ChatGPT and SEO for Senior Living

ChatGPT & SEO for Senior Living

We recently wrote about ChatGPT and whether you should use it for senior living marketing. The short answer: Don’t use it to replace your process for creating digital content, like blog posts, white papers, and guides. ChatGPT has trouble producing quality long-form content—it can lose its train of thought, and you can’t rely on it to provide accurate information or for the content to be original.

But even if those issues get resolved, there’s another reason why you shouldn’t rely on ChatGPT to create your digital content: It could end up hurting you in search.

And that brings us to today’s topic: ChatGPT and SEO for senior living.

Below, we’re going to discuss the following:

  • The effect AI-generated content can have on search engine optimization (SEO)
  • Whether AI-generated content can ever be considered “original, high-quality content”
  • How to make sure any AI-generated content you do use doesn’t sound like AI

Let’s get to it!

What effect does AI-generated content have on search engine optimization (SEO)?

Google rewards “original, high-quality content.” And it doesn’t like it if you do things to your content to manipulate rankings. (This isn’t new; think back to the days of keyword stuffing.)

So, what’s Google’s take on whether you should use AI-generated content?

Google says, “If you see AI as an essential way to help you produce content that is helpful and original, it might be useful to consider. If you see AI as an inexpensive, easy way to game search engine rankings, then no.”

This, of course, leads to a natural question:

Can AI-generated content ever be considered original and high-quality?

ChatGPT generates conversational content that’s grammatically correct. But it’s content that you could find anywhere, and there are even valid concerns about plagiarism. (Not to mention, its “voice” is somewhat vanilla and often wooden.)

For example, asking it to write a blog post about the Veterans Aid & Attendance benefit will produce grammatically correct, conversational content that may or may not be accurate… (Another issue with ChatGPT is that it’s only been trained on data through 2021.)

But this blog post won’t include anything highly original, like the story about Bob, who was so grateful for the lunch-and-learn session you held about the benefit or how he uses it to pay for his apartment in your community.

A story like that can elevate a piece of generic content you could find anywhere to something special that resonates with readers.

ChatGPT can’t create this unique content since it won’t know the people in your community, their stories, or tactile things like the colors, the smells, and the feeling you get when you sit out on your community’s patio sipping wine.

You need a human to capture those things. And that’s unlikely to change any time soon.

How would Google (or anyone else) know if you’re using AI-generated content?

The rise of AI chatbots has led to the rise of AI detectors. Open AI (the creator of ChatGPT) has also released its own AI-text classifier. You paste a portion of the text into the tool, and it determines whether AI or a human being generated the text.

If you use ChatGPT to support or supplement (not replace) your content marketing efforts, you’ll want to thoroughly revise any content it creates to sound like your brand, not AI. To do this, run your content through the AI detector. Keep revising the content until the AI detector says your copy is unlikely or very unlikely AI-generated.

Sounds like a lot of extra work, right?

This is for you to decide. Is ChatGPT, in its present state, more of a novelty? Or can it help your senior living marketing team speed up content creation for your community?

Going back to our Veterans Aid & Attendance benefit . . . if ChatGPT creates the initial blog post and you pass it off to a writer to rewrite with real-life examples and with your brand voice in mind, are you saving any time or money?

The answer will likely vary, depending on the writer. Some writers are much faster at producing content from scratch than rewriting someone else’s content, like ChatGPT’s.

Successful SEO for senior living doesn’t cut corners.

Listen, we get ChatGPT’s allure. It would be fantastic if we could rely on AI to create highly original, helpful content that converts site visitors into leads and leads into move-ins. But the technology isn’t there yet—and it might never be.

There’s no substitute for the human touch when it comes to successful SEO for senior living. Reach out if you’d like help from a marketing firm that knows how to do it right.

ChatGPT for Senior Living Marketing

ChatGPT: What to Know for Senior Living Marketing

You’ve probably heard people buzzing about ChatGPT. Its emergence has dominated headlines (it’s the fastest-growing app of all time), spurred countless debates, and worried everyone from teachers to writers to editors to ethicists to conspiracy theorists.

But what exactly is ChatGPT? And how can it be used to support your senior living marketing efforts?

Below, we’re going to answer those questions and more:

  • What is ChatGPT?
  • What sort of content can ChatGPT produce?
  • Are there any issues with ChatGPT-generated content?
  • Should you use ChatGPT for your senior living marketing?

Let’s get to it.

What is ChatGPT?

ChatGPT is a free artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot. It was released in November 2022 by OpenAI. ChatGPT stands for “Chat-based Generative Pre-trained Transformer,” which is a mouthful.

Also, what the heck does that even mean?

Simply put, ChatGPT delivers text-based responses to your “prompts.” A prompt is a question or a request, such as “Write a 600-word blog post about the benefits of senior living.” ChatGPT produces its responses astonishingly fast—and the responses sound remarkably human.

ChatGPT is “trained” on massive amounts of text data. From this data, it has learned how to mimic human conversations.

It’s worth mentioning that ChatGPT isn’t the only AI game in town. Here’s a list of 30 ChatGPT alternatives (free and paid). We’re focusing on ChatGPT because everyone is talking about it.

What sort of content can ChatGPT produce?

You can prompt ChatGPT to create various content, like a well-reasoned essay about Romeo & Juliet, a poem on first love, or an explanation of the Veterans Aid & Attendance benefit.

See the screenshot below, which includes our prompt and ChatGPT’s response.

ChatGPT definition of Veterans benefit

ChatGPT wrote the above in a matter of seconds.

Impressive, right? Well, yes and no.

The above might sound convincing, but ChatGPT’s answer is outdated. The 2023 rate for a surviving spouse is now $1,432, not $1,244. The other numbers are also incorrect.

The above example highlights two of the most significant issues with ChatGPT to date:

  • ChatGPT is “trained” only through 2021.
  • ChatGPT makes LOTs of mistakes.

ChatGPT got the details wrong about the Veterans Aid & Attendance benefit because of its training—it has no “knowledge” of anything after 2021, so it doesn’t know about the updated rates for 2023.

But here’s the thing: ChatGPT also makes plenty of mistakes on things it should know.

Many people have written about this issue. Here are some excellent articles to check out if you want to dive deeper.

Are there any other issues with ChatGPT-generated content?

Yes! If the lack of accuracy isn’t enough to give you pause, then the following issues might:

  • ChatGPT has trouble producing long content. It can lose the “thread” of a discussion once it hits 800 or so words.
  • ChatGPT content often sounds stilted. It’s trying to mimic humans, but it’s not human. While the content is grammatically correct, it can still sound wooden. (And good luck trying to get it to capture your brand voice.)
  • ChatGPT-generated content could have serious SEO implications. We’ll address this in a subsequent blog post, but if you use ChatGPT to create tons of content to manipulate your site’s rankings in Google, we have two words for you: keyword stuffing. (In other words, Google doesn’t like being manipulated, and it’s only a matter of time before it updates its algorithm accordingly.)

Should you use ChatGPT for your senior living marketing efforts, like content creation?

ChatGPT shouldn’t replace your current process for creating high-quality, original, long-form content. The issues with originality, accuracy, tone, and potential SEO implications outweigh any benefits.

But ChatGPT does have potential in other areas:

Use it for brainstorming.

Brainstorming might be the best use for ChatGPT in senior living marketing. Give ChatGPT a keyword phrase and ask it to brainstorm ten potential blog post titles. Then, choose the title you like best and hand it off to a writer.

Below is a screenshot of this idea in action.

ChatGPT blog title brainstorm Vet Benefit

Use it to create outlines.

A keyword-rich blog title and solid outline can help make a writer’s job go much faster. Having ChatGPT do the heavy lifting with the outline is another smart way to use this tool.

See the screenshot below. You’d still want to review and revise the outline. But ChatGPT typically delivers a solid structure that you or your writer could easily work with.

ChatGPT blog outline

Use it for short-form content (but always review and revise).

We asked ChatGPT to write five calls to action for a guide about the Veterans Aid & Attendance benefit. Some might work better as social media posts. All would need to be revised for style and voice.


Bottom line: Be careful how you use ChatGPT for your senior living marketing.

ChatGPT is one tool, not the only tool. While it might be helpful with brainstorming and generating outlines, you shouldn’t use it to generate long-form content. Stick to humans for that.

Need help developing an effective content strategy for your senior living community? Get in touch, and let’s chat!

Senior living sales training tips for engaging phone calls

Senior Living Sales Training: Tips for Engaging Phone Calls

Just about everyone today begins their search for senior living online. But at some point, phone calls come into play, which is why phone skills still matter, even in the age of digital marketing.

How does your sales team do on the phone? Kinda-sorta OK? Meh? Not so great? We got you! Below, you’ll find helpful tips for your senior living sales training.

Hint: Pay close attention to our last suggestion for taking things to the next level.

Tips for Better Senior Living Sales Calls

1. Display genuine empathy

Empathy and sympathy are not the same thing. (And sympathy won’t serve you in this case.)

Empathy is the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and to see and appreciate things from their perspective. Through your words, you can demonstrate this understanding. (If you’re on a Zoom call, your non-verbal gestures can also help.)

Examples of empathy in action:

  • “Oh, my gosh, you don’t need to apologize for sounding frazzled. Making a decision like this is extremely overwhelming. It only makes sense that you’re experiencing so many emotions right now.”
  • “I can only imagine all the questions running through your head since there are many things to consider. We can take as much time as you need and go through your questions one by one. And if you think of something later, call me back, and we’ll chat some more. How’s that sound?”
  • “You know what? That’s an excellent question, and I don’t know the answer. But I completely understand how the answer will affect your decision. If I were you, I’d want to know the answer, too! Let me do some digging, and I’ll call you back. I should be able to do that within the next day or so. How does that sound?”


2. Listen actively

Active listeners:

  • Focus on the person talking. You shouldn’t be multi-tasking or doing something else while talking with a prospect, like scrolling through Facebook or reading emails.
  • Speak less. As the saying goes, there’s a reason why you have two ears and one mouth. You should spend much more time listening during a sales call than talking.
  • Aren’t afraid of silence. Prospects need time to think, process, and finish their thoughts. Sure, pauses can sometimes feel awkward. Resist the temptation to jump in and fill it. Take a deep breath and count to three. If there’s still silence at that point, you can say something.
  • Make it clear that they’re listening. This means giving appropriate verbal cues on the phone, such as saying “yes” or “uh huh,” while prospects talk.
  • Recap and clarify what they’re hearing along the way. Here’s an example: “So it sounds like you and your husband are interested in a two-bedroom model, not a one-bedroom. Do I have that right?”

3. Don’t rush people

One of our favorite scenes from Grace and Frankie is when Frankie (played by Lily Tomlin) gets her first laptop and doesn’t know how to get online. She calls the Apple tech support number, but they overwhelm her with questions. Flustered, she spouts that she’s seventy, which is the magic word—she’s transferred to a guy named Mike.

Mike is patient. He takes his time. He’s relaxed. He’s chill. He puts Frankie at ease.

Here’s the clip (with a naughty word or two, so consider yourself warned).


Remember, you’re talking to an older population, so more people will be like Frankie than not. Even if you’re dealing with adult children, you’re still talking to people who are likely north of fifty—and often quite a way over that. This demographic needs more time to explain things, vent, and ask questions.

An article from the National Institute on Aging (NIA) offers solid advice when talking to older adults: “Be mindful if you are feeling impatient with an older person’s pace. Some people may have trouble following rapid-fire questioning or torrents of information. Try speaking more slowly to give them time to process what is being asked or said, and don’t interrupt. Once interrupted, a [person] is less likely to reveal all of their concerns.”

4. Be mindful of hearing deficits

The NIA also reports that one-third of older adults have hearing loss. You might need to compensate for hearing deficits when chatting with prospects.

On the phone, this can be even trickier, but here are some tips:

  • Ask if the person can hear you OK.
  • Talk slowly and clearly. Enunciate.
  • As mentioned above, don’t fill in pauses (the other person could be processing or coming up with a question).
  • If you have a bad connection (due to a cell phone or cordless phone), ask to reconnect on a landline, if possible.

5. Always provide a brief recap and next steps at the end of the conversation

Say something like this, “Before we hang up, I’d like to make sure I captured everything we discussed. Let me read through my notes, and you can tell me if I missed anything, OK?”

After you recap, say, “OK, so my next steps are A and B. And your next steps are C and D. Does that sound right?”

BONUS: Consider outsourcing to a senior living call center

When we discuss inbound marketing with our clients, we’re always reminding them that the goal is to segment and score inbound leads appropriately. The high-intent ones go to the sales team for follow-up. The warm but not-ready leads continue to be nurtured.

The same philosophy applies to inbound phone calls. Not every prospect who calls your community will have “high intent.” Why waste the sales team’s time by having them field ALL inbound calls?

A better solution is outsourcing your inbound calls to a call center with expertise in handling senior living inquiries. And guess what? We offer that through LeadGenie.

LeadGenie is a fully customizable lead management solution. It provides virtual sales support to respond to your leads quickly and consistently. Visit the LeadGenie site to learn more and to schedule a demo.

How to engage customers

How to Engage Customers (Yes, This Applies to Senior Living!)

If you’re scratching your head over the title of this blog post, step right up because the article is most definitely for you.

Below we’re going to discuss the following:

The biggest mistake senior living marketing departments make after a prospect becomes a “customer”

  • Why you must continue engaging your customers (i.e., your senior living residents)
  • How to engage customers after move-in (Hint: there’s an official name for this—it’s called “customer retention marketing”)
  • What to do if you need help with your customer retention marketing strategy

The biggest mistake marketing teams make when a prospect becomes a resident: Thinking the marketing is done

Let’s illustrate this with an example:

Your hot prospect Mary Jones is the spitting image of your ideal buyer. She’s interacted with crucial touchpoints on the website. She toured your community with her adult daughter—and they both loved it. She signed the lease and moved in last week.

It could be easy for senior living marketing and sales teams to think, “Our work here is done.”

But consider this . . .

  • Does Netflix think their work is done once they get a subscriber?
  • Does Doritos think their work is done once someone buys their chips?
  • Does Southwest Airlines think their work is done once someone flies with them?

Of course not. Converting a prospect into a customer is a milestone. But keeping the customer is an ongoing task called customer retention marketing. Or in the case of senior living, resident retention marketing.

Now, we know what you might be thinking. A subscription-based brand like Netflix needs a customer retention strategy since it’s easy for customers to walk away—they simply cancel their accounts. Does senior living need the same strategy?

YES. Resident attrition is a real thing. This article notes that over 50 percent of assisted living residents move out within any given year.

Bottom line: Your marketing shouldn’t come to a screeching halt when a prospect turns into a resident. Instead, your marketing team needs a plan for engaging with and retaining these customers.

Other reasons why marketing teams need to continue engaging with new residents

Remember, a resident doesn’t become a customer only once—they become a customer every time they renew their lease. That is reason enough for the continued engagement.

But here are other key reasons why your marketing should continue when a prospect becomes a resident.

  • Residents can be an excellent source of referrals. They and their families can also be tapped for reviews on places like Google.
  • Residents can offer insights into the marketing and sales process—including where you need to improve it. They’ve just been through it, so everything will be fresh in their minds.
  • Residents can offer helpful feedback about the community during their first thirty, sixty, and ninety days. It’s good to get feedback from all residents. But new residents will have a different spin on things since they’re experiencing everything for the first time.

How to engage customers (residents)

Here are some strategies for engaging new residents and fueling your customer retention marketing.

Create a “Welcome to Our Community” workflow

Have you ever noticed that when you subscribe to a new service (like Netflix), you get a flurry of emails in the first few months welcoming you, offering tips and helpful info, and keeping you engaged?

You need to do the same thing with new residents. This welcome workflow should be just that—welcoming! Let them know how glad you are to have them as a resident, reiterate the key points and messages about your community, and provide helpful info (like dining menus, maps, important phone numbers). You get the idea.

Depending on your community’s age demographic, you might create a series of welcome emails, printed pieces (a welcome packet and subsequent flyers), or both. The “series” part is vital. This shouldn’t be a once-and-done endeavor. Focus on a 90-day plan (with the first month having the most activity).

Invite residents to participate in a “Your feedback matters to us” program

Your newest residents are the folks who can tell you if your marketing is accurate. Make it worth their while—offer the resident a gift card to Amazon, Starbucks, or a popular local restaurant in exchange for sitting down with a member of your marketing team.

For thirty minutes or so, the marketing person can talk with the resident to learn about their recent experience with the website, the tour, the sales rep—basically, all the marketing and sales touch points the new resident encountered during their buying journey.

Areas to cover include . . .

  • Does the community meet the expectations that the messaging on the website, brochures, and social media promised?
  • Do new residents feel misled at all? Were they promised one thing but got something else (the old “bait and switch” tactic)?
  • Is there something new residents keep talking about in a positive manner that you have yet to hit on in your marketing?
  • Are your buyer personas accurate? Are the people who become residents—and who are still happy 30, 60, and 90 days out—a true reflection of your buyer personas? Or do you need to tweak the personas? Or maybe add a persona you hadn’t considered?
  • Was there something about the buying experience that the resident disliked or confused them?
  • Is there something about the community they wished they’d known about during the buying process?

The above are starter questions. You will likely come up with others.

Ideally, you’d want to sit down with the new resident towards the end of their first month—and then again during their second and third month. The first sit-down would be the longest session. Then, you could sit down during the second and third months for a chat (again, offer a gift card as a thank-you for their time).

And here’s the thing: DO SOMETHING WITH THIS INFORMATION. This exercise has merit and can help you and your team refine your marketing efforts. Share results with the sales team as well. And if you hear something that other departments should be aware of—like dining or activities—follow up with the managers in those departments.

Invite residents to participate in a resident referral program

We discussed “Make Your Friends Your Neighbors” programs in our article about building trust and loyalty. Here’s how the program works: If the resident refers a friend to your community and the friend moves in, the resident gets a reward (typically in the form of a rent credit).

Create a community-based publication, like a monthly community newsletter, quarterly print publication, or both

A community newsletter or magazine can highlight residents, staff, activities, heart-warming stories, important news, etc. Residents and the marketing team should work together to publish it. It’s a terrific way for marketing to keep its finger on the community’s pulse.

You can also repurpose content for prospect-facing marketing collateral. For example, a resident who’s known for her gorgeous watercolor artwork can be featured in the community publication and on the community’s social media channels and website.

Do you need help with your customer retention marketing?

Call us! We always remind our clients that marketing doesn’t end once a prospect becomes a resident. We’ll help you calculate the lifetime value of your residents and how to budget for effective resident retention marketing. Get in touch, and let’s chat!

What is closed loop marketing

What Is Closed-Loop Marketing & Why Should Senior Living Marketers Care?

If you’ve worked in marketing long enough, you’ve likely encountered the phrase “closed-loop marketing.” Marketing, of course, is famous for its jargon. But you should pay attention to this phrase—and embrace it.

At its simplest, closed-loop marketing helps you understand which marketing strategies, tactics, and campaigns convert leads into customers (i.e., move-ins). If you want to do more of what’s working, you must “close the loop” to help you understand exactly that.

Is your head spinning? Don’t worry—that’s why we’re here.

Below, we’re going to answer the following questions:

  • What is closed-loop marketing?
  • Are there any limitations to closed-loop marketing?
  • How does closed-loop marketing work?
  • What are the benefits of using closed-loop marketing in senior living?
  • What if I need help with closed-loop marketing?

Let’s get to it!

What is closed-loop marketing?

Closed-looping marketing is a form of analysis that tells you which marketing tactics, channels, and campaigns turn leads into customers—or residents, in the case of senior living communities.

Picture an analog clock. A lead enters your site at the noon position. The lead engages with content and downloads a guide (the three o’clock position). The lead schedules a tour (six o’clock position). Finally, the lead has a follow-up conversation with sales and signs a lease for your community (the 11:59 position). The sales rep marks the lead as a customer, which closes the loop.

Of course, going from lead to resident takes much longer than 60 minutes. But the clock is merely a visual representation. Prospects will spend different amounts of time at various points as they journey around the loop. And some will never complete the loop.

Is closed-loop marketing automatic?

Closed-loop marketing only works if the sales team does its job. A salesperson closing a lead as a customer in your senior living CRM effectively “closes the loop.” Sales reps can also close the loop by indicating a lead is cold/lost—along with notes and insights on why this might be the case.

If set up correctly (more on this in a moment), you can review the closed customer’s journey from the moment they engaged with your community to all the various touchpoints leading up to their signing a lease. Same with the lost prospect.

From there, the marketing team can analyze the data. What channels deliver the best prospects? What content spurs action (like booking a tour)? Which emails get people to re-engage? Etc.

Are there any limitations to closed-loop marketing?

In marketing, you can only measure so much. The first trackable touchpoint a prospect has with your community probably isn’t their first real interaction.

For example, they might have read about your community on a review site, seen a sign in town, or heard about you through a friend or family member long before they ventured to your senior living website where a cookie could then track their journey.

And speaking of cookies . . . it’s possible someone could opt out of having a cookie track their activity. (In theory. Make sure your site’s cookie options are accurate and working.)

Bottom line: Closed-loop marketing isn’t perfect (but no analytics package is—at least, not yet!). Still, closed-loop marketing can provide valuable insights about what moves a person from an anonymous website visitor to a lead to a resident. And it can also tell you where leads stall out or drop off.

For example, if a particular piece of content seems to spur people to book tours, and most of those leads become move-ins, you might allocate more budget to promoting that content (for example, through paid ads).

On the flip side, if you notice a high percentage of lost prospects stall on a particular page on your site, you might do some A/B testing to see if you can remove the friction on that page.

How does closed-loop marketing work?

For closed-loop marketing to work, you need good marketing software (we love HubSpot), a CRM that integrates with the software, and willingness from sales reps to close their leads and provide notes about leads that became customers and leads that didn’t.

From there, you need someone on the marketing side who is savvy with metrics to analyze the data and review the notes from sales. The goal is to look for patterns to answer questions like: what campaigns or content seem to “work” with leads who become customers? Where are the lost prospects getting bogged down? Etc.

That’s an oversimplified explanation, but it gives you the gist. Having good marketing software is the biggest hurdle. We love HubSpot because it has closed-loop reporting baked in. (This HubSpot tutorial reviews the technical aspects of closed-loop marketing.)

How will closed-loop marketing benefit my senior living community? (And do I really need to do this?!)

If you don’t care about wasting dollars on marketing efforts that don’t work, then no—you don’t need to worry about closing the loop. But if you do care about maximizing your marketing budget, closed-loop marketing is necessary.

Remember, you analyze results to know what’s working and what needs to be improved. Then, you can allocate your marketing budget more effectively. Over time, based on actual data and results, you’ll know which marketing campaigns, tactics, and channels deliver the biggest bang for your marketing buck.

What if I need help with closed-loop marketing?

That’s why we’re here! Listen, we get it. There are only so many hours in the day, and your marketing and sales teams are already stretched thin. We can handle getting your closed-loop marketing set up and working correctly so that you and your team can focus on the results and do more of what works and less of what doesn’t. Intrigued? Let’s chat about how we can help turbo-charge your analytics.

Senior Living Marketing Events

Senior Living Marketing Events: Focus on the Three Ws

We don’t need to tell you that one of the most effective ways to engage with prospects and convert them into move-ins is through senior living marketing events. But not all events are created equal.

In fact, we see many communities make mistakes with their event management. And yet, the secret sauce is quite simple: For ultimate success, align your senior living marketing events with the stages most prospects journey through.

We call these stages the three Ws: Whether, Where, When.

Senior living marketing events for the “Whether” stage.

Prospects usually spend the most time trying to answer the “whether” questions. Examples include whether they can afford senior living or whether they should choose independent living or assisted living.

Off-campus and virtual events work well for prospects who are trying to answer these “whether” questions. At this point, prospects are only thinking about their questions. They’re not thinking about your brand or your community. Instead, they are spending a lot of time inside their own heads, thinking, researching, and coming to terms with reality.

That’s why they might not be ready to come into a community setting. So an offsite location—like a restaurant, library, or country club—will be much more comfortable for them. (As would a virtual option.)

Educational events that align with general awareness and research topics are perfect. Some ideas:

  • Senior Living Lifestyle Options
  • Funding and Finance Fundamentals
  • How to Plan for the Transition

Senior living marketing events for the “Where” stage.

Once prospects figure out the answers to all of their “whether” questions, they are ready to move into the “where” stage.

In the “where” stage, the prospect is finally interested in (or, at least, aware of) your brand, your differentiators, and your value proposition. Their decision-making moves from their head to their heart as they try to picture their loved one (or themselves) living in your community.

On-site marketing events work well in this stage. As prospects evaluate where to move, they need to see resident and staff interactions, experience the lifestyle and amenities, try the food, and maybe speak with family members who have chosen your community for a parent.

Social events work well at this stage, especially ones where prospective family members can interact with residents and team members. Educational events are also effective. Consider topics like downsizing, transitioning, choosing the right community, and the like.

Senior living marketing events for the “When” stage.

The final stage is deciding when to make the transition to senior living. Prospects may have picked an apartment and left a deposit. Your biggest challenge at this point: making sure they don’t get cold feet!

Remember, moving to a senior living community can be overwhelming for families. They have to think about selling the family home, sorting through decades of belongings and memories, packing up, and moving.

They sometimes get stuck wondering “Should we make the move now or wait until . . .?” On-site events that offer the two Rs—Resources and Reassurance—can be extremely helpful at this stage.

Consider topics like . . .

  • Downsize Your Space to Upsize Your Life
  • 10 Tips to Sell Your Home Quickly—and Get Top Dollar
  • Moving 101: Tips for Packing, Donating, and Dumping
  • How to Make Your New Senior Living Apartment a True Home: Decoration Strategies

This is the only stage that we recommend offering any incentives. A great one to consider is this: “Move in by this date, and we’ll pay your moving expenses.”

BONUS: Download our handy “The Game of 3 W’s in Senior Living Event Marketing.” Share it with your team to help them fully understand and appreciate what goes into creating effective senior living marketing events.

Senior living marketing events: It takes a village. Let us help!

We’re experts at the 3 W’s of senior living event marketing. We can help you develop, design, and deploy awesome events for each stage while following marketing event best practices. Get in touch and let’s talk!

senior living marketing strategy

Senior Living Marketing Strategy: What Is an Advertorial?

A client recently asked us about an advertorial opportunity that a newspaper was offering their community. Their first question to us was “What is an advertorial anyway?” Their second question was “Should we do it? Does it make sense for our senior living marketing strategy?”

We figured our answer would make a great blog post, so here you go!

What is an advertorial?

The word itself is known as a portmanteau. With a portmanteau, you combine two common words to create a new word. Common portmanteaus include “blog” (web + log) and “brunch” (breakfast + lunch). In this case, we’re combining the word “advertising” and “editorial” to get “advertorial.”

At its simplest, an advertorial is an advertisement. But instead of the advertisement being displayed in typical ad format, it takes the form of a newspaper editorial.

Here’s the thing, though: Not everyone understands what a newspaper editorial is.

An editorial is essentially an argument—it takes a position on something and expresses the editor’s opinion. (Think of political candidate endorsements, for example). A newspaper’s editorial section is separate from the journalistic side of things, where reporters remain objective and report only the facts.

An advertorial has the same “look and feel” as other editorials or articles in the publication. In other words, it’s a lot less obvious that you’re looking at an ad because of the format. The advertorial might even read like an article. But underneath, it’s still very much an advertisement promoting a product, service, or cause.

And advertorials aren’t just found in print publications, either. You’ll find them online as well, where they’re more commonly referred to as “native advertising.” The TV equivalent is the infomercial (another portmanteau). Same concept. It’s a sponsored advertisement, but it takes on a different format, like a talk show or news feature.

Hmm. Advertorials sound a little shady. Are they?

There’s nothing shady about advertorials that are done right. When we say “done right,” we mean advertorials that present accurate information from reliable sources, science, and the like—and the publication makes it super obvious that the advertorial is indeed a paid advertisement.

In fact, the Federal Trade Commission requires transparency and clear disclaimers/disclosures around advertorials and native advertising. Unfortunately, however, not everyone plays by the rules. And even when they do, sometimes words like “Sponsored Ad” might not necessarily communicate to the reader that the big article they’re reading is actually a long-form paid advertisement.

And this, of course, is where things can get tricky.

If the advertorial has been put together in a thoughtful and ethical way—with accurate information, reputable sources, quotes from real people, and even consideration for “the other side”—then the advertorial wouldn’t pose a problem. It will simply read like a longer advertisement, one where the reader would need to assess the claims, just as they would if they were to carefully read a digital display ad or a traditional print ad.

But if the advertorial is put together in a haphazard way (remember, no one is fact-checking the advertorial) and the reader misses the disclaimer about it being a paid ad, things can get dicey since the reader could walk away with skewed information—or downright false information.

When it comes to advertising, we all bear responsibility. If we’re involved with advertising, we must endeavor to create ethical ads. As consumers, we must use critical thinking skills when assessing claims made in ads.

Bottom line: If you decide to run an advertorial or native advertisement for your community and you focus on data and facts, rather than spin, you’ll be fine. In fact, you might be more than fine. Because advertorials can be an extremely effective marketing vehicle.

Why are advertorials so effective?

For the same reason they can also be problematic—the format. We humans are much more likely to pay attention to something that’s in an article format than something that screams “ad,” even if we see the disclaimer and we know it’s an ad.

Where the advertorial is published can also influence us. For example, some folks might pay more attention to an advertorial in an advertising supplement in The New York Times because it’s The New York Times.

Advertorials also provide more space to mount a compelling “argument”—much more than a typical print ad or display ad. With a print advertorial, you can go much deeper into whatever it is you’re selling, like a product, a service, or—in this case—a senior living community (or the concept of senior living in general).

And digital advertorials (native advertisements) tend to have much more engagement than traditional online ads. Think about native ads that have come across your social media feeds—and all the likes, comments, and shares the ad got. Banner ads and display ads don’t have that sort of activity!

But advertorials probably cost more than typical ads, right?

It really depends on the publication. Running an advertorial in a supplement to The New York Times will be much more expensive than an advertorial in your town’s weekly paper.

But yes—price points for advertorials that run in premier publications like the Times will cost you a pretty marketing penny.

So should communities run advertorials and native advertising as part of their senior living marketing strategy?

It depends. Long-form ads / native advertising can be effective marketing vehicles, provided the advertorial aligns with your overall marketing strategy and is executed well.

OK, so what are some tips for producing awesome advertorials?

Our suggestions are the same for any senior living advertising campaign. You need to start by carefully answering the following questions:

  • What’s your goal? Building brand awareness, getting people to book a visit, something else?
  • Can the publication that you want to run the advertorial in help you achieve this goal? For example, do demographics align with your buyer personas?
  • Would running an advertorial integrate with your overall marketing strategy? For example, would the advertorial work with your other paid campaigns? Or did a random publication message you with a “great deal” for an advertorial and you want to try it—even though you haven’t been running a ton of advertising?
  • What metrics do you have in place to measure the advertorial’s effectiveness? How will you define success?
  • Do you have people who understand how to write and design effective advertorials? Don’t skimp on the writing. Consider using a professional writer with experience in advertorial creation.

Can Senior Living SMART help my community with advertorials and native advertising?

Absolutely! We can help you evaluate any advertising offers that cross your desk to ensure they make sense for your goals, that they align with your larger senior living marketing strategy, and that the ad buy works for your budget. Our team can also write and design effective advertorials and native advertisements as well. Get in touch and let’s talk it through.

10 interesting facts

Senior Living SMART: 10 Interesting Facts About Our Marketing Journey

Senior Living SMART is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year! Through the end of the year, we’re going off script each month and sharing a bonus blog post in addition to our regular marketing-related content. (Check out last month’s installment: 10 Ways Senior Living Marketing Has Changed in 10 Years.)

Since September is our actual anniversary month, we thought it would be fun to share 10 interesting facts about our marketing journey.

1. The “SMART” in our name “Senior Living SMART” isn’t us shouting about how intelligent we are.

It’s an acronym, and it stands for the following:

Strategy. Marketing. Analytics. Resources. Technology.

All five elements are at the core of what we do every day for our clients. (More on this below.)

2. We haven’t always focused on senior living marketing.

In fact, during our initial launch in 2012, we were focused on being a go-to resource for all the various departments within senior living communities. To accomplish this, we curated a marketplace filled with vendors that we carefully vetted. We also offered tons of free and paid resources.

From the beginning, our resources always reflected and reinforced the SMART acronym. And while our founders—Deborah Howard and Andréa Catizone—have excellent insights into every department, their true expertise is in senior living marketing and sales since that’s where they’ve spent the bulk of their careers.

So back in 2012, it was no surprise that so many of the requests that Debbie and Andréa fielded from customers revolved around marketing and sales topics: Can you help us build a senior living website? How do we generate leads from our website? Can you help us create downloadable content? How can we improve conversions?

It quickly became clear that Senior Living SMART should sharpen its focus instead of trying to be everything to everybody. And so, we evolved into the Senior Living SMART we are today: a nimble digital marketing agency that focuses on helping senior living communities attract the right prospects and convert those prospects into move-ins, all while following industry best practices.

3. But we didn’t adjust our name because we didn’t have to.

The SMART acronym was even more apt once we focused only on senior living marketing and sales:

  • Strategy. Strategy is at the heart and soul of what we do. Everything starts with a sound marketing strategy.
  • Marketing. Marketing has evolved dramatically over the last two decades. And even more so for senior living communities over the last 10 years since our industry tends to be a late adopter. Digital marketing has created a major shift, and not all community marketing and sales teams have been prepared.
  • Analytics. As the saying goes, you can’t improve what you don’t measure. You must have built-in metrics for measuring every marketing campaign.
  • Resources. We remain a popular go-to destination among senior living marketing and sales teams because of all the free content we make available. And we still have a Marketplace with approved vendors, too.
  • Technology. We couldn’t call ourselves digital marketing experts if we didn’t embrace all things digital—and all the technology that supports our digital marketing endeavors. We love teaching senior living marketing and sales teams about different technology, whether it’s HubSpot, a keyword tool, or on-site functionality, like live chat.

4. We’ve doubled in size every year since we started. (Even during the pandemic.)

We have an amazing team and amazing clients, and we’ve consistently grown both since the very beginning.

When the pandemic hit, we didn’t skip a beat, either. Since we’ve always been a virtual agency, our team was already adept at navigating a world that could only happen in virtual spaces like Zoom. So we were able to continue servicing clients. But we also taught senior living communities how to leverage their own virtual technologies during this stressful and chaotic time as well.

5. But despite our success, we are still very much the “shoemaker’s children.” And we’re OK with that!

You’ve probably heard the adage that the shoemaker’s kids are running around barefoot or in old shoes because the shoemaker is too busy taking care of their own customers.

That definitely sounds like us! We don’t have any print brochures. We’ve never run a paid ad. And we don’t have a sales team. What we do have is a great digital presence (which further proves our expertise in all things digital marketing) and excellent relationships with people in the industry.

6. Despite being a digital agency, we still do lots of print work for our clients.

Other digital marketing agencies eschew traditional marketing methods like direct mailers. We say NOT SO FAST. Traditional methods are still effective with older audiences (like Boomers) provided you properly integrate these methods with your overall marketing efforts, including digital.

To date, we have printed 10 million pieces of sales collateral materials, direct mail, and flyers through our Smartstores.

7. But just in case you’re suddenly questioning our digital acumen . . .

We LOVE digital marketing—and all things digital in general. We’re geeks at heart. To wit: Our senior living marketing podcast has over 6500 downloads.

8. There’s one thing that our team members all have in common.

Everyone has pets! We don’t know about you, but we think animal lovers are special people—fun, compassionate, and creative.

9. Our founder and CEO, Deborah Howard, has a fun little-known fact about her below.

Debbie says, “I had a children’s band called KidRock (I wish I had registered/ trademarked the name). We recorded an album and had a cable TV show: Circle Time Singalong.”

10. And our president and COO, Andréa Catizone, has a fun fact in the same vein.

Andréa says, “I was in a made-for-TV movie for PBS when I was 6.”

By the way, all of our team members share similar fun facts about themselves in their bios. Get to know them here.

Bonus fun fact: The success we’ve had over the last decade wouldn’t have been possible without our clients.

A special thank you to all of our clients, current and past, for making us who we are today! And to those who aren’t clients (yet!), but who’d like to be part of the Senior Living SMART family, let’s chat!

secret to better senior living direct mail

The Secret to Better Senior Living Direct Mail Marketing

Looking for the secret sauce to better senior living direct mail marketing? Well, the secret involves a mix of several key ingredients rather than one magical spice. Below, we share the recipe.

Make sure your branding is consistent across all media.

You don’t want someone to experience a disconnect when they go from your direct mailer to your website to your community itself. The brand you present on the direct mailer must align with the brand you’re portraying everywhere else.

Keep in mind, however, that your senior living brand is so much more than a logo and color palette. Yes, those things inform your brand identity, but so do the words you use, the messages you share, and the way you want people to feel whenever they engage with your brand.

Make it easy for someone to take the next step.

Your direct mailer should have one goal—and this goal should be clearly conveyed in the call to action (CTA).

What’s your reason for sending the direct mailer in the first place? Some examples:

  • Are you driving people to a specific landing page to download a free guide on how to finance senior living?
  • Maybe you’re inviting people to a “lunch & learn” event or to take a tour.
  • Or maybe you want people to call a phone number to request a brochure.

The “ask” should be clear, direct, and easy for someone to do.

Connect your senior living direct mail marketing to your larger marketing plan and ongoing campaigns.

Effective marketing doesn’t happen in silos. Your various campaigns should work in harmony as part of a strategic marketing plan or initiative.

So, for example, if you’re sending a direct mailer inviting people to have “Lunch on Us,” it should be part of a larger “Lunch on Us” campaign that has a strategic plan for promoting the event (print, web, social), executing the event (swag, brochures), and following up on the event (lead nurturing, tour invites).

Be hyper-focused when developing your mailing lists.

You might think it’s always better to cast a wide net. Wouldn’t mailing 10,000 people be better than mailing 2,000? Not necessarily. There’s a reason why direct mail response rates have historically been on the low side. Direct mail companies would often cast a super huge net, knowing that the response rate might be only 1% or 2%. They’d have to cast that big net in order to have the ROI they were looking for.

But marketing has become a lot more sophisticated over the last twenty years. Even though direct mail marketing is still considered an outbound marketing method (meaning you’re sending materials to people who haven’t self-identified a need for your services), that doesn’t mean you can’t take an inbound approach to the development of your targeted mailing list.

It all starts with understanding your ideal buyers and creating a persona for each buyer that includes detailed demographic info—info that a reputable mailing house can use to create a targeted list.

This means you’ll likely be mailing a much smaller number of direct mailers (and we realize printing and postage aren’t inexpensive). But the chances of converting people will be greater, provided you have the right messaging and the right call-to-action, which brings us to our next point.

Match the message to the audience.

There’s no such thing as one-size-fits-all messaging. For example, one of your personas will likely be an adult child. And if you’re really good with your persona development, you’ll break that down into adult daughter and adult son.

The messages that resonate with the adult daughter will likely be different than the messages that resonate with the adult son. That’s basic Psychology 101. While you might think you can use the daughter message for both audiences (or the other way around), resist the temptation. You WILL get better results if you customize the messaging to each audience you send direct mailers to.

And remember: Your senior living direct mail marketing isn’t happening in a vacuum, right? The messaging you develop should be used elsewhere, like website pages, blog posts, paid online ads, social media, and email marketing, for consistency’s sake.

Don’t skimp on design and layout.

If you’ve invested in custom messaging, but you turn to DIY tools when it comes to graphic design, well . . . you’ve just wasted your investment. Sure, if you have legit graphic design skills, have at it. But if you don’t, you’re better off working with someone who does. Or you can use our SMART Brand product suite where we have ready-made templates created by professional designers, including direct mailers—templates that allow you to easily add in your logo, colors, and custom messaging.

Need help rocking your senior living direct mail marketing?

That’s what we’re here for! We can help you navigate inbound and outbound marketing methods so that they’re always working in harmony. Get in touch and let’s chat.

leveraging traditional marketing methods

Leveraging Traditional Marketing Methods in Senior Living

Ever since the concept of inbound marketing took off in the late 2000s, people have been wondering if “traditional” marketing methods still have a place in a modern marketing environment.

Like so many things in life, the answer is “it depends.” It depends on the brand, the audience, and the goals. Sure, print ads in physical newspapers won’t reach Gen Z or younger Millennials, but that doesn’t mean those same ads won’t reach other audiences—like Baby Boomers.

In fact, traditional marketing methods—think direct mailers, print ads, and radio/TV—can be very effective with the Silent Generation, Boomers, and even Gen X. The challenge is getting your traditional marketing methods in senior living to play nice with your inbound methods. And that’s precisely what this blog post is all about.

Make sure your inbound and traditional marketing methods are part of a larger plan.

Slapping together a print ad here or a direct mailer there along with an ebook and social media posts is an example of how NOT to approach your senior living marketing. To be successful, you need a plan—a marketing strategy—for meeting your goals.

In senior living, the ultimate goal is move-ins. But you need to meet many goals along the way to achieve that ultimate goal. You need to understand who your ideal buyer is. You need to attract more of these folks to your website, invite these folks to attend meaningful events in your community, run advertising that will reach them (online and off), and maintain an active presence in the virtual spaces where they hang out.

There are many moving parts, which is why you need a plan for managing everything—and for successfully aligning your inbound and traditional marketing methods.

Think in terms of different marketing channels—and how they can work together to serve a specific campaign.

Don’t turn marketing channels, like your website or social media, into marketing silos. Silo mentalities never work—especially within marketing. Instead, your various marketing channels need to work in harmony toward whatever goal you’ve set.

For example, let’s say you’re inviting people to “have lunch on us.” The goal is to get people to the community to experience the delicious food and the wonderful community.

This is a perfect example of a goal that would benefit from both inbound and traditional marketing methods. You’ll likely use a combination of digital marketing channels—email, website, social media posts, maybe even pay-per-click ads—to promote the event. But you might also use direct mailers to invite people to attend as well.

If this “lunch on us” becomes a regular monthly event, you might even invest in other traditional methods, such as radio or TV, especially if you discover the conversion rate among attendees is excellent and a good return on your investment.

But this brings us to an important caveat about traditional marketing methods . . .

Keep in mind that traditional marketing methods can be pricy and that not all campaigns will benefit from these methods.

Let’s demonstrate with another example. Instead of an in-person event, maybe you create a free guide on this topic: “Is senior living right for you?” You want to promote this guide so that people will come to your website and download it. When they fill out the website form, they will provide enough info to indicate whether they match your buyer persona—and, if yes, where they are in their journey. From there, you can nurture them through an email workflow.

To promote the guide, you’ll use similar digital marketing methods that you used for the lunch & learn: email, website, social media, and PPC ads. But it wouldn’t make sense to run direct mailers to promote the guide. That would be cost-prohibitive.

Why? Well, a guide on whether senior living is a suitable lifestyle is most definitely a top-of-the-funnel (TOFU) offer. Meaning someone who downloads it is likely in the early stages of their research. They’re not poised for a sales pitch like someone who shows up for a free lunch so that they can check out your community first-hand.

Keep in mind that traditional marketing methods can be quite pricy—anyone who’s gotten quotes for print ads or radio spots can attest to that! So running a print ad or sending direct mailers about a TOFU offer wouldn’t necessarily deliver the best ROI.

That’s why we’re always clear when it comes to marketing that it’s never a one-size-fits-all scenario. Sure, there’s still a place for traditional marketing methods, but you need to be thoughtful in your approach.

This leads us to yet another caveat.

Conduct regular audience research and surveys to see if people are still responding to traditional marketing methods.

Here’s the thing: we’re not suggesting all traditional marketing methods will continue to work—even for older audiences—forever. If the last two decades have taught us anything, it’s how quickly things can change, especially in marketing land. At some point, we do predict that traditional marketing methods, like running ads in newspapers and magazines, will no longer be effective.

Your job as a senior living marketer is to keep tabs on your prospective buyers, including where they hang out (both online and off) and how they consume media—and how this can and will change. Remember, the buyer controls the sales process now, not the other way around. Your job is to enable them to easily buy from you by removing any friction between them and the information they need to make their decision.

Need help? Work with a marketing agency that understands how to align inbound and traditional marketing methods.

Our talented team knows the ins and outs of inbound and outbound marketing—including how to make both work for senior living communities. Get in touch and let’s chat.