5 Signs Your Community Needs a Senior Living Lead Management Solution

5 Signs Your Community Needs a Senior Living Lead Management Solution

If you don’t have an effective way to respond to the senior living leads who contact your community, nothing else matters. Not your fabulous website. Not your great reviews. Not your warm-and-fuzzy social media posts featuring happy residents.

And no amount of marketing automation or digital wizardry is going to solve this problem, either. That’s because the issue isn’t pixels—it’s people. Your current staff likely isn’t equipped to manage the various leads who call your community because they’re busy doing their jobs. (And trust us, we’ve seen the mystery shop data to know this is true!)

But here’s the good news: A senior living lead management solution could help bridge the gap.

Now, we know what you might be thinking: That sounds like a call center! Isn’t that incompatible with inbound marketing’s approach?

Here’s the thing to keep in mind: not all call centers are created equal. Great ones do exist. But before we get to that topic, let’s first discuss five signs that your community could benefit from a senior living lead management solution in the first place.

1. You’re seeing issues in your CRM about inadequate response times to leads.

You probably already suspect there’s a problem, thanks to your CRM data. Most senior living CRMs provide insightful reports on leads, including success rates with connecting to leads and the number of leads categorized as “lost – unable to reach.” For the latter, some leads are labeled as such after only one or two attempts! This isn’t OK. As we often say, there’s a gold mine in those so-called “cold” leads.

Another way to evaluate is to look at your call tracking reports to see . . .

  • How many leads are not answered (and when)
  • How many are abandoned while on hold
  • How many are transferred to voicemail

You should also regularly listen to the quality of the interactions when a lead is (finally) able to connect with a concierge or member of the sales team.

  • Does the lead sound happy with the interaction?
  • Are their questions answered?
  • Are they treated warmly and/or in a way that reflects your brand’s values?
  • Is there a clear plan about what happens next?

2. You have a smaller market share of third-party leads compared to your competitors.

Pay attention to reports issued by third-party lead sources, like A Place for Mom. How many leads were delivered, what was the close rate, and how does your market share compare with your competitors?

With third-party leads, speed to the lead is critical—along with persistence. Both are often in short supply if your sales team is stretched thin and/or if they’re busy working with other prospects, giving tours, preparing for move-ins, hosting events, networking, and the like. A good senior living call center can fill in the gaps.

3. Your front desk person is the first line of defense. (And that’s not a good thing.)

Your receptionist or concierge probably isn’t prioritizing sales calls because they’re busy juggling many other tasks for residents and their families. Consequently, sales calls might go unanswered, be put on hold, or end up dumped into general voice mail.

But here’s the thing: Even if your receptionist attempted to engage with a lead, they probably won’t have the information and insights the person is looking for. (We’ve listened to enough calls and always marvel at receptionists who have no idea how or when tours are booked.)

Again, a senior living lead management solution can solve this problem because its sole focus is qualifying leads that come in and shepherding them through your marketing and sales workflows.

4. You’ve had turnover on the sales side that’s affected momentum.

Do you ever feel like your community sales team is just starting to gain traction when WHAM! Someone on the team leaves and the momentum stutters and stalls? We don’t have to tell you how much time it takes to recruit, hire, and onboard sales reps and managers.

Meanwhile, everyone else has to pick up the slack, which doesn’t happen—or it doesn’t happen well since everyone is busy working their own leads. Oftentimes, the leads just sit in the CRM. After one or two lackluster attempts at contact, they’re labeled cold.

A quality lead management solution, on the other hand, will always be “on duty” 24/7, fielding inquiries, qualifying leads, scheduling tours, and enrolling people in automated follow-ups—in other words, all the things you wish you could find in a good sales backup team. And a good lead management solution can help bridge the gap if someone on your sales team resigns or needs to take an extended leave.

5. You’re using outdated telephone technology. (Or you’re not maximizing newer systems.)

This goes hand-in-hand with point #3. Your concierge is only there during business hours. What happens after hours? Or what happens when they’re on another call? Don’t underestimate how important the right phone technology is. Yours needs to be simple for older people to navigate. It needs to be equal parts intuitive and fast—and that’s no easy feat. We’ve all complained about getting lost in phone directory hell.

Nothing can turn off leads faster than antiquated phone technology. A quick way to assess yours: Are you using IVR technology? IVR stands for Interactive Voice Response. IVR is automated phone technology that allows people to interact with the system using only their voice. This is especially helpful for older adults (no more fumbling for the pound button) or for people using mobile devices. But even IVR systems can be cumbersome or convoluted if not set up thoughtfully.

A senior living lead management solution wouldn’t replace your IVR system. Instead, it would work in harmony with it, particularly when the lead makes it clear they want to speak to a human. The key is having an IVR system that quickly identifies callers who want this level of interaction and routes them accordingly.

How many of the above signs can you relate to?

Even if you can relate to only one or two, your sales numbers could take a beating because of it. Luckily, good senior living lead management solutions that incorporate a call center do exist. Hint: We’ve just launched ours. It’s called LeadGenie. Check it out and discover how our solution for senior living lead management can help your community.

Mistakes you're making with your senior living leads

6 Mistakes You’re Making with Your Senior Living Leads

An evergreen topic is one that’s always relevant (no matter how much we might wish it wasn’t). That’s why we’re revisiting this evergreen topic: mistakes you’re probably making with your senior living leads—and what you can do about it.

No, you might not be making all of these errors. But even one or two can have a dramatic effect on your numbers. Resolve to do better this year! Here’s what to look for with your senior living leads—and how to make fixes that stick.

Mistake #1. You’re treating all leads the same.

Remember, every lead will be at a slightly different point in their journey. Some are in research mode—maybe for themselves, maybe for a loved one. Others are gathering options as they think more seriously about making a move to senior living in “a couple of years.” Others are looking to make a move within a few months. Still, others might be in panic mode—their mom has fallen or their dad has died and now mom’s alone—and they’re looking to decide soon.

Why on earth would you give everyone we described above the same emails, the same content, or the same cadence of sales calls? You wouldn’t—or you shouldn’t. One size does not fit all when it comes to leads.

  • WHAT TO DO: Develop a lead-scoring strategy and score leads accordingly. Then, create a plan for communicating further with each “set” of leads that need nurturing. Only serve up true sales-ready leads to the sales team.

Mistake #2. You still think that you’re in control of the sales process.

Before the Internet, people relied on salespeople to educate them about the things they wanted to buy. Today, people have all the information they need—at their fingertips—to educate themselves when making a purchase, whether that’s a pair of sneakers, a used car, or a place to start the next chapter of their lives post-retirement.

Prospects can check out a brand’s website, read online reviews, ask friends and family for quick recommendations via text and email, and seek opinions on social media before ever entertaining the thought of speaking to a salesperson.

  • WHAT TO DO: We’re not suggesting that salespeople are irrelevant. What we are saying is that to be successful in senior living sales today, you need to embrace this shift. If someone hasn’t asked to speak to you yet, you shouldn’t be hounding them with calls. They will let you know when they want to connect. In the meantime, focus on folks who have requested your help or insight. Note: you’ll likely be working fewer leads at any given time, but they will be better leads since they’ll have high intent.

Mistake #3. You’ve underestimated the length of the sales cycle.

The sales cycle has increased in length dramatically in recent years. Remember, the prospect doesn’t care about your sales quotas or projections. If a younger Boomer is planning her retirement two years out, you need to adapt to her schedule—and you need to keep her engaged at every step along the way.

  • WHAT TO DO: This is why great content and marketing automation are critical. To keep people engaged at every touchpoint of the longer sales cycle, you need to provide the right content at the right time—and get it to them easily (again, removing all points of friction). Generic content won’t cut it. Producing content that’s similar to your competitors won’t work, either. You need original content that resonates. And yes, that is an investment.

Mistake #4. You’re not maximizing marketing automation to its fullest.

Speaking of marketing automation . . . we find that most communities haven’t begun to scratch the service in terms of maximizing available features.

  • WHAT TO DO: Audit your marketing automation and make sure you’re using all features. Or, downgrade your license so that you’re only paying for what you use. Hint: We’ve helped other communities save money because we know what to look for in the licensing agreements, especially with complex marketing automation products like HubSpot. Get in touch if you want us to take a peek under the hood.

Mistake #5. You have people interacting with leads who shouldn’t be.

Your front desk person is wonderful for routing calls to residents, greeting visitors, and helping residents make calls or check on deliveries. But don’t expect your front desk person to be a surrogate salesperson. That’s not their specialty.

  • WHAT TO DO: Some communities get lots of phone “traffic” from potential residents. If that’s the case with your community—and if you’re finding that these leads fall through the cracks or don’t covert—it might be time to think of a better way to manage these leads. A good solution? A call center with expertise in senior living.

Mistake #6. You have leads who get added to the “cold” list way too quickly.

Too often, we see a community’s CRM filled with “lost” or “cold” leads—and yet, these leads only received a couple of “touches” before they were moved to the cold/lost list. As we mentioned earlier, the sales cycle in senior living is long. You need to nurture early-stage leads. And you need to be persistent with sales-qualified leads that have expressed direct interest in your community.

Not only that, but let’s talk about third-party leads for a moment. Since these are shared leads, they require a different strategy. The community that responds to the lead the fastest tends to have better conversions.

Once again, treating all leads the same way is not a winning strategy.

  • WHAT TO DO: Audit your CRM’s lost/cold lists. As we like to say, there can be gold in those cold leads. Luckily, we have a turnkey re-engagement campaign that can help you sift for the gold. You should also revisit how you manage third-party leads. Need help? Consider trying our “speed to the lead” solution. This is an automated five-step lead nurturing workflow that nudges people along the sales funnel and encourages them to request a tour.

Do you know something’s off with your leads, but you’re not sure what to do next? Call us.

The ultimate fix for any breakdown in your lead management process is simple. Call us! We combine our senior living expertise with our marketing expertise to create a lead management process that gets results. Get in touch and let’s talk.

How to improve you lead management process in 2023

How to Improve Your Lead Management Process in 2023

We’ve spent a lot of time on this blog discussing how to get senior living leads. But what happens when all your hard work begins to pay off and you’ve got more leads than your team can handle? Yes, it’s a good problem to have, but it’s still a problem, right?

Or maybe the opposite is true. Maybe you’ve been doing all the work, but you’re not getting the results you were hoping for.

Both situations require a hard look at your overall lead management process. When you do a better job of monitoring lead quality, scoring leads, and choosing the right technology to funnel leads based on their scores, the easier it will be for your teams to manage an influx of leads—or to get your lead gen machine humming in a way that makes everyone happy.

Below, we take a deeper dive into developing this smarter lead management process.

1. Monitor lead quality.

You want to make sure the leads you’re bringing in are the leads you actually want. It sounds so basic, right? And yet many sales and marketing teams too often focus on bringing in more leads rather than the right leads. By “right,” we mean leads that reflect your community’s residents.

  • WHAT TO DO: If your site is bringing in leads, but your overall conversions are low, the problem could be lead quality. If that’s the case, revisit your buyer personas. Note: personas can and will change over time as demographics shift. For example, consider all the younger Boomers entering into senior living territory who weren’t part of the equation five years ago.

2. Audit your lead scoring methodology.

OK, we get it. The concept of “scoring leads” can conjure nightmares from eighth-grade algebra class. But here’s the thing: If you take the time to do this piece right, your lead management process will improve—seemingly overnight.

3. Evaluate your technology.

Your tech stack should be working for you, not against you. From marketing automation to your senior living CRM to your phone system . . . your technology shouldn’t be creating any friction in the sales process.

Believe it or not, the biggest friction point can be the phone. If a lead calls your community, what happens to their call? Is the front desk person equipped to answer sales-related questions? (Short answer: probably not.) Do people’s voicemails get returned in a timely manner?

  • WHAT TO DO: Monitor calls for quality. (Or use senior living mystery shopping for quality control purposes.) Make sure your phone menus are intuitive and fast. (People shouldn’t have to drill down multiple levels to speak to a human.) Consider using a call center with expertise in senior living.

4. Revisit your email nurturing.

Thoughtful email nurturing should empower leads to take appropriate next steps. Here’s where the problem tends to crop up, however: Oftentimes, marketing and sales teams will take a one-size-fits-all approach to their lead-nurturing emails. They’ve done the persona work. They’ve done the lead scoring. But then they create one set of nurturing emails with mostly similar messages. That’s not a very thoughtful approach, is it?

Effective lead nurturing involves understanding each persona’s journey and developing compelling content for each leg of the journey. The content you develop for the adult child who’s reaching out on behalf of her mother who needs assisted living is going to be much different from the content you develop for a Baby Boomer approaching retirement who’s making plans two years out.

  • WHAT TO DO: You must develop multiple content “paths,” depending on who you’re talking to and when. Think about your ideal buyers and their journeys. Now, map out the various points in their journeys. Use your website analytics to guide you. Look at leads who closed successfully and see if you can identify the emails and content that helped them convert. You want to build email nurturing workflows using content paths that inspire leads to take the next step.

5. Audit your content offers.

The senior living sales cycle has grown longer and requires many more touches than it did only five years ago. To stay competitive, your content needs to be just as strong for touch #20 as it is for touch #2.

  • WHAT TO DO: Take a hard look at your content offers—from guides to blog posts to the calls-to-action that drive people to download. Which content converts best? What is it about the content that’s so effective? Can you create more content like it? Do you have any content “gaps”? Are you repurposing your best content across multiple channels? Bottom line: Content creation isn’t a once-and-done thing.

6. Work with a lead gen agency if you need help.

There’s no shame in outsourcing some of this work to a lead gen agency that understands the senior living industry. Hint: That’s precisely what we do at Senior Living SMART. Get in touch and let’s discuss how we can help your team manage leads better.

Marketing predictions for 2023

Senior Living Marketing Predictions for 2023

We recently shared some long-term senior living marketing predictions for the next decade (in honor of our 10th anniversary). Now, we’re shining the light on some short-term marketing predictions for 2023. We’d love to hear your thoughts! Share them on LinkedIn and Facebook!

Prediction #1: The forecasted housing slump will impact senior living sales.

We’re coming off one of the wildest real estate markets in history. As CNN notes, “The pandemic boom, which sent prices into the stratosphere, is running out of steam and house prices now are falling from Canada to China, setting the stage for the broadest housing market slowdown since the global financial crisis.”

What does this housing slump mean for the senior living industry?

We predict it will give many older Americans pause about selling their homes in 2023 and moving into senior living.

What can senior living marketing and sales teams do to compensate for this possible slowdown?

Anticipate and plan accordingly. Revisit sales forecasts. Be prepared for marketing and sales cycles to stretch out even longer.

People will likely spend 2023 doing more research and visiting more communities as they wait out the year and monitor the real estate market. The communities that are willing to go the distance by providing engaging content and meaningful check-ins over the course of 12, 18, and even 24 months will reap the biggest rewards over the long term.

You need to accept that you’re running a marathon, not a sprint.

We know that’s easier said than done, especially if marketing and sales teams are feeling pressure from management to hit certain numbers.

The good news? This housing slump shouldn’t be like the 2008 crash.

Fingers crossed that the slump eases quickly. In the meantime, focus on your marketing fundamentals: producing excellent content, shoring up referral programs and other word-of-mouth activities, and hunkering down for long-haul marketing. Do those things right, and prospective buyers will remember you when the time comes for them to take the next step.

Prediction #2: Prospects will crave in-person events. (Yes, even if they’re not ready to buy in 2023.)

Expect 2023 to be the year that everyone gets back to in-person events. Sure, we’ve been seeing this happen ever since President Biden officially declared the pandemic over back in September.

But 2022 was still a mish-mash of masks, jabs, and extra precautions, especially for vulnerable populations like those over 65.

Now, we’re not suggesting that people will throw caution to the wind in 2023.

But we do expect that most folks—including older adults and their families—will be eager to participate in tours and other senior living events they haven’t done in three years. Think things like accepting invitations to wine-tasting events, joining you for a free lunch, or taking you up on an invite to join your community’s monthly book club.

In-person events are extremely important for building long-term relationships with prospects as they wait out a housing market slowdown.

This is why you should consider doing more of them—and opening them up to the general public. For example, maybe you host a weekly singer or band every Wednesday. You can promote the event in places where your target market hangs out, like the local senior center, the local library, and the local paper.

By giving people the opportunity to experience your community in such a relaxed manner, you’re planting the seed. And planting seeds is part of long-haul marketing!

Another example: If you’ve normally been hosting lunches once a month, maybe you shift to once a week—and you don’t limit repeat guests, either.

Remember, your job is to kindle the connection. Keep those fires burning.

The sales cycle is going to be long. Don’t expect someone who attends a luncheon to convert tomorrow or even six months from now—no matter how much they rave about the food.

Prediction #3: Google Analytics 4 will take some marketers by surprise. (Despite our best efforts!)

Google Analytics 4 (GA4) officially replaces Universal Analytics on July 1, 2023. We predict that some communities will have failed to act in time to set up GA4 and will be scrambling to do so at the last minute.

The good news? We can help you make the transition.

We offer training on what you need to know. Don’t procrastinate. Get in touch now and let’s get the ball rolling.

Prediction #4: Live industry events will make a BIG comeback next year.

In 2022, we saw more senior living marketing and sales professionals in attendance at state- and national-level events (like SMASH).

But we predict that 2023 will be bigger than ever before as people feel comfortable with flying and being around groups of people again.

Start planning now. Think about travel, lodging, and which people from your team are best suited for specific events and sessions.

Prediction #5: The popularity of call centers will continue to grow.

Being responsive to leads has always been important. But it’s going to be even more important next year since everyone will be competing aggressively for sales due to the housing slowdown, inflation, and a potential recession. As a result, we predict that more communities will turn to call centers to handle inbound inquiries faster.

But an important caveat: Not all call centers are created equal.

You want to work with people who understand senior living in general and your community in particular. And you want to work with a call center that’s adept at empowering prospects. (Because remember: the prospects are in charge of the sales cycle.)

Guess what? Senior Living SMART will be offering this service in 2023, so stay tuned. Or reach out directly if you want details now rather than later.

On behalf of all of us at Senior Living SMART, we wish you a happy and healthy new year!

 

Top 10 Senior Living Blogs of 2020

Our Most Popular Senior Living Blog Topics from 2022

We like to follow our own advice and review analytics on the content we produce. Since it’s the end of the year, we dug into the top 10 senior living blog topics that generated the most traffic over the last twelve months. Here are the results, including our take on why these particular blog posts resonated with people so much. (Links included in case you missed any.)

Top 10 Most Popular Senior Living SMART Blog Topics from 2022

#1: Senior Living Marketing Events: Fresh Ideas the Drive Leads

Even though we published this in 2017, it was our most popular blog post of 2022. And no wonder! Marketing and sales teams had to up the ante as they returned to hosting in-person events in 2022. What better way to get inspired than with an article like this.

#2: Senior Living Marketing Event Ideas to Try

Hmm. Are you sensing a trend here? We are! Senior living marketing and sales teams are always on the hunt for fresh ideas for events—even more so this last year. Given this interest, our team is thinking about diving deeper into this topic:

  • What can we do as an agency to help more with event development?
  • Would it make sense to develop event-planning guides and checklists?
  • Should we create more granular blog posts around senior living marketing events? Maybe ideas around promotional items for event attendees. And different types of events, depending on where people are in their buying journey.
  • The above is a brief demonstration that you can follow when digging into your own content analytics. What conclusions can you draw from the numbers? What content is resonating—and what related content can you create as a result?

#3: Senior Living Sales Strategies: How to Handle the Initial Phone Inquiry

We’re a senior living marketing agency first and foremost. But our founders (as well as other team members) have experience in senior living sales as well. This helps us marry marketing and sales together—we understand the needs and pressures of both sides, and we often write about senior living sales topics in addition to marketing topics.

This post is also from 2017. The fact that it’s in the top five for 2022 isn’t a surprise. The senior living sales cycle is long. Leads require many more touches than they ever have before. And they decide when they want a sales interaction via phone. How reps act during that initial call matters. No wonder sales folks are googling effective senior living strategies via phone.

#4: Senior Living Referral Sources: Outreach & Engagement Strategies

Again, we’re seeing themes emerge. This blog post, written in 2021, has been gaining in popularity ever since we published it, and no wonder. For two years, many of the “normal” ways people networked were put on hold, thanks to the pandemic. Getting back into the swing of things requires inspiration and friendly reminders, and this post delivers on both.

#5: Senior Living Advertising: Digital vs. Print

We’re not ready to declare the death of print advertisements this year or next. (Although we do predict big shifts within the next decade—you can read more about that here.) This blog post serves as the voice of reason when trying to find the right balance between print and digital ads.

#6: Independent Living Marketing Ideas That’ll Resonate with Boomers

This blog post is only six months old, so we were really pleased to see how well it’s performed. Our team thinks it’s one of the most important blog posts we published this year. Why’s that? Because how a community markets to Boomers is going to matter more as Boomers replace the Silent Generation and Greatest Generation.

#7: Senior Living SEO: 8 Must-Haves for Better Google Ranking

We published this post right before the pandemic broke. All of the strategies still hold true today since we don’t chase SEO fads. Instead, our recommendations focus on evergreen elements. For example, having plenty of compelling content will always be a solid SEO strategy.

#8: Why Senior Living Leads Require Many More Touches

This is another “must read” from the past year, simply because the research we reference is eye-opening. And here’s the thing: We expect the sales cycle is only going to grow longer, especially for younger Boomers eyeing independent living and active adult communities.

#9: How to Create a New Resident Welcome Program

We LOVE the fact that this article is resonating with people because it’s super important—and so often overlooked. Remember, your best form of advertisement (for anything, not just senior living) is a happy customer. When you foster a wonderful, welcoming environment where people can easily become raving fans, these raving fans will more likely write a positive review and/or refer friends and neighbors. Conversion rates tend to be higher on those sorts of referrals.

#10: How to Write a Great Senior Living Blog Post

Talk about meta, right? It seems quite apt that this article is what rounds out our top 10 list. When it comes to effective content marketing—especially blogging—it’s all about keeping people engaged with your words. And this blog post gives you simple steps to follow so you can do exactly that.

What topics would you like us to cover?

We want to hear from you! What questions do you have about senior living marketing? What’s a topic that you think we should cover (or cover better)? Share your ideas in the comments, contact us directly, or let us know on LinkedIn or FB.

Post-Pandemic Senior Living Marketing: 5 Important Lessons

Post-Pandemic Senior Living Marketing: 5 Important Lessons

Can you remember what you were doing in December of 2019? That was only three years ago. And yet, it feels like a lifetime. And no wonder when you consider everything that’s happened since.

The pandemic has had a profound effect on how we think, buy, interact, and conduct business. And this most certainly applies to senior living marketing and sales. Below is an overview of five important lessons we’ve learned since the pandemic upended the world—and what these lessons mean as we head into 2023.

Senior living marketing fundamentals will always matter, but there needs to be room for flexibility and creativity.

When it comes to marketing, the fundamentals matter. We often call them the “blocking and tackling” of marketing. Think things like understanding your buyers, knowing your community’s unique value proposition, and having a reliable way to deliver the right message to the right prospect at the right time.

But fundamentals—while important—aren’t the only thing that can influence a game plan. Certain situations (like a pandemic) might require a last-minute pivot, a creative trick play, or even a long-bomb attempt into the end zone.

  • What this means for senior living marketing and sales teams: Teams that embrace flexibility within their game plans (even as they practice important fundamentals) are better poised to meet unexpected situations—whether that’s a pandemic, natural disaster, recession, or something else.

The senior living sales cycle has gotten longer—and that isn’t going to change.

During the pandemic, the sales cycle grew longer for many senior living prospects. But here’s the thing: In this post-pandemic world, the senior living sales cycle is still long . . . and it’s growing longer for certain populations, like younger Boomers.

  • What this means for senior living marketing and sales teams: Prospects are going to require more touches than ever before. And we’re not talking more phone “check-ins,” either. Each touch has to provide compelling, meaningful content geared to that particular persona. Teams are going to need much more content than ever before, which is an investment if you want to do it right.

When buyers want to buy, they will buy.

Life goes on. Yes, even during chaotic times. When a prospect’s mind is made up, they will buy if they’re able to do so. And that’s the key, right there. Buyers are the ones who decide when the time is right. They are the ones who dictate the sales cycle. And they decide when they want a sales interaction. Note: It’s usually after they’ve been exposed to a senior living brand several times.

  • What this means for senior living marketing and sales teams: Marketing and sales teams need to enable buyers to make the best decisions. This means removing any friction from the sales process. For example, if buyers want clear, transparent pricing info, don’t make them jump through hoops to get it. If you create friction, they will move on since they have MANY good options to consider, not just your community.

Virtual selling does work in senior living, and there’s still a place for it in our post-pandemic world.

If the pandemic taught us anything, it’s this: Virtual communications can be extremely effective—even with older demos. During the pandemic, we saw older adults become adept with FaceTime, Zoom, and using their phones to research or do things like order groceries.

  • What this means for senior living marketing and sales teams: Let people choose how they want to interact with you. Offer virtual options and features as well as in-person events.

Social media is going to matter more and more.

Older adults’ increased comfort level with technology and social media isn’t going to disappear simply because the pandemic is over. If anything, the experience from the last few years might inspire people to check out (and possibly fall in love with) other online places, like Instagram and even TikTok. Plus, keep in mind that younger Boomers are already spending time on those platforms.

Older adults’ increased comfort level with technology and social media isn’t going to disappear simply because the pandemic is over. If anything, the experience from the last few years might inspire people to check out (and possibly fall in love with) other online places, like Instagram and even TikTok. Plus, keep in mind that younger Boomers are already spending time on those platforms.

  • What this means for senior living marketing and sales teams: Experiment and monitor results on social media—particularly newer platforms like TikTok. Over the next decade, senior living communities will be catering primarily to Boomers. Currently, older Boomers are in their mid-seventies, and younger Boomers are approaching sixty. Gen X is right behind them. And all of them are active across social media platforms.

Need help navigating the new normal?

Our clients didn’t miss a beat during the pandemic—and neither did we. If you’d like help incorporating the above lessons into an effective marketing plan for the next 90 days, let’s talk.
 

How to Create a Senior Living Marketing Plan That Works for Everyone

How to Create a Senior Living Marketing Plan That Works for Everyone

When you hear the words “senior living marketing plan,” do you roll your eyes? Get a tummy ache? Feel the pressure like you did in high school the night before a big report was due?

You’re not alone. For some reason, those words—MARKETING PLAN—can induce extreme reactions among marketers and sales teams alike. Some people love planning. Others find it limiting. And all too often, well-intentioned marketing plans are created at the beginning of the year but forgotten by April.

Our goal with this article is to explain how to create a senior living marketing plan that works—and that everyone on your team can find useful. As a bonus, we’ll share our recommended “must-haves” for 2023.

Let’s dive in!

Start with a strategy discussion.

A marketing plan is so much more than simply developing and scheduling campaigns, ads, and emails. An effective marketing plan is all about the strategy for getting the most out of those things. To do this, you need to make sure you understand your ideal buyers—their needs, their goals, and their pain points.

And guess what? These needs, goals, and pain points can and will change from year to year. That’s why you need to start your planning by having this strategy discussion first. Ask yourself how your ideal buyers have changed over the last 12 months and how you will address these changes.

Accept that there’s more than one way to create an effective senior living marketing plan.

One of the biggest mistakes marketing and sales teams make when developing plans is thinking there’s only one way to go about it. An effective marketing plan is the one that works for your community.

Signs that your marketing plan is working . . .

  • Marketing tasks are moving forward. People are making their deadlines. There’s momentum. And even enthusiasm.
  • There’s no more silo mentality. Everyone is aware of what other folks are doing. People collaborate. There are no surprises.
  • The plan is adjusted along the way. Plans are just that—plans. Results are what matter. People should be reviewing analytics and making necessary adjustments to the plan based on results.
  • The tasks and initiatives are driving results. There’s that “R” word again. Increased move-ins are the ultimate measuring stick, the ultimate result. But plenty of other metrics exist, like increased conversions from marketing leads to sales leads. Pay attention to those as well.
  • The plan is built on a sound strategy. As we noted above, effective plans are fueled by a smart strategy.

Don’t worry about creating a detailed marketing plan for the entire year.

How can you plan for next December when you haven’t gotten through Q1 yet? Sure, you might have a hazy sense of some marketing tasks and events that will be happening 12 months from now. But the previous quarter’s activities—what worked, what didn’t—along with what’s happening on the ground in real-time will and should influence your plans for the next quarter. Creating a 90-day marketing plan makes things more manageable for everyone.

Create channel-specific marketing plans or editorial calendars.

Blogging, social media, print ads, email marketing, online ads, marketing events, direct mail—there are so many different moving parts when it comes to senior living marketing. While it’s wise to have a primary marketing plan, one that’s all about the 30,000-foot view, it also makes sense to have channel-specific plans and calendars. Make sure you link to them from within your primary plan.

For example, it would make sense to have a separate blog editorial calendar that includes topics, keywords, assigned writers, due dates, and so forth. But if you were to put all of that info in the primary marketing plan, you (and everyone else) would feel overwhelmed super-fast.

The key is to make sure everything is linked so that people can click on the info they need. The sales manager might not care as much about the nitty-gritty of your blog editorial calendar, but they’ll know where to find it if they need it.

If you’ve created a primary marketing plan in a Google spreadsheet, you can use the tab function at the bottom for all the various channel-specific plans: blog, social media, newsletters, marketing events, and so forth. You get the idea.

Make it easy for everyone to access your senior living marketing plan.

Your marketing plan doesn’t need to be pretty, but it does need to be accessible. It should be a working document, one that the marketing and sales teams will need to regularly revisit throughout the year.

Create a shareable marketing plan using a free tool like Google Docs or a paid tool like Asana, Basecamp, Monday.com, or Microsoft Teams. Make sure you grant access to everyone who needs it.

Pay attention to trends, but don’t let them dictate your plan.

TikTok is a hot social medium platform—there’s no denying that. But is it right for your prospective buyers right now? Like most things in life, the answer is “it depends.” There’s nothing wrong with paying attention to hot trends and experimenting with them. But it wouldn’t be wise to allow these trends to dictate your primary marketing plan.

Consider working with a senior living marketing agency if you need help.

There’s no shame in asking for help, especially with something as pivotal as a marketing plan. A marketing agency that understands the senior living industry can be a huge asset to your team—both in the development of your plan and its execution.

BONUS: Some recommendations from our team as you head into 2023.

  • Embrace in-person marketing events. If you haven’t gotten back into the swing of holding live events, make that a top priority next year. You can (and should!) still offer virtual options, but most prospects still crave seeing, feeling, touching, and smelling the communities they’re considering.
  • Get back to wooing your referral sources in person. In-person visits to professional referral sources suffered during the pandemic. Use early 2023 as an opportunity to look at your top referral sources pre-pandemic and get in touch with those sources in person.
  • Stick with your email marketing strategy. Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection (MPP) has caused reported open rates to take a hit, so those metrics are becoming increasingly unreliable. And yet email continues to be an effective marketing channel in general and for senior living in particular. Stick with it, but like everything else, monitor results. The good news? Most forms of personalization remain unaffected. Check out this article for helpful tips about email marketing in 2023.

Need help? Call Senior Living SMART.

Senior living marketing is ALL that we do. (And we’re really good at it!) We love helping marketing and sales teams achieve their objectives. Get in touch and let’s chat.

6 tips for aligning your senior living sales and marketing teams

6 Tips for Aligning Your Senior Living Sales & Marketing Teams

The most successful senior living communities encourage collaboration among their marketing and sales teams. These communities understand that the ultimate goal—boosting occupancy—is the same for both “sides” and that working together, instead of against each other, reaps much bigger rewards. 

So how can you foster a more collaborative environment between your senior living sales and marketing cohorts—especially if the teams have been functioning primarily in their own silos? Below, you’ll find six strategies. 

1. Make sure the marketing and sales directors embrace the idea of aligning their departments.

Employees take their cues from their managers and directors. Creating a collaborative culture requires everyone’s effort and support. The managers of both departments—marketing and sales—need to work well together. This will serve as an example to the team. 

What you don’t want: A sales or marketing director who says they support aligning the departments, but behind closed doors, they undermine the initiatives by doing their own thing or making divisive comments. 

2. Bring everyone together for team-building events.

Effective collaboration takes practice and regular “doing.” Think of it like a muscle that you need to regularly exercise for ultimate fitness.  

Now, we get it. Team-building events can sometimes conjure eye-rolls from participants. Don’t schedule events to simply check off a box and say you’ve done them. Get feedback from your teams about what types of events they’d enjoy doing (or at least, that wouldn’t result in groans). Different people will crave different things. A ropes course might work great for one team while another team might dread such an event.  

And keep in mind that you don’t need to always make team-building events so formal—or a big-time commitment. Maybe in the summer, you bring everyone off-campus to the local miniature golf course for a round and ice cream. Or maybe you hire an ice cream truck to stop by one summer afternoon and everyone gets a free treat and enjoys a break together. 

If your teams aren’t in the same location or if you’ve stayed with a virtual set-up for marketing post-pandemic, you can still do virtual events. Every other week, have a virtual watercooler Zoom call for 25 minutes where you’re not allowed to discuss work—but all other topics are OK, like what people are watching on Netflix. 

3. Encourage people to get together outside the office.

It’s not always easy for camaraderie to take place while under management’s watchful gaze. Encourage events outside the office to mix things up—think a bowling league, a softball league, or simply Friday lunches at a local eatery. 

When putting together teams for things like softball, don’t make it sales vs. marketing. Create teams that include people from both sides since that’s the whole point. You could also ask for volunteers from each department to co-manage something specific, like a holiday food drive or an Earth Day event.  

4. Provide training for everyone.

Sales departments often complain that they don’t have enough leads—or the leads aren’t good enough. Marketing often complains that they’re delivering all these leads to the sales department, but the sales folks drop the ball on closing them.  

Does that sound at all familiar? 

To combat these common complaints, the sales and marketing directors need to recalibrate the conversations happening within their own departments. Sales teams need to learn about (and embrace) the differences between marketing-qualified and sales-qualified leads. Sales departments shouldn’t be trying to work all leads—only SQLs. 

Marketing, on the other hand, should be focused on nurturing the MQLs. But marketing also needs to pay attention to feedback from sales about the quality of the SQLs.  

Everyone is ultimately working toward the same goal: more move-ins and higher occupancy. Not everyone has to agree on approaches 100% of the time. But people should be willing to work together, share ideas, listen to feedback, and adjust accordingly based on the feedback. 

This sort of collaboration happens from the top down. The sales and marketing directors need to set the tone and example—and they might need some help getting there. Provide training. And/or work with an outside agency (like ours) that has experience in both marketing and sales—and can help bridge the gap. 

5. Reward and reinforce positive behaviors. Redirect adversarial behavior (and intervene when necessary).

When directors/managers see strong alignment between their teams, they should point it out. “Hey, Mark and Cyndy worked really well on developing a lead nurturing campaign with a delivery cadence that really warmed up these cool leads and poised them for a sales interaction.”  

You’ll also want to monitor adversarial behavior and redirect negative conversations whenever possible. And, of course, you need to nip adversarial behavior in the bud. Finger-pointing or phrases like, “That’s their job, not mine” will need to be addressed. And toxic language or behaviors shouldn’t be tolerated at all.  

Again, you don’t want to call people out in front of large groups. But if you have someone on the team who doesn’t want to play ball with the other side, you need to intervene.  

If the person ultimately refuses to get on the collaboration train, you might need to make a tough decision about the person’s future with your team.  

This can be hard, especially on the sales side if there’s a person who is a good closer. You need to ask yourself at what cost is it worth keeping a good closer if their ways create an uncomfortable, antagonistic, or toxic environment.  

Would it be worth losing them now and seeing a dip in move-ins temporarily while you promote from within and/or hire someone who’ll be a better fit and embrace the “smarketing” vision? The answer is yes. Over the long term, numbers will rebound—and probably surpass where they were with the uncooperative person.  

6. Have a standing meeting on the calendar—but make sure it’s useful.

Coordinating efforts requires communication. A weekly check-in call or meeting is a good idea, provided there’s a clear agenda, a strict time limit, and that the meeting is actually useful. Be willing to cancel the meeting if no one has anything to discuss. End meetings early whenever possible. Stick to agendas that move projects forward and that provide actionable insights and tasks. 

For this meeting, talk only about things that matter to both sides. For example, the sales team isn’t going to care about the edits a marketing coordinator needs from a writer for the latest white paper. This should be a separate meeting. But the sales team will be interested in hearing about the latest results of the paid campaign. 

Finally, end meetings with positive news. For example, a campaign that benefited both sides and that both teams worked well on together. Make sure you celebrate successes that highlight collaborative efforts.  

BONUS: Collaborate with an agency that understands senior living marketing and sales. 

That would be us! We can help bridge the gap and bring people together. Get in touch and let’s chat. 

how to generate leads for senior living facilities

How to Generate Leads for Senior Living Facilities

If you’ve been wondering how to generate leads for senior living facilities, keep reading. In this article, we talk about different channels for driving traffic to your website, tips for converting early-stage leads so you can nurture them, and strategies for generating high-quality leads that are ready for sales.  

Download a version of this article in one handy illustrated PDF that you can share with your senior living marketing and sales teams. 

Drive more traffic to your senior living website.  

Looking to increase traffic to your website? Developing a sound inbound marketing strategy is the first step. With inbound marketing, you’re going after folks who are already searching for information on senior living. So you’ll want to optimize your website for organic search, have keyword-rich pages, write helpful blog posts that answer specific questions, and offer premium content that people can download via forms.  

But what about some of the “old school” tactics that many communities still use, like . . . 

  • Local newspapers  
  • Billboards  
  • Television  
  • Radio  

These are great examples of outbound marketing. The people you reach via these channels might not have a need for senior living right now, but you’re planting the seed and building brand awareness. And yes, you will reach some folks who might be thinking about senior living—so if you grab their attention, you might luck out and direct them to your site. 

Use these channels for creating local brand awareness and/or if you have a very specific call to action (CTA), such as . . . 

  • New openings/ pre-leasing 
  • Repositioning – new ownership/management/refurb 
  • Events – open houses and social and educational events 

Remember to use a dedicated call tracking number to measure how many calls you generated. You can also use a QR code to drive conversions on a landing page. 

Convert more marketing-qualified leads (MQLs). 

Here are some effective ways to capture early-stage leads to fill your prospect pipeline: 

  • Generic direct mail campaigns. Create mailing lists based on age, income, and zip code. Use call tracking and QR codes to measure results. 
  • Website content offers. Think downloadable brochures, guides, and e-books. Include CTAs for downloading offers in every blog. 
  • Facebook paid campaigns. You can use the same segmenting options that you used for direct mail. Then, create look-alike audiences.  
  • Live chat. Always ask for people’s names and emails so you can continue conversations via email if they leave the chat. 
  • Off-site events. Think restaurant events with speakers and virtual online events. Bring a tablet and have people sign up for email updates (this way, you get their opted-in email address). 
  •  These marketing channels will convert more anonymous traffic into MQLs. The downside is that these leads require nurturing. They are not ready to buy now, so do not give them to the sales team until the lead indicates that they want a sales interaction. This is where marketing automation is most effective because it sends the right message to the right prospect at the right time. 
  • PRO TIP: On your website forms for top-of-the-funnel content, make sure the field for a phone number is optional. If you require a phone number, your conversions will decrease, possibly by as much as 25%. 

Empower sales-qualified leads (SQLs) to ask for a sales interaction when they’re ready. 

If you’re looking to drive high-intent leads that are ready for a sales interaction, consider using some of these popular channels: 

  • Google AdWords 
  • Targeted direct mail with look-alike demographics 
  • Smart website CTAs, banners, and pop-ups leading to a relevant landing page 
  • Retargeting ads 
  • Interactive surveys and quizzes (Roobrik/ Aging Choices) 

These leads have indicated a high intent and need for senior living and have greater urgency than MQLs. The strategy here is to get them to commit to a face-to-face or voice-to-voice interaction with the sales team.  

CTAs should be something like . . . 

  • Click to call now 
  • Schedule a tour 
  • RSVP today 
  • Learn more about (insert special offer) 

Keep in mind that these channels tend to generate the highest quality leads. But they are much more expensive because there’s a ton of competition for them. Each SQL may cost over $750 per conversion (MQLs convert for around $135). 

Need help generating leads for senior living? Work with us. 

Another effective strategy for generating better leads? Work with Senior Living SMART. We understand lead gen, and we thoroughly understand the various buyer personas you’re targeting. Get in touch and let’s chat about your lead gen efforts. 

Predictions for senior living

10 Predictions for Senior Living Marketing Over the Next Decade

We’re in the midst of celebrating our 10th anniversary. You can catch up on some of our other anniversary-inspired posts below: 

For this post, we’ve rounded up 10 predictions in senior living marketing for the next 10 years. Some of the ideas are bigger and dreamier than others. But our team believes all have merit—and could very well happen in some fashion over the next decade or just beyond. 

1. Boomer marketing will need to be segmented.

We’ve been reminding clients about this, but not enough communities are embracing the idea that Boomers should be segmented into two distinct groups: Boomers 1 and Boomers 2 

The youngest Boomers are 58, and the oldest Boomers are 76. That’s a span of nearly two decades. What a 60-year-old Boomer wants will be vastly different from someone who’s approaching 80. 

  • What this means for senior living marketing and sales teams: Make sure you have plenty of engaging content that speaks to both groups—and that you have an effective way to score and segment leads in your marketing automation so that you can successfully send the right message to the right Boomer at the right time. 

2. Climate change will continue to enter the conversation.

From operations and infrastructure standpoints, senior living communities will need to address the climate crisis since things like more powerful hurricanes and threats of fires and floods will affect the buildings themselves. There will also be a need for clearer emergency protocols and preventive measures.  

  • What this means for senior living marketing and sales teams: People buying into senior living are going to increasingly care about this issue—and how it could affect their living situation. In fact, as this article reports, Boomers care about climate change as much as their younger counterparts—if not more. Communities that want to stay ahead of the curve should already be discussing messaging around green initiatives. (And urging the C-suite to start initiatives if they haven’t already.) 

3. Offering plenty of variety and interesting options will matter more—much more.

The generations coming up—think Boomers and Gen X—have grown accustomed to ordering exactly what they want, when they want it. They’re not going to accept a cookie-cutter lifestyle that has few choices or limitations on customizing features and amenities.  

This article from The New York Times quotes one industry expert as saying, “We have to design communities that cater to what boomers want, and that’s a difference between senior housing today and housing developed 10 or 20 years ago.” 

  • What this means for senior living marketing and sales teams: While this trend will affect operations and infrastructure, it will also be something marketing and sales teams will need to think about, too. Because you’re going to need to quickly convey with makes your community different from all the others—and yet also show how people can customize it to their liking. 

4. More transparency will be needed on senior living websites around pricing.

Today, most communities shy away from listing prices on their senior living websites. (Or if they do, it’s either hard to find or you have to surrender your info to get it. 

We predict that over the next decade communities will need to find a way to be transparent about pricing so that no one wastes their time—prospects and community staff members alike. 

Why do we predict this shift? The New York Times notes that there’s going to continue to be increasing separation between luxury senior living and more affordable options. “Specialized housing for older Americans has been around for decades. But shifting demographics are forcing the industry to diversify more rapidly across rates and services, yielding increasingly lavish residences for upper-income Americans as well as a growing number of affordable housing models.”  

The article discusses some interesting experiments happening presently, like one community requiring residents to volunteer 10 hours a month in the community to help take the load off staff and to feel more connected to the community. We predict more interesting experiments like that, which brings us to some of our wilder predictions below.  

  • What this means for senior living marketing and sales teams: Teams will need to experiment with language and messaging around pricing discussions. This will influence so many aspects of marketing from organic search to paid ads to how you approach pricing on the website. For example, you might want to create interactive surveys that help website visitors easily self-identify whether they can afford the models that you’re specifically selling.  

5. Print ads and direct mail will go away. 

As we enter the next decade (the 2030s), we do predict that direct mail and print ads (and other print materials) will no longer be viable marketing channels. (Unless something unforeseen happens. We reserve the right to revise this prediction!)  

Print and direct mailers still work with the Silent and Greatest Generations—and older Boomers. But think of the 58-year-olds you know today. How many of them regularly read print publications? 

  • What this means for senior living marketing and sales teams: Closely monitor your results with direct mailers and print ads. Don’t be afraid to pull the plug once the numbers are telling you these vehicles aren’t delivering ROI. Continue to monitor what does work with younger Boomers and Gen X (and don’t be afraid to experiment). 

6. Expect to see more offers of senior living “test drives” or “free trials.”

Hey, it works for Netflix, right? And sleep trials work for mattress companies. Why shouldn’t the concept of a free trial work for senior living communities? Offering people the chance to test drive accommodations for two-week stretches might be the way to seal the deal.  

After all, most communities that offer free lunches often see increased interest and higher move-in conversions from those who attend those lunches than those who don’t. So think of this idea as simply an extension of a turbocharged free lunch. 

And no, it might not work for every senior living lifestyle (like memory care) or price point. But for AL and especially IL? Why not?   

Now, we know there will be some kinks to work out, like making sure people don’t use the two-week trial as free lodging for a vacation. You wouldn’t offer it to just anyone, either. But for truly sales-qualified leads—we’re talking serious folks who are considering your community vs. a competitor . . . why not offer a no-obligation trial for a week or two so they can experience what life would be like? 

  • What this means for senior living marketing and sales teams: Our point in bringing this idea up . . . it’s going to be on marketing and sales teams to come up with some of these big, hairy, scary ideas and present them to the C-suite. And if you really want one of your wildcard ideas to happen, know that everyone on the marketing and sales teams might need to step up and participate. (Nothing is worse than someone coming up with a great idea, only for that person to walk away, because it’s on someone else to execute the great idea.) 

7. Expect to see more flexible options for how, when, and where people can live. (Especially in the luxury active lifestyle space.)

Imagine a senior living community with locations in the Northeast, the South, and the West. And now imagine, as a resident, you get to split time between all three communities. Perhaps you spend your summers living in the community outside of Boston, your autumns in California, and your winters in Florida.  

Who knows? Maybe a sister community will pop up in Paris, and every other spring, you get to live there. We predict more creativity and options like this, especially for the luxury active adult lifestyle. 

  • What this means for senior living marketing and sales teams: So much of what we’ve been discussing in this article should sound exciting to anyone who works in marketing and sales. Because historically, one of the biggest challenges has been that senior living marketing and sales teams are all essentially selling the same thing—the same floor models, the same amenities, and the same concepts (more or less). But in order to be competitive and to cater to the younger generation’s more discerning tastes, we’re going to see more differentiators—which will make it easier and more fun to market. 

8. Expect to see even grander scenarios in the ultra-luxury senior living space.

The Times article we’ve been linking to throughout this blog post discusses the growing income disparity between luxury senior living and more moderate options. And we think this disparity will continue to grow.  

As a result, we predict some “ultra” high-end luxury communities will come into existence, ones that offer customization to the Nth degree, amazing concierge services modeled after 5-star hotels, and lots of built-in perks. Senior living will become a senior living experience—with many options for what that experience can look like. 

  • What this means for senior living marketing and sales teams: The behind-the-scenes teams will look very different, too. The ultra-luxury model will attract people with luxury marketing backgrounds from other industries, like hotels, rather than healthcare. (This isn’t a judgment, either! Different senior living models will need very different teams supporting them.)  

9. Death, dying, grief . . . these subjects will emerge from the shadows.

Some of the writers on our team—including this writer who authors most of SLS’s blog content—have often wondered why we don’t talk about death, dying, bereavement, and grieving more in senior living materials.  

No, it’s not a sexy topic. Or a cheery one. But it’s necessary. People residing in senior living communities—even those on the younger end—deal with death (and long-term illnesses) regularly. Think parents, spouses, and friends. Maybe even adult children.  

As this article in Psychology Today says, “We need, as a society, to acknowledge this grieving process; to talk openly to people living with a terminal condition and be kind and available. When we shun those experiencing death or loss we shut ourselves off from our more compassionate, empathetic selves and reduce our capacity to relate to those in distress.” 

Now, we’re not suggesting that a community’s marketing materials will ever lead with the subject of death and dying. But as younger Boomers and Generation X come of age, we predict an easing up on the unspoken rule that talking about death is verboten. 

  • What this means for senior living marketing and sales teams: Writing about death in a way that people can embrace will require nuance and planning—it’s not something a writer can put together quickly. The best thing teams can do now is learn what their personas would like to know and hear about this topic. Talk to current residents. Talk to families. Talk to families who’ve recently lost a loved one who had been living in your community. What would they have wanted to be done differently? What would they have wanted to know? What materials would have helped? 

10. Another pandemic? Aliens? Something else?

Back when we founded our agency in 2012, we never would have predicted the world we’re in today—a world that’s still emerging from a two-year pandemic and that’s publicly acknowledging and investigating UFOs 

Trying to predict what the world will be like ten years from now might seem like a foolish endeavor. But it’s important to dream—and to anticipate things large and small, good and bad. We do think we’ll continue to see some big marketing shifts in general—and within senior living marketing specifically. 

Work with us now and worry less about the future tomorrow. 

Making predictions can be fun—and exhausting if you start fixating and worrying about things that haven’t happened yet. Senior living marketing can be exhausting enough on its own. Let us help. You can offload many tasks to us, and we’ll always keep you informed about the latest marketing trends we’re seeing—and if any make sense for your community.