Multicolor boxes stacked in various patterns.

More Tech Stack Tips for Senior Living Marketing

Multicolor boxes stacked in various patterns.

Recently, I had the privilege of participating in a panel discussion at the Senior Housing News sales and marketing conference in Tampa alongside Sherrie Bebell and Wade Goodman.

The session, “Tech Stack Transformation: Innovating Senior Living Sales & Marketing in 2024,” offered a fascinating look into the collective drive to enhance the prospect experience, minimize decision-making friction, and refine the integration of marketing and sales for improved lead quality and conversion rates.

Of course, choosing the right tech stack can be challenging for senior living marketers since many legacy technologies haven’t adapted. Not to mention, there are so many new bright and shiny things to choose from.

We recently shared an article about the tech stacks all senior living marketing and sales teams should use. Now, let’s take a deeper look at three critical areas (and let’s use a fun analogy to explain them: shopping malls).

What do shopping malls have to do with your senior living community’s tech stack anyway?

Like shopping malls, today’s marketing tech stack has anchor stores, lots of smaller boutique shops, and a food court in the middle.

In this shopping mall analogy, the senior living website and CRM are at the ends of the mall, anchoring the smaller boutique shops. The marketing automation platform is the food court—it feeds the marketing machine. The small niche shops are your website chat, surveys, blogs, floor plans, videos, and so forth—the stuff that engages prospects as they pop in and out of their shopping experience.

Just as malls have had to rethink their structure to remain competitive, senior living operators should rethink their three anchor technologies: website, CRM, and marketing automation.

Outdated website? Here’s what to do next . . .

If your senior living website hasn’t been updated in over three years, consider this your sign for a makeover. Modern prospects expect a mobile-first, fast, intuitive, and easy-to-navigate online experience that allows them to research anonymously.

When doing your website makeover, emphasize original photography, comprehensive 3D floor plans, transparent pricing, trust signals like reviews, and robust educational content to keep prospects engaged and loyal to your brand.

Build your site on WordPress, own your hosting license, and avoid falling prey to proprietary websites that you cannot access and do not own.

Learn more about the ins and outs of effective senior living websites here.

Crappy CRM? Time to upgrade . . .

A great senior living CRM integrates with your chosen marketing tools, including your marketing automation, email marketing, chat (live or widget), surveys, call tracking, third-party aggregators, call center (outsourced or internal), Google Analytics, and social media.

The best CRMs also allow integration of choice rather than limiting the selection to only their preferred partners, which they monetize through forced bundling.

Today, with open APIs, Zapier, and custom middleware, operators should expect their CRM technology partner to provide bilateral integration with all marketing tools and platforms.

If your CRM doesn’t offer all of the above, it’s time to upgrade.

Is your marketing automation too basic? Time to upgrade here as well.

Your website (along with Google Analytics) should be able to capture the initial prospect journey information, such as lead attribution sources, most visited pages, entry and exit points, and conversion insights (where and how prospects are converting from anonymous website visitor to lead).

Your CRM picks up the prospect when they have advanced to a sales-qualified lead and documents all sales activities, effectively closing the loop when prospects advance to move-ins.

Your marketing automation, however, is the engine in the middle that works 24 hours a day to nurture and advance prospects throughout their journey. The connection between each of these three platforms ensures that there are no blind spots in the prospect journey and that no lead is left behind.

We recommend HubSpot above all others because of its reporting capabilities and the marketing dashboards you can create by ownership group, portfolio, region, and level of care. These dashboards allow you to visually display the entire lead pipeline by stage. You can see the ROI of every marketing dollar spent by channel, which is critical intel.

Don’t forget to integrate bespoke experiences for added panache, personalization, and conversions.

To complete our analogy of comparing the martech stack architecture with a shopping mall configuration, we can’t forget the smaller boutique stores that connect the anchor stores and the food court.

In our analogy, these would be all the third-party integrations that plug into your tech stack, including chat, surveys, call tracking, videos, map features, and the like.

Just as mall shoppers pop in and out of the niche store as they move between the large anchor chains and the food court, senior living prospects will use these tools when they visit your website.

Our approach to creating this foundational tech stack for our clients

Our clients have enjoyed great success using WordPress CMS, HubSpot marketing automation, and Welcome Home CRM. This combination of products provides complete visibility into the prospect’s entire journey.

From there, we can reverse-engineer move-ins to better understand:

  • The original lead attribution source
  • All the touchpoints along their decision path (engaging with social, paid, content, video)
  • Measure their engagement (number of website visits, landing page conversions, content downloads, and emails opened and clicked)
  • The number of days between first conversion and tour, first conversion and move-in, and tour-to-move-in by persona and level of care

Ready to rock your senior living marketing tech stack?

For communities that want to increase their lead generation and conversion rates, embracing a well-rounded tech stack is key. And we can help! Schedule a brainstorming call with us today, and let’s explore how we can transform your marketing tech stack.

Clos up of an arm demonstrating senior living marketing.

Senior Living Marketing Tech Stacks: The Ultimate Guide

Clos up of an hand building a pyramid with blocks.

When it comes to adopting the right marketing technology (a.k.a. “martech” or “tech stack”), senior living marketing and sales teams can’t afford to fall behind the curve.

You must have a reliable tech stack that effectively supports your marketing strategy so you can grow and maintain occupancy.

So, what should your community have in its tech stack?

Keep reading to find out.

Martech essentials for senior living marketing

Marketing automation

Marketing automation empowers you to send the right message to the right prospect at the right time. (That’s a simplified definition.) Marketing automation is a must-have if you want your community to remain competitive.

CRM

The most important point we need to drive home is this: Your senior living CRM shouldn’t live by itself in a silo. Why? Well, if your martech platform isn’t connected bilaterally to your CRM, you’ll end up with two systems that are blind to each other.

One system will house initial source attribution (and possibly prospect behavior before people convert, depending on how sophisticated your system is). However, once the leads go to the sales team, the marketing team will be out of the loop since sales will use the CRM that doesn’t pass info back to the first system.

Instead, you should choose a CRM that integrates with your marketing automation platform to capture data from social, paid, organic, Google Analytics 4 (GA4), event registrations, etc. This centralized marketing portal should allow you to create custom dashboard reports that you can easily filter by location, portfolio, region, and investor group.

Data and analytics

Google Analytics 4 is a must (and it’s free). Keep in mind that GA4 is COMPLEX. You’ll want to make sure everything is working properly from a back-end perspective and that you have someone who can correctly interpret what the data is saying.

Marketing automation software (like HubSpot) also offers robust analytics. Again, the challenge is making sure someone knowledgeable in statistics interprets the data.

Website platform

Avoid templated websites (also called “websites in a box”). Unfortunately, promises of rock-bottom prices and so-called ease of use can lure people in. But like so many things in life, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Templated websites offer little to no flexibility, break easily, are too generic, are rarely built with search engine optimization (SEO) in mind, offer barebones customer service, and become more expensive in the long run.

Instead, invest in a custom website that reflects your brand and is designed for your prospect personas.

  • PRO TIP: If you put the work and money into your website, make sure you OWN it. Using older, closed, or proprietary platforms will limit your ability to own your strategy, decisions, and results. How can you tell if your website is yours? If you can’t get into the backend or you have to submit a ticket to make changes, you don’t own it. Ditto if your marketing agency manages your website hosting, Google Analytics account, or Google AdWords account. Don’t settle for this! Everything should belong to your community.

Website accessibility

Have you heard of the Website Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG)? In a nutshell, WCAG’s ultimate goal is to make web content accessible to everyone, particularly people with disabilities.

Making your senior living website accessible to all visitors doesn’t just happen. You must be thoughtful in your approach—and aware of the latest WCAG requirements.

Working with an accessibility compliance partner to help make sure your site is always up to snuff should be another item in your tech stack. (Remember, accessibility will remain ongoing, given how quickly technology evolves.)

Call tracking

You can’t know what you don’t measure. Unlike other industries, the phone is still a popular way for prospects to contact senior living communities. (More on this topic below.) But you must effectively track and link those calls to their corresponding marketing campaigns.

Call center

No, we’re not talking about your grandma’s call center (or even your mother’s). Good call centers today are much more sophisticated—and can serve as an excellent way to manage leads. (See further down in this article for a deeper discussion about this topic.)

Interactive website tools

Tools like live chat, chatbots, interactive surveys, 3D floor plan renderings, and the like make for a “sticky” website where visitors spend more time engaging with different elements and soaking up info about your community.

  • PRO TIP: Check out one of our favorites: Roobrik.

SMS/Text

People read and respond to texts faster than email or phone calls, so it’s not surprising that more and more businesses are adding text messaging into the marketing mix.

Integrate text message marketing into your lead nurturing processes by triggering text messages to prospects based on their online behaviors.

  • PRO TIP: We recommend Salesmsg to keep communications cohesive across all platforms and devices.

Should an old-fashioned telephone be part of your martech stack?

Phone calls are still relevant, but you need a modern way to manage them.

Too often, communities rely on a front desk greeter or receptionist to field calls from people who want to know more about the community. The problem is that they are not trained in sales.

But expecting your sales reps to be available to take sales inquiry calls as they come in is also unrealistic. Your reps will be busy doing tours, meeting with families, and networking.

A better solution is to contract with a call center to manage all inbound inquiries. A good call center can qualify, score, and segment leads appropriately. Sales-qualified leads (SQLs) will go to the sales team (along with helpful notes). Marketing-qualified leads (MQLs) can go into relevant nurturing campaigns. You won’t have to worry about leads falling through the cracks.

The key is finding a call center with expertise in handling senior living inquiries and that trains its employees on your community’s specific workflows. Not all call centers are created equal, so make sure you work with one that helps your sales process, not hurts it.

  • PRO TIP: At Senior Living SMART, we’ve developed an answer to the above problem: LeadGenie. LeadGenie acts as a virtual welcome center for prospects. It can also cover vacant sales positions, do pipeline work to warm up older or colder leads, manage events, and handle crisis communication. It’s not just a call center—it’s a total lead management solution.

Bottom line: The right tech stack can make or break your senior living marketing and sales efforts.

Get in the habit of auditing your tech stack every year (at least). Many technologies renew automatically whether you’re using them or not. Cancel subscriptions for software and tools that no longer serve you, stay current on software updates, and be open to new products that can improve workflows and results.

And if you need help figuring out any of the above, give us a shout. We can audit your existing tech stack, review contracts for big-ticket items, and give you our honest opinion.

Close-up of woman with headset working in senior living marketing.

Why We Love CallRail & HubSpot for Senior Living Marketing

Close-up of woman with headset working in senior living marketing.

What’s the problem with this marketing story? A 55-year-old woman has been broaching the subject of senior living with her 80-year-old mother. Unfortunately, Dad died three months ago, leaving Mom all alone in the house where the daughter—let’s call her “Gabby”—grew up.

Gabby knows the house is too much for her mom. Mom has been mostly non-committal whenever the topic of senior living comes up, but she doesn’t flat-out say no. Gabby has been casually googling senior living communities in the area. She recently visited one website that caught her eye and downloaded an interesting guide about steps to take when considering senior living. She glanced at it and put it aside to read later when she had more time.

Fast forward a few weeks. Gabby’s mother experienced a fall. Luckily, she didn’t break anything, but Gabby knows she needs to push for senior living sooner rather than later. Coincidently, Gabby received an email this morning from the same community where she downloaded the guide. Gabby pounces and calls the number in the email to book a tour for the upcoming weekend.

Gabby and her mom take the tour, and both fall in love with the community. While they do visit a few more communities, they keep coming back to this one because they’ve developed a great rapport with the sales counselor. Before long, Gabby’s mom signs a lease with the community.

So, again: What’s the problem with this marketing story? You might be thinking, Not a thing. The story demonstrates effective marketing and sales efforts, right?

Sure, it’s great that the community’s site came up in Gabby’s online search. It’s great that Gabby downloaded a piece of content (which means the community got her email address). It’s great that she opened the lead nurturing email. And it’s great that she scheduled a tour.

The issue? The phone call she made to book the tour.

That phone call can cause a potential hiccup in the marketing attribution. Remember, to understand what campaigns bring in the best leads, the sales and marketing teams must be able to close the loop in their reporting. So, the question becomes, how can you track phone calls and synch them with digital contact records in your CRM, like HubSpot?

Luckily, solutions exist, and our favorite is CallRail.

What is CallRail?

In a nutshell, CallRail describes itself as the AI-powered lead intelligence platform that gives businesses of all sizes the ability to track and attribute calls, texts, forms, and chats just as easily as you can track clicks.

The CallRail integration with HubSpot allows businesses like senior living communities to connect call data to HubSpot contact records and track the campaigns generating move-ins. CallRail works with over 200,000 businesses and has been a HubSpot app partner since 2018.

Why integrate CallRail with HubSpot?

Because the senior living sales cycle can be so long, we recommend taking advantage of CallRail and using call tracking as a complement to your existing digital marketing efforts.

Benefits of integrating CallRail with HubSpot:

  • Track calls from any source, including online ads, offline marketing, and your website
  • See phone-tracking data within HubSpot—no need to toggle between multiple platforms
  • Learn which marketing campaigns are driving the most leads so you can make better use of your budget
  • Drill down into the summary of each call with CallRail’s Conversation Intelligence—discover keyword phrases, learn about questions prospects have, and identify which sales reps are rocking their calls (and which ones need coaching)
  • Bolster your lead scoring—call data is helpful in advancing prospects. If someone calls in directly to the community (showing higher intent), you can use that call data as positive criteria as part of your lead-scoring strategy

Remember, marketing isn’t linear (as much as we’d like it to be).

In a perfect world, prospects would follow the path we marketers have envisioned, like visiting the website, downloading a piece of content, getting lead nurturing emails, and ultimately clicking on a link in one of the emails to schedule a tour via a form on the website.

But as our earlier example suggests, marketing is never linear. The casual, low-intent prospect who hasn’t opened the last two emails you’ve sent might pounce on the email you send tomorrow because her situation has changed. Her mother fell, and now she needs to move much faster than originally planned. But instead of clicking on the link in the email to schedule the tour, she calls instead.

If you’re not tracking that phone call, your marketing and sales team loses out on critical data—not to mention that it will be much harder to close the loop in your marketing and sales reports.

But if you have CallRail integrated with HubSpot, you can ensure all the marketing intelligence associated with that prospect isn’t lost simply because she chose to call instead of clicking on a link.

CallRail + HubSpot: A winning formula.

We don’t have to tell you how long the senior living sales cycle is—and it only seems to be getting longer, especially among Boomers choosing to stay put in their homes.

Get the most out of your marketing efforts by tracking as much as possible, including calls into your community, with CallRail integration with HubSpot.

Reminder, CallRail will . . .

  • Help supercharge your HubSpot
  • Provide practical insights into calls
  • Demonstrate a positive way to use AI

View Webinar Recording - 4 ways to get more marketing insights from HubSpot with AI-powered applications
Psst. Don’t know what to do first? Or don’t have the time? We can take this off your plate.

And if you want to know more about CallRail and HubSpot, check out the webinar that Paul Trusik, our Director of Operational Technology, was involved with last year. You’ll find it in the second point in this article, “4 ways to get more marketing insights from HubSpot with AI-powered applications.”

Two adult women on their phone searching for place "near me" learn more about senior living SEO.

Senior Living SEO: How to Optimize for ‘Near Me’ Searches

Two adult women on their phone searching for place "near me" learn more about senior living SEO.

When someone plugs a query into Google, they’re looking for results that will satisfy their query ASAP. It’s all about the searcher—their needs, their questions, their pain points. And nothing demonstrates this better than the rise of “near me” searches.

Most of us have likely done these types of searches before:

  • Best coffee shop near me
  • Best Indian restaurant near me
  • Best antique store near me

The beauty of the “near me” search is that the technology knows where we’re located when we conduct the search. So someone in downtown Boston who searches “best coffee shop near me” will get much different results from someone who conducts the same search while standing under the Eiffel Tower.

And that’s a good thing. If I’m in Boston, it’s not going to do me any good if the top search result is for a French café on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées, right?

The same applies when people conduct searches like “senior living near me.” The searcher is looking for options near them. Maybe it’s an adult child searching for a parent. Or an older adult who wants to remain in the area they’ve lived in for decades. Often, Google will serve up a map result with “near me” results, even when your search is something generic, like “senior living.”

What might surprise you is how many people perform these searches monthly. Check out the snapshot below.

semrush near me searches

Now, if you’re a savvy marketer, you’re likely wondering if there’s anything you can do to help boost your senior living SEO and community’s exposure in “near me” searches. The short answer is yes. Below, we provide three strategies for doing exactly that.

1. Optimize Your Google Business Profile.

If you’re a regular reader of our blog, you’ve heard us talk about this topic before. Nothing is more important than your Google Business Profile (GBP) if you want your senior living community featured prominently when someone conducts a “near me” search.

Here’s the thing about your Google Business Profile: IT’S NEVER DONE.

Just like your website, your GBP requires regular attention.

You must . . .

  • Monitor and engage with reviews
  • Add new pics and videos
  • Answer questions
  • Ensure all info is current

And that’s just the beginning.

Further reading/learning:

2. Mind the NAP.

NAP stands for Name, Address, and Phone number. Make sure your NAP is consistent across your site and all online assets like your Google Business Profile, social media profiles, and relevant directory listings that rank well for local search.

This is particularly important for voice searches.

Semrush notes in its article on voice search optimization, “Although Google Assistant fetches local business information from Google Business Profile, that’s not the case with Amazon’s Alexa, Microsoft’s Cortana, and Apple’s Siri. To make sure your local business is shared by different voice assistants, it’s important to leverage different local directories.”

Note: You likely have a contact page on your site with all this info. A good rule of thumb is to also include your NAP in the website footer, making it easier for Google and voice search.

Further reading:

3. Include Structured Data on Relevant Pages.

Simply put, structured data (also called schema markup) is additional code that helps search engines like Google understand what your site is all about.

Google explains, “Adding structured data can enable search results that are more engaging to users and might encourage them to interact more with your website, which are called rich results.”

For example, let’s say you want your site to rank well when someone searches for “pet-friendly senior living near me.” (This isn’t a random query—people search on this phrase 320 times a month, according to Semrush.)

You would create a page about how your community caters to pet parents. On the page, you’d have pics of actual residents with their fur babies, like dogs and cats. You could have a shot of your on-site dog park. Finally, you could include a video featuring a day in the life of a resident and her dog.

Adding structured data to this page would signal to Google that you have all these awesome elements, like pictures and videos, that would satisfy the searcher’s query on “pet-friendly senior living near me.” So your page would stand a better chance of showing up in rich results and getting clicked. (Pages that show in rich results enjoy better conversions than those that don’t.)

Remember, structured data/schema markup doesn’t just happen. It’s code that needs to be deliberately added to the page. (Your web person can help with this—or we can!) And honestly, structured data will be a must-have if Google’s Search Generative Experience takes off.

Further reading:

Need help implementing the above?

If this article made you sob because you don’t know how you can possibly add this work to everything you’re already juggling, have no fear! That’s precisely where we come in. We have some of the smartest (and techiest) folks in the senior living marketing space.

We can help you rock your senior living SEO and optimize your site for “near me” searches. Get in touch and let’s chat.

Elder woman interacting with clinical caregiver.

Senior Living Marketing: Get More Videos from Your Team

Elder man in interacting with clinical caregiver recording a video. How to use videos in senior living marketing.

Nothing can transform senior living marketing from meh to WOW faster than video. It’s among our top recommendations to our clients, yet the hardest one for them to embrace.

Listen, we get it. Video marketing can sound intimidating. And a decade ago, it was. But today’s smartphones shoot excellent video, and editing apps simplify splicing and dicing.

The best part? You likely already have someone on your marketing team who can take on editing videos. Or you could task an intern with the role. Gen Z knows a thing or two (or a hundred) about shooting compelling videos. And all they need is their phone. (If neither option is viable, we can help, provided you get good raw footage—more on this below.)

Empower people in your community to shoot raw footage.

The key to getting more videos is empowering existing team members within your community to take more videos. We’re not just talking about the senior living marketing and sales teams, either. The activities department, dining services, and even admin folks can all be tasked with taking videos.

Let them know all they need to do is shoot the raw footage and that your team will handle the rest. Easy-peasy!

Make it simple for people to share their footage with the marketing team.

You need an easy way for people to transfer the raw footage from their phones to a place where your marketing team can access it. Many options exist. If you’re unsure, go with Dropbox.

Here’s what you do:

  • Each month, set up a community Dropbox folder for the current month. You’ll have one main Dropbox folder. Within it, you’ll create a new folder each month. Turn off permissions for the other months’ folders as you go along.
  • Create a shareable link to the current month’s folder. Make sure the setting says that anyone with access to the link can edit.
  • Email the Dropbox link to the staff (or the folks you’ve empowered to be on your video team). Alert them that this month’s folder is awaiting their awesome uploads.

In your email, always include a link to instructions on how to download the Dropbox app to their phone and how to upload videos from their phone to Dropbox. We recommend creating an unlisted YouTube video that only people in your organization can view, demonstrating how to do this on iPhones and Androids.

If people have trouble transferring the raw footage to Dropbox, invite them to stop by the marketing team’s office for help.

In the email, you’ll also want to remind people about the types of video footage you’re looking for.

  • Sweet moments between residents
  • Video testimonials from residents and their families during move-in day
  • Shots of the grounds (flower garden, after a snowstorm, a rainbow)
  • Snippets from activities and events
  • “Day in the life” videos of residents and employees
  • Holiday-specific montages (like the activities department decorating for Christmas or the Fourth of July)

You should also provide reminders about video etiquette and resident privacy.

The more specific your suggestions are, the better. For example, if your community is hosting a Kentucky Derby party, ask for footage of all the fabulous hats people are wearing and capture people toasting with their mint juleps.

Now, you might be thinking, “Yeah, this sounds great. And people will likely have good intentions. But what if it doesn’t result in anything?”

That brings us to our next tip—the magic formula for getting people to participate.

Offer incentives for the best footage.

Think of it this way: If you invested in professional video shoots, you’d spend thousands of dollars.

Your monthly incentive program will cost considerably less. Invest $150 per month to use as an incentive. Give $100 to the person who provides the best footage and $50 to the runner-up. (If you can up the ante, even better. The bigger the incentive, the better the footage—and you’ll likely have more options.)

Promote last month’s winner in the email you send out during the current month.

Don’t just send the email only once. Send it at the beginning of the month, the middle, and towards the end with a “last chance to enter this month’s raw video footage contest.”

At the end of the year, you could hold a community-wide contest where people vote on who recorded the best footage used in a video—and the winner gets a substantial prize, like a $100 bonus.

Assign one or two people on your team to edit video footage and create the final videos.

By running all the footage through your marketing department, you’ll have quality control measures to ensure the content is appropriate and on brand. (Bottom line: You don’t have to use all footage that comes in, either.)

This work doesn’t have to be a heavy lift, either. Video editing can happen through a simple phone app like InShot. We recommend upgrading to InShot Pro because it has more features. It costs less than $5 per month. (Or if you want to install editing software on a desktop, that could work, too. But honestly, being able to do everything on a phone makes it easy and fun.)

Remember, people don’t want overly-produced videos—they want authentic videos, especially on TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube shorts. The goal is to make sure the video is engaging and reflects well on your community.

You can easily create any branded visual assets you need in Canva, like thumbnails.

Don’t forget to share your videos in places other than social media—blog posts, relevant web pages, and emails are excellent places to pop in a video.

But when you do post on social media, give a shout-out to the person who captured the raw footage and remember to tag them. They might share the video with their followers, which means more exposure for your community.

It takes time to build momentum. Don’t give up.

Once word gets out about the incentives and people begin seeing their footage online, you’ll be surprised at how eager people will be to participate and share the video snippets they capture.

And again, if you need assistance editing any of the raw footage that comes in, our team can help.

4 Smart Ways to Use ChatGPT in Senior Living Marketing

Image of a hand extended with AI for ChatGPT in senior living marketing.

It’s been a little over a year since people began buzzing about ChatGPT and other generative AI. Rumors swirled: Massive layoffs will ensue! Robots are poised to take over the world!

None of these doomsday prophecies happened. What did happen: ChatGPT became the fastest-growing app in history while continuing to evolve rapidly.

At Senior Living SMART, we still recommend treading carefully when using ChatGPT. But we also believe knowledge is power. ChatGPT has made several upgrades that smart marketers should be aware of. Below, we highlight strategies for using these upgrades in your senior living marketing.

Note: As we go to press, the first two items below can be done with a free account. The third and fourth suggestions involve having ChatGPT access the web. For this, you need a paid subscription plan, like ChatGPT Plus, which costs $20/month.

1. Set up “Custom Instructions” about your brand and brand voice.

If you want ChatGPT to produce content that sounds closer to your brand voice, the Custom Instructions section is the place to go because this is where you can teach it how to respond to your prompts.

How to access Custom Instructions in ChatGPT

  • Navigate to your settings by clicking on your username. (If you have the ChatGPT app on your phone, click on the hamburger menu in the upper left and then click on your username at the bottom.)
  • From there, click on “Custom Instructions.” (Or it might say, “Customize ChatGPT.”)
  • You’ll have two boxes to fill in, both with a maximum of 1,500 characters.

Custom instructions for ChatGPT

Custom instructions

respond ChatGPT

Benefits of Using Custom Instructions

  • Save time. You don’t need to rewrite the same instructions over and over.
  • Continuously train (and improve) ChatGPT. You can continue fine-tuning your instructions over time so ChatGPT develops a deeper understanding of your brand.
  • Easily swap in different instructions for different purposes or different communities. For example, let’s say you have four senior living communities under one brand “umbrella.” Each property could have its own set of Custom Instructions that you can swap in when you’re doing work related to that property.

Tips + Tricks

  • Draft your instructions offline first. Create different versions of your brand and tone guidelines. You’ll need to experiment to see which instructions produce the best results.
  • Don’t ditch human oversight. Even with Custom Instructions, ChatGPT likely won’t deliver content that sounds completely on-brand. But it should be closer than what it produced a year ago. Bottom line: You still need human writers to review and revise any ChatGPT-generated content (especially long-form pieces).
  • Keep in mind Custom Instructions will apply to all new chats moving forward. You can update your instructions at any time. When you swap in new instructions, you must start a new chat for the instructions to take effect*.

*NOTE: As we go to press, ChatGPT has announced a new feature called Memory, allowing it to remember things from different chats. It’s currently available to only a few users, but this will likely change quickly.

  • Don’t put in any proprietary brand info. A good rule of thumb with AI right now: Only share content, concepts, and ideas that are already publicly accessible.

2. Train ChatGPT to understand your personas.

You likely already have personas. (If you don’t, you should!)

Open a new chat, copy and paste your persona info into it, and ask ChatGPT to take on the role of this persona. Then, you can prompt it to do things like . . .

    • Have ChatGPT brainstorm blog article topics that it would want to read. Again, it’s important to instruct ChatGPT to take on the role of the persona.
    • Task ChatGPT with brainstorming headlines and subject lines that will likely resonate with the persona. Or give it the headlines/subject lines your team created. Ask ChatGPT to assume the persona’s role and ask which versions it likes best and why.
    • Ask ChatGPT to assume the persona’s role and fetch recent articles, blog posts, and offers it finds interesting. Talk about valuable intel! You’ll better understand what content resonates with the persona. (NOTE: Currently, this task would involve a paid subscription since you’re asking ChatGPT to access the web.)
    • Go a step further with the suggestion above, and ask ChatGPT to tell you what it liked about each piece of content—and where it could be improved or what questions it was left with. Pay attention to any content gaps ChatGPT points out. This will be an opportunity for your brand. You can create content that fills the gaps.

Any time you close a chat, ChatGPT automatically saves it. You can rename it accordingly—for example, “Adult Daughter Debbie Persona.” Then, return to this saved persona and open the chat whenever you want to do further work with ChatGPT about this persona.

See our earlier note above about a possible long-term memory feature in ChatGPT. If this comes to fruition, you won’t have to worry about continuing conversations in the same chat thread. In theory, with long-term memory, ChatGPT will be able to remember separate chats/conversations.

If you don’t have personas, you might be tempted to have ChatGPT craft them. While this could work for certain industries/brands, we don’t recommend doing this for senior living since many human emotions are at play—nuances exist between care levels and the people involved in the decision-making (for example, adult children vs. seniors).

Instead, develop personas based on actual conversations with residents, their families, and lost prospects. Need help? Persona development is one of our many areas of expertise.

  • PRO TIP: If you conduct interviews with real residents, you could take the transcripts from the interviews, feed them to ChatGPT, and ask it to pull out the recurring pain points, etc.

3. Have ChatGPT perform competitor research and analysis.

When it launched, ChatGPT couldn’t access the web and was only trained on data through September 2021. But paid subscribers (ChatGPT Plus, Enterprise, and Team Workspaces) can now access the web in real-time (through Microsoft-owned Bing).

Nope, it’s far from perfect. ChatGPT is still prone to hallucinations, and you must triple-check any facts it serves up.

But give it 10 of your competitors’ websites and ask it to analyze things like messaging and on-page calls-to-action? THAT it can do—and lightning fast.

Use the following prompt and see for yourself.

    • PROMPT: Assume the role of an expert in competitor analysis. Please review the following competitor websites. [List URLS] For each one, analyze messaging strengths and weaknesses and share your findings. Then, suggest ways for my community [URL] to differentiate its messaging.

This is one of dozens of prompts you could devise for competitor analysis and research. Remember, the more detailed and specific your prompt, the better. It’s not unusual for effective prompts to be a page long.

Tips for writing effective prompts:

  • Be precise, be specific. The more you can do both, the better your results.
  • Provide context. Pretend ChatGPT is an intern. How much background would you give the intern to get the results you’re looking for? Do the same with ChatGPT. It’s a great tool, but it’s not a mind-reader.
  • Ask ChatGPT to assume a specific role or persona. Studies show that directing ChatGPT to assume a particular role, persona, job description, and so forth will help it produce better results.
  • Approach prompts like an ongoing conversation, not a once-and-done task. Asking follow-up questions is an excellent way to refine ChatGPT’s responses.
  • Practice makes better. You’ll see people claiming to be experts in writing ChatGPT prompts, but remember that ChatGPT has only been around since November of 2022. You can absolutely rock ChatGPT prompts on your own with practice.

4. Have ChatGPT perform data analysis.

Again, this feature is currently available for paid subscriptions.

You’ll notice the little paperclip whenever you open a chat if you have a paid subscription. You can upload docs and ask ChatGPT to analyze the data.

For example, you could have ChatGPT analyze trends and themes in your community’s online reviews.

Here’s what you’d need to do:

  • Copy and paste all your Google reviews into a spreadsheet.
  • Open a new chat in ChatGPT and attach the spreadsheet.
  • Ask ChatGPT to assume the role of a data analyst and to look for messaging themes in the reviews, questions that would make good blog content, and areas that might need further clarification on your website and elsewhere.

You could have it conduct a similar analysis with surveys or even more analytical data that you download from GA4 or YouTube dashboards. You get the idea.

A final note: Don’t ditch your human writers.

Don’t mistake this article as an endorsement for ditching your writers and using AI-generated content. Even with training, ChatGPT still can’t perfectly match a brand’s voice—you still need human writers to bring their judgment, experience, expertise, and ability for nuance. And we don’t see that changing any time soon.

Instead, approach ChatGPT (and other large language models) as another tool in your content marketing toolbox. Don’t be scared of it. Experiment with it. Practice using it. Always double-check any facts or figures it produces (especially if you’re about to go live with something).

In the meantime, we’ll continue to provide helpful tips and strategies for using ChatGPT in your senior living marketing. Subscribe to our blog to make sure you don’t miss any of our articles. And make sure you’re connected with us on LinkedIn.

More great resources about ChatGPT & AI:

Animation of human three different brains to compare using behavioral science in marketing.

Using Behavioral Science in Marketing: What to Keep in Mind

Animation of human three different brains to compare using behavioral science in marketing.

On a recent episode of our Senior Living Marketing Perspectives podcast, Debbie Howard interviewed Nancy Harhut, founder and chief creative officer of HBT Marketing.

Nancy is all about getting prospects to take action, and she accomplishes this through a keen understanding of behavioral science. (We encourage you to read her book: Using Behavioral Science in Marketing: Drive Customer Action and Loyalty by Prompting Instinctive Responses.)

Below, we’re highlighting key takeaways from the podcast, including tips for using behavioral science in marketing your senior living community.

What is behavioral science in marketing?

Simply put, behavioral science in marketing involves understanding how people make decisions. And guess what? People rarely make neat and tidy decisions that follow a linear path based solely on logic or rational arguments.

As much as we marketers and sales folks like to think that simply delivering the right message to the right person at the right time is all we need to do, the reality is it’s more nuanced than that.

“Very often there are other factors at play that influence people’s decisions,” Harhut says, “and a lot of times, they’re not even aware of them.”

With significant financial investments—like senior living—you might think prospects are weighing the pros and cons and doing a cost-benefit analysis. But they’re more likely thinking things through with their heart rather than their brain.

“People make decisions for emotional reasons,” Harhut explains, “and then they later justify those decisions with rational reasons. So what that says to us, in marketing and sales, is we need both. We need both of those components. We need the rational reasons and the emotional reasons.”

But the trick is to lead with emotional reasons much earlier in the buyer’s journey.

Fostering an emotional connection also fosters trust.

When you emotionally connect with people, they tend to trust you more.

“And when people begin to trust you more,” Harhut says, “they’re more open to your story. They’re going to absorb what you have to say. They’re more likely to believe you. And, at the end of the day, probably more likely to do business with you.”

This is why you can’t wait until an in-person sales interaction to trot out the emotional components of your senior living marketing efforts. You must speak to people’s emotions from the start, which usually begins on your website.

3 ways to develop an emotional connection with prospects through a screen.

1. Develop messaging that demonstrates empathy.

Too often in senior living marketing, we lead with bright-and-shiny facts rather than honest emotion: You won’t have to do chores like mowing the lawn! You’ll have access to a gazillion activities! You’ll enjoy five-star dining!

What if instead we led with something like this . . .

“We know moving into senior living is a HUGE and often scary, frustrating, anxiety-inducing decision. Not to mention, everyone’s situation is different. You might be excited at the prospect of ditching the honey-do list, while someone else might be sad about leaving their forever home. Or maybe it’s the other way around, and you’re the one feeling unsure and sad. This is precisely why we won’t try “selling” you on senior living. Instead, our goal is to be as transparent as possible about what life is like in our community, how you might fit in, and the steps we take to help new residents transition into their new homes.”

Which one is more honest, authentic, and empathetic? Which speaks to a broader spectrum of emotions that many people experience before moving into senior living? It’s the second one.

Identify with prospects in a very empathetic way to build that all-important emotional connection. (Check out our article on empathetic marketing.)

2. Acknowledge challenging emotions.

When you lead with nothing but positives about your community—great care, great food, great amenities—you’re making it all about you. Not to mention, most communities boast the same things.

Instead, try leading with some of the more challenging emotions your prospects are experiencing, like worries over declining health, concerns about having enough money to finance senior living, sadness over the loss of a spouse, and a whole lot of other hard, ugly, upsetting emotions.

And don’t forget about the emotions the adult children have.

Harhut says, “If you’re hearing people say, ‘Look, I’m afraid my mother’s going to hate me when I do this.’ Or ‘It’s breaking my heart to make this decision,’ use that language because it’s real, it’s authentic, it’s where they are, and they’re going to say, ‘Oh my gosh, you guys understand me.” And you get that bond.”

  • PRO TIP: With smart content, you can adjust the messaging that viewers see based on rules you set, like whether they’re first-time or repeat visitors. So, you could share emotional messages with first-time visitors. During people’s subsequent visits, you can serve up messaging that might hit more of the logical, rational arguments. Smart content is also known as “dynamic” or “adaptive” content. Like anything else, you’ll want to pay attention to the results. Experiment, measure, lather, rinse, and repeat.

3. Brainstorm barriers—and how to overcome them.

Consider why people object to moving into senior living—and remember that those barriers will vary depending on the audience and even the level of care. For example, when an adult child is in urgent need of memory care for their parent, barriers to entry might be pricing, bad reviews, or guilt about putting their parent “in a home.”

However, the barriers to entry for people choosing senior living from a position of strength—think of younger boomers interested in retirement communities—might be, “Is this too indulgent? Do I have the money? Is this really the lifestyle for me?”

Address those barriers in your marketing messages by making an emotional connection and demonstrating empathy first. From there, you can build out the rational reasons.

Harhut says, “A lot of times in marketing and sales, we’re all about why someone should do something. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Obviously, we do want to talk about why you should do this, why it would be good for you, the benefits and advantages that you’ll get from it. But sometimes we need to think about why might someone not want to do what I’m asking them to do? And what’s the smartest thing I can say to overcome that hurdle or that barrier.”

Need help developing the right messages to get your prospects to act?

Our writers and messaging gurus understand how and when to use emotions ethically and responsibly in the marketing assets we create for clients. Get in touch and let’s discuss messaging for your community.

Close up of man in suit reviewing phone for senior living branding.

Oops! 5 Senior Living Branding Blunders to Avoid

Close up of man in suit reviewing phone for senior living branding.

Even if your senior living branding is solid overall, you might still be missing opportunities to share and reinforce it. We see this happen constantly, even when communities have slick websites.

Remember, consistency across all channels and media is critical to successful branding. Check your community’s branding against these often-overlooked spots.

The 5 most common places branding gets overlooked

Thank-you pages

You likely put a ton of effort into your landing pages. Compelling copy. On-brand design. Enticing calls-to-action. But what happens after someone hits that submit button? Do you redirect the prospect to an equally compelling thank-you page? One with as much effort put into it as the landing page?

Too often, marketers get lazy with thank-you pages. Yet people reading thank-you pages are part of a truly captive audience. Now is not the time to let your brand voice whimper or fall silent.

The biggest mistake we see with thank-you pages is that they’re too simple. They serve up whatever the prospect requested: “Click here to download the white paper.” But they don’t often offer anything beyond that.

This is a missed opportunity to reinforce your brand identity.

Items you can add to thank-you pages:

  • Social proof, like a testimonial that reinforces your brand (it’s always more compelling when someone else trumpets your brand values)
  • Related content (keep it ungated). Demonstrate that you’re paying attention to the person’s pain points by offering related content. If the content is typically gated, unlock the gate and make it free and clear. You already have the prospect’s email—and their attention. Don’t make them jump through hoops to access additional info that will help them. (You can use tracking URLs for analytics purposes.)
  • Videos. You might not have a better opportunity to get someone to watch one of your videos. Choose wisely.

Bottom line: Give every thank-you page the same TLC you give your landing pages.

Auto-responders

Listen, we get it. By the time you get to creating the auto-responder email, you just want to be DONE and hit publish since the auto-responder is usually the final step. Don’t let up on the gas! Your brand identity needs to shine through to the end.

We’d argue that auto-responder emails might be even more important than the initial website interaction you had with the prospect since, by this point, the prospect has a vested interest in the email’s contents. They’ve requested something specific, like pricing, a guide, a checklist, a tour, or whatever it is, which means there’s an excellent chance the email will get opened, read, and clicked.

Don’t believe us? Consider this compelling stat from Benchmark Email: Auto responders enjoy a 98% open rate—and 37% click-through rate.

Social media profiles

Facebook turns 20 years old in 2024. And while your community probably hasn’t been on Facebook the whole time, it likely has had a Facebook presence for ten or more years. That’s a lot of time for your brand to evolve—and for things to break on the platform. And the same is true for other channels, too.

When was the last time you audited the “about” section on your Facebook page? YouTube? Instagram, X, Pinterest, you get the idea?

Too many communities don’t keep their profiles updated. Often, a disconnect exists between the brand being represented on the website and the brand being represented on the community’s social media profiles, especially in some of the deeper sections, like the “about” areas.

Get into the habit of auditing your social media profiles yearly (at least).

Email signature lines

Did you know a thoughtful email signature can boost brand awareness, drive traffic to your website, and make it easier for people to contact you?

Wise Stamp, an email signature company, says its clients enjoy “22% more clicks, 32% more e-mail replies, 10% growth in their social media reach, and 15% more leads.” Yes, all thanks to email signatures.

Your sales and marketing teams should have email signature lines that reflect your senior living branding: not just your logo, font and colors, but also taglines, social icons, appointment scheduling links, disclaimers, and any extras like an event banner or video link. Remember, consistency is critical. Ensure everyone uses the same email signature format, and ensure the signature looks right across various devices and email clients.

And, ideally, freshen up the signatures every quarter or so.

Google Business Profile and directory listings

Your Google Business Profile is the second-most important online asset for your community after your website. If there’s anywhere online that must reflect your branding, GBP is it.

Any directory listings where your community has a presence must also be kept current. And just like social media platforms, it can be easy to set and forget these listings.

But think of the disconnect someone will experience if they see your old logo on your Google Business Profile or a directory listing before hopping over to your site with the current brand. They might even think they’re on the wrong site. These subtle missteps do matter—and they can add up, even if you can’t directly measure or quantify their impact.

Need help with any of the above? Check out our Total Online Presence Audit.

Our comprehensive audit digs into many things related to your community’s online presence, including brand consistency across channels. We’ll tell you what’s what, and we can even do the heavy lifting and fix everything for you if you want.

Learn more about the audit here. Or reach out directly if you have questions about how to make your senior living branding stand out.

Animation of different peoples personas and amenities that can drive senior living occupancy.

How Personas Can Drive Senior Living Occupancy

Animation of different peoples personas and amenities that can drive senior living occupancy.

Personas are fictional representations of your ideal customers—or, in the case of senior living, your ideal residents and the adult children involved in making decisions.

Armed with a clear picture of your ideal residents, you can better personalize your messaging and marketing to them—and ultimately boost your senior living occupancy.

Below, we’re sharing two case studies demonstrating how personas helped drive occupancy for our clients.

Case study: Using personas to develop a unique selling proposition

The problem: How to differentiate from the big boys in town?

We worked with a community in Ohio stuck at 60% occupancy. This community is in a rural market with two nearby competitors. One competitor is affiliated with the local healthcare system and has rehab, skilled nursing, physicians, and assisted living on one campus. The other competitor is new, with a fancy community that offers a more glamorous experience.

Our client’s marketing team felt their own community came off as old, dated, and too expensive, given what people were paying each month. The team believed their community couldn’t compete with the newer property or the property that offered assisted living and other medical services on a single campus.

The solution: Develop a value proposition based on real experiences, not marketing’s assumptions.

Our goal was to identify the right niche for our client and identify the unique value proposition so we could create messaging to attract prospects who would prefer our client’s community.

To accomplish this, we interviewed families that recently chose our client’s community over the others. What we learned: The prospects who chose our client’s community thought the new fancy-schmancy community in town was too grand for their tastes. And they thought the community with all the medical offerings on one campus was too big and difficult to navigate.

None of the families had a problem with the price of our client’s community. And what seemed like “old and dated” to the marketing team felt “warm and cozy” to the prospects. So, we created a messaging campaign that positioned the community with the following theme: “We’re not too big or too fancy—we’re just right.”

The result: Improved occupancy in the harder-to-sell units.

The refined messaging resonated well with prospects simply because it matched their needs and pain points instead of reflecting the marketing team’s assumptions about those pain points. Occupancy improved as a result. We were finally attracting the right prospects for this community.

Case study: Developing personas to help fill a specific need.

The problem: How to push the right inventory to the right prospect?

A client with a life plan community was in the process of renovating the older, dated property when we came on board. At the time, the community had mostly small one-bedroom units and studios available until the renovation was completed (over a year out). The community had a long waiting list for the larger apartments but no inventory. They did, however, have plenty of studios and smaller one-bedrooms—the problem was the prospects in the pipeline had no interest.

The solution: Develop two new personas that aligned with the available inventory.

Our job was to attract prospects interested in the smaller units. To do so, we had to first understand who those potential buyers were.

We began by hosting focus groups representing residents who had previously selected the smaller units. Through those conversations, we developed two personas that we’d use to guide our messaging and campaigns:

Persona #1: Planner Pam

Planner Pam represents older, single women interested in purposeful planning for their retirement lifestyle. She is vocal about not wanting her children to make decisions on her behalf, and she doesn’t want to become a burden to her kids as she ages. (Almost all the women in our focus group had cared for older loved ones, and they didn’t want their kids going through what they’d endured.)

Planner Pam chose our client’s community because of its life plan promise. The community offers a continuum of care as residents’ needs change. The price point of the smaller units was highly attractive to Planner Pam because it ensures she won’t outlive her assets. This financial security provides peace of mind. Planner Pam also values socialization—she has no interest in spending much time in her apartment. Instead, she enjoys dining with friends in the community and participating in activities.

Persona #2: Simple Sam

Simple Sam doesn’t want to continue maintaining his home, doing chores, and cooking. Several focus group participants had lost a spouse, and they chose our client’s community because they craved a simple life with meals, housekeeping, and maintenance included.

The Simple Sam folks aren’t looking for anything big and fancy, so they aren’t impressed with the larger apartments. Their collective attitude is, “I just need my TV, recliner, and bed. What I really appreciate are the services and amenities.” All the men in the focus group had initially attended a “lunch and learn” in the community before moving in.

We created two different campaigns to attract similar prospects to fill the remaining available units. We purchased qualified mailing lists for single men and women within our client’s geographic market and created a different campaign for each persona.

For Planner Pam, we created a campaign with messaging that spoke to being in control of your retirement plans, the importance of making a decision now so that your kids don’t have to do it later, how living in our client’s community means you’ll never be a burden to your family, and the peace of mind the life plan financial contract and continuum of care offered.

The other campaign for Simple Sam reinforced the idea that it was time to say goodbye to the “honey do” list and enjoy their retirement. The call to action (CTA) was to join us for a “lunch and learn” event where they could experience the fantastic food and learn more about the community.

The results: Increase in qualified prospects and move-ins.

Both campaigns garnered an excellent response and attracted qualified prospects. We filled the smaller apartments, which gave the community breathing room with its renovations. The community brought us on board when its occupancy was 60%, and it has now reached 90%.

We also created a “couples” persona to drive sales for the larger apartments post-renovation. The key motivators for couples include moving into a community when they’re both well enough to enjoy it together, continuing to live together even if their individual needs change over time, and having a supportive community if their spouse dies.

Persona research serves as the foundation upon which you build your marketing strategy.

Too often, communities dismiss persona research because they think it takes too long and costs too much. The communities want something tangible right away to use or share with prospects in return for the investment.

Here’s the thing, though: doing good persona research takes time. Yes, the final “product” is for internal use only. But with it, your marketing and sales teams will better understand what makes their ideal prospects tick. This will empower marketing to create messaging that attracts qualified prospects to your site and digital assets to help convert them at various points on their journey.

Remember, if you don’t know who you want to attract to your community and you try to attract everyone, you’ll waste valuable marketing dollars. Not to mention, you won’t increase your senior living occupancy.

And if you do know who you want to attract, but you don’t take the time to understand them—what their pain points are, what they crave, what they need—you’ll have trouble converting them to move-ins because your messaging won’t resonate with them.

Bottom line: Persona research isn’t a quick fix. Instead, it’s a long-term solution—one that works.

Persona research matters. It’s an investment of time and money that will pay off in the long run. Need help developing yours? Get in touch.

Senior couple going through the move-in process and going through belongings.

How the Move-In Process Can Affect Your Senior Living Marketing

Senior couple going through the move-in process and going through belongings.Too many senior living marketing and sales teams think their work is done once a prospect signs a lease. The problem with this thinking? The teams are missing an opportunity to help residents AND the community at the same time.

Remember, life doesn’t get easier for prospects once they agree to move into your community. It’s just the opposite. The prospect faces a hot mess of stress and anxiety between the lease signing and the actual move-in. Tasks include picking through cherished belongings, deciding what to toss or donate, preparing the house to go on the market, and packing what they want to take with them. Emotions run high—and even more so when adult children are involved.

Sure, the marketing and sales team could say, “Not our problem! We’ll see you when you arrive.”

And yet, it’s in the community’s best interest to make this transition as seamless as possible. And by “seamless,” we mean offering concrete ways to help residents and their families reduce stress and even find joy during the chaos.

Why? Consider the following:

  • Happy residents (and their families) will participate in your referral programs. And guess what? Referrals from current residents and their families are GOLD. They tend to have much better conversion rates while requiring the least heavy lifting. But happy residents don’t just happen. It will be much harder to inspire residents still smarting from a difficult move to get into referral mode.
  • Happy residents (and their families) will write glowing reviews. Reviews are essential to the senior living sales process. Prospects crave current reviews, not ones from three years ago, so you must constantly prime the referral pump. The best time to ask for a review is right after the resident moves in and when everything is still fresh. But what happens if the trauma of a hard move now overshadows the fantastic rapport your sales rep built? Suddenly, your hope for a solid 5-star review is fading.

Remember, moving into your community might feel like a cup of coffee to you. But it’s a big deal for the family facing such a daunting undertaking.

Study after study suggests that moving is the most stressful event in life. When you add in older age, illness, or the recent death of a loved one (like a spouse), the stress grows exponentially.

No wonder people would rather stay in their homes—even if the home is unsafe or lonely. Here’s the thing: If you know that the physical act of moving is the barrier to entry, why wouldn’t you do everything in your power to break down this barrier?

And guess what? If you effectively break down this barrier, you’ll do something awesome for your community while you’re at it: differentiating it from all the other communities that don’t bother with this step.

Develop a helpful post-deposit process for new residents and their families—and differentiate your community in a good way.

Coming up with a compelling marketing differentiator in senior living is challenging since most communities sell the same amenities, the same levels of care, and the same promises about great food and a stellar staff.

So, if your community becomes known for reducing stress during the transition, this can become an excellent point of differentiation.

Below are three ways to accomplish exactly that:

1. Put your marketing automation to good use with helpful workflows.

Thanks to marketing automation, your team can create email workflows to assist the sales team during this post-deposit stretch before the prospect moves in. Workflows can include move-in-day reminders, what residents can expect during their first week or month, and answers to FAQs.

Follow a cadence that makes sense—these email “touches” should correspond to when the new resident is moving in. For example, someone joining your community within 30 days will need an accelerated workflow that surfaces the most critical info, like move-in day protocol: when to arrive, where to go, who will be available to help carry belongings, and what to expect during the first dining experience.

On the other hand, people who are moving into your community 90 days out will follow a different cadence. Mixed in with the “just the facts” messages can be other messages highlighting the lifestyle and upcoming events.

Another smart strategy is digitizing all move-in paperwork. Keep in mind that adult children are often responsible for managing the paper trail for their parents—and many of these adult children are under 65. They expect a digital experience, like a resident portal, not a binder of papers and forms.

2. Encourage (and reward) salespeople who stay in touch with their recently closed prospects.

The new resident and their family likely developed a strong rapport with the salesperson. To have them suddenly disappear will feel disorienting. And yet, this disappearing act is what happens in most communities.

Instead, encourage your salespeople to stay in regular touch with their recently closed customers. Encourage them to serve as the new resident’s primary point of contact during this transition. (Or, if budget allows, a move-in or transition specialist might be a new title to create in your community.)

And we’re not talking about the salesperson simply sending an email or leaving a voice mail just so they can cross the task off their to-do list. Instead, they should:

  • Ask how the soon-to-be resident is doing. Pay attention to what they say—and what they don’t say. Do they seem frazzled? Depressed? Anxious? Are they struggling with a specific task, like finding movers? How can you help? The best senior living salespeople will have a network of trusted vendors that can address myriad issues, from downsizing to moving.
  • Consider making a kind gesture, like bringing the soon-to-be resident some goodies from the community’s dining room (which will serve as a reminder about what the resident has to look forward to in your community).
  • Actively listen. Sometimes offering an empathetic ear is all the future resident (or their family) needs. Even the best salesperson on the planet won’t be able to reduce the stress level to zero. But letting the future resident vent, or the adult daughter, or the adult brother squabbling with the adult daughter can help lighten the load.

Keep in mind that most salespeople won’t be used to having these sorts of interactions with recently closed customers. But if you want your community to become known for helping new residents transition successfully, you must encourage your salespeople to be part of the process. Encourage their involvement and find ways to reward them. What motivates sales folks more than incentives, right?

3. Offer relocation services—and don’t forget to promote the service long before the prospect signs the lease.

Debbie Howard, our CEO and Co-Founder, recently did a podcast with Maureen Longoria, the co-founder of LivNow Relocation, which specializes in senior living relocation services.

Longoria says her team is trained in “empathy and action.” Older adults need big doses of empathy since so many emotions are tied to their personal possessions. Adult children are often more focused on logistics—the action items—like securing good movers.

Longoria says communities shouldn’t underestimate how much the burden of moving can influence a person’s decision about whether to bother moving at all. In the podcast, she discusses a survey where participants considering a move into senior living were asked what they needed the most help with.

“The number one thing was the physical aspect of moving,” Longoria says. “The number two thing was finding the right community. They were very concerned about that. But the number three thing was organizing and downsizing. Number four was selling the home. And then number five was financial.”

Considering the physical act of moving occupies the top position (and relevant tasks occupy other positions in the top five), offering relocation services makes a lot of sense, and doing so can go a long way in differentiating your community from others. This is why the sooner communities inform prospects about this service, the better. Don’t wait until the prospect signs the lease to tell them about the services. Instead, promote that your community takes a proactive approach in helping new residents transition from their home to senior living.

If your senior living community offers relocation services, do the following:

  • Create a dedicated landing page on your site about the relocation services. Ideally, make it available and visible in the top-level navigation. Discuss how this service can benefit your future residents. Share testimonials from residents who’ve used the services. If the service doesn’t cost the resident anything, highlight this point.
  • Promote the services in all pre-tour communications. For example, when someone schedules a tour online, the thank-you page and the auto-responder email should highlight this service and explain how people can contact a counselor for a free consultation.
  • Highlight the service in all post-tour communications. Remind people about this service—and make it easy for someone to contact a relocation counselor.
  • Make virtual intros. If the salesperson senses a once-hot lead is getting cold feet, they should take the initiative and make a virtual introduction between the prospect and a relocation counselor.
  • Promote the service throughout the community’s website, social media platforms, and marketing events. Again, if the process of moving is one of the biggest barriers to entry, BREAK DOWN THIS BARRIER.

Bottom line: the most successful communities think BEYOND the sale.

Need help figuring out post-deposit workflows and how to align your marketing and sales teams so they can help transition new residents without adding more work on anyone’s plates? We can help with this and any other senior living marketing challenges. Get in touch and let’s chat.