Finding Solutions to the Pandemic Disruption in the Senior Living Industry, infographic

Finding Solutions to the Pandemic Disruption in the Senior Living Industry

The Senior Living industry is currently undergoing a massive transition, due to the disruption brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. No aspect of the industry has been spared, including management, operations, and sales and marketing. Sara Nay, host of Duct Tape Marketing’s Agency Spark Podcast, interviewed Debbie Howard, CEO and Founder of industry marketing agency Senior Living SMART, to talk more about this. In the interview, Howard was candid about how this disruption has impacted her experience growing an agency, and how they have pivoted to better meet the needs of their clients.

A solution for the pandemic disruption

There is an entirely new reality for the industry that has been evolving since the start of the pandemic. The senior living providers that wish to survive and succeed will be those that are most innovative in working to create value-added platforms for the future. That’s where Senior Living SMART comes in. “We had to reimagine the entire prospect journey,” Howard said. “We had to create solutions that would normally be touchpoints that HAD to happen in person.” On top of that, the Senior Living SMART team found that prospects were craving content that felt “real” and provoked a feeling of human connection. The solution? Technology.

The COVID-19 pandemic created rapid and powerful momentum for the technology movement that Howard admitted had already started transforming the industry years ago. Howard recognizes that this change can be uncomfortable for the client, but she encourages them to embrace it. “Prospects are empowered to have more choice in how they want to engage,” she said.

Senior Living SMART helped clients bolster their digital footprint by incorporating:

  • Still photography (showcasing interactions between staff and residents)
  • Architectural stills with movement
  • Virtual tours
  • Facebook Live events to engage with prospects

Staying focused on the prospect

Though some of the Senior Living SMART strategy had to change, their client-focused mission never wavered. Their focus on the client’s ideal prospect (through very comprehensive persona work), set them apart. Howard cites for example the difference in experience for the adult daughter versus the adult son – emphasizing that the strategy must resonate with both. In addition to personas, Senior Living SMART provides clients with:

  • A TOPA (total online presence audit) to inform website optimization.
  • Content development (blogs, guides, eBooks, newsletters).
  • Email marketing and marketing automation.
  • Social media & paid search.

Howard emphasized that they do the paid part of the strategy last because they want to make sure the website is set up to convert inquiries to leads.

Senior Living SMART strives to be the best partner for its clients, providing comprehensive solutions based on experience and research. “In our industry, we have to make things turn-key,” she states. As part of that goal, Senior Living SMART offers clients entry to its Marketplace, which provides access to carefully vetted, best-in-class resources that will help clients grow their occupancy.

Senior Living Advertising: PPC Campaigns that Drive Conversions

Do you run pay-per-click (PPC) ads simply because everyone else does? Senior living advertising and retargeting can be extremely effective, but you need a thoughtful strategy in order to get results. Let’s Talk About Your Paid Advertising →

senior living marketing event ideas, food truck

Senior Living Marketing Event Ideas to Try

Need some fresh senior living marketing event ideas as we emerge from the pandemic? Here are some to consider. 

Senior Living Marketing Event Ideas to Boost General Awareness about Your Community

With these events, the goal is to create awareness about your community with the people who live in the surrounding area. These events cast a wider net—in fact, some of the events might skew younger—but the idea is everyone knows (or is connected to) someone who fits your ideal buyer persona

In other words, that twenty-five-year-old might have a grandparent in the area, or that forty-year-old might have a mother who’s been thinking of making the move to senior living.

Host a blood drive.

The American Red Cross has a turnkey system for hosting a blood drive. You provide the space, the volunteers, and the donors. The Red Cross takes care of everything else.

  • Who to invite: General population in the area, current leads, residents/families. The nice thing about this event idea is that you gain a lot of traction in one fell swoop. 
  • How to promote the event: Promote it to your lead database via email, promote it to residents and families, and promote it to people in the area through local advertising (such as Patch.com and the local paper—you can often submit event listings for free).
  • How to market your community at the event: After people donate blood, send them off with a goody bag with collateral about your community and a fun branded promotional item. Have sales reps on hand in case people have questions about the community. And make sure the reps are prepared to conduct impromptu tours if someone is interested.

Host “Food Truck Friday.”

Reach out to local food truck vendors in the area and designate a “Food Truck Friday” event. The trucks come from, say, 4-8 and park in your lot for residents/families and people from the larger community to enjoy.

  • Who to invite/how to promote the event: Same as above.
  • How to market your community at the event: You bring dessert! Set up a candy booth with your company’s signage. (Like the candy tables that are popular at weddings.) People can fill a bag of candy (for free). The bag will be branded with your community info and include collateral. Again, have sales staff available in case someone attending the event has questions about your community.

Senior Living Marketing Event Ideas to Woo Hot Prospects

When it comes to creating events to court prospects who’ve already expressed sincere interest in your community, you need to think strategically. These events will be “smaller” in terms of scale—and if any particular event proves successful, be prepared to start running it on a more regular basis.

Spaghetti Supper to Go

One of the most popular questions that prospects ask sales counselors is this: “How’s the food?” Show off your chef’s mad skills by offering spaghetti dinners to go—complete with garlic bread and cannolis. Serious prospects can finally taste food that they’d see on your menu if they lived in your community.

  • How it works: Prospects can reserve their order and drop by to pick it up between five and seven on the appointed day. With each order, make sure someone greets the prospect, helps them carry the dinner to their car, and offers a swag bag with some extras, like fun branded promo items. The next day, the sales rep can follow up and ask what the prospect thought of the meal.
  • Who to invite: Limit the initial send to hot sales-qualified leads (SQLs). And if this is your first time doing an event like this, limit the total number. Discuss with your chef about a reasonable number of spaghetti suppers they can prepare for one evening and start with that number as the upper limit. (So if the number is 10, send the offer to 10 prospects. There’s little chance that all 10 would say yes, but if by some chance they did, the chef could still accommodate all of them.)
  • How to promote it: Use a combo of email marketing and good old-fashioned phone calls. 
  • Bonus tip: The sales rep should follow up the next day with the prospect and ask what they thought of the food and to see if they’re any closer to making a decision. Plus, once you get in a rhythm, this can be an easy ongoing event—one you do every month for hot SQLs you’re trying to close.

Backstage Pass

You’re trying to sell how great your community is as a place to live, right? So give some of your hot prospects backstage passes to try out certain amenities.

For example, do you have a fabulous fitness center with lots of fun classes? Give the prospect a free pass to try it out for a week. Got an amazing restaurant on site? Give prospects a pass to enjoy a meal on the house. You get the idea. The goal is to give the prospect the opportunity to experience the community without a sales person hovering.

  • How it works: Determine ahead of time 3-4 amenities that you’ll allow free passes to (and any rules/conditions). Create a nicely designed oversized “backstage pass”—something that reflects your community’s branding. Give it to the prospect and explain how it works. Even if they don’t use the pass, the offer itself will likely have a powerful—and memorable—effect.
  • Caveat: Make sure relevant team members are aware of the backstage pass. So, for example, if the pass is for the fitness center, everyone who works in the fitness center should A) be aware of this promotion and B) be alerted when someone is given a pass to the fitness center. This way, the fitness center employees can greet/help the prospect accordingly.
  • Who to invite/how to promote it: Determine on a case-by-case basis. If the hot prospect seems really interested in your community, this might be the offer to help seal the deal. Or if the prospect is wavering between your community and another one, this offer might help them decide.
  • Bonus tip: The sales rep should follow up with the prospect after the person has “used” the backstage pass. Again, inquire about the person’s experience and see if they’re any closer to a decision.

Senior Living Marketing Event Ideas for Thanking Referral Sources

Coffee and Donuts On Us

Don’t underestimate the value of your existing referral sources. It’s always good to thank them and remind them you’re there. Invite them to a quarterly “drive through breakfast” at your community. The goal is to reconnect with those you know and to show your gratitude for their referrals.

  • How it works: Buy boxes of coffee and donuts/bagels ahead of time. (It’s always good to order them ahead.) Have a team managing a booth at your entrance with all the goodies between, say, 6 and 9. Invite your referral sources to stop by and pick up breakfast—on you. Offer a little swag bag with a gift card to Starbucks and some collateral that they can use to promote your community (like a stack of postcards or brochures).
  • Who to invite: Referral sources—active ones and ones who’ve gone quiet.
  • How to promote the event: Create an ongoing email list of your referral sources and do a three-prong email blast. Send the first a week out. Send the second a few days before. Send the final one either the night before or early AM on the day of. The gist is simple: Go for a “thank you for your referrals. Enjoy donuts and coffee on us” message.
  • Bonus tips: Record who shows up! Get names. Then, follow up with the person individually via email saying you hoped they enjoyed the coffee/donuts, and you’d love to have them over to the community for lunch sometime. Again, you’re trying to stay top of mind in these folks’ heads while also giving them reasons to promote your community (by experiencing the great food, seeing the gorgeous grounds, and so forth).

After-hours Networking

Hosting an after-hours networking event is always a great way to mingle with referral sources—and possibly meet new ones! In terms of how to set it up . . . you can be in charge of doing everything—securing the location, food, etc. Or if your community is a member of the local Chamber of Commerce, they often have sponsorship opportunities for after-hours networking events.

  • How it works: Host a cocktail hour at your community or a nearby restaurant. Invite referral sources and prospective referral sources for an evening of cocktails and networking. Make sure everyone leaves with a swag bag (filled with a promo item, something special like a gift card, and collateral about your community that they can hand out on your behalf).
  • Who to invite: Your current referral sources and a list of referral sources you’d like to get.
  • How to promote it: Follow the same steps as above for your current referral sources. For your prospective referral sources, create a separate email list. You’ll use similar messaging—”Join us for a night of networking. Sponsored by Awesome Senior Living Community.”
  • Bonus tips: Have several team members at the event and make sure they mingle. They should pass out business cards and get cards from whoever is there. Then, the next day, they should send a personal email to each person they met (new referral sources and existing ones) and ask to set up a one-to-one coffee chat to foster the relationship further.

Senior Living Marketing Event Ideas: Don’t Underestimate the Value of Virtual Events

As we emerge from the pandemic, we’re all itching for more in-person events, which is why we focused on those sorts of ideas above. But if the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s this: Virtual events can be effective—and can sometimes even work better for certain personalities (like introverts) or for people who want to explore your community from afar.

So don’t stop hosting virtual events. Your best bet moving forward is to offer a combo of in-person events and virtual events—and to monitor the results.

Check out these helpful articles for more info:

Remember, the Key to a Successful Event is Starting with a SMART strategy.
Be strategic in your planning—from the purpose of the event, to how you’ll market it, to how you’ll follow up. Need help along the way? Reach out. We love helping our clients develop and execute effective senior living marketing events.

senior living reputation management, infographic

Senior Living Reputation Management: 7 Tips

Reviews matter. Full stop. People rarely make purchases without checking reviews on places like Amazon and Yelp, Google and Facebook—to all the many sites in between.

According to Qualtrics, 97% of all consumers use online media when researching products or services in their local area. And 93% of consumers say online reviews influence their purchasing decision.

Bottom line: Senior living reputation management is extremely important and should be a regular part of your ongoing marketing and sales tasks. Need some tips? Keep reading.

1. Claim and maintain listings on popular review sites.

The first step to effective senior living reputation management is to claim listings where people leave reviews. Focus on review sites that rank high in organic search, starting with your Google My Business listing (as well as Yahoo! and Bing Places for Business).

From there, focus on highly-trafficked review sites related to the senior living industry, such as Caring.com and SeniorAdvisor.com. (The latter has a turnkey approach to claiming your listing, responding to reviews, and soliciting more reviews.)

An important reminder: Whether you’re actively managing your listings or not, the listings most likely already exist. So even if you haven’t claimed your business listing on Caring.com, your senior living community is probably already listed and getting reviews.

Claiming a profile simply allows you to manage reviews better (as well as other information, such as phone numbers). Plus, you can respond to reviews (good and bad) as the business.

2. Actively monitor reviews and act on suggestions.

Pay attention to suggestions and criticisms brought up in reviews. If you keep hearing people talk about the same positive things, make sure you’re promoting these items throughout other marketing materials, like your senior living website, lead nurturing, and social media.

On the flip side, if you see a recurring theme in people’s grievances, do something about those complaints. Once you’ve made changes or addressed the complaints, pay close attention to reviews moving forward. Hopefully, you’ll see fewer rumblings about the issue.

3. Respond thoughtfully to reviews.

Let’s break it down into positive reviews, meh reviews (average, three stars), poor reviews, and abusive/trolling reviews.

  • Positive reviews. Acknowledging positive reviews is a nice way to say thanks to reviewers and to show other people that you’re actively monitoring and responding to consumers.
  • Meh/average reviews. While the goal is to gather positive reviews, the reality is average and negative reviews are a part of doing business. In fact, some savvy consumers might be suspicious if a business has only glowing reviews. Two- and three-star reviews usually involve the reviewer pointing out positives and negatives. If you respond, the key is to thank the person for their honest feedback. Let them know you’re glad they’re happy with X (positive stuff). And thank them for bringing your attention to Y (negative stuff). 
  • Poor reviews. In those truly negative one- and two-star reviews, people are clearly unhappy and they’re publicly calling out your community. Acknowledge their complaints. Thank them for their honest feedback, even though it’s tough to hear. Ask them if they’d be open to communicating offline so you can learn more about the issue. Let them know that you and your team members are listening and always striving to do better. This is where senior living reputation management can be difficult but is essential.
  • Abusive/trolling reviews. The customer isn’t always right. You do not need to tolerate reviews that contain toxic, offensive, or bullying language. Do not respond to the reviewer directly. Follow the platform’s internal protocols for flagging and disputing a review. Some sites will remove these sorts of reviews after an internal evaluation. But even if the site doesn’t remove the review, don’t fret. Today’s consumers are savvy. They can discern between someone who is leaving a legit review about a mediocre experience or a troll who is directing hatred at your community.

4. Don’t forget to monitor social media.

People often air their grievances on places like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Don’t overlook mentions of your community, especially those that are negative. It doesn’t take much for a negative tweet or Facebook post to go viral. 

Remember, be thoughtful in how you respond on social media. Empty sounding phrases or condescending-sounding responses (e.g., “We’re sorry you feel that way”) provide little value and come off sounding defensive or aloof. Sound human. “We’re so sorry about your experience and we want to know more so we can address it. Please DM us or call this number directly and ask for Susan.” 

5. Have a clear review solicitation strategy.

The best antidote to bad reviews? More good reviews. As we mentioned earlier, soliciting reviews should be an ongoing task.

In correspondence with residents/families, always remind people that you welcome reviews. In electronic communications, you can include a direct link to the place where you want people to leave a review. 

For example, you might write: “Do you love living in The Elmwood Senior Living? Tell people about it! Provide a review about your experience.” You can swap out where you link to over time. Perhaps one quarter, you focus on your Google listing. Another quarter, you focus on SeniorAdvisor.com. And so forth.

6. Promote and repurpose reviews.

The words of other people provide that all-important “social proof” that consumers care about. Promote your positive reviews throughout your marketing materials.

  • Add a plug-in to your website’s home page that highlights the latest five-star reviews.
  • Sprinkle positive reviews on other high-traffic website pages, such as locations, amenities, and contact.
  • Share reviews on social media. “Another happy resident talks about her experience at The Elmwood . . .” 
  • Use stellar reviews in print collateral, such as brochures and print ads.

7. Work with a partner to help handle your senior living reputation management.

Monitoring and managing reviews (not to mention regularly asking for reviews) can be a lot of work. Turn to a trusted partner like Senior Living SMART to manage this task for you. We know senior living inside and out, including the review sites you need to pay attention to. Let’s talk about your community’s specific needs.

Interested in reputation management but don't know where to start?

We can help! Get in touch with us and let’s chat→

 

senior living sales consultant, two women talking

Hiring a Senior Living Sales Consultant? Read This First

If you’re thinking about hiring a senior living sales consultant because something isn’t working with your sales team, read this first. Not all issues require an outside consultant. In fact, many issues are fixable within the team itself, especially if yours is grappling with one of the very common issues below.

Are the marketing and sales teams working in silos?

Departmental silos are so last century—and for good reason. Collaborative efforts between sales and marketing teams reduce friction and unnecessary redundancies. When marketing and sales teams work in harmony, the results can be powerful. (HubSpot refers to this alignment as “smarketing.”)

How can you tell if an alignment issue exists? Well, do your sales and marketing teams meet regularly to discuss goals and results? If the answer is no, that’s usually the first (and biggest) clue that your sales and marketing alignment is out of whack.

Is the sales team attempting to work all leads?

It doesn’t make sense for sales departments to work all the leads that come in. Why? Because most leads aren’t ready for a sales interaction. The lead wants time to engage with your site and content (often upwards of eight times!) before talking to anyone in sales. Here’s the good news, though: When a lead is ready to talk to sales, they’re going to be much easier to close.

How is the overall lead quality?

Maybe the problem isn’t the sales process, but the lead quality itself. We often remind clients that more website traffic isn’t always better—sometimes it’s just more. Don’t get taken in by vanity metrics. Instead, focus on quality. Attracting a smaller volume of highly quality website traffic is much better than a high volume of low quality traffic.

  • SOLUTION: Revisit your buyer personas and audit your website’s messaging and keyword strategy. What messages and keywords brought in the types of leads that have converted in the past—and that you’d like to see more of? Again, making this adjustment might cause you to see a dip in overall website traffic. Don’t panic! If lead quality and conversions increase, even if traffic has decreased, you know you’re on the right track. (And, of course, you’ll follow the above tip about scoring leads appropriately!)

Has a lead nurturing program been developed and properly executed?

If your sales team has been treating all leads the same way, then the answer to this question is “probably not.” Remember, marketing-qualified leads (MQLs) aren’t ready to talk to a sales person just yet. That’s OK. Your job is to provide helpful info that will empower them during this journey. A good lead-nurturing workflow will do all of that in the low-pressure way today’s buyers crave.

Has the team given up too quickly on leads?

If your sales team has been working all leads, no doubt you have a high number of leads in your senior living CRM that are labeled cold or dead. The problem? Many of those leads were likely only marketing-qualified, not sales-qualified. So of course a high number of them didn’t answer the phone or return your sales reps’ calls.

Implementing lead-scoring and lead nurturing workflows for MQLs is a great solution for moving forward. But what about all those so-called cold or dead leads already sitting in your CRM? Aren’t at least some of them still viable? 

Still not sure what you need? Give us a shout.

We work closely with marketing and sales teams and can help identify ways to shore up your processes without dumping valuable dollars into a senior living sales consultant. (But if we think a sales consultant is the answer, we’ll tell you that, too!) Reach out and let’s chat →

 

senior living podcast, microphone

Our Senior Living Podcast: The Boss’s Favorite Episodes

Did you know we have a popular senior living podcast called Senior Living Marketing Perspectives? Hosted by our CEO, Debbie Howard, the podcast covers a variety of senior living marketing topics about strategy, technology, and innovation in senior living.

We recently wrapped up our first season, so we asked Debbie to choose some of her favorite episodes. Here are her picks.

Senior Living Podcast Spotlight: A Treasure Trove of Inbound Marketing Best Practices

Are you a HubSpot or inbound marketing junkie? Or maybe you’re new to both terms/concepts? Either way, this episode is for you. Debbie speaks with Dan Tyre, a speaker, blogger, mentor, and coach for those who want to harness the power of inbound marketing to improve their bottom line. Dan joined HubSpot as a member of the original team in 2007 and currently serves as the company’s sales director.

Listen in as Dan unleashes a treasure trove of best practices for today’s inbound marketer, including how to define your persona, qualify prospects, and create an effective sales funnel.

Listen to the complete podcast with Debbie and Dan.

Senior Living Podcast: Creating an Effective Sales Culture in Senior Living during Covid-19

Yes, we’re finally emerging from the pandemic, but we’re going to feel its effects for some time. In this episode, Debbie talks to Mike Miller, President and CEO of Primo Solutions and the author of Selling at Combat Speed and Stop Selling & Start Caring.

In terms of selling during times of uncertainty, Mike says that we have no choice but to “make a difference on the phone.” Even today, it is still possible to increase your conversion rate via deliberate, creative, and empathetic selling. It starts with reducing your marketing spend and putting more focus on training your staff to work with existing leads.

Listen to the complete podcast with Debbie and Mike.

Senior Living Podcast Spotlight: Evaluating Your Digital Presence

Here’s the dirty secret about digital marketing: You’re never done. You need to constantly monitor it—and make adjustments based on what the analytics tell you.

In this episode, Debbie discusses all things digital with Andy Crestodina, co-founder and Chief Marketing Officer at Orbit Media, an award-winning 38-person digital agency in Chicago. They chat about how to manage your community’s online reputation, when to update your site, and how to differentiate yourself with intentional copy.

Listen to the complete podcast with Debbie and Andy.

Senior Living Podcast Spotlight: The Science of Conversions and Optimization

All the time and money you spend optimizing your website doesn’t matter if the optimization efforts don’t result in conversions, right? In this episode, Debbie chats with Brian Massey, Managing Partner at Conversion Sciences, a data-driven conversion optimization agency that seeks to “find those impulses to act that are hidden in your site.” 

Brian discusses gems like bounce rate, content strategy, and conversion optimization. This is a great episode to listen to if you want to turn your website into a lead-conversion machine.

Listen to the complete podcast with Debbie and Brian.

Senior Living Podcast Spotlight: Business, Sales, and Marketing Advice

In this episode, Debbie chats with Doug Davidoff, Founder and CEO at Imagine Business Development, a management consulting firm that has worked with over 1500 small and mid-market businesses. Doug is all about offering strategies that help reduce friction between buyers and sellers—something senior living sales reps could definitely use help with. 

Doug says, “Your job is not to sell the community. Your job is to help somebody make a good decision about where they should spend their senior years.” With sales and marketing working in tandem, operating by the principles of empathy, the entire process becomes smoother. As Doug says, “The single best thing a company can do to increase sales is to make it easier for someone to buy.”

Listen to the complete podcast with Debbie and Doug.

Senior Living Podcast Spotlight: Adopting New Technology to Promote Well-Being

This episode features Hollie Kemp, Chief Operating Officer at Sagely, a Honolulu-based IT company that “marries the power of software, data, and the human element to empower caregivers, elders, and their families to improve elders’ well-being.” 

Using technology to boost engagement with seniors has been an incredibly popular topic this past year, thanks to the pandemic. What we love about Hollie’s perspective is that she doesn’t see technology as a replacement for people within the senior living industry. Hollie says, “I still think we’re a human business. Technology just enables the human to do their job better.” 

We couldn’t agree more! We always remind our clients that whenever we recommend any sort of technology, from marketing automation to Facebook Live, the goal is to enhance the human-to-human interactions, not replace them.

Listen to the complete podcast with Debbie and Hollie.

Senior Living Podcast Spotlight: Welcome Home – A CRM Platform Designed Specifically for Senior Housing and Care

If you’ve been on the hunt for a senior living CRM, Welcome Home is a great option. In this episode, Debbie talks to the founder of Welcome Home, John Lariccia, who designed the platform specifically for senior housing and care.

John developed Welcome Home because traditional CRM technologies did not adequately account for the complexities of the human element of closing sales that is especially important in senior living.

One of the best things about this CRM? No wasted functionality. Teams use all of it. The CRM is also incredibly intuitive (which saves on training costs).

Listen to the complete podcast with Debbie and John.

Senior Living Podcast Spotlight: Today’s Prospects Have a Greater Sense of Urgency About Their Senior Living Options

Too many senior living websites are nothing more than online brochures. But an interactive survey tool called Roobrik aims to engage website visitors while gaining data on them that helps Roobrik provide even more valuable info—info that will empower visitors to make the best decisions for their situation.

In this episode, Debbie chats with Nate O’Keefe, Founder and CEO of Roobrik, about the effectiveness of gathering data and building trust via anonymous “conversational assessments” and how the pandemic has affected people’s decision-making when it comes to senior living.

Listen to the complete podcast with Debbie and Nate.

Senior Living Podcast Spotlight: A Down-to-Earth Chat with Elder Resource Benefits Consulting

This is SUCH an important topic for senior living sales teams to be aware of—but more than that, it’s a great resource to have prospective residents and families listen to.

In a nutshell, Debbie talks with Patty Servaes, a VA-accredited agent and the founder of Elder Resource Benefits Consulting. ERBC was founded in 2005 to help seniors navigate different benefits that are available to them. Its specialty is the VA’s Basic Pension with Aid and Attendance Benefits. The company focuses on veterans getting the VA’s Pension Benefit as quickly as possible as soon as they are eligible for it. Definitely an episode to bookmark and share with seniors and their families, as needed.

Listen to the complete podcast with Debbie and Patty.

Browse all of our senior living podcasts.

The episodes above are just a sampling from this season. To learn more about all the episodes, download our guide, which includes notes on each podcast and links to episodes, speakers, and more.

 

content marketing agency cell phone infographic

What to Look for in a Content Marketing Agency for Senior Living

When it comes to online search, content is still king. The words you use on your senior living website, blog, and social channels matter—big time.

If you’re thinking about working with a content marketing agency, here’s what to look for as you research your options.

Does the content marketing agency offer only writing services? Or can it provide a strategy as well?

Strategy informs the writing. But here’s the thing: A good content strategist doesn’t always translate into being a good writer. And a good writer doesn’t always make for a good strategist. Ideally, look for a content marketing agency that can deliver both.

Questions to ask:

  • How do they conduct their strategy work? How involved are the clients? (You should absolutely have input.)
  • How do they communicate strategy to the writer or writers?
  • How do they monitor the writer’s content to make sure it’s on track with the strategy?
  • How do they measure the content and the strategy’s overall effectiveness? What metrics do they use?

Does the agency have writers in-house? Or does it farm out everything?

It’s perfectly OK if a content marketing agency uses freelance writers. Not all agencies can employ dozens of writers. But a reputable agency should have a core staff and a solid stable filled with good freelancers. Think of it like starting pitchers and bullpens. To have a winning team, you need both.

What you want to avoid, however, is the firm that claims it’s a content marketing agency, but it outsources everything to another firm, or it outsources all writing to cheap resources. The former situation results in marked-up prices. The latter usually results in weak copy.

When it comes to writing, this old chestnut always holds true: You get what you pay for. If you want your content to convert leads into move-ins, then you need capable writers who can write compelling copy.

Do the writers understand the tenets of search engine optimization (SEO)?

Lots of great writers exist out there. But not all of them understand SEO—or how to write optimized content without sounding awkward.

Do the writers and content strategists have experience in senior living?

While this isn’t a must-have, it can be extremely helpful to work with writers and content strategists who already have working knowledge of the senior living industry. If they don’t have any experience, ask the agency how it gets writers up to speed when collaborating with clients in new industries.

What to look for in their answers:

  • Buyer personas. If the content marketing agency asks about your buyer personas and/or recommends starting with this work, that’s a good sign.
  • Keyword research. A good content marketing agency should discuss its approach to keyword research, since this work will shed valuable light on the industry itself. (Keyword research might come up during the SEO discussion as well.)

Can the content marketing agency provide examples of content and strategy that delivered big ROI?

Remember, strategy and copy go together like peanut butter and jelly. Reputable content marketing agencies shouldn’t have any qualms about sharing examples of strategies and content that converted.

If the agency has direct experience in senior living, make sure you ask to see industry-specific examples of blog posts and premium content, like guides and e-books. Ask specifically about conversions: marketing-qualified leads to sales-qualified leads to move-ins. After all, increasing occupancy is the number one goal for senior living communities.

Do you like the agency’s content?

A content marketing agency should be putting its best face forward on its website and in its marketing materials. This means compelling, clear, and clean copy.

  • How does the site read?
  • Does the copy have personality?
  • If the agency has a blog, is it regularly updated with interesting content?
  • Does the agency offer premium content, like e-books and white papers? If yes, what’s the copy “experience” like from landing pages to thank-you emails?
  • How about social media? What do you think of the voice, the content, and the topics being discussed in different social media channels?
  • Does the site have a team page with bios? Do the writers’ bios demonstrate strong experience? (Check out the various writers’ LinkedIn profiles for further insights, including any public endorsements.)

Listen to your gut. If you’re not liking the agency’s own website or you spot errors (like grammar issues), move on.
 


 

lead generation ideas for senior living people infographic

Lead Generation Ideas for Senior Living: Revisit Cold Prospects

When it comes to lead generation ideas for senior living, everyone is always shouting, “We want MORE leads.”

But as we discussed in a previous article about lead quality vs. quantity, more isn’t always better. That’s why we’re big fans of getting our clients to embrace the following strategy:

Clients who follow this proven formula will see the overall quality of leads improve and conversion rates (i.e., lead to MQL, MQL to SQL, SQL to move-in) increase as well. But keep in mind that this is a strategy to implement on a go-forward basis.

What about the existing database we inherit when we start an engagement with a client? The one that’s often filled with thousands of cold prospects? Should we dump them and move on? Or is there any gold in those cold leads? One of the most overlooked lead generation ideas for senior living lies in cold leads.

Some folks might be surprised to learn that we don’t recommend dumping a cold database. Revisiting it can be fruitful, provided you have a smart strategy to re-engage these leads.

How re-engaging your cold database serves two purposes:

  • It will allow you to continue the conversation with prospects who weren’t ready to act previously but are in a better place to do so now.
  • It will help you clean out your senior living CRM of truly “dead” prospects, meaning those who will never become customers. Having a clean and accurate database will also offer a more realistic view of your overall sales pipeline.

Remember, most old/cold leads haven’t received any substantive follow-up. Prospects inquire at various stages of readiness, but salespeople can only work 10 – 12 active leads at a time. Because of this, the reps tend to focus on leads closest to making a decision. All the other leads tend to receive minimal follow-up. If the lead doesn’t advance at that point, it’s labeled cold or dead (when in reality, the lead simply isn’t ready and needs more nurturing).

How does a re-engagement campaign for cold leads work?

  • To start, you’ll send a series of short surveys to gauge interest. For example, if after receiving three surveys, a particular lead does not participate in a survey or even open your emails, you can safely assume the lead is indeed cold. The automation will determine this automatically, removing the lead from your senior living CRM.
  • If a lead does respond to one of the surveys, they will enter an appropriate workflow based on their answers. The workflow will continue to serve them relevant content based on survey answers and/or additional actions they take throughout the campaign.
  • What people download—and when—will determine what communications they receive next. Again, this happens automatically behind the scenes, thanks to marketing automation.

Essentially, re-engaging a cold database works like any other good lead nurturing campaign. Instead of nurturing marketing-qualified leads, you’re marketing to leads that are several steps behind MQLs. The goal is to re-engage those leads and get them back on track to becoming bona fide MQLs.

At the end of the campaign, you’ll have lists with the following:

  • Re-engaged leads ready for sales outreach
  • Re-engaged leads ready for continued nurturing
  • Truly cold leads to remove from the CRM
  • “No action” prospects who can be enrolled in a monthly e-newsletter to continue re-engagement (if you so choose)

Interested in a solution that does everything we describe above?
Use our “Stay in Touch” program.

One of the best lead generation ideas for senior living, our Stay in Touch program, includes a library of ready-to-go emails, downloadable offers (complete with content for the landing pages), and email workflows associated with each offer. These will be templated so you can easily customize and add your community’s branding. You’ll also have a dedicated smart list to track conversions.

Once set up (using marketing automation, like HubSpot), everything will happen automatically. You and your team will simply monitor the activity and follow up with engaged prospects accordingly.

As for whether this program works? It sure does! Read how our Stay in Touch program turned thousands of cold leads into 2.6 million dollars in revenue for LCB Senior Living.

senior living leads business infographic

Senior Living Leads: Think Quality vs. Quantity

Whenever we deploy lead scoring and marketing automation for a client, we always receive the inevitable panicked call from someone on the sales team: Where did all the leads go?

Here’s the thing: The leads are still there. What’s changed is the way the leads are being handled. And that’s a good thing. Sales-qualified leads (SQLs) move onto the sales team, while the marketing automation nurtures the not-ready-yet leads. (Also known as marketing-qualified leads or MQLs.)

Why do we follow this strategy instead of the old “move all leads to sales no matter what” approach? Simple. Most senior living leads aren’t ready to buy.

Consider the following:

  • 80% of new leads never translate into sales. [Small Biz Genius]
  • 96% of visitors who come to your website aren’t ready to buy. [Small Biz Genius]
  • 50% of the leads you generate are qualified, but not ready to buy right now. [Business.com]
  • 25% of the leads you generate are totally unqualified; they won’t ever buy. [Business.com]
  • 19% of buyers want to connect with a salesperson during the awareness stage. 60% want to connect during the consideration stage. 20% want to talk during the decision stage. [HubSpot]
  • At least 50% of your prospects are not a good fit for what you sell. [HubSpot]

Obviously, mileage will vary depending on a variety of factors, but the overarching theme to keep in mind is this: Since most leads aren’t ready to buy, most won’t be interested in a sales interaction. So why serve up not-ready leads to the sales team?

Doesn’t it make more sense for your sales team to work the leads that have the highest potential of converting while your marketing team nurtures the cooler and warmer leads to turn red-hot? Of course it does!

Still, this can be a hard sell to a sales team that’s used to seeing a big bucket of all leads. So, what can you do to help your sales team embrace the idea that lead quality trumps quantity? Get them to focus on other things.

Instead of fixating on the number of senior living leads, sales reps should focus on the following:

1. Give sales-qualified leads the VIP treatment.

Sales-qualified leads are gold! Treat them as such. In other words, don’t give up on your SQLs after only one or two attempts.

Here’s more compelling stats from our friends at HubSpot:

  • 60% of customers say no four times before saying yes. And yet 48% of salespeople never even make a single follow-up attempt.
  • 80% of sales require 5 follow-up calls. And yet 44% of salespeople give up after one follow-up call.
  • 70% of salespeople stop at one email. Yet if you send more emails, you’ve got a 25% chance to hear back.

2. Revisit buyer personas to ensure a solid understanding of prospects’ pain points.

Revisiting your buyer personas will help ensure the sales reps are familiar with all the relevant details—details that will help the reps ultimately sell better.

Reminder, personas are fictional representations of your ideal prospect. These personas provide important insights into things like challenges the prospect is facing, their financial health, and what they’re looking for in senior living.

Why is persona work so critical? If sales reps are only focusing on sales-qualified leads, the leads will probably closely match a corresponding persona. Now, instead of the sales rep having to rely on a broad one-size-fits-all sales pitch, they can customize their presentations to solve for the lead’s specific challenges, thanks to the intelligence provided by the persona.

Isn’t that a much smarter sales strategy?

3. Audit sales collateral used in follow-up communications with SQLs.

Sales reps might be working fewer leads, but they’ll be working better leads. Once again, you need to consider these your VIP leads and give them the VIP treatment. This most certainly includes how you follow up with them—including the words you use in your emails and the content you provide in brochures and guides.

Audit your existing follow-up materials, especially all emails. Create email templates that cover most scenarios you encounter. For example, create a set of emails for that awesome lead who is on the fence between your community and one of your competitors. Another set of emails for the hot lead who is leaning your way, but just needs a nudge. And so forth.

Doing this legwork now will make it easier to quickly customize when you need to send something out.

4. Offer an array of options for interacting with senior living leads.

If the pandemic taught us anything it’s this: It is possible to sell senior living via virtual methods like Zoom and online tours. And just because the pandemic is winding down doesn’t mean you need to abandon these methods, either.

Providing VIP prospects with multiple ways for them to interact with you will help make it easier for them to do exactly that.

5. Provide input to marketing teams regarding ideas for emails that nurture marketing-qualified leads (MQLs).

The marketing team usually manages the lead nurturing campaigns, but sales should provide input. After all, everyone’s goals are aligned—to convert MQLs to SQLs to move-ins. Sales reps often hear feedback from prospects regarding info that the prospects sought during the buying process but couldn’t find. Share these learnings with your marketing counterparts.

Remember: When it comes to senior living leads, quality beats quantity. Every. Single. Time.

We can help get your marketing and sales teams up to speed with lead scoring, marketing automation, and effective lead nurturing. Get in touch and let’s chat.

marketing senior living communities couple on computer

Marketing Senior Living Communities: 3 Ways to Keep it Real

One of the biggest challenges when it comes to marketing senior living communities is making sure the community sounds different from all the other ones out there. This is no easy feat since most communities are essentially selling the same thing.

Need some help standing out? Here are three strategies for creating authentic content so that you don’t sound like everyone else.

1. Paint vivid pictures and tell compelling stories.

Most senior living communities talk about the same features and amenities—and in the same boring ways.

  • We have a fitness center and lots of fun activities! (Really? So does the gym down the street.)
  • We have a chef who makes nutritious and delicious meals! (As opposed to all those chefs making unhealthy, yucky meals?)
  • We have the most beautiful grounds and views! (Prove it. Because beauty is in the eye of the beholder.)

While these features are no doubt relevant, you should recast them in a fresh light if you want to differentiate your community from all the others.

Ask yourself…

  • What makes your fitness center and activities so special?
  • What makes your food so great?
  • What makes your grounds so special?

Dig deep. Find the diamonds. What do we mean by that? Well, consider the following blurbs—and the pictures they paint and the stories they tell.

Fitness is a way of life in our community. One of the first things you’ll notice when you visit our community is our on-site fitness center. It’s near the main entrance, and it’s in a gorgeous building with lots of natural light thanks to all the windows. But that’s not why you’ll notice it. You’re going to notice it because you’re going to FEEL the energy pulsing out of it, thanks to always-full classes in things like yoga, Tai Chi, Zumba.

Life is delicious, and so is our food—just ask Barbara. Barbara likes her eggs sunny side up and her coffee strong and black. She loves Reubens for lunch or our chef’s chicken salad—although she’s been known to opt for freshly made sushi when the mood strikes. For dinner, she loves a good roast or hearty pasta with meat sauce. And don’t forget the wine and charcuterie board beforehand that she has in our on-site pub. And did we mention the after-dinner drinks, cake, and conversation? In the warmer weather, you can find Barbara having her meals outside on our lovely patio. In the winter, she likes sitting by the roaring fire with a hot cuppa. She loves attending bread-making class on Saturday mornings and the gingerbread house-decorating party during the holiday season. (Barbara’s grandkids love this as well). But perhaps what Barbara likes best? “Someone else is doing all the cooking and cleanup!” she says with a laugh. “I just get to enjoy!” Wouldn’t you like to be Barbara?

Welcome to your happy place. We have five miles of gorgeous walking trails. In the spring, our gardens bloom with tulips and daffodils. Our resident bird-watching group keeps everyone up to speed on the various activities—from hummingbird sightings in May to hawk watching in September. Our property is filled with flowering dogwoods, mighty oaks, and maples with leaves so red they rival a sunset. Every window has a view—and offers up something new to see, like a chipmunk skittering over a rock wall, a turkey wandering near the woods, even a fox or two! Nature is so incredibly calming and revitalizing. We have plenty of benches to sit and simply “be.”

We’re riffing here, but you get the idea. Describe all the “usual” things like food, activities, and the property itself, but do it authentically so that no one could ever confuse your community with another one down the road.

2. Don’t use stock photos.

Stock photos can’t adequately capture the essence of your community. Not to mention, we often see the same stock photos showing up on competing websites. Don’t do this! Custom photography is an investment, but a worthwhile one.

With custom photography . . .

  • You can show real people living real lives in a real environment—your community.
  • You won’t have to worry about the same photo showing up on a competitor’s website.
  • You can caption the photos and reinforce the fact these are real residents and real staff in your community.

Update your photo library at least once a year (ideally, once a quarter). Photos can and should be repurposed for blog posts, print collateral, and—perhaps most importantly—social media, like Facebook and Instagram.

3. Give people click-worthy info.

If you’re going to write compelling narratives and paint vivid pictures, you need to do so every step of the way on your website. Entice people with interesting calls-to-action (CTAs) and make sure the content you’re serving up is worthy of a click.

For example, in the food/dining blurb we included in our first point above . . . what if you included two CTAs at the end of it: MEET OUR CHEF and EXPLORE OUR SUMMER MENU.

The “Meet Our Chef” CTA would open a lightbox with a video of your chef talking about their culinary point of view and what they love about creating food in your community. Or perhaps it leads to a Q&A blog post, complete with pictures that help your chef tell their story.

For the “Explore Our Summer Menu” call-to-action, this would open an actual menu that highlights different dishes. Think of nice restaurants and their menus—the way they describe ingredients and techniques as well as the pictures of scrumptious-looking dishes. Think of how you feel after you look at one of these yummy-looking menus. That’s the same feeling you’re trying to achieve here.

senior-living-sales-office-workers-collaborating-graphic

Senior Living Sales Tips: The Problem with Third-Party Leads

Many senior living sales teams have become dependent on third-party lead aggregators to generate leads, tours, and move-ins. On the surface, a lead-gen aggregator sounds super appealing. You get more leads without lifting a finger, right? But as the saying goes, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

In today’s edition of senior living sales tips, we’re going to discuss the many problems with third-party leads (including how you should approach them if you’ve decided you simply can’t give them up).

1. All third-party leads are SHARED leads.

Unfortunately, it’s easy for senior living sales teams to buy into the illusion that they have plenty of leads if they’re only looking at the total number rather than the quality or the lead source itself.

Keep in mind, however, that lead aggregators aren’t sharing leads with just your community. They’re sharing the leads with five to seven other communities as well. Not to mention, a shared lead actually represents only 1/5 or 1/7 of an organic or exclusive lead. So you can’t consider any shared leads as “full” leads since doing so will artificially inflate your lead database or senior living CRM.

2. Third-party lead generators might provide a high volume of leads, but these leads typically have extremely low conversions.

It is not unusual for communities to attribute 80% of their total leads to third-party sources but only convert three to six percent of those leads to residents.

Think about that for a moment.

Your senior living sales team is spending eighty percent of its time working on leads that convert only three to six percent of the time! Organic leads, professional referrals, and friend and family referral sources all have significantly higher conversions.

3. Being first is the only one way to improve conversions (and that isn’t as easy as it sounds).

By “first,” we mean contacting the lead within 10 minutes of receiving it—and doing this on a regular basis day in and day out with all leads that come in. Talk about adding stress to your sales team!

And even if you are first, that might not get you very far since most marketing leads aren’t sales-ready until after six to eight marketing interactions.

4. You might already have the same lead in your CRM.

The lead the third-party aggregator provided might already exist in your senior living CRM because it came in another way, such as organic search or paid advertising.

And yet if you don’t promptly notify the third-party provider about the duplicate lead, you’ll end up “buying” a lead for a prospect you already have. Talk about a waste of valuable marketing dollars for your senior living sales team.

5. Third-party leads are expensive.

Most communities are paying the equivalent of one full month’s rent and care for third-party leads. Couldn’t you put that money to better use with marketing initiatives that bring in organic leads who are genuinely interested in your community? (Short answer: YES!)

Not ready to give up third-party lead aggregators just yet? At least be SMART about it.

If you’re going to continue with third-party lead aggregators, you need a smart strategy to convert leads faster using marketing automation technology. Luckily for you, we’ve created a solution that can help.

We call it “Speed to The Lead.” This solution will help your community respond quickly to third-party leads, deliver brochures immediately, and follow-up using an automated five-step lead nurturing workflow that nudges people along the sales funnel and encourages them to request a tour. Interested in hearing more about it? Get in touch and let’s chat!