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,, 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.  

6 signs you need a senior living lead gen agency

6 Signs You Need a Senior Living Lead Generation Agency

Are you taking stock of your marketing efforts and wondering if you should work with a senior living lead generation agency? Here are six signs that suggest this would indeed be a wise decision for your community. 

Sign #1: You haven’t developed formal buyer personas. 

Many communities might have informal buyer personas—the ones based on hunches. But hunches can only get you so far. Not to mention, hunches are often wrong. Remember, you can’t generate more of the right leads if you don’t know what the “right” lead even looks like for your community. 

  • How an agency can help: Persona development takes time and effort. But a good agency with expertise in senior living should be able to develop these personas in a reasonable amount of time. And better yet—a good agency will know how to use them. 

Sign #2: Your website doesn’t speak to your various personas. 

This could be because you don’t have formal personas, as noted above. Or it could be because the senior living website simply wasn’t built to communicate to different audiences. Each persona should follow its own path and journey with custom content designed specifically for them.  

For example, the adult child shopping for her mom with Alzheimer’s disease is going to need different content and nurturing than the married couple looking for independent living as they approach retirement. 

Keep in mind that buyer journeys aren’t linear. As much as we’d all like a website visitor to enter on a specific page and follow things in the order we dictate, the reality is that buyers enter on various pages and jump around. The goal is to enable prospects to take the next step that will make sense for them (even if the step isn’t the one you’ve envisioned). 

Sign #3: You don’t have a reliable system in place for scoring and segmenting leads. 

Not having a way to score and segment leads is like inviting everyone to the party at your house, but not having someone to greet people at the door and direct them to where they should go next. Maybe one guest needs to use the restroom while another is hungry and would like to know where the buffet table is. 

Think of your website as the party destination, and each website visitor is a party guest with a specific need. Not all needs will be the same, either. Some folks are just starting their journey into senior living while others might need to make a decision ASAP for their parent.  

  • How an agency can help: This is where the best agencies shine. They don’t simply make things look pretty. (Don’t get us wrong; aesthetics matter.) But a good lead gen agency understands that the only way you can effectively “work” the leads coming in is to score and segment them appropriately. Marketing-qualified leads (MQLs) will continue to be nurtured according to who they are. On the other hand, the sales-qualified leads (SQLs) will be served to the sales team for follow-up. 

Sign #4: You don’t have marketing automation. 

Or if you do have it, you haven’t used it or you’re not maximizing its full potential. Our industry has been slow to get on board the marketing automation bandwagon. We’re finding that most communities have an understanding of what it is—and why it’s necessary. The challenge? Not all marketing automation is created equal. And marketing automation doesn’t set itself up—someone needs to direct things.  

  • How an agency can help: The best senior living marketing agencies know marketing automation inside and out—what product or product level will make sense for your community and how to set it up so you get the biggest bang for your marketing buck. 

Sign #5: You don’t have custom lead nurturing campaigns. 

Marketing automation sends the right content to the right person at the right time. But who’s responsible for creating the ‘right content? Great content doesn’t write itself. Understanding your buyer personas is the first critical step. Then, you need to develop content that satisfies their needs. 

  • How an agency can help: Great agencies usually have great writers who can draft content that delights and converts. Now, we’re not going to lie: Content creation is an investment. But it’s money well spent. Unless you have a naturally gifted writer in-house, it makes sense to outsource this work to an agency. 

Sign #6: You’re not getting the results you want despite having personas, automation, and lead scoring. 

Even the best senior living marketing and sales teams need help from time to time. Getting a fresh set of eyes on your lead generation efforts can make all the difference in the world. There’s no shame in that. 

  • How an agency can help: A good agency won’t make you commit to long-term contracts or take forever to get back to you. The best agencies want to help you succeed. The key is working with an agency that understands senior living and the sales cycle for different senior living lifestyles. A good agency should also be able to evaluate your current setup, monitor results, and adjust accordingly.  

Ready to work with a senior living lead generation agency? Let’s talk. 

We know senior living. We know marketing. And we know how to help communities design strategies to boost their lead-gen efforts. Get in touch and let’s chat. 

creating a winning senior living strategy

Creating a Winning Senior Living Marketing Strategy: 5 Tips

We spend a lot of time talking with our clients about marketing strategy—and why creating a winning strategy is an essential first step. But what does a “winning” senior living marketing strategy even mean, or look like? Keep reading . .  

1. Define what “winning” looks like at various points during the marketing and sales process.

In senior living, the ultimate conversion point is move-ins. Everyone wants to see more move-ins and better move-ins. But words like “more” and “better” are incredibly vague. Marketing and sales teams need specific (and realistic) numbers to aim for—and not just in terms of move-ins, either.  

Think of all the conversion points that can influence move-ins. For example, increasing quality website traffic by 10 percent next quarter is an example of a clearly defined goal that can influence move-ins. No, not right away, but eventually. 

The clearer your definition of winning is and the clearer your goals are, the easier it will be for marketing and sales teams to develop a strategy for achieving those goals—and for measuring progress.  

2. Develop a strong resident retention program.

If you have excellent move-in conversions, but lousy resident retention, this will affect your bottom line.  

Remember, it costs more to replace a resident than it does to attract a new one. When a disgruntled resident leaves, you lose precious acquisition (aka marketing) dollars. But other costs come into play, such as direct costs, operational costs, and social costs. (Hint: Make sure you understand the lifetime value of each resident.) 

Bottom line: A winning senior living marketing strategy today must include a specific strategy for retaining residents and keeping them happy. 

3. Don’t skimp on the essentials, like buyer persona development.

We understand that persona development can be hard for some people to appreciate (especially those in the C-suite who are monitoring spending). After all, the results don’t yield something truly tangible, like a piece of marketing collateral. Personas aren’t customer-facing, either.  

But here’s the thing: You can’t develop a winning senior living marketing strategy if you don’t understand who you’re marketing to. Taking the time to understand the ideal residents for your community will inform your overall strategy. Generic personas will produce a generic strategy—one that won’t deliver the ROI you’re looking for. Instead, invest in senior living persona development. 

4. Be prepared to pivot—a lot.

Long gone are the days when you could create a 12-month marketing strategy for the year ahead. Too many things are in flux now in our world, forcing marketing strategies to change on a dime. Case in point: the pandemic, the current rise in inflation, and even climate change.  

Marketing strategies—and those responsible for developing and managing them—must remain nimble. You need to adjust quickly as things change on the ground.  

For example, if you were managing any communities in Florida in September of 2022, you likely had to change your short-term campaigns quickly, thanks to Hurricane Ian. And if any of your properties were affected by Ian, well . . . obviously that’s what we call a game-changer—something that can upend a marketing strategy in a matter of hours. 

This leads us to our next point . . . 

5. Work with a marketing agency for additional expertise and ongoing support.

A good senior living marketing agency can serve as an extension of your own marketing team within your community. Plus, an agency has a 30,000-foot view. They can help pick up the slack, monitor analytics, and often save you money since everything can flow through them (ad buys, paid digital ads, writing, etc.). 

Interested in learning how we can help your team create a winning marketing strategy? 

Set up a complimentary brainstorming session with us and let’s talk through your goals and how we can help you achieve them.