like never before. This means you can go longer and more in depth because people 1) are craving detailed info and 2) they have the time to read, watch, listen.
So what do we mean by going deeper? Don’t forget, you live and breathe the senior living industry every day, so everything is second nature to you, right? But for those on the outside looking in, they don’t know all the details. And thanks to the current media spotlight, people are curious. So educate them. Get into the fine details, the inner workings, the “inside baseball” stories, as we like to say.
Inside baseball is a metaphor for the minutiae—the detailed inner workings of a system that are usually only interesting to insiders and aficionados. Right now, many people are interested in the inner workings of senior living communities, such as how cleaning/disinfecting is done and who determines the daily menus.
Your content could be a series of “How We Do X” blog posts:
- How We Clean During a Pandemic
- How We Handle Social Distancing in Our Community
- What Goes Into Creating a Daily Menu
- How We Source Local Ingredients
You get the idea.
2. Talk about those “boring” topics you never would normally discuss in senior living marketing materials.
For example, who ever thought a topic like “senior living community supply chains” would be a must-read topic, yet here we are!
Right now, everybody’s focused on their own personal supply chain management. If you can show the differences between institutional supply chain management and your personal household management around toilet paper, eggs, and sanitizer, that will be a GREAT service to people.
How to accomplish this? Well, do something educational and reassuring by taking people “behind the scenes” via a Facebook Live video and bring them into the kitchen and supply closets and show an abundance of food and supplies like toilet paper—it’s not a direct sales message, but it certainly is a comforting one. People can “see” for themselves and think, “Mom will be OK. They have supplies, they have folks who are cleaning, and they have the infrastructure already built right in.”
No, this isn’t something that you would ever put in a marketing brochure—”Hey, when you choose our senior living community, you’ll always have toilet paper!” But right now, this is something that’s top of mind for people.
Bottom line: there are some interesting opportunities for creative storytelling around things that you never thought you would tell a story about.
3. Show your community’s commitment to—and expertise with—supporting older adults.
One example would be instead of simply saying you provide a safe environment, walk people through the exact procedures and protocols that you put in place to ensure safety every day.
And not just from a health perspective—yes, that’s the main concern on everyone’s mind right now, thanks to COVID-19—but also physical safety. For instance, how many lay people understand what the term “elopement” means when it comes to older adults? This is a great opportunity to educate about an industry-specific topic and to demonstrate your community’s specific approach.
4. Share the spotlight.
Again, this is a great opportunity to take people deep inside your daily operations. People love to understand how things work, so take advantage of that. You have talented people working in your communities. Make them the stars of these stories.
For example, bring forward your dining room supervisor, your chef, the person who’s running activities, or your head of healthcare. Make them the focus of your content and let them talk about what it is that goes into delivering the kinds of services that make up your community.
Hint: these make great topics for Facebook Live events (and then you can repurpose the content into blog posts and other written content).
5. Show your city/town spirit.
So many people are hunkering down right now and taking a keen interest in their local communities, particularly small businesses. Demonstrate how your senior living community supports and celebrates the businesses in your local town/city.
For example, talk about local businesses that you buy from/rely on. Keep a section of your COVID-19 website page dedicated to information that older adults (and their families) would find helpful, such as grocery store hours for older adults, pharmacy drive-thrus/deliveries, restaurants still offering takeout, and so forth.
Again, you’re celebrating your local town and city while also making your senior living community website a destination for responsible and accurate information as it pertains to seniors.
6. Continue to create responsible COVID-19 resources.
No one wants to be creating this content, but here’s the thing: YOU are uniquely positioned to discuss COVID-19 from a senior living perspective because YOU WORK IN THE INDUSTRY. Don’t let the uninformed or misinformed take control of your community’s story or narrative.
Instead, continue to create responsible COVID-19 resources that will truly help your residents, their families, prospects, staff, and the media.
- X Underreported Things Everyone Over 60 Should Know About COVID-19
- Step-by-Step Guide to Skype and Facetime
- X Ways to Keep in Touch with Your Senior Loved Ones During Lockdowns
- Keep the Body Moving: X Great Alternatives to Daily Group Walks
- X SMART Strategies for Helping Seniors Stay Safe during a Pandemic
Need more topics? People are searching on topics in Google all the time. Conduct a search on your own, such as “keeping seniors safe during COVID,” and scroll to the bottom for “People Also Search On” for additional ideas.
7. Share positive stories and messages, too.
People are rightly concerned about this pandemic, but that doesn’t mean you should forget to share happy news. Perhaps it’s a picture of a resident celebrating a birthday with their family members looking on through the window. Or it could be something as simple as sharing a pic of daffodils blooming in front of your building or outside a resident’s window.
8. Reconsider print advertising and direct mail.
With so many people stuck at home, now might be a great time to run some local newspaper ads and/or do some direct mail campaigns. You don’t need to “sell” either—it could simply be an alert regarding some strategies about how you’re keeping seniors in your communities safe. The call to action could be to set up a virtual tour or to join the next Facebook Live event. Psst: we make designing print pieces extremely turnkey—check out SMARTbrand.
Need help marketing during a pandemic?
We’re always happy to help senior living communities with their marketing during a pandemic or other crisis. Don’t hesitate to get in touch. And be sure to check out our COVID-19 resource library—everything is free to download.
[Editor’s note: The following content was inspired by discussions during our COVID-19 Webinar, which you can access for free here.]
COVID-19 has forced everyone to rethink how they communicate with their customers and prospects—and this is especially true for senior living communities.
Anyone who’s worked for any length of time in our industry has had to face troubling perception issues, such as “old folks’ homes” and the like. Given the recent pandemic, however, these problematic perceptions have increased exponentially, thanks in large part to the media breathlessly reminding viewers/readers that senior living communities serve as ground zero for the coronavirus.
How’s a community supposed to combat THAT sort of image?
Here’s one idea: Facebook Live.
What is Facebook Live?
HubSpot shares this solid definition: “Facebook Live is a feature of the Facebook social network that uses the camera on a computer or mobile device to broadcast real-time video to Facebook. Live broadcasters can decide who on Facebook can see their video and use this content to engage their audience during the moments and events that are important to them.”
You’ve likely encountered Facebook Live videos and not even realized it. Reporters use them in the field all the time. And even “regular” people will use Facebook Live to chronicle aspects of their day-to-day lives.
Could Facebook Live really make a difference when it comes to challenging people’s perceptions of senior living communities during this pandemic?
We think so. Regular, reasonable communication can have a huge—and positive—effect on people.
Consider this current example: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s midday news conferences have become legendary the last few weeks. His briefings are highly anticipated (they occur at roughly the same time each day). They’re also highly informative, but down to earth and accessible by lay people. And—most important—they are calming and rational. He doesn’t sugarcoat what’s happening in his state, but at the same time, he responsibly shares info and even finds opportunity for levity and humor.
The result? People are tuning in. Why? Because people crave reliable info, and they want to know what’s going on. (Plus, they’re a captive audience right now!)
Now, granted, Cuomo’s press briefings are broadcast via good old-fashioned television, but the concept is the same as Facebook Live: regular, real-time communication with an audience during these unprecedented times can be an excellent way to combat misinformation and troubling perceptions.
But don’t take our word for it. One of our clients, Vitality Senior Living, has been doing regular Facebook Live events with the CEO and President, Chris Guay—to great effect. You can see one here.
How do Facebook Live events work?
Here’s the good news: they’re easy to do! If you have a smartphone, you can conduct Facebook Live events for any Facebook page where you’re an admin or editor. You can also go live from a desktop equipped with a web cam (and, again, for pages you’re an admin or editor).
From there, it’s a matter of simply hitting the “go live” or “start live video” buttons/prompts. But we recommend doing a couple of private videos first, just to get comfortable.
Note: we know being “on camera” can be nerve racking for people. No one is expecting Meryl Streep or Brad Pitt. What we all want right now is a real person speaking real, unvarnished truths. If you stumble or um or ah at times—IT’S OK.
Need further guidance on how to get going? Check out the following resources:
- Facebook gives a good overview of its Facebook Live feature here.
- HubSpot has an in-depth tutorial on how to use Facebook Live—includes filming tips.
We’ll wait here while you check ’em out. Then, come back for tips on what YOU should be talking about regarding your senior living community and COVID-19.
Who should do Facebook Live events?
Executive directors are a good choice. And yes, we get the executive directors might not WANT to do it, but it makes sense for them to be the “face” of your community. But it doesn’t need to simply be the EDs. You could also have your Wellness Director, Facilities Director, Activities Director, and so forth host their own Facebook Live videos and talk about the specifics related to their role/department.
For example, here’s Vitality’s Regional Vice President of Wellness. This video currently has over 2000 views and 25 shares—that’s excellent engagement!
How often should you do them?
The pandemic is changing daily, sometimes hourly. Right now, it might make sense to do regular “briefings” (ideally at the same time every day—don’t forget, most of us are stuck at home, so you’ll have a captive audience).
But as the situation improves, you could move to a few times a week. Here’s the thing: because Facebook Live is such a great way to connect with people and communicate about your brand, you might discover that you want to continue doing these events long after the pandemic is over.
What should you talk about?
Use this “all eyes on you” opportunity to reframe some of the scarier messages that are out there about COVID-19 and senior living communities. Yes, older people are vulnerable to COVID-19, but that doesn’t mean every senior living community on the planet has become a death trap.
Instead, educate viewers regarding the following items…
- The current status in your community; be transparent about any cases and how your community is responding; if you DON’T have any cases, LEAD WITH THIS.
- How your community handles social distancing.
- How residents are still living full lives during these unprecedented times
- What you know, what you don’t know (no one knows everything about this situation, and it’s OK to say that—honesty is paramount here)
- Protocols in place for cleaning/disinfecting.
- Walk-throughs of certain areas—show that you’re well-stocked with toilet paper and food; people like seeing these visual reassurances.
- Happy, positive stories, such as milestone birthdays, anniversaries, and so forth.
- The measures your community takes every day to create a place that supports older adults in living rich, purposeful lives in a healthy, safe environment.
- When appropriate (and with permission, of course!) include an occasional live event with a senior and let them talk about how they’re dealing with things; for example, if your community is encouraging residents to Skype their loved ones, you could do a Facebook Live that shows a resident doing Skyping in the background.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. No doubt, as you continue to get comfortable and do more videos, you’ll come up with other topics. Not to mention, people will post questions during your videos. Be sure to address them—either during the live event itself or in a future Facebook Live video.
What else can you do with the Facebook Live videos?
Here’s the real beauty of these broadcasts—you do them live, but then they’re saved on your Facebook page (in the Videos tab) so people can watch them on demand.
Here’s what you can do with the videos:
- Send out a daily/weekly email with a link to the video and a reminder about when you’ll be broadcasting next.
- Share the video link on other social media channels, like Twitter and LinkedIn.
- Keep a “library” of video links on your COVID-19 page/section on your site. (You have one, right?)
Need help getting started with Facebook Live?
We’re always happy to help you shine! You can test drive some videos on us and/or ask us for talking points if you’re feeling nervous. Don’t hesitate to get in touch.
And be sure to check out our COVID-19 resource library—everything is free to download.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Like everyone else around the globe, we’re struggling with this new reality due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Heartbreaking stories of loss and grief and a world economy inching towards recession are just some of the things keeping us up at night.
As a senior living marketing agency, we’ve been thinking about all our clients as they face these unprecedented times. It’s hard to see past this pandemic since we’re only in the early stages, but at some point, we know we’ll begin to adjust to this “new normal.” The articles we’ll be providing during this time are designed to help communities with their senior living marketing during the pandemic, either now or when they’re ready to move forward.
Senior Living Marketing During a Pandemic: Keep Prospective Residents & Their Families Engaged
While some people can delay their decisions to move into a senior living community, plenty of others need to make the move sooner rather than later, even with COVID-19 happening. You need strategies for engaging both types of prospects.
Messages for prospects who are delaying their decisions:
- Continue to share educational information that’s relevant to them and where they are in their journey (e.g. “Protecting Financial Assets during Times of Uncertainty”).
- Demonstrate how you communicate during a crisis. This can be an opportunity to highlight your community’s approach to tough times, a topic that’s front and center in everyone’s minds right now.
- Provide fun distractions! Many of your prospects will be self-isolating/staying inside. If your community provides a daily diet of laughter—think funny clips, heartwarming stories, and online activities—to these prospects, they’ll remember your community fondly when they are ready to resume their search. (See our list of additional “daily distraction” ideas at the end of this blog post.)
Messages for prospects who need to make decisions sooner rather than later:
- Always provide multiple ways for people to reach a member of your sales team—phone numbers (direct lines, when possible) and virtual meeting options, like Skype or video conferencing.
- Provide easy ways for people to experience your community, even if they can’t visit in person. Think virtual tours, virtual floorplans, interactive surveys, and the like. We’ve provided tips here for creating a rich virtual experience.
- Develop content that will be helpful to them, NOW. Topics like “How to move safely during a global pandemic” would make for a timely blog post or checklist that these prospects would find valuable.
How should you get these messages “out there”?
Use marketing automation thoughtfully to ensure consistent communication. Marketing automation is exactly as it sounds: your marketing messages go out automatically, often via email. It’s an efficient, turnkey solution.
That said, during this crisis, you need to be mindful of your messaging. You can’t NOT address COVID-19, at least right now.
- Audit existing emails that are already set up. Make sure you go through all existing emails and add in necessary language and relevant info about COVID-19. Every email that goes out should speak about COVID-19, if only a bolded headline at the top that says something to the effect “Learn more about our community’s response to COVID-19” (and the link should go to a thorough, well-designed page on your site).
- Segment your audiences. If you already use marketing automation, you’re already doing this. If you’re new to it, you’ll need to identify who falls into which categories (those who need to make decisions sooner vs. those who will likely be postponing their decision). But good marketing automation software, like HubSpot, helps make this process fairly straightforward (and we can help!).
More Fun Ideas for “Daily Distraction” Emails
- Videos with chair yoga exercises and/or online fitness classes led by your activities director
- Links to previous Facebook Live events
- Virtual field trips to museums or other cultural events
- Funny YouTube videos
- TED Talks
- Aquarium/zoo cams
- Stream your community’s events
BONUS: Make your senior living marketing a conduit for helpful information at the local level as well:
People crave reliable information during times of crisis. This is more good info to share via email automation to prospects (and it’s also good info to have on the COVID-19 section of your website). Provide …
- A list of important “hotline” numbers (local emergency management shelters etc.)
- A round-up of grocery stores with senior shopping hours
As always, we’re here to help. If you need assistance with your senior living marketing during COVID, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.
Marketing during a pandemic brings up many challenges. In this senior living marketing webinar, a panel of senior living pros will share strategies and tactics for lead generation, lead nurturing, and lead conversion. Yes, even in this climate of increased restrictions due to COVID-19.
HERE’S WHAT YOU’LL LEARN
- How to setup Facebook Live
- What to communicate in email marketing
- Leveraging technology to create virtual experiences
- How to use each senior living marketing channel effectively
- Communication best practices
- Optimizing positive brand awareness
EDITOR’S NOTE: Like everyone else around the globe, we’re struggling with this new reality due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Heartbreaking stories of loss and grief and a world economy inching towards recession are just some of the things keeping us up at night.
As a marketing agency focused solely on the senior living industry, we’ve been thinking about all our clients as they face these unprecedented times. It’s hard to see past this pandemic since we’re only in the early stages, but at some point, we know we’ll begin to adjust to this “new normal.” The articles we’ll be providing during this time are designed to offer senior living sales tips and marketing strategies that can help right now.
Senior Living Sales Tips: Selling in the Age of COVID-19
COVID-19 has understandably restricted many senior living sales activities, such as tours, events, home visits, and move-ins, but there’s still plenty that sales teams can do to remain productive and helpful.
Here are some senior living sales strategies to consider.
Stay connected with prospective residents:
Remember, the goal isn’t to sell, but to connect. Be that reassuring voice people need in this time of uncertainty.
- Work the phones in a compassionate way. This is the perfect time for senior living sales reps to call every prospective resident and see how they’re doing. (Your call-out connect rate should be very high with everyone being at home!) Really listen to people’s stories, their concerns, their fears, and how they’re navigating day to day. Again, there’s no need to sell. Let them know you’ll be there when they’re ready to move forward.
- Give back to local businesses. Support local restaurants and have meals delivered to prospects who are isolated and/or purchase restaurant gift cards and send them out.
- Put the CARE into care packages. Drop off care packages on prospects’ doorsteps with non-perishable foods, like canned soups, pasta, and rice; crossword puzzles/ game books; cleaning supplies (if you have them); and a good book to read.
- Be a conduit of helpful info. Put together a list of local resources and mail this document to people (or include it in the care packages). To start, call local senior centers, area agencies on aging, Meals on Wheels, churches/synagogues, and so forth to learn how they are serving seniors. Get a list of delivery options for meals and pharmacies. In addition to sharing this info with prospects, post it on your website and social channels as well.
- Post uplifting photos, stories, and testimonials. Include ones from residents and staff and post to places like Facebook. This will help show how your team is serving residents and staff during the pandemic.
- Line up speakers who can provide virtual events. You can host these events via Facebook Live or Zoom to keep prospective residents informed and connected to your community.
- Put together a “Daily Distraction” email. Include an uplifting message and things like links to fun activities to do at home, funny YouTube videos, zoo/aquarium cams, and so forth.
- Continue to create virtual sales experiences. Check out this article with even more tips for creating positive virtual sales experiences.
More Senior Living Sales Tips: Help fellow staff members and current residents:
Sales teams can also offer a helping hand to overworked staff members. Some ways you can help:
- Offer to lead activities or visit with residents to increase engagement. Ask your community’s activities director how you can help. They’ll have tasks for you, no doubt! (If you have a talent, interest, or hobby that you can share, go for it!)
- Help residents remain in contact with their families. Set up Skype/ FaceTime for residents to connect with their families.
- Roll up your sleeves. Assist with non-clinical tasks, such as delivering meals and cleaning common areas.
Attack that to-do list:
Have you ever said, “If only I had some extra time, I could get some of these things done”? Well, now you do. Start tackling some of those items that get pushed down the to-do list during busier times.
- Update online listings. This is the perfect time to update and optimize your Google My Business page and all your directory listings (we can help with this!). The more you can do today to improve search ranking, the better positioned you’ll be when your community is fully open for visits.
- Crank out content. Write blogs about all the questions that prospects have in the sales process. Blogs will provide a much needed SEO boost for better search ranking when things return to normal.
- Connect with the marketing team. Review analytics (pre-COVID-19) to better understand what marketing initiatives have been working and to brainstorm new ideas to try in the future. Sales and marketing teams should be working together regularly anyway, but this is a good excuse to re-engage with them.
As always, we’re here to help you market and sell more effectively during the pandemic. If you need other ideas regarding senior living sales tips and marketing strategies, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.
Senior Living SMART
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