Senior Living Marketing Tips: What is Your Special Sauce?

Marketing Strategies for Senior Living: What’s Your Special Sauce?

Let’s talk awesome marketing strategies for senior living. To start, who remembers that great jingle from the 1970’s: “Two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun”?

For all of us who grew up with that catchy song, we knew it was about the McDonald’s Big Mac. The special sauce was the magic. It was the distinction between a plain old hamburger and a Big Mac.

OK, so what’s this got to do with your senior living community?

Keep reading…

When it comes to marketing strategies for senior living, you must know your community’s special sauce.

Special sauce is a good way to explain how you’re different from your competitors. In other words, your special sauce is what sets you apart.

For example, consider Walmart. Its special sauce is simple: pricing. Everything that Walmart does is specifically about keeping their prices low. Apple’s special sauce is innovation. Nike focuses on their product line. They are the gold standard in athletic wear.

What’s the special sauce in your senior living community? Do you have something that makes your community stand out?

Not sure? Not to worry. The following marketing strategies for senior living will help you create the perfect special sauce recipe for your community.

1. Operational Excellence

Offering quality services at an affordable price—that’s what everyone wants, right? A great example is our friend McDonald’s. It offers a simple, budget-friendly menu. It also maintains consistency in taste, swift service, and efficiency.

2. Product Leadership

This competitive strategy focuses on bringing superior products to the market. Also, the products should ultimately create great experiences for customers. Consider this from a senior living marketing perspective. For example, is your wellness program outstanding? Do you offer a unique dining experience? Talk about them!

3. Service Quality

Delivering consistently superior customer service is the recipe for this special sauce. The secret ingredient? Service resolution. After all, nobody’s perfect. But being able to listen to the customers’ problems so you can work toward a positive resolution is key. Virgin Airlines is a great example of a company that offers full service flights and outstanding customer service.

4. Relationship Differentiation

This special sauce is all about your associates and team members. Their interactions with the customer demonstrate competence, courtesy, credibility, reliability, and responsiveness. This avenue is closely related to service quality. But where service quality mostly focuses on processes and systems, relationship differentiation is all about the people.

The hiring process at Zappos is a great example of how they maintain their relationship differentiation. The recruitment process is like a courtship. They woo people who fit into their culture and who are good people.

5. Reputation Differentiation

Some companies set themselves apart by their reputation. This can be difficult for newer senior living communities, but even they can succeed in establishing a quality reputation through strategic partnerships. In other words, alliances with hospitals, medical staff, and industry thought leaders can establish a company as an expert.

DuPont, for example, has a strong reputation, employing engineers, scientists, and sales reps with solid technical or educational backgrounds.

To help you define your special sauce, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Why do your customers choose you rather than your competitors?
  2. What emotional need does your service fulfill?
  3. What aspects of your business can your competitors not imitate?

Once you’ve determined your special sauce, make sure that you do the following.

  • First, your special sauce isn’t something you simply throw around in senior living marketing copy. Your company should be walking the talk when it comes to fulfillment.
  • Second, employees should be able to articulate your special sauce.
  • Third, make sure your special sauce is part of your culture at all levels.
  • Finally, make sure you promote how great your special sauce is across all marketing channels!

Need help defining your community’s special sauce! Our senior living marketing agency can help!

We have decades of industry experience, so we know how to create a special sauce that will be unique to your community. Let us help!

Fresh Ideas For Planning Events That Drive Traffic & Generate Leads

Senior Living Marketing Events: Fresh Ideas That Drive Leads

Editor’s note: We updated this article on 9/15/20 in an effort to talk about senior living marketing events in the time of COVID-19.

Senior living marketing events can typically go one of two ways. First, well-planned and executed events can generate qualified leads, re-engage existing leads, and create opportunities to develop new professional contacts and nurture existing relationships.

On the other hand, poorly executed events can be a big waste of time and money. Add in a pandemic, and event marketing becomes even more complex!

Don’t worry. We got you covered. Here are some fresh event ideas, most of which you can adapt in a “virtual” way. Popular options include Zoom and Facebook Live. In fact, we’ve written an in-depth post on how to effectively use Facebook Live during COVID-19…and beyond.

Senior Living Marketing Events: Show That You Are An Expert & a Resource

Educational senior living marketing events will help position you as a trusted advisor and valued resource. Below are some topics and themes to consider.

  • Author Visit. Many authors are doing virtual book tours right now. You can either host or simply promote a popular author’s upcoming virtual book tour. For in-person events, the author can speak and bring books for purchase and signing.
  • Downsizing/ Transitions. Invite real estate pros and downsizing experts. Hold a panel discussion in person or via Zoom/Facebook Live.
  • Financial Solutions Same idea as above. Your community hosts the experts in person or virtually. Think VA benefits, life insurance conversion, and long term care.
  • Legal Issues/ Financial Planning Topics. Ditto.
  • Memory Care Topics. Ditto. Think brain fitness, education, research, driving, and dementia.
  • Support Groups. Ideas include: caregiver support groups, Alzheimer’s, men’s groups, bereavement groups, etc.
  • Continuing Education Units (CEUs). Do this at your community, or bring your program to a local hospital or skilled nursing facility.

Senior Living Marketing Events: Be Social & Show Your Fun Side

Some of the senior living events below work better “in person.” But many can be adapted to a virtual environment. We’ve marked those with asterisks.

  • Art classes. *This can be a GREAT thing to do virtually. The teacher demonstrates via ZOOM, and people follow along/participate at home.
  • Fitness classes. *Same idea. The teacher conducts the fitness class via Zoom, and people can take part from home.
  • Networking. Think breakfasts, lunch, cocktail receptions, martini mixer etc.
  • Dash & Dine. Stop by for a tour or event, and take home dinner on us!
  • Spa Night. *For a virtual component, perhaps offer a virtual “series” on nail care or how to trim your own hair.
  • Brunch. Ideas include champagne, jazz, holiday, Mother/Father’s Day.
  • Senior/Senior Prom with local high school (Star Dust Prom).
  • Holiday/ Special Day Socials / BBQs. Think of all the possibilities: Valentine’s Day, Saint Patrick’s Day, Mother/ Father’s/ Grandparent’s Day, Memorial Day, July 4th, Veteran’s Day, Thanksgiving.
  • Chef demonstrations & duels and contests.  *Another great option for Facebook Live. Think of how many people love watching reality cooking shows!
  • Fashion Show. Collaborate with a local store and use staff, residents, family, or professionals as models. *Again, a version of this could be transitioned online.
  • Comedienne. Professionals need to have fun after work. *So many comics are sharing free clips right now on YouTube. Compile a bunch and share with your contacts.
  • Reading or one act play by local theater group 

Senior Living Marketing Events: Grass Roots & Community

  • Host spiritual groups. Think Parish Nurses, Stephens Ministry, Non Denominational meeting of Rabbi’s, Pastors, Priests etc.
  • Host seniors groups. Think Red Hat Society, Senior Centers & Groups.
  • Host art shows for local schools/ artists or resident art
  • Host piano recitals for local teachers if you have a piano
  • Dinner & a movie if you have a theater
  • Sponsor a community yard sale
  • Host fundraisers. More and more of these are happening online, such as virtual walks/races.
  • Sponsor a community health fair with free screenings
  • Host community group car wash
  • Host a variety/ talent show
  • Wreath/ Miniature Tree decorating – referral sources & families buy a wreath or tree and decorate it (usually with a theme) and raffle them off for charity at a social event.

Reminder, we’ve helped our clients successfully “pivot” during the pandemic.

In fact, we never missed a beat since we’re a virtual marketing agency. As a result, most of our clients didn’t either. WE CAN HELP YOU. Please don’t hesitate to reach out and take advantage of our free 30-minute brainstorming session. We can help you come up with effective senior living marketing events that will work now.

Market Better During COVID-19!

Access our free resources! Includes tips on senior living events and more. Get started here.

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Senior Living Websites: Why Do a Website Audit?

My dad would always tell me, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” And when it came to my 1979 beat up Dodge Aspen, his advice made perfect sense. But when it comes to your senior living website, you must anticipate the broken bits (ideally, before they happen or just as they’re happening) so you can nip them in the proverbial bud.


By conducting regular website audits.

Why do a website audit? Here are three reasons why you need to make this a part of your ongoing web marketing strategy:

1. Improved website performance will lead to better user experience (and happier users make for happier leads/customers).

Even your website needs a yearly physical to see how the systems are running. A website audit will help you determine your website’s technical performance. Think framework and infrastructure, page speed/load time, and navigation—all of which affects the user experience (UX). When auditing your site, pay close attention to the following:

  • Is your website mobile-friendly? According to @similiarweb, mobile drives 56% of all traffic.
  • Is your website error free? Dead ends and broken links can be frustrating to the user.
  • Is your page size below 9.5 mb? The heavier the site page, the slower the load time.
  • Do your web pages load within three seconds? Any slower and visitors will abandon your site, reducing conversions and sales.

2. Enhancing your search engine optimization (SEO) means your site stands a better chance of coming up in organic searches.

By conducting an SEO site checkup, you’ll be able to identify any missed SEO opportunities and remedy any mistakes.

  • Does your website have XML sitemap files? This tells Google and other search engines what pages on your site you want crawled and indexed.
  • Do you have a title tag and how long is it? The title tag is an HTML title that is used to briefly and accurately describe the topic and theme of an online listing. Your title tag should be no longer than 65 characters in length.
  • Are your page titles optimized? Remember, 60% of all organic clicks go to the top three organic search results. Optimize your page titles and use a compelling meta description to get off on the right foot.
  • Are you reviewing your keywords? Look at your keyword performance. Find out which keywords are giving you the biggest gains in traffic and leads and make sure you are adding relevant content to your website that targets those keywords.

3. Reviewing and tweaking conversion paths will help you boost overall visitor-to-leads and leads-to-customers.

A website audit enables you to re-evaluate your lead generation and conversion funnels.

  • Are you providing high quality content on your website that provides value to your prospects? Companies that blog get 55% more web traffic and 70% more leads than those that don’t. Blogging is the best way to reach your target audience with useful, educational information they’re out there looking for. Not to mention how much it helps your search rankings.
  • Do you have a variety of content that appeals to all your different prospects (e.g., potential resident, adult child), including where they are in their journey (e.g., research, planning)? Understanding your buyers by developing (and regularly revisiting!) personas will help you create targeted content that speaks to them and gets them to act.
  • Do you have a system of following up with your leads and keeping them engaged in your content and brand? Calls-to-action, marketing offers, and landing pages play a major role in the performance of your website.

Let’s Audit Your Website!

Ready to find out how your senior living website is doing? Get started here.

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Senior Living Website of the Future: A Case Study

Vitality Senior Living wanted to build a senior living website of the future. We worked with them to integrate website design and function to align with their sales culture.

Vitality wanted to accomplish the following with their new senior living website:

  • Provide the right content at the right time to the right prospect
  • Create a highly engaging site that would encourage visitors to stay longer and keep them coming back
  • Represent senior living in a positive light using vibrant images and positive language
  • Engage prospects in every stage of readiness, not just those ready to move in within the next thirty days
  • Allow prospects to self-select their stage of readiness, consume content created for that stage, and advance seamlessly through the journey
  • Automate lead nurturing campaigns for earlier-stage prospects while advancing prospects who are ready to engage with the sales team
  • Generate high quality, organic leads

Step #1: Personas, Stages of Readiness, and Content – Oh My!

We created buyer personas and mapped the buyer’s journey based on three stages of readiness: Research, Planning, and Action.

First, we created a buyer persona for the adult daughter and the older adult prospect and mapped out motivations, obstacles, priorities, wants, and needs for each. Then, we were able to plan the right content that would be valuable to each persona. In addition, we could organize the blog and resources by stage of readiness.

For example, a prospect in the beginning stages of Awareness and Research usually wants to know where they will live, what they will do, who will take care of them, and if they can afford to live there. Someone in a Planning or Action stage needs to know how they are going to downsize, which community will be the best fit, when to make the move, and how to have the conversation with the family. Once we completed this, we created a blog calendar and the writers got to work. We moved on to the next step – engagement.

Step #2: Drive Traffic To the Site & Keep Them Coming Back

Vitality didn’t want to use traditional senior living labels, such as seniors, assisted living, or memory care. Instead, they wanted positive age-neutral descriptions, such as older adult, lifestyles, and choice. As a result, we had to get creative in using keywords to drive search engine optimization.

To engage website visitors, we included several Senior Living SMART partners in the development of the website.

  • Site visitors can take a Roobrik assessment. Each assessment takes 3 to 5 minutes and leads prospects to a personalized Care Fit Report that presents their best care options. Prospects can share their report with other family members or save it for later. This keeps them on the website longer and increases return traffic and conversions.
  • We also added interactive room planners for each community. This way, prospects in Planning or Action stages can choose an apartment style and design it by adding furnishings. These room planners by NextGenTools are the only ones that work on mobile devices and allow prospects to share their completed design on Facebook or email to other family members. This increases time-on-page by 6 to 8 minutes and creates a reason to come back to the website.
  • Future enhancements include adding live chat to improve conversion from anonymous visitor to qualified leads and tours. With SiteStaff, we are getting 40% conversion from chat to lead and 20% conversion from chat to scheduled tour!

Step #3: HubSpot & CRM Integration

Vitality wanted to automate lead nurturing strategies for all of the leads that are earlier stage. An “earlier stage” lead is a person who is not ready to tour or talk to a sales person, but they’re still expressing interest. Vitality also wanted to be sure that “urgent” leads quickly went to the sales team.

As a result, we recommended integrating the website with HubSpot (for automated nurturing). We also recommended integrating the site with their senior living CRM (they use Sherpa) to connect leads in an Action Stage to the sales team for face-to-face and voice-to-voice relationship building.

The results? A senior living website of the future!

The new Vitality website is attracting more of the right traffic, engaging them longer, and speaking to (and converting) them throughout their journey.

Want to take your senior living website to the next level? We’d love to help! Request your free 30-minute brainstorming session or fill out the form below to get a website assessment.

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Ready to find out how your website matches up? See how your site is performing with our instant report that you may save and share.

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Senior Living Websites: 3 Proven Ways To Improve Your Lead Conversions

Five seconds. That’s all the time most people spend on a web page before exiting, according to Jason McCloud, now Director of Digital Marketing at Benchmark Senior Living, and presenter at the 2016 Senior Care Marketing Sales Summit (SMASH). Luckily, there are easy ways for senior living websites to effectively capture anonymous site visitors and convert them to leads, McCloud noted.

The most important takeaway from this session is to optimize visitors’ time with a three-step strategy: Design your landing page for conversion rate optimization, add compelling imagery and calls to action, and conduct A/B testing to pick the design that produces the most favorable responses.

1. Design Your Senior Living Website to Optimize Your Conversion Rates.

Use eye-tracking “heat map” software as a “quick and easy way” to assess where website visitors look. People generally scan web pages in either an “F” or a “Z” pattern. Providers should design their landing pages accordingly.

In addition, consider how folks are going to scan: The right information needs to be in the right place. Place logos in the top left corner, with a prominent call to action and other important information in the web page’s “hot spots,” where people’s eyes—followed by their mouse—are generally drawn. And when it comes to information, less is more. Stick with the basics: Company logo, relevant photos, a phone number, pricing.

Most of the tracking software is affordable, according to McCloud, and some even offer free 30-day trials.

2. Add Quality Images and Compelling Calls to Action.

Design should revolve around what shoppers want to see: What the community looks like, and how much it costs. Here is McCloud’s advice for images and design:

  • Invest in professional photography. Choose renderings over lifestyle images, and limit use of stock photos. Adult influencers shopping for a senior living community for their parents don’t want to see generic photos of smiling seniors — they want to see what the community actually looks like. If you post a gallery of photos, allow for manual click-through rather than quick-paced auto-rotation to let visitors peruse at their own pace.
  • Keep it simple. Don’t make it difficult for a visitor to perform the desired action. McCloud noted that you “always want your main call to action — what you want them to do, whether it’s calling a phone number or filling out a web form — within three clicks of any given entry page.”
  • Create a sense of urgency. Compel action by using language that denotes a sense of urgency, with phrases like “Check availability and pricing today” over “Contact us” or “Request a brochure.” Similarly, for forms, swap out the “Submit” button for “Request Information Now.”
  • Train your team to make leads count. If you’re going to the trouble of designing or redesigning your page to maximize lead conversion, your team must be properly trained to handle inquiries. Make sure the person answering the phone is qualified to take the lead and transmit it properly to the sales or marketing team. In other words, don’t let the lead die on the vine.
  • Don’t forget the smartphones. Many adult influencers are glued to their phones. Your landing page design strategy should expand beyond desktops to mobile devices as well.

3. Test Which Design Works Best

If there are two web page designs that you’re having trouble choosing between, test them both. For example, if you’re not sure whether to utilize the F or the Z pattern design, you can experiment to see which one gets better conversion rates.

McCloud also suggested testing each design for one to two weeks, then choosing the data-driven winner. Converting existing web traffic into a lead is more valuable than spending resources on trying to generate more traffic.

If you drive traffic to your page without capturing people’s attention for more than five seconds, you’re flushing money down the drain, McCloud said, advising providers to “work on bettering conversion rates before spending more money to drive traffic.”

Need help doing any of the above? That’s where WE come in.

We’re experts in marketing and senior living website design. Plus, we have decades of senior living industry experience to boot. Let’s chat about your website.

Senior Living Sales: Turn Your Stand-Up Meeting into a Huddle

Senior Living Sales Tips: Turn Your Stand-Up Meeting into a Huddle

Football is a great analogy for the sport of senior living sales. Teams need strong offense and defense to succeed. “Coaches” (sales managers) provide strategies and tactical insights. The “players” (sales team) execute the plays.

And, yes—we can go even deeper with this analogy.

We have sales and marketing teams playing offense by moving leads forward with a series of advances. Resident care teams play defense by holding the line on move-outs. Executive directors play the quarterback position, directing team members to execute the down. Department managers represent specialty teams, keeping residents engaged and families happy. Regional and corporate support teams fill coaching roles to round out the team.

This year, resolve to get more out of your stand-up meetings by running it like a football huddle. Here’s how…

Senior Living Sales Tip: Gear Up

Just like a football huddle, your “huddle” should be a quick check-in to make sure that information is exchanged and everyone is on the same page.

Preparation is key to keeping the huddle quick, productive, and on track. Stand-up meetings are opportunities for teams to connect at the start of the day to share relevant and time-sensitive information. Use the Daily Stand-Up Report to communicate everything the team needs to know. (We’ve created a ‘Daily Stand Up Report’ for you. It’s free! Download the template now.)

Senior Living Sales Tip: Keep it Snappy

The most effective football huddles communicate information clearly and quickly. You need to do the same:

  • Ask everyone to stand. It’s called a “huddle” for a reason, right? You’d never expect football players to scatter, sit, or lounge on benches. Demand the same from your team: have everyone stand. Standing forces people to think on their feet—literally – and it ensures the meeting moves along.
  • Choose a time and be consistent. In football, a huddle takes place at the beginning of (almost) every play. The players know when to expect it, along with the coaches and fans. Do the same with your huddles. Start on time with whoever is present – don’t wait for stragglers.
  • Focus only on what’s necessary. In a football huddle, the focus is on the next play only. That’s it. You need to do the same with your huddle. Limit the scope. Have a flip chart available to create a “parking lot” of issues and topics that are better addressed in a team meeting or 1:1.
  • Know when to ditch the huddle. In football, there’s the “hurry up offense” where the team forgoes the huddle in order to get a play off quickly. There will be times when it makes sense to cancel or ditch a regularly scheduled huddle: a state inspector has just walked in, for example. Or it’s a big holiday week. Use your judgment.

Senior Living Sales Tip: Call the Plays

In the huddle, the quarterback calls the next play. In your huddle, each person will communicate his or her “plays” (updates). The executive director will use the Stand-Up Report as a way to engage each “player” (director), encouraging him or her to share updates. (Download the FREE ‘Daily Huddle Tools’ Training Guide.)

Senior Living Sales Tip: Celebrate the Touchdowns

Keep your huddles quick and focused. Then, step back and watch your players execute their plays during the day, resulting in “touchdowns” (success!). Remember to celebrate these successes at a future huddle (the equivalent of an end-zone dance).

By the way, we work closely with senior living sales teams AND marketing teams to get them working better–and SMARTER. Reach out and let’s talk!


5 Characteristics of a Great Regional Director of Sales & Marketing

5 Signs of a Great Regional Director of Senior Living Sales & Marketing

Great senior living sales and marketing talent is hard to come by. It’s one of the only professional jobs with a six-figure income potential (if you’re top talent) with no corresponding college degree. This makes hiring top sales talent challenging on good days. (And a roll of the dice in situations that require a quick decision.)

Talented senior living sales and marketing directors are in short supply. So here are some signs to look for during the interview process:

1. They have been successful at the community level in both internal & external sales roles.

This is a very difficult role to step into at the regional level without experience at the community level. Since coaching and modeling are two of the most important skills sets required to develop community sales talent, it is important to be able to relate to the various scenarios that happen on a daily basis.

Candidates should also display a comfort level when it comes to meeting with families and professionals. Being successful at a single site level is certainly not the only criteria. It is a huge leap for a sales person to transition from producing results by themselves to producing results through others – especially when they do not have reporting leverage.

2. They are coaches, not auditors.

I always ask candidates, “What is a successful site visit?” Then, I have them walk me through their entire process. This helps to identify gaps – some of which you can coach for improvement, and others you can’t (usually because of a lack of buy-in).

I ask this because I want to be sure that there is …

  • A plan and a purpose for the visit (they don’t just show up)
  • Good communication and collaboration with the Executive Director/Administrator
  • Preparation to ensure the visit will have value to the team (reviewing trending reports, organizing a training, or having the community sales person schedule a sales call or home visit)
  • A hands-on component (modeling a tour, follow up calls, role playing)
  • A written plan provided at the end of the site visit that is reviewed with the ED/ Administrator before leaving

It’s never a good sign when I hear that they are going to bring volumes of reports to go over with the team, or that they have a checklist/ audit form, or they are reviewing plans. There are times when all of these should be incorporated into a site visit, but unless there is coaching and hands-on “doing,” they will not be seen as part of the team and a help, but as an auditor and a distraction.

3. They can diagnose barriers.

I always include a case study or have a scenario ready that requires the candidate to diagnose the situation to find root cause, identify solutions, and articulate how they would create and execute a strategy and measure the impact.

This can be framed as “if you are working with a community and their biggest challenge is (low lead generation, not converting inquiries to tours, low tour to deposit/ move-in ratio etc.), how would help them improve this?”

Sometimes I do this as a follow-up to the interview to understand how they break down common sales challenges. I email them the case study and an action plan template. This is very helpful when I am down to my final two candidates.  Using a case study has saved me from many bad hires!

4. They understand both the art and science of selling.

Asking candidates to explain their perspective on the art & science of selling will provide insight into their coaching style and belief system. You will find out if they like data and reports and can turn them into useable information – or if they hate them (better to find out now!).

You will discover if they are more on the relational side of sales or the analytics. Do they set sales activity standards?  Are they the same for each community or customized (based on what)? How will they produce results through others? Are they more on the accountability or cheerleader side of the pendulum? And what’s their view on senior living sales and marketing? Today, the two must align! So look for a sales person who embraces collaboration with marketing (or has experience in marketing).

While there may not be a right or wrong answer for every question, there will be better fits for the community and regional teams, and also for the philosophy of the company.

5. They are coachable!

Sometimes you get all of the first four characteristics and confidently make the offer – Yeah!  And then they start and are completely un-coachable! They won’t use the tools & resources (their stuff is always better), won’t buy into the training (so they can’t coach and reinforce it), won’t take feedback – it’s a nightmare, they are not successful and you are back to square one. This is harder to discern, so I have two suggestions.

First, I ask if they have played team sports (always better when they have). And if so, I ask them to describe their best and worst coach (if they were all bad, there may be an issue!). Secondly, I bring in my HR Director – they have radar for this and are always a valued resource.

At Senior Living SMART, we can help your senior living sales and marketing teams work more efficiently together.

Silo mentalities need not apply! We work closely with both departments to create an efficient lead generation machine. Ask us how we do it!

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Turn Your Website Into a Lead Generation Machine [Webinar]

87% of all senior housing sales begin online, making websites the #1 sales tool for lead generation. Prospects visit a community website an average of 7.8 times during their buying journey. This webinar will demonstrate how to convert anonymous website visitors into exclusive and unshared qualified leads.

Free Website Audit

What’s your website already doing well? What can it do better? We start where you are so we can develop a plan to optimize the good while nixing the bad and the ugly.

Website Pet Peeves

Website Pet Peeves

87% of those looking into senior living options start their search by visiting community websites and 37% of those prospects will eliminate a community from consideration purely based on the quality of the website. When prospects visit your website, they are looking for answer to four key questions:

Price – “Can I Afford It?”

According to a “Social Silver Surfers” report by Creating Results, the #1 pet peeve of our prospects (The Silent Generation & The Older Boomer) is the lack of pricing transparency. They want to know how much it will cost, what’s included, and how senior living is funded. The problem is that most providers do not provide any pricing information on their website because they want to establish value before quoting price and they do not want their competitors to have that information. The reality is that competitors can get pricing with mystery shopping. The lack of transparency on pricing drives prospects off of your website and over to a paid referral agency/ lead generator online sources who will provide your pricing and the pricing of your competitors (who they may not have even been exploring) and your lead is now shared with 4 -6 competitors. Here are three solutions to keep your website visitors on your site:

  • Offer your starting at pricing for each apartment style as a downloadable pdf so you collect contact information needed to follow up and establish value.
  • Offer a downloadable cost comparison worksheet with everything included in your community completed and the same expenses for staying at home for the prospect to complete to establish value & collect contact information.
  • Offer a downloadable guide to funding solutions as an opt-in with information that provides an overview to the Veteran’s Aid & Attendance benefit, Life Insurance conversion, Long Term Care Insurance, Medicare & Medicaid. You provide a valuable guide and in exchange, collect contact information to convert a website visitor into a lead.

Housing – “Where Will I Live?”

According to the same study by Creating Results, the #2 pet peeve about senior living websites is that floor plans are either not available, are illegible or incomplete. According to Jayne Sallerson, COO of Sherpa, the majority of website visitors are in the “planning” or “thinking” stages and are not yet ready to take an action such as calling, completing an online form or scheduling a tour – but they do want a sneak peak before they are ready to tour. Here are three solutions to consider:

  • Create a gallery of images that are easy for prospects to sort through and explore on the website. Be sure to represent common areas and a variety of apartment styles.
  • Create a library of clear, legible floor plans and make them available to download.
  • My favorite solution is to create a virtual video tour that allows prospects to explore your community while collecting data and analytics and turning website visitors into prospects. (link to SMARTTour video on the SLS website)

Amenities – “What Will I Do?”

The “Social, Silver Surfers” survey reveals that the third pet peeve of senior living prospects is that the information on the website is outdated. Providing information about the community lifestyle is important but must be monitored, maintained and stay current. Posting pictures of residents and families enjoying special events, providing menu and activity calendar samples and posting upcoming events adds value to your website, keeps prospects on your site, reduces “bounce rate” and brings them back to the site as they move through their decision process.

Care – “Will I Be Cared For?”

For 18% of website visitors, care considerations are the primary interest. Any reassurance that you can provide about the quality of care, survey results, testimonials, staff training, security & safety specifics and any niche programs offered should be included in your website. One of our Senior Living SMART Members started using a hiring tool that measured job applicants against the attributes of their best performers in each department and scored them according to their “cultural fit” reducing turnover from 70% to 17%. This type of information is compelling and reassuring to families and prospects and should be included on the website!

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Members can access the ‘Website Pet Peeves’ survey report, or non-members may download the resource by filling out form below:



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Senior Living Marketing Tactics That Will Engage Today’s Prospects

In my constant quest to keep up with all things senior living marketing, I recently read an article published by Senior Housing News called “The Secrets To Growing Senior Living Sales & Occupancy.

In a nutshell, here are the so-called secrets:

  • Do deep discovery.
  • Ask the right questions to get the right information.
  • Understand the difference between senior living marketing and sales.
  • View marketing as an investment, not a cost center.
  • Get the executive director involved in the sales process and train employees to understand the sales process.

Really? These are “secrets”? This same article could have been written 10 years ago!

Here’s the REAL secret: the way prospects engage with senior living communities has dramatically changed.

As such, our senior living marketing and sales tactics need to evolve, too.

We can’t keep recycling old “insights,” like the ones outlined above from that article, because our prospects expect more today than they did 10 years ago – or even three years ago.

So, what can your teams do to better engage with today’s prospects?

Keep reading…

1. Remember that your senior living website is your #1 sales tool.

According to the Senior Living Research Study, online research is the preferred method for gathering information about senior living options. It even ranked 35% higher than the second ranking method: recommendations/ word of mouth.

Other industry studies report that 87% of your prospects will visit your website before initiating any contact, like calling or walking into the community. And 37% of prospects will eliminate communities based solely on the quality of the website.

WHAT YOU CAN DO: It’s time to change the website experience from focusing on community features and benefits (in other words, the “let me tell you about me” model). Instead, re-position your site so that it becomes a valuable resource that seniors, caregivers, and professionals will visit often as they research options. Need ideas for improving your site? Choose our affordable senior living website audit, which will deliver clear action items.

2. Live chat can turn websites into lead generators.

Organic leads are great, but unless you quickly engage them, they will bounce over to a competitor’s site or a paid referral site. (The latter means providers will be buying back move-ins who had initially visited their website!)

Live chat, on the other hand, can quickly engage website visitor by demonstrating empathy and helping visitors access the info they’re looking for. An effective live chat host can generate qualified leads that can be transferred directly from the chat host to a community representative or turned into a scheduled tour. Chat can also provide evening and weekend coverage at a very low cost.

WHAT YOU CAN DO: There are many chat options available, but we typically recommend SiteStaff, because the chat hosts are US-based with specialized training in healthcare settings, like senior living.

3. Videos can help convert prospects into sales.

Here’s a stat for you: 80% of website visitors will stop and watch a video. Talk about engagement! There are many ways to use video, too, from background b-roll to video testimonials from happy residents to virtual tours.

And here’s the even better news: not all video has to be professionally shot. Smartphone videos can work well, especially on social media channels, like Facebook.

WHAT YOU CAN DO: Pick up your phones and start shooting! Yes, you need to keep privacy laws in mind, but start shooting video. Short and sweet (think 30 seconds to a minute) can work well. Online editing software can allow you to add in calls-to-action, but you don’t even need to go to that far when sharing on social: just post with a brief intro.

And don’t underestimate using video for more formal things, like tours or room planners. One product we particularly like:

4. Transparent pricing matters.

“By far the most important senior living concern is cost” states the Senior Living Research Study.

However, most communities make it impossible to find pricing info on the website, leaving prospects to bounce over to a paid referral site who will not only provide your pricing information, but also your competitors’ info.

We understand that you want to sell your value first before providing prices, because you’re concerned prospects will experience sticker shock, particularly if they don’t have the full context. But the lack of pricing transparency is not helpful to prospects or professionals looking for information.

WHAT YOU CAN DO: Consider making your pricing available through a short opt-in form with basic contact information. This scratches two itches: visitors get the info they want, and the sales team has the ability to follow up to establish value and offer resources to help fund senior living.

5. A better “template strategy” can reduce senior living marketing and sales costs.

One of the biggest marketing spends in senior living today is print. Think event flyers, invitations, incentives, direct mail, and postcards, just to name a few items. The problem is that the cost of graphic design, printing, and mailing continues to climb. Not to mention that the shelf life for these items is days or a few weeks TOPS.

The good news? A smarter “template strategy” can reduce these costs. Imagine having all the print items you regularly use at your fingertips as templates that are already outfitted with your logo and brand colors. All you have to do is customize them with the relevant details for that particular marketing campaign. Goodbye, design costs! Goodbye unnecessary printing!

WHAT YOU CAN DO: Check out our SMARTbrand and SMARTbrand+ options. We have a free version and an affordable subscription service that allows you to easily create the materials you need. Or if you like the idea of creating a full-blown template strategy, check out our SMARTstores.

6. Senior living events still work!

“The majority of people who know someone in senior housing have been influenced by this experience (73.0%), most often in a positive way (57.0%)” finds Imagination in their research study. Bottom line: senior living events still work!

WHAT YOU CAN DO: Make sure you include the following in your senior living marketing plan:

  • Friend & family referral programs
  • New resident welcome events for friends
  • Address change cards for new residents to send to friends and neighbors
  • Coupons for meals, salon services, weekend stays, and community events

Need help? Check out our senior living event management solutions.

Senior living marketing has changed. Work with an agency that’s evolved, too.

We’re not just any agency. We’re a senior living marketing agency. Our staff has industry experience, which sets us apart from other agencies (even the ones who also “specialize” in senior living marketing). Get in touch today and request your complimentary 30-minute brainstorming session.