Senior Living Marketing Perspectives: Solving the Occupancy Puzzle with Julie Podewitz

Topics Discussed and Key Points:

  • Why Julie decided to write a book specifically about the Regional Director role
  • How Regional Directors can develop productive relationships with different departments
  • How Regional Directors can plan their site visits in a way that is appropriate and adds value to all parties
  • How Regional Directors can create a system for higher conversions and set expectations with their team
  • Julie’s three-person coaching model for effectiveness
  • Why the senior housing lost/mismanaged lead statistic has not improved since 2007

Episode Summary:

In today’s episode, Debbie speaks with Julie Podewitz, Chief Sales Officer at Vitality Senior Living and author of the 2021 book Solving the Occupancy Puzzle: A Senior Living Regional Director Sales Playbook.

Asked why she chose to make the Regional Director the focus of her book, Julie says that this is “the role that has the most impact and the role we give the least attention to.” Julie has observed through the course of her career that “Regionals fail because of the lack of systems, the lack of specific expectations, and the lack of training and coaching.”

Julie speaks on the importance not only of communicating, but also of accountability between the Regional Directors of different departments, from sales and marketing to community relations. She also reminds Regionals to make it a point to “maintain their advisor status” in their interactions with prospects, taking care not to cross the line into friendship.

The value of connection extends to one’s strategy for converting prospects. “We’ve got to go back to those basics to build value and connect.” Similarly, Julie emphasizes that Regionals focus on one strategy at a time and double-down on it instead of spreading themselves too thin.

“The quality of your questions will determine the quality of the information you’ll receive.” Practicing these conversations is key, and the best way to practice is through regular roleplay. Julie describes her three-person coaching model for more effective roleplays, in which each of the three take turns (one permutation per training session) assuming the role of customer, sales counselor, or coach.

Resources Mentioned:

Solving the Occupancy Puzzle

Julie Podewitz on LinkedIn

senior living marketing event ideas, food truck

Senior Living Marketing Event Ideas to Try

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

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

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

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

Host a blood drive.

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

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

Host “Food Truck Friday.”

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

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

Senior Living Marketing Event Ideas to Woo Hot Prospects

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

Spaghetti Supper to Go

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

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

Backstage Pass

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

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

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

Senior Living Marketing Event Ideas for Thanking Referral Sources

Coffee and Donuts On Us

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

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

After-hours Networking

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

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

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

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

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

Check out these helpful articles for more info:

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

Marketing Strategies for Senior Living: The Marketing Hourglass

When it comes to effective marketing strategies for senior living, we follow the marketing hourglass, which our friends at Duct Tape Marketing developed.

The marketing hourglass involves seven important steps: Know, Like, Trust, Try, Buy, Retain, and Refer. This differs from the classic marketing and sales “funnel” approach, which typically involves Awareness, Consideration, and Purchase.

Duct Tape Marketing contends that the funnel ignores an important fact: that happy customers are often your best tools when it comes to lead generation and referral generation. The hourglass approach, on the other hand, takes customers into account (especially in the “retain” and “refer” steps).

Let’s break down the seven steps so you can apply them to your marketing strategies for senior living . . .

Step #1: KNOW

Basically, can people find you? If you operate a senior living community in Dallas, Texas, and someone in Dallas searches on “senior living near me” or “senior living Dallas,” will your community’s website come up on the first page of Google? If the answer is yes, great. If the answer is no (or you’re not sure), then you’ve got some work to do!

For your community to be “known,” you need to create a highly secure and highly optimized digital presence. This includes doing the following (at the very least):

  • Make sure your site is optimized with relevant keyword phrases. You want to use keyword phrases that your ideal prospects are searching on. (This requires research and know-how.) Then, you want to use these phrases naturally throughout your site, both on the page itself and in the meta data (the title tag and meta description).
  • Make sure your site has SSL security. How to tell? Call up your senior living website in a browser and look at the URL. Do you see a warning that says it’s “not secure”? Google penalizes sites that don’t have SSL security, meaning you’re less likely to rank well in organic search.
  • Make sure your site is optimized for mobile devices. More and more people (yes, even seniors) conduct searches on their phones or tablets. Your site needs to automatically “respond” to different devices (and screen sizes). Again, if your site isn’t built for mobile, Google will penalize you.
  • Make sure you site is speedy. It needs to load quickly! This is critical for the user experience (no one likes watching an endless pinwheel while a page loads). Again, Google takes note of slow sites as well. Incorrectly sized photos, bloated and unnecessary code, and big videos can slow down sites.
  • Make sure your Google My Business listing is up to date. Google cares about Google products. Google consistently serves up Google My Business listings when people search for things, particularly physical locations, like senior living communities. Consider your Google My Business listing as a mini website. Apply the same level of care you would on your main site. Include updated contact info, compelling text, great images and videos, and lots of reviews.

Step #2: LIKE

Once prospects find your senior living website, what happens next? Keep in mind that people have only so much patience when it comes to websites. If they don’t see what they’re looking for within a few seconds, they WILL bounce off your site—and go to a competitor’s site.

To encourage website “stickiness,” make sure . . .

  • The website navigation is clear and intuitive. Make it easy for people to work their way through the site. Keep in mind you’ll be dealing with older eyes. Think larger fonts and good color contrasts.
  • The keyword-phrase that brought people to the page is relevant and fully “dealt” with in the copy. For example, if someone landed on a page about “senior living community prices in Dallas,” the page better thoroughly deal with that topic and deliver the goods. (Rule of thumb: each page of your site should have one main keyword-phrase focus.)
  • The design is welcoming . . . and authentic. DON’T USE STOCK IMAGES. If someone is doing research on senior living communities in Dallas, chances are good they will see the same tired and unoriginal stock images on multiple sites. Don’t let your site be one of them. Invest in custom photography that highlights your community—and that helps people remember it.
  • The website is truly helpful. Make sure the site has a Resources section, contact info at the top of every page, and, ideally, some sort of Live Chat function so people can get answers right away.

Step #3: TRUST

You’ve lured prospects to your site. Now, you need to build trust. A variety of “trust signals” exist. The best websites will use a combination.

  • Both text-based and (ideally) videos of real people talking about how much they love your community. (A combo of residents and staff can work well! A happy staff indicates a happy place, too!)
  • Relevant logos for any awards, recognitions, certifications. Your website—particularly the home page—is a great place to highlight “best of” and other awards.
  • In-depth resources that you offer for free. Position your community as the go-to place for information about senior living in your area. Offer educational content on hot topics like financing, how to move, checklists for evaluating options, resources for family members, and so forth.
  • A clear and compelling “team” and/or management page. Prospects want to get a sense of the people behind the scenes. Supply warmly written bios and photos that capture the people who bring your community to life.
  • Relevant info about COVID-19. For the immediate future, you need to have information front-and-center about how your community is navigating COVID-19. And guess what? This section isn’t static. It NEEDS to change to reflect what’s going on in your community. (Hint: Check out our free resource on how to market your senior living community during a pandemic.)

Step #4: TRY

Today’s prospects expect websites to be interactive. Yours should provide opportunities for prospects to “try” out your community so they can picture themselves or their loved ones living there.

  • Offer virtual room builders/floor plans. Room builders allow people to get a sense of space and décor. In addition, they help people envision how their belongings would work in the space.
  • Offer “on demand” tours. In this case, we’re referring to a tour you’ve recorded on video. While being able to experience a community in person is always preferable, it’s not always possible—due to things like COVID-19 or even location. If someone in Boston wants to get a feel for your community in Florida, an on-demand tour or other virtual event can help.
  • Let people download menus and activity calendars. It’s one thing to tell people about everything your community offers. It’s a whole other thing to allow them to see a breakdown on a real day-to-day calendar.
  • Make it easy for people to access your YouTube channel, Facebook, Instagram. Your social media channels are a great place to go “behind the scenes” in your community. While professionally shot videos and pictures are great for your site, your social channels can house the candid shots and videos (which often come across as more authentic and relatable anyway).
  • Allow people to schedule tours (in-person or virtual) directly on your site at a day/time that’s convenient for them. This empowers the prospect and eliminates unnecessary back-and-forth between a sales rep and the prospect.

Step #5: BUY

You need to make it easy for prospects to buy from you. Now, we know what you might be thinking: “If someone wants to buy into our senior living community, all they need to do is talk to a sales rep.”

But that’s not how most people buy today. People do their homework first (as we described above). For senior living especially, prospects also try to self-qualify by researching and requesting pricing.

So ask yourself: How transparent is your senior living website when it comes to things like pricing, financing options, and so forth? Even if you don’t list pricing, you need to ADDRESS pricing so that people have a sense of ranges—and an understanding about what’s included. Then, beyond that, how easy is the overall buying process when someone does indeed want to buy?

Focus on the following:

  • Evaluate your website from a “I’m ready to buy now” perspective. Is there an area that clearly addresses the buying process soup to nuts? Bottom line: you want to enable prospects to buy from you.
  • Audit the overall buying process from start to finish. Begin with the moment someone says “Yes, I want to move in.” How easy is it to make a deposit? What happens next? Do you offer transitional services? Have you streamlined paperwork? Do you provide move-in checklists and downsizing tips?

Step #6: RETAIN

A prospect who becomes a happy resident will be your best form of advertising going forward. So the question is, how do you keep your residents happy?

  • Make sure you have programs in place designed specifically for new residents and their families. Think welcome kits, orientations, and “meet your neighbors” events that help new residents acclimate.
  • Conduct surveys. We recommend doing surveys two weeks after move-in. Why? Because 17% of all move-outs happen in the first 30 days! If you can get feedback/insight into how new residents are acclimating (or not), you and your team can identify any issues and (hopefully!) address them before someone decides to move out.

Note: The insights you gather during the “retain” step can inform your marketing and sales efforts. For example, use positive quotes from surveys and highlight them on your website.

Step #7: REFER

Did you know resident and family referrals have a 30 – 35 % closing rate? (For comparison, third-party leads close at 3 – 6 %).

  • Make sure you have an easy system in place for soliciting referrals from residents and their family members. One idea: “I’ve just moved!” postcards that you supply as part of your welcome kit to new residents. Encourage them to send these to their friends.
  • Make it easy for residents and their family members to review your community. In addition to referrals, the words of real residents can be incredibly compelling. Encourage people to leave reviews on your Google My Business page and via social media.

Our Senior Living Marketing System

We recently became part of Duct Tape Marketing, a network of marketing agencies and consultants from around the world.

As the Duct Tape Marketing website explains, “Duct Tape Marketing is founded on the simple belief that marketing is the most important small business system. And we just so happen to believe that small business owners are the true heroes of business, so we’ve made it our mission to build, train, support, and teach small business marketing strategies and tactics to as many of these heroes as possible.”

For us, we joined Duct Tape Marketing for three reasons:

  1. We wanted to bring in thought leadership from outside the senior living industry.
  2. We wanted to participate in a community of professionals who are as passionate about marketing as we are.
  3. We wanted to use a proven system that simplifies digital marketing.

Being a part of the network has helped us refine how we work with our clients. This has resulted in our ability to offer clients more choices, dependable delivery of work within budget and timeframes, and consistent results.

So, what is this marketing “system” that Duct Tape promotes? The system’s foundation involves creating three levels of marketing support: Build, Grow, and Ignite.

For the Build phase, we create a solid digital foundation that enables prospects to easily find your senior living community.

A strong digital foundation includes many components:

Once that work is complete, we move into Grow.

This is when we focus on content, such as . . .

When it comes to content, we create compelling pieces for all stages of the prospect journey so they will keep coming back to your website. With this new content, we can also optimize a variety of social channels (think Facebook, Instagram, and even Pinterest). In addition, we often start (or re-start) a monthly email newsletter to re-engage existing leads.

Then, we move to Ignite.

We fire up the lead generation turbo booster known as marketing automation. Marketing automation offers many benefits, but the biggest one is that it automatically scores and segments leads.

Remember, not all leads are created equal! Some leads are in the early stages of their journey, conducting research. They have no interest in talking to sales—yet. Other leads need to decide soon. And still other leads will fall somewhere in between.

How you treat different leads will—and should—vary, based on where the lead is in their journey. Your marketing team will work on nurturing the “not ready” leads (i.e., marketing-qualified leads or MQLs). In the meantime, the sales team will work on the sales-qualified leads (SQLs).

The marketing automation system makes this process seamless, by automatically serving up the SQLs to the sales team (and, ideally, your senior living CRM). For the MQLs, the marketing automation funnels them to appropriate lead nurturing workflows based on how they engaged with your site and what answers they provided on opt-in website forms.

This saves everyone time, and it increases conversions, since your sales team will only be focusing on high-intent leads rather than ALL leads.

During the Ignite phase, we often implement paid advertising to increase the number of qualified prospects coming to your site. We are good stewards of client budget. And we don’t recommend pursuing paid advertising until we reach the Ignite phase. After all, why waste money driving people to a bad website with poor navigation, limited content, and nothing to do when they get there?

This three-prong approach to senior living marketing has many advantages.

First, it aligns expectations and timelines for deliverables. Second, it keeps everyone focused on results. And, finally, it works! Interested in learning more? Let’s set up a complimentary 30-minute brainstorming session so we can discuss your senior living marketing and sales challenges.

Connect with us to learn more!

Let’s chat about your senior living marketing and sales challenges.

Hands dropping different currencies in multiple baskets, concept of diversifying advertising budget

3 Tips for Better Senior Living Advertising Campaigns

Want to create better senior living advertising campaigns—ones that entice people to click, call, or visit? Here are three tips to keep in mind.

1. Don’t put all your eggs in the same advertising basket.

If you were advertising to, say, twenty-somethings, you’d likely focus most of your advertising efforts online. With older adults, however, you need to spread your advertising dollars across different media—print, radio, direct mail, pay-per-click, and remarketing.

This isn’t surprising, considering the demographic. After all, older adults grew up reading the daily paper and listening to the radio, habits that continue even in this hi-tech age.

  • According to Statista, 23% of adults aged 60 or older read a print newspaper daily, 13% read the paper several days a week, and 18% once a week.
  • According to Statista, older generations are more inclined to listen to the radio regularly.

At the same time, however, older adults are also embracing technology and spending more time online. Consider the following stats:

  • In 2000, 14% of those aged 65 and older were internet users; now 73% are. [Source: Pew Research Center]
  • Baby Boomers spend more time online than Millennials, and a staggering 92% of Boomers shop online. [Source: The Shelf]
  • 75% of all Boomers are on Facebook, and 35% use business-focused networking sites, such as LinkedIn. [Source: Kenshoo]
  • Boomers are almost as likely as Millennials to own a tablet. [Source: Marketing Charts]
  • 68% of Boomers own a smartphone. [Source: Pew Research Center]

So, how should you allocate your advertising budget?

This will depend on a variety of factors. Recent past success is often a good indicator of future success, so you can start by evaluating what has worked best in the recent past (within the last year or two).

For example, if the best ROI has historically come from running spots on your local country radio station, it probably makes sense to allocate a chunk of your budget to a new radio campaign.

But even as you rely on “tried and true” methods, you should continue to experiment with pay-per-click and remarketing ads. (The latter refers to ads that seemingly “follow” people around after they visit your site.)

And you should avoid dismissing an ad vehicle—especially a digital one—simply because it didn’t work in the past. For example, just because Facebook advertising didn’t work well for your community eight years ago, that doesn’t mean it won’t work today. Quite the opposite, in fact. As more Boomers spend time on Facebook, chances are good that Facebook ads will work better now than they did a decade ago.

2. Measure, measure, measure.

The biggest mistake that senior living communities make is that they spend all this money on advertising, but they haven’t built in ways to measure success. Talk about a waste of valuable marketing budget!

Make sure you’re following best practices when it comes to measuring an ad campaign’s effectiveness:

  • For online ads, make sure tracking URLs are set up. Tracking URLs will help you see which online ads are delivering the most traffic and conversions.
  • For any print or radio ads, make sure you include ad-specific phone numbers and/or website addresses. For example, for all the radio ads you run on that country station, you’d use a specific phone number that you only include in those ads. Ditto website URLs. (Companies like CallRail can help with this.)
  • Make sure your website’s backend provides the insight and visibility you need. Ideally, you’ll want to have some sort of “traffic resources” option available in your marketing automation software that easily breaks down the traffic referral sources.
  • Make sure staff always asks the question “How did you hear about us?” And make sure you have a central repository for recording this info.

Allow the metrics to inform your ad-buying decisions.

Complacency can easily take over when it comes to advertising. Not to mention, you might have long-term relationships with sales reps, newspapers, radio stations, and so forth. Still, you need to make decisions based on real data, not relationships.

For example, if you’ve been running radio ads for years on the country station, but the ads are no longer delivering results, ask questions. What’s changed? Is the copy stale? Do you need to adjust the flight schedule/time of day the spots run? Has something changed with the station’s demographics? (Maybe the country station has tweaked its format to a more contemporary feel, rather than classic country tunes. As such, it’s skewing younger.)

Yes, you should resist dumping something the minute it stops working. But be open to moving on if the metrics are indeed telling you something is no longer delivering ROI despite tweaks and fixes. And make sure you’re paying attention to the right metrics. A boatload of website traffic can feel good. But unless that anonymous web traffic is converting into leads and those leads into tours and move-ins, what’s the point?

3. When it comes to the ad’s content, be human.

You’re selling a very personal experience to older adults—the next chapter of their lives. (And, for many, the final chapter of their lives.) This is a BIG deal. Listing a bunch of amenities isn’t going to make your community memorable.

So, what can you do to create personal content? Tell stories. Humans love hearing stories. Stories help us experience another world and another life, which is precisely what you want your ads to do—to help the reader or listener picture themselves living in your community.

For example, imagine coming across this blurb in a nicely designed print piece and/or direct mailer:

Meet Margot Benoit. Margot is 87 years old. She worked as a nurse for thirty years, raised a family of four, and is a proud grandmother to six. Margot loves extra dry martinis, knitting, yoga, collecting lighthouses, and watching The Crown on Netflix. She’s been residing in Maple Grove since 2018 and loves playing bridge with her neighbors, going out for cocktails in our pub, and organizing day trips to New York City with all the friends she’s made in our community.

Margot calls Maple Grove home. You could, too.

Ready to stop by, meet Margot, and learn more about us?

www.MapleGroveCommunities.com/meet-margot

Stories can involve residents, but also staff—your head chef, your groundskeepers, the facilities manager, etc. You could also highlight adult children who helped get Mom or Dad into the community. And the stories could serve as themes. The Margot “story” could work as a print ad and direct mailer. But you could also have Margot voice the radio spot and be part of a video ad that you run on Facebook.


Four Strategies to Optimize Websites for Improved Conversions

A panel of senior living marketing professionals will share strategies and tactics for lead generation, nurturing and conversions given current restrictions regarding tours, events and community visits.

Computer sending automated emails all day to help sales and marketing teams follow up with leads and schedule appointments and phone calls and meetings

Senior Living Leads: Auto Responders vs. Lead Nurturing

Sometimes it makes sense to take a step back and define terms we use a lot, especially when it comes a complex topic like senior living leads. So let’s discuss two terms you’ll likely encounter: auto responders vs. lead nurturing.

What are auto responders?

An auto responder is exactly as it sounds. It’s an automated response, typically in the form of an email, that’s generated after someone takes an action on your senior living website.

For example, after someone fills out a website form, best practices suggest that you direct the person to a thank-you web page AND that you send an automatically generated email. The benefits are two-fold. First, the thank-you page and email reassure the person their form successfully went through. Second, the thank-you page and email provide an opportunity to serve up additional content the person might find interesting.

The reason you should do BOTH the thank-you page and auto-responder email is because the email gives the person something tangible to refer to. The thank-you page will “disappear” once someone navigates away from it.

BENEFITS: Auto responders are an effective way to personalize the experience for your senior living leads and to continue engaging with them.

What is lead nurturing?

Lead nurturing involves sending a series of emails to senior living leads who are not ready to “buy” right now. The goal? To continue engaging with them until they are ready.

Again, everything is automated thanks to your senior living software. Over time—days, weeks, even months—the person will receive a set of emails. The emails will engage and “push” the lead further along the sales funnel until they are ready to make a decision. At this point, sales would take over.

The types of lead nurturing emails that you send—the content, the frequency, how many overall—will be something that marketing and sales will (ideally) figure out together based on lead scoring and lead attributes (e.g., persona and decision timeframe).

Not all leads will enter a lead nurturing program. Leads that your marketing automation indicates as sales-ready/sales-qualified will go to sales for direct follow up.

BENEFITS: Lead nurturing will help your community stay in front of prospects who aren’t ready to buy right now, but who might be ready in the future. The content can help persuade people that your community is the best fit for their specific needs.

How auto responders and lead nurturing affect senior living leads

This isn’t an “either or” situation. You should use auto responders and lead nurturing in your ongoing marketing efforts. So, for example, after someone downloads a piece of content from your site, they will be redirected to a thank-you page and they will receive an auto responder email. Both things happen IMMEDIATELY after the person hits “submit” on the form.

If your marketing automation software identifies the lead as sales-qualified, the lead will go to sales for direct follow up. If the software labels the lead as marketing-qualified, the person will enter an appropriate lead nurturing workflow to engage them further.

The right senior living software is critical for lead scoring and lead nurturing.

If you need help choosing the right senior living software and setting it up correctly, give us a shout! We live and breathe marketing automation for senior living communities.

Sales and marketing professionals getting to know their leads better through information collected from website forms and social media input and other internet activity

Senior Living Leads: How to Gain Deeper Insights

Your website is bringing in senior living leads. Congrats! Now what? Enticing anonymous site visitors to give up their information is only the first step. Now, you must learn how to quickly gain insights into the website leads so that your marketing and sales teams know what to do next.

The following three tactics will help you effectively manage your senior living leads.

Keep in mind that you must have good marketing automation software to do any of these tactics. In fact, if you had to do any of these things manually, it would be impossible to keep up.

Tactic #1: Implement progressive profiling on website forms.

For the sake of this exercise, let’s assume your community website has multiple gated “offers.” By “offers,” we’re referring to guides, ebooks, checklists, and the like—information people seek when evaluating communities and senior living in general.

“Gating” means that the offer is behind a form. In other words, the website visitor fills out the form to access the content. Oftentimes, people will download several items during one visit. Or they might return in subsequent days/weeks and download more info. Each time they do so, they fill out another website form. This is where progressive profiling comes in.

Simply put, progressive profiling helps you get more information about the person every time they fill out a new form on your site. On the first website form someone fills out, you’ll capture the essentials like first name, last name, phone, email, and timeframe for making a decision.

When you set up progressive profiling thanks to good marketing automation software, the prospect can bypass most of these questions when they fill out subsequent forms. Why? Because the system will recognize the person (thanks to the magic of website cookies).

So, instead, you can ask the prospect other relevant questions that can help you market and sell to them better. For example, perhaps you ask the person about their hobbies and interests. The person’s new answers will automatically sync with their contact record in the system’s backend (as well as your senior living CRM if you’ve integrated the two). Now, marketing and sales have even deeper insights into the lead.

BENEFITS: Progressive profiling provides deeper insights that will allow your marketing and sales teams to create more relevant follow-up communications. For example, if the lead says they love traveling and going on day trips, your team can highlight any programs or amenities that speak specifically to this interest.

Tactic #2: Give your senior living leads a score.

With good marketing automation software, you can teach it how to score your senior living leads appropriately.

At its simplest, lead scoring allows you to automatically label those leads that are ready for a specific action. In most cases, we’re referring to the sales hand-off. You can teach your marketing automation software how to identify a high-value lead for sales to follow up on immediately.

Your marketing and sales teams would determine the criteria that would go into scoring a high-value lead. The criteria will likely include things like:

  • Specific content the lead downloaded
  • Engagement with lead nurturing emails (what did they open, what did they click on)
  • The amount of time spent on the site
  • What the lead indicated regarding timing for making a decision

The above is an incomplete list. Your marketing and sales teams will determine the criteria based on experience with leads who’ve gone on to ultimately convert into move-ins. What do those leads have in common? That’s the stuff that will fuel your lead-scoring criteria. Leads that aren’t ready to go to sales will continue to be nurtured.

BENEFITS: With lead scoring, your sales team can put its focus on high-value leads that stand a good chance of converting rather than on leads that aren’t ready. Marketing, on the other hand, can continue to nurture not-ready leads with relevant follow-up emails that will help move them down the sales funnel.

If you want to take a deeper dive into lead scoring, check out HubSpot’s detailed instructions. Or better yet, have us set up lead scoring for you!

Tactic #3: Segment your website leads according to personas.

If you do nothing else, at least do this. Segmenting leads according to your will help your marketing and sales teams have more meaningful follow-up conversations.

For marketing, this means the follow-up lead nurturing emails will talk to that persona, specifically the concerns and challenges the persona faces. For sales, this means the conversations the rep has with the person will be based on persona attributes.

Reminder: When we say “persona,” we’re talking about the prospective buyer and/or person influencing the buying decision. For senior living, personas can be divided into two main groups: seniors shopping for themselves or an adult child researching on behalf of a parent or older adult in their lives (like an aunt or uncle).

Those are BROAD categories. You can (and should) break them down even more:

  • Adult daughter researching for her mother
  • Adult daughter researching for her father
  • Senior searching for options for herself
  • Senior searching for options for himself
  • Adult son researching for his mother
  • Adult son researching for his father
  • Senior couple looking for options

Keep in mind that the above list is just a start. It doesn’t cover all the scenarios.

Our point is simple: How you communicate with an adult son researching on behalf of his father should be different from the way you communicate with an adult daughter researching for her mother. How you communicate with a single eighty-five-year-old man will be different from a 70-year-old couple getting ready to retire.

BENEFITS: Marketing automation will once again save the day by automatically identifying the persona it should attribute the lead to—and what communications should be served up to the lead as a result. And yes, persona identification will likely be one of the factors that goes into determining the overall lead score.

Bottom line: How you manage your senior living leads matters!

You’ve invested a lot of time, energy, and money into getting leads from your website. Don’t let them just “sit there.” And don’t group all of them together in one bucket. We know this might sound overwhelming. But it doesn’t need to be. Especially when you work with a partner like Senior Living SMART. Give us a shout and let’s talk about scoring your senior living leads appropriately!

Stay In Touch cold and lost lead re-engagement program

Re-Engage Cold Senior Living Leads with Our Stay in Touch Program

When it comes to the senior living leads in your database, does any of this sound familiar?

  • You have a CRM filled with hundreds of leads that fizzled and went cold—and you don’t know what to do with them.
  • Your sales team has strategies for nurturing leads that come in now—but no strategies for nurturing leads that are eighteen, twelve, or even six months old.
  • You don’t have the people-power to manually call or email all your colds leads, yet you know that you’re missing out on good opportunities.

If you were nodding your head YES as you read through the above, you’re not alone. Your senior living CRM is likely home to many old/cold leads—leads that never received any follow up.

Why didn’t they receive any follow up?

Well, as you know, prospects inquire at various stages of readiness, but sales people can only work 10 – 12 active leads at a time, so they focus on leads closest to decision. Providers know this is a problem. But most don’t have a strategy for addressing it. So, what do they do? They just keep buying new leads.

This isn’t a SMART approach.

And that’s precisely why we created our “Stay in Touch” program-to help busy sales and marketing teams re-engage cold senior living leads through a SMART marketing automation solution.

All you have to do is provide the list of cold leads, and we take it from there. Sounds great, right?

Below are some FAQs about the program.

How does the Stay in Touch program help re-engage cold senior living leads?

We’ve already created a series of surveys, offers, and emails that have proven to re-engage colder senior living leads. This content will help score and segment the leads according to their level of interest.

  • Leads with good potential get served up to your sales team.
  • Cooler leads continue through the various lead nurturing paths until they’re closer to decision and ready to talk to sales.

Why should my community use the Stay in Touch program?

We’ve done the heavy lifting for you! We’ve thought through the messaging that will most likely resonate, the offers that will entice people to take action, and the branching “logic” for the workflows.

We customize all pieces according to your community’s branding guidelines, set up everything (from emails to landing pages), and schedule emails at a rate that makes sense. Once it’s set up, it works on its own. (That’s the power and beauty of marketing automation!)

What will my community “get” from the Stay in Touch program?

The benefits are many. You’ll get . . .

    • A turnkey solution to engage cold leads and turn some of them into warm and hot leads that convert into tours and move-ins
    • More accurate views of your sales pipeline
    • A cleaner, nimbler database/CRM
    • Buy-in from marketing and sales regarding marketing automation
    • And did we mention cold leads that actually CONVERT?

I want the Stay in Touch program. What should I do next?

Let’s set up a 30-minute brainstorming session. There’s no cost for this session (and no obligation, of course). It’s simply an opportunity for you to get to know us and for us to get to know more about your community (or communities) and how you manage your senior living leads. We can also walk you through how the various elements of the Stay in Touch program work.

Cool Grandma With Unique Fashion Sense and Dance Moves

Senior Living Sales Strategies: Why Personalization Matters

Today, we’re going to give you a simple, yet powerful tool to add to your senior living sales strategies: personalization.

When we say personalization, we mean exactly that: using a person’s first name, specifically in emails.

Why?

Well, as humans, we’re wired to respond positively when we hear and read our first names. It’s all about this concept called “implicit egotism.”

Marketers and advertisers for big companies already know this. It’s why you’ll often see your name in the subject lines of emails from your favorite brands. Subconsciously, we see our name, and our brains think “This was written for me.”

Of course, smart marketers don’t include names simply to stroke people’s egos. We do it because of the results: more opens and clicks. In fact, Campaign Monitor reports personalization increases open rates by 26%.

If you haven’t been using personalization in your prospect emails, it’s time to spruce up your senior living sales strategies with a little first-name magic.

Here’s how to add in personalization when communicating with your senior living leads:

Email subject lines

Good marketing automation software (and even email marketing software, like Mailchimp and Constant Contact) makes personalization super easy through the use of personalization tokens.

Typically, when you enter the text for your subject line, you’d enter a series of characters that would indicate to the software to automatically add the person’s first name.

For example, the string of characters might look something like this *|FNAME|*

Or some marketing automation software, like HubSpot, includes a button that says “Personalization” and you can choose how you want to personalize the subject line.

When you’re done, the subject line box of the email might look something like this:

*|FNAME|*, do you have questions about financing senior living?

When the email is sent, the marketing automation software will insert the person’s first name. So, this is what the person would see in her email inbox:

Mary, do you have questions about financing senior living?

Note: In order to personalize using a prospect’s first name, you need to make sure you’re GETTING this info on your online forms. This is why you should have separate FIRST NAME and LAST NAME fields on any online forms, rather than one generic NAME field.

Email body copy

With good automation software, you can do the same thing with your email copy and include the person’s first name.

A caveat: ONLY DO IT IF IT SOUNDS NATURAL.

So, for example, maybe you’ve just described what a lovely Saturday night might be like in your community, with wine on the patio, a scrumptious dinner, and then dancing in the pub. After the description, you might write:

Sounds great, doesn’t it, *|FNAME|*?

When the email is delivered to the recipient, they would see their name in the copy like this:

Sounds great, doesn’t it, Mary?

In the above example, the line sounds natural.

Don’t overdo it! We don’t recommend adding personalization more than one time in the body of the email. And again, ONLY do it if it sounds natural.

Need assistance adding personalization to the emails you deliver to your senior living leads?