The Marketing Agency Trap in Senior Living

The Senior Living Marketing Agency Trap

We are a senior living marketing agency. Over the years, we’ve worked with marketing agencies, and weve hired marketing agencies at various times throughout our growth. This gives us a unique perspective on the pros and cons of the typical marketing agency model. 

Here are some of the lessons weve learned about the agency world. 

Lesson #1: Be Wary of the Ol’ Bait & Switch.

Too often, a strategic leader in the marketing agency will woo you, but the minute the deal closes, they disappear.

That’s a big problem because the greatest value provided by an industry-specific marketing agency is in the development of the strategy. If you don’t have a sound marketing strategy, nothing else matters.

On a couple of occasions in our earlier years, we were “sold” by a charismatic and strategic agency leader with great insights and ideas. But after we signed the contract, we never saw or spoke to that person again.

Pro Tip: Before you sign the contract, learn how often the strategic leader will be joining results calls and strategy sessions.  (They should be involved at least quarterly.) Make sure you have this point outlined in the contract. Psst: When you work with Senior Living SMART, you always get one of us—the founders—on your team.

Lesson #2: Remember, You Get What You Pay For.

In the world of marketing agencies, the budget you’re willing to spend will determine the experience and quality of the team assigned.

Only clients with the largest budget will get the A Team. Agencies employ marketing specialists with a wide variety of experience levels from entry level on up. This means, you may end up with a B, C, or D team based on your spend.

Pro Tip: Before you sign the contract, find out all you can about the people on your marketing “team.” This should include their professional marketing experience, how long they’ve been with the agency, and what other senior living clients they’ve worked with. You can learn all about our senior living marketing team here.

Lesson #3: Make Sure Your Brand is NEVER Held Hostage.

Read your marketing agency contract carefully and be sure that you own your content and brand elements! We’ve worked with senior living clients who’ve discovered their agency would not release their logos, images, and creative files to them. In essence, the agency was basically holding the brand hostage.

Pro Tip: Always retain the original art files, brand guidelines, logos, and images you purchase. And have an attorney double check your contract before signing.

Lesson #4: Be Skeptical of Too Many Trade Secrets.

In the course of delivering a great digital marketing experience, agencies will employ multiple technologies for analytic and diagnostic purposes. Most will “white label” these resources so they can retain the licenses and own the marketing “secrets.”

This might be OK while you’re working with the agency. But in the future, you might want to transfer the licenses to yourself or another agency—and you shouldn’t have to lose your historical data in order to do so. Here are some examples where the data and analytics can really pile up: marketing automation software, reputation management, social sharing platforms, SEO, and heat mapping tools.

Pro Tip: Before signing the contract, get a list of all tools and technologies that will be used to manage your account and be sure there is a process to transfer all licenses to you or your next agency.

Lesson #5: Your Agency’s Idea of “Success” Doesn’t Match Yours.

We worked with marketing agencies that were always excited to report their wonderful results in reaching various goals. The problem? Their goals were NOT our goals.

Goal setting should be collaborative and realistic. Don’t be fooled by the fluff reporting of impressions, views, clicks, and website traffic. In the senior living industry, the best measurements of success are conversions-to-leads, tours, and move-ins.

Pro Tip: Ask about reporting up front. What will be measured? What are the sources of truth? How will ROI be determined?

Learn from our lessons and avoid these mistakes!

And if you’re looking for a senior living marketing agency that works exclusively in the senior housing and care industry, we’d love to chat. Click here to schedule a 30-minute brainstorming session.

Another At-Bat: How to Rescue A Missed Opportunity Webinar

Another At-Bat: How to Rescue A Missed Opportunity Webinar

Here’s what you’ll learn: 

  • Inbound call handling best practices
  • Understand why calls fail
  • Expose blind spots in the customer journey
  • See how to calculate what its costing your organization to not effectively capture calls.
To Publish or Not to Publish? That is the Question About Community Pricing Webinar

To Publish or Not to Publish? That is the Question About Community Pricing Webinar

Here’s what you’ll learn: 

  • How to build a family/prospect experience strategy that scales.
  • How to interject powerful touch points that wows the family/prospect.
  • How to measure the efficacy of your customer experience strategy.
  • How to build your customer experience plan to deliver.
How to Build Your 24/7/365 Senior Living Sales Team

How to Build Your 24/7/365 Senior Living Sales Team

Fifty percent of all senior living sales inquiries occur outside of regular business hours. Prospects often engage during early mornings, after work, and on weekends when full-time sales teams are not typically in the community. And keep in mind that these prospects aren’t just looking at your community. They’re likely engaging with several at the same time.

This can create challenges since studies show that the sales person who responds to the prospect first—”speed to the lead”—has the best chance of converting them. This is why building a 24-hour virtual sales team is a must if you want your community to remain competitive.

Sound like a daunting task? Here’s the good news: Many solutions exist to help you fill in the sales “gap” during off hours.

Senior Living Website – Your 24-Hour Sales Office

Eighty-seven percent of your prospects begin their journey on your senior living website—and it’s open 24 hours a day.

What information should you have on your site? Think about the top 10 questions that prospects ask your sales people during the inquiry process (and what resources the sales team provides). Make sure that those answers and resources are easily accessible on your website.

For example, prospects usually want to know what your community offers. Therefore, information on accommodations, amenities, activities, and care should be accessible through downloadable brochures, calendars, menus, and floor plans. Extra points for video tours and photo galleries, since most people prefer to consume information visually rather than reading a lot of copy.

Prospects also want to know about pricing, so tell them (at least the “starting at” pricing). Pricing transparency improves qualified lead conversion. People use pricing information to self-qualify themselves, which will give your sales teams a better chance to work with high-conversion opportunities.

Finally, prospects want to educate themselves before they get a sales pitch. Having educational blogs, guides, and checklists to help prospects make an informed decision will go a long way in building trust.

Make sure that there are CTAs (calls to action) throughout your website to lead your visitors down a path to conversion. For example: scheduling a visit, requesting a call back, or subscribing to a newsletter. Each CTA creates an opportunity to convert an anonymous visitor into a lead.

Marketing Automation/ Lead Nurturing

If someone called into your community or scheduled a tour, your onsite sales team would follow up, right? Marketing automation creates workflows for ongoing lead nurturing after prospects leave your website—without your senior living sales team doing a thing.

Even better? The most powerful marketing automation will allow you to personalize the content and messaging based on each prospect’s interests. Lead nurturing that is both automated and personal tends to have the highest conversions.

Not convinced? Well, imagine this: someone comes to your website at 10 PM on a Saturday and they request a brochure. Your sales team is not available and your prospect does not want to wait for the information. No worries! As soon as the person requests the brochure, they would receive it right from the website along with a “thank you” email that demonstrates the community team is ready to help. From a backend perspective, the person would be automatically enrolled in a lead nurturing workflow.

Then, a day or so later, they receive a second email to see if they have any questions. The second email might also include a CTA to request a call back and a second piece of content, like “how to make a decision” guide. Finally, a few days later, they receive a check-in email with encouragement to schedule a visit.

Notice how each interaction offers resources, builds trust, and encourages them to take the next action—and it’s all happening automatically in the background without your sales team needing to do anything.

Remember, 90% of your first-time website visitors are “not ready to buy”—yet. Marketing automation keeps prospects engaged, brings them back to your website, and exposes them to your brand until they are ready to move forward.

Technology that is Always On Duty

Complete your virtual senior living sales team with these technology solutions (vetted and approved by us, Senior Living SMART):

  • SiteStaff humanizes your website via chat services with college-educated American hosts hired for empathy, trained in senior living sales skills, and ready to answer questions with information available in a community-specific knowledgebase.
  • Roobrik offers interactive assessments to match needs with solutions. Prospects spend four to five minutes answering up to 28 questions about their situation, challenges, finances, cognitive status, and readiness to embrace change. A “Care Fit” report scores each person based on urgency and then matches them to care and housing recommendations.
  • Marchex provides a lens into the customer journey, their experience, and sentiment. And the entire process is automated—every single call. With the data surfaced, your sales team will be able to deliver a better, branded customer experience, which will result in greater revenue performance. By understanding “breakage” in the customer journey, you can advise your staff about lost opportunities and tips for correcting them. Information gathered will help the sales team to personalize their interactions, which will give you an advantage over competitors.

And, of course, if you need help with your senior living website or marketing automation, give us a shout!

Senior Living Employee Recruitment: Tips for Attracting Great People

Senior Living Employee Recruitment: Tips for Attracting Great People

Question: Do you know the top five reasons a candidate would want to work for your senior living community?

If you don’t know the answer, start thinking about it. Because understanding why your company is a great place to work will help you attract great staff.

It’s no secret that it’s a competitive hiring market in senior living. Many companies are vying for the same candidates, from care staff to executive directors. So when you find a candidate you like, how do you convince them that they should work for you? You have to market your community to potential job candidates with the same intensity you market to prospects.

Which is why knowing the top five reasons candidates would want to work at your community is a great way to engage prospective employees and stand out from the crowd.

How do you come up with your list? Start by asking your current employees why they work for you and what they like about their job, the community, their co-workers, their managers, and even the residents. You’ll probably get some valuable feedback and great insights into why staff members stay with your community.

When you’re talking to job candidates, share these insights with them and ask which one is most important. Then, talk about that particular topic in more depth. For example, if a collaborative workplace culture is important, show them the ways your community and team foster this sort of environment.

Senior Living Sales: It Doesn't Have to Be Like "Groundhog Day"

Senior Living Sales: It Doesn’t Have to Be Like “Groundhog Day”

I sometimes miss working on the operations side of senior living, so much so that I’ll do occasional sales trainings and coaching projects to stay sharp. Whenever I dip my toes back into sales, the thing that surprises me most is this: marketing is like The Jetsons – innovative and exciting. Sales, however, is still like that Bill Murray classic: Groundhog Day. It’s as though time has stood still over the last 15 years as sales reps continue to struggle with the basics.

So let’s change that for good, shall we? Here are some ways to improve the sales process and results.

1. You never get a second chance to make a first impression.

Look at your community through prospects’ eyes and be honest about the basics. Start with the experience of arriving at the community. Can you improve the locations, landscaping, and visibility of signage (even at night)? Will zoning allow you to add feather banners or A-frames? Is there dedicated parking reserved for tours near the front door or are prospects circling endlessly? Is the landscaping inviting year-round? Is the outdoor furniture clean and arranged?

These small details can make a huge difference between your tour arriving relaxed and feeling welcome or stressed out and frustrated.

Bonus tip: Personalize your tour parking signage to add the names of expected guests so there will be a parking spot with their name on it.

2. Create a sense of belonging.

Prospects are typically looking at four to six communities. And let’s face it: most communities are very similar in design, services, and amenities. Prospects make decisions emotionally, which means you must build a strong sense of belonging from the minute they walk through your door. This starts with planning the visit to incorporate their life story, preferences, wants, needs, motivations, and non-negotiables.

Spending time as a team to plan every step of the visit will pay off with higher conversions. The better the discovery call, the better the planning and conversions. It takes the whole team to create a sense of belonging. For example, be sure the front desk is notified of all visits and has all the information they need to personalize their greeting. Also, provide notification to the line staff so they can participate more personally in the tour – and reward them when they do a great job!

 

 

 

Bonus tip: Use our turnkey “Red Carpet Tour” kit with all the resources needed to plan and execute the perfect tour.

3. It’s a $100,000 lifetime value sale, so why is there Styrofoam?

It now costs an average of $1200 to get a family to tour. This is an emotional decision and families will be sharing personal concerns, so setting up a hospitality suite with refreshments is a must. Conference rooms and offices are not conducive to sensitive and personal conversations.

And let’s get rid of Styrofoam, paper cups, and plastic cups and plates once and for all! The average resident lifetime value is usually greater than $100,000, so let’s roll out the glassware and china. Please use name-brand beverages. Store brand and generic brands shout “cheap.”

Bonus tip: Here is everything you need to create an inviting hospitality suite.

4. Location of the model apartment is critical.

I can’t tell you how many times I find the model apartment at the farthest end of the building. Why? So the maintenance department will not have to move it! The result? By the time the family gets to the model, they are already questioning if their loved one will be able to manage due to physical or memory deficits.

Always think of your prospect first—and what will be convenient to them. Ideally, the model apartments should be located in proximity to the hospitality suite. The model apartment should engage all senses: lights on, music playing, scented plug-ins, soft fabrics, and refreshments available. This is a place to linger, so have calendars, newsletters, floor plans, and menus out to create meaningful conversations.

Bonus tip: Use this model apartment checklist to see if your models are up to snuff! (download model apartment checklist)

5. Goodbyes and Advances.

Once the visit is wrapping up, it’s time to get a commitment to advance the relationship. This will be different for each prospect based on their unique situation. For earlier stage leads, a home visit, luncheon, or upcoming event may work best. For those closer to making a decision, a deposit, assessment, or re-tour with other decision-makers would be appropriate. Giving prospects something special is a memorable way to part ways, so consider having a swag collection available so you can find the right gift for each prospect. I recommend having dog/cat treats, teas/coffees, mugs, candies, small books etc. so I can find just the right gift for each prospect.

Bonus tip: Walk all tours out to their car to end the visit with a personal gesture.

Try free samples of our Red Carpet Tour kit!

Execute the perfect tour with planning tools, including forms, signs, staff recognition & post-tour gifts and followup resources.

Effective Marketing: 5 Metrics Everyone in the C-Suite Should Know

Digital Marketing for Senior Living: 5 Metrics Everyone in the C-Suite Should Know

A few years ago, Eat This, Not That! was published to provide advice on how to replace unhealthy food choices with better alternatives.

Today, we’re sharing Ask This, Not That! – a guide for VPs of marketing and the C-Suite to measure the effectiveness of their digital marketing for senior living.

We recommend focusing on five critical metrics:

1. Digital Marketing for Senior Living: Conversions, Not Traffic

Don’t be distracted by website traffic. Instead, focus on what matters: conversions. As in traffic that actually converts into customers.

Invest your budget in creating more website conversion points rather than simply increasing traffic. Here are some ideas for doing exactly that:

  • Blog more. Websites that publish new blog posts every week get 3.5 times more leads per month.
  • Create premium content such as guides, e-books, tool kits, and infographics. Gate them (put them behind a form) to increase conversions of anonymous visitors to leads.
  • Add live chat (like SiteStaff) to respond to prospects’ questions and convert chats to leads and tours.
  • Make your website experiential with interactive surveys (Roobrik), room planners (Design Floor Plans), and financial calculators.

Note: Marketing teams should be able to quantify how many leads have converted to inquiry calls (using call tracking, such as Marchex), scheduled tours, and brochure/ pricing requests.

Question to bring up during your next meeting with marketing and sales: “What are the conversion rates for each marketing channel?”

2. Digital Marketing for Senior Living: Not All Leads Are Created Equal

Asking how many leads are generated is the wrong question. A better question to ask is this: How many leads are Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) vs. Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs)? You should have a way of measuring both.

  • MQLs are early stage leads in research mode. They engage by reading blogs, downloading guides and brochures, and checking out pricing. Or maybe they are trying to self-qualify, but they’re not ready for a sales pitch. They want to be left alone until they are ready!
  • SQLs, on the other hand, are in the consideration and decision stages. These leads will opt into calls-to-action, such as “schedule a tour” and “speak with an advisor.” As such, it’s imperative that the sales team has immediate access to these leads.

Having technology that can apply lead scoring to quickly sort leads into MQLs and SQLs is critical in today’s competitive “speed to the lead” environment. And your marketing team should be able to provide the number of MQLs and SQLs in the pipeline.

Question to bring up during your next meeting with marketing and sales: “How do we identify MQLs vs SQLs so the sales team is working with the prospects most likely to convert?”

3. Digital Marketing for Senior Living: Nurturing the “Not Ready” Leads

Pressure on getting move-ins TODAY has created dangerous behaviors of focusing exclusively on urgent (high acuity) leads rather than building a healthy pipeline.

Each sales team member can realistically manage only about 10 active leads. So what do you think is happening with the other 200+ leads languishing in the CRM? Not much beyond maybe a few perfunctory “just checking in” follow-up calls to make an activity quota.

Marketing teams should have a strategy to keep the “not ready” leads engaged. Marketing automation (we use HubSpot) takes rote and repetitive tasks off the sales team’s plates and uses automated workflows to ensure that “not ready” leads are given resources while being exposed to your brand. Over time, this fosters trust and encourages the lead to advance to an SQL as they continue on their decision-making journey.

The best part? You can customize these strategic “drip campaigns” to each prospect based on their expressed interests and website behaviors. Links to blogs, premium content, newsletters, and event invitations keep prospects engaged until they are “ready.”

Question to bring up during your next meeting with marketing and sales: “What is our strategy to engage, nurture, and convert ‘not ready’ leads?”

4. Digital Marketing for Senior Living: Impact of Third Party Leads

The question most executives ask is “how many leads are in the CRM?” But a better question is this: “How many unique leads are in the database?”

A VP of Sales & Marketing recently told me that 80% of the leads in their CRM were generated from third party lead sources. This is important for two reasons. First, these leads averaged a 3% conversion rate. This means the sales team spends 80% of their time with low conversion opportunities. That leaves them only 20% of their time to work with leads generated from high conversion lead sources, such as friend and family referrals (35% conversion), professional referrals (40% conversion rate), and organic digital lead sources.

Second, these are shared leads – probably with five to seven of your nearest and dearest competitors. So in measuring actual lead volume, third party leads should only count as 1/5th or 1/7th of a lead. Counting third party leads as a unique lead will skew your actual lead volume and lull sales teams into a false sense of security that they have “plenty of leads” in the pipeline.

Question to bring up during your next meeting with marketing and sales: “What’s the lead percentage from each referral source category?”

5. Digital Marketing for Senior Living: It’s All About the ROI

At the end of the day, it is all about ROI. That is the difference between a marketing expense and an investment. You should be able to measure through every marketing channel—digital, paid AdWords and social campaigns, events, and traditional print, radio and TV advertising—the dollars invested and the leads generated in return.

Ideally, you should have a way to follow every lead through their journey and measure the cost per lead, cost per qualified lead, cost per tour, and cost per move-in. At Senior Living SMART, we help our clients go even further by calculating the resident lifetime value. Our clients provide the average length of stay and average rate by lifestyle for each community so we can accurately calculate the ROI of all marketing efforts.

Effective Marketing: 5 Metrics Everyone in the C-Suite Should Know

Question to bring up during your next meeting with senior living marketing and sales: “What is the ROI of each marketing campaign?”

Need help analyzing your analytics?

As a senior living marketing agency, we can help you understand the metrics that matter most. Get in touch!

How to Boost Occupancy & Lead Generation Through Inbound Marketing. Learn how we helped one client experience over 1200% ROI across 10 communities in fewer than four months! In this case study, track the growth of 10 communities using marketing automation, and view measurable results with reported ROI.

The First Conversation in Senior Living Sales

Senior Living Sales Tips: How to Engage Prospects Online

Not too long ago, the first conversation with senior living sales prospects happened either over the phone with the initial discovery call or in person during an event or tour. Today, the first conversation with prospects is digital in nature. Eighty-seven percent of senior living sales start online, and providers have only seven seconds to engage prospects.

Here are five senior living sales tips to increase engagement and conversions.

Senior Living Sales Tip #1: It’s Not About You.

Your prospects don’t come to your senior living website because they have nothing better to do. They come because they have a compelling need or concern, many questions, and a desire to connect with helpful resources to guide their decision-making journey.

Remember, you only have seven seconds. So ask yourself how you’re going to connect, engage, and convert them to a lead. Prospects today are much more experiential in their research style. If you have relevant information, they will stay on your site. If not, they will bounce off to a competitor or third-party lead aggregator site.

So make sure you put the most relevant and helpful info front and center on your most trafficked pages, particularly the home page. Include calls-to-action that will lead people to helpful resources they can download. Make sure FAQs are easily accessible in the navigation (better yet, include a Live Chat feature so you can address their questions in real-time).

Senior Living Sales Tip #2: Create Content for All Stages in The Buyer’s Journey.

Ninety percent of website visitors are not sales qualified. Prospects in the Awareness Stage are looking for basic information (e.g., What are the options? What’s included? Can I afford it?).

When they move into the Consideration Stage, they are weighing pros and cons and transitional issues (e.g., Is home or community the best setting? What will we do with all the stuff? Is the family on board? How do we broach the subject with Mom/ Dad?).

By the time prospects move into the Decision Stage, urgency replaces ambivalence and the conversation shifts to timing and location (e.g., Which community is going to be the best fit? what funding sources can we tap into? How do we make a smooth transition?).

To meet prospects where they are, your website must offer a range of content types to consume throughout the journey and multiple CTAs (calls to action) to advance leads. You’ll want to gate some content, but you should also “un-gate” some content as well. Blogs make great un-gated content (we recommend two to four original educational blog posts per month). Offering downloadable activity calendars, menus, and newsletters works well, too.

Guides, e-books, and tool kits work best for gated content (the prospect must exchange limited contact information in exchange for the valuable resource). Offering digital brochures and pricing resources are very popular with prospects and have high engagement and conversion metrics. We have found that e-newsletters are the number one tool to re-engage website visitors.

Senior Living Sales Tip #3: Make Your Website Interactive.

Websites today have to be more than online brochures. Less copy and more interactive experiences will make the website “sticky” so prospects stay longer and come back often.

Need some ideas? Live chat (not self-managed, not bots, and not foreign-based) produces high conversion rates with 40% of chats turning into leads and 20% converting to a scheduled tour. Interactive surveys (such as financial calculators) and self-guided decision tools (such as Roobrik) engage and convert anonymous website visitors into marketing- and sales-qualified leads. Interactive site maps, virtual tours, and room planners allow prospects to explore from their couch, without the drive time or sales pitch.

Senior Living Sales Tip #4 Optimize the Contact Us Form.

Prospects at each stage will respond to different CTAs, so offer them a menu of choices. Create a “pick list” with options such as the following:

  • Download a brochure
  • Check pricing
  • Join us for lunch
  • Schedule a home visit
  • Schedule a tour
  • Attend an upcoming event
  • Speak with an advisor
  • Subscribe to our newsletter and/or blog

Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs) who opt in to face-to-face or voice-to-voice interaction should immediately go to the community sales team. We recommend marketing automation to nurture early stage leads with personalized workflows. This allows sales teams to stay focused on high-conversion opportunities without the distraction of following up with leads that are not ready.

Senior Living Sales Tip #5: Attract and Convert More Leads, Tours, & Move-Ins with Essential Resources.

Below, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite resources. But you can find others in our Senior Living Marketplace.

  • Senior Living SMART – website design, marketing automation, content development
  • SiteStaff – live chat staffed by college-educated Americans trained for senior living
  • Roobrik – self-guided decision tools with low lead-acquisition costs and high conversions
  • Marchex – call tracking to measure conversion points for digital, social, and traditional channels
  • Design Floor Plans – interactive sitemaps, room planners, 2- and 3-D floor plans

Need help getting your sales team to embrace this online environment?

We love working with marketing and sales teams. Our approach helps make everyone’s jobs easier. Let’s chat about your needs!

The Impact of Marketing Automation on One Senior Living Community

Marketing Automation: The Impact On One Senior Living Community

Sonata Senior Living operates in highly competitive markets in central and southern Florida. They were looking for a way to drive more qualified prospects to their site, convert more tour and phone interactions, and determine the ROI of their digital efforts. We recommended marketing automation, since it’s both strategic and measurable.

Here’s the philosophy behind it…

Persona Development to Attract the Ideal Prospects

A persona is a fictional representation of the most qualified prospects with the highest opportunity to convert to a resident. Think about your most successful residents. They’ve lived in the community for a long time. They enjoy the amenities and lifestyle. And their families are involved and supportive. To get more of those ideal leads, you should develop buyer personas to understand common attributes, decision-making behavior, and key motivators.

Content Development to Attract More Qualified Leads

Once the personas are developed, the next step is to create an editorial calendar with relevant topics that are compelling to your personas throughout their journey. Content development should start with a keyword analysis for the target community and their nearest and dearest competitors. We focus on building a content strategy with topics for each persona and each stage within their journey.

Our copywriters work from keyword-rich titles based on our clients’ ranking for desirable keywords vs. the ranking of their competitors. For example, Sonata ranked lower on “Florida Senior Living” than their competitors. This keyword had a strong search volume, so we increased the number of blog titles with that keyword to elevate their ranking.

Boosting Conversions through Marketing Automation

Blogs serve as the bait that attracts interested prospects to the website, but gated premium content reels them in! Simply having regular blog content (we recommend two to four original blogs per month) will improve your SEO. But once you add gated premium content, conversions will significantly increase. For example, Sonata is seeing contacts double thanks to premium content.

Optimizing contact forms is a quick win. Offering multiple choices to prospects instead of only “contact us” or “schedule a tour” will allow prospects to opt in at the level they are most comfortable.

For instance, early stage leads are not ready for a tour, but they will eagerly download brochures and pricing. We like to offer “speak with an advisor,” “join us for lunch,” “schedule a tour,” and “receive our newsletter.” Sometimes just changing the location of the contact form can increase conversions.

Creating Workflows to Nurture Leads

Once a prospect takes the bait, marketing automation ensures that each prospect is nurtured according to where they are in the buyer’s journey.

Leads in the “bottom” of the sales funnel are ready to buy. We call these Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs). The goal is to get SQLs to the sales team quickly while integrating prospect information into the CRM.

Another goal is to keep Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) in a nurturing environment to build trust, provide valuable information and resources, and continue to advance them to SQL status.

Sending all leads to the senior living CRM is a distraction to the sales team. In addition, it often turns off early-stage prospects who aren’t ready for the sales pitch. Marketing automation can discern sales-qualified vs. marketing-qualified leads. Automation can also plate-up highly qualified and motivated leads to the sales team without losing the “not ready” opportunities.

Return on Investment – How Much Revenue Does Your Website Generate?

Sonata was interested in measuring the effectiveness of every marketing investment. They provided us with their average rent and length of stay by lifestyle. We tracked deposits and move-ins. Also, we were able to calculate the ROI of marketing automation and PPC efforts. In the first three months, Sonata realized a 1200% ROI. (Nope, that’s not a typo.)

Interested in learning more? Download the full case study today!

How to Boost Occupancy & Lead Generation Through Inbound Marketing.  In this case study, track the growth of 10 communities in just 3 months using marketing automation, and view measurable results with reported ROI.

Senior Living Marketing Tips to Kick Start January 2019

How to Create an Effect Senior Living Marketing Plan

It’s that special time of year. Dreams of sugar plum fairies and winter wonderlands are interrupted with the seasonal realities of Q4. A blizzard of demands grows our To Do list. And all of a sudden, it’s next year. Still a bit hazy from some holiday cheer, you might rush to cobble together a senior living marketing plan for Q1.

It’s fine, you think. After all, look at all those online and aggregator leads coming in!

But is it really OK?

Maybe not, especially when you consider the following…

  • Online leads tend to have a lower quality score than other lead sources, such as referrals.
  • Move-outs tend to increase this time of year, meaning you’ll need even more move-ins.
  • In some regions, weather can wreak havoc with promotional efforts.
  • Not to mention, as we update this article, a pandemic has changed senior living marketing (possibly for good).

So what can you do to make sure you’re not panicking on January 1?

Here are some strategies to follow NOW so that you can hit the ground running with an effective senior living marketing plan for the upcoming year, quarter, or month…

1. Set goals based on real numbers.

Number-driven goals are best, since it’s easier to measure their success. Move-in volume is a typical, measurable sales number (or, at least, it used to be pre-COVID). Set a realistic move-in goal for each month. If you’re not sure, look at the last 12-24 months. (You’ll want to consider 2018 and 2019 numbers to get a realistic sense of what the numbers look like during “normal” times. Then, you’ll want to consider 2020 numbers, too.) And set a monthly marketing budget. You need these numbers to plan.

Once you have a move-in number and a budget number for the month ahead (or better yet, the upcoming quarter or even the whole year), planning becomes easier.

For this exercise, let’s say the move-in number for January is 4.

Based on a budgeted 4 move-ins, how many leads do you need? Leads will equal the number of move-ins divided by your community’s lead-to-move-in conversion rate.

So let’s say your average lead-to-move-in conversion rate over the past 12 months is 12.8%. The math: 4 move-ins divided by .128 = 31 leads. So, in general, you’ll need 31 leads to produce 4 move-ins.

But is that really the number? Probably not for January.

Why? Well, what do we know about Januarys?

  • Online and lead aggregator volume typically spikes.
  • Move-outs often increase.
  • The weather stinks in ¾ of the country. Think ice, snow, rain, wind, and cold. And even if you’re working in a community that’s welcoming snowbirds, you’re thinking how you can keep them with you year-round.

Now, what do we know in general?

  • Not all lead sources are equal.
  • So many variables impact an average annual conversion rate.
  • Leads produced in the current month will most likely convert next month depending on several factors both in and out of your control.

So, most likely, you will need more than 31 leads.
All that said, 31 leads is a good starting point. From there, you can develop a senior living marketing plan that will generate these leads. Then, you can let lead aggregators produce gravy for you.

2. Identify target personas.

How do you bucket the various types of people contacting you and sitting in your CRM? Keep your various buyer personas in mind, including where they might be on their journey:

  • Some know they have problems, but don’t know what will solve them.
  • Others are researching their options on the internet (perhaps prompted by a postcard or a newspaper ad they saw).
  • Some are now calling you, touring communities, talking with lead aggregators, and actively weighing all the options (meaning your direct and indirect competition).
  • Meanwhile, a few are ready to buy, but they may have some concerns.
  • Others may move back up the funnel because of a bad tour, guidance from a friend, a change in financial situation, or other reasons.

You’ll want to bucket your targets.

  • On the lead generation side, you’re looking at seniors, their adult children, professional influencers, and residents with friends they can refer to you.
  • On the consumer side, you’ll look at demographic and socio-economic sweet spots based on an analysis of your CRM data with a data insights company.
  • On the lead nurture side, you most likely are bucketing by time frame to moving in – hot, warm, and cold.

Some of you may have more sophisticated lead scoring in place. Your hot and warm leads should be a enjoying a very personalized sales approach based on your discovery.

3. Select the right marketing campaign to get the job done.

Now that you’ve bucketed your targets, what will you do to generate new leads, nurture your various lead types, and influence professionals and residents to refer to you?

Consider three types of senior living marketing campaigns:

  • Event promotions
  • Product/brand promotions
  • Price promotions

Event promotions are designed to work hard to encourage someone to visit your community and experience the lifestyle you offer. If you are promising an event, you need to ensure you can pull it off successfully. Events are valuable for lead generation and lead nurturing. However, you can also leverage daily resident activities, clubs, and outings as lead nurturing events once you better understand the various interests of people in your CRM.

We recommend one event a month for lead generation. Yes, they are time consuming, but if executed well, you really drive home the value of what you offer to residents. (Psst. Need help creating collateral to promote your events? Check out SMARTbrand.)

Product/brand promotions focus on people on the early side of the buyer’s journey. So your message should focus on things like what you do and what makes your community different/better than your competitors. In essence, you’re making the local market aware of your community. This might involve placing advertisements in places that reach your target audience, both online and off.

Price promotions. We don’t recommend price promotions for lead generation. It cheapens your product and really confuses potential leads about how pricing works at your community. Price promotions are good sales closing tools for a part of your lead base already aware of all you do to offer value, quality, and peace of mind.

What are good ways to come up with promotions?

First, get a calendar of all the holidays during the year. Second, bring your community leadership team together to discuss promotions, especially event promotions. You’ll need their help to pull off successful events for lead generation purposes. Third, you can look at all the promotional options in a “brand-on-demand” system. These systems typically have a catalog of postcards and flyers, and you simply add your branding, event details, and community details. From there, you get them printed and distributed. (A great option is SMARTbrand.)

Select the right media.

Once you’ve figured out your promotions each month for your various targets, you’ll need to determine how you’ll get the promotions to them. This is where budgets are necessary. Some things you can do very inexpensively. For example, with SMARTbrand, you can easily customize digital banners, download them, and place them on social media or your website. But for lead generation, typically you’ll want to look at direct mail, advertising, and online services, too. You’ll also want some materials to hand out to residents and professional referral sources.

Measure a job well done.

How will you measure success? Remember, it’s import to record every inquiry. You may have criteria on what determines who goes into your senior living CRM, but knowing a postcard, print ad, or web page works to generate an inquiry is critical, even if the person ultimately isn’t interested or doesn’t qualify for your services.

You can use things like call-tracking numbers and special website landing pages for direct mail (there are seemingly countless ways to measure—we’re just mentioning a couple).

Bottom line: over time, this information will help you identify media and promotions that give you the biggest bang for your marketing buck.

Need help creating an effective senior living marketing plan?

You’ve come to the right place! We have decades of experience in the senior living industry. Let us help you create a strategic marketing roadmap that achieves the goals you’ve identified. GET IN TOUCH NOW!