Park Howell Headshot Podcast Cover

Senior Living Marketing Perspectives: Marketing Through Storytelling


Topics Discussed and Key Points:

  • Storytelling versus pitching
  • Using the and/but/therefore framework to level up all of your communications
  • Creating your ABT story
  • Whether to have two separate messages—one for the adult child, one for the parent—when using the ABT framework
  • Three rules of storytelling
  • Addressing the COVID elephant in the room

Episode Summary:

In today’s episode, Debbie speaks with Park Howell, a storytelling strategist who helps marketers and content specialists grow their business using the power of the story. He is the host of the Business of Story podcast and the author of the 2020 book Brand Bewitchery: How to Wield the Story Cycle System to Craft Spellbinding Stories for Your Brand.
Today’s conversation explores how to sell more by saying less, and how to incorporate storytelling in your branding and marketing efforts in a way that is compelling to the audience you are speaking to. Stories allow us to experience what it is like to use a product or benefit from a service in a way that we would never be able to if we were simply “pitched” that product or service.

When communicating as a brand, instead of leading with logic, reason, data, and numbers, lead with a story. After all, every person, whether or not they want to admit it, buys with their heart and not their head. We only justify our purchases with our logical brain once the transaction has been made.

Park does a deep dive into the concept of and/but/therefore to maximize rapport and agreeableness between you (the salesperson) and the other person (your prospect or potential customer). and/but/therefore uses the three forces of story: agreement (Act 1), conflict (Act 2), solution (Act 3), respectively. This structure takes you out of the center of the story and in your place, the customer.

To use this effectively, you must understand what they want, what’s at stake for them in getting it, empathize with them in that they currently do not have it, and, finally, propose the solution to their problem.

“Your stories are not about what you make, but what you make happen in people’s lives.” Park goes on to explain how to become a compelling communicator using the power of repetition, addressing the elephant in the room, and crafting your ABT story today.

Resources Mentioned:
Business of Story
Brand Bewitchery
Transcript

Robyn Bradley cover image

Senior Living Marketing Perspectives: Mastering Content Marketing

Topics Discussed and Key Points:

  • Turning data into great messages that grow your company
  • Reconciling keywords that people search for with the keywords you use to describe your business
  • The impact of the pandemic on the senior living industry
  • Transitioning from marketing to sales—and having synergy between both
  • Catering your message from the Greatest and Silent Generations to the Baby Boomers

Episode Summary:

In today’s episode, Debbie speaks with writer Robyn Bradley. A self-proclaimed “copy bitch by day and novelist by night”, she is an SEO expert who for two decades has put together, among other things, websites, sales letters, print ads, radio spots, and marketing brochures.

Robyn has an MFA in Creative Writing from Lesley University, and she won a short story award in 2007. Her work has appeared in FictionWeekly.com, Metal Scratches, The Breakwater Review, Writer’s Digest, and The MetroWest Daily News, and others.

In today’s conversation, Robyn talks all things content marketing and the art and science of writing relevant, unique, and utterly human copy. She says that it all begins with pinpointing the right keywords to write around. With those search phrases as your starting point, you can begin to bridge customer desires with your particular goals as a company and tell an effective and engaging brand story.

Throughout the pandemic—and even as we emerge from it—the companies who thrive stay human and are not afraid to tackle the tough topics. As a senior living provider, trust can be gained when marketing makes an effort to explain, transparently, how the facility and staff will be able to keep residents healthy and safe amid the ongoing crisis. Videos and virtual tours are excellent ways to quickly capture that trust.

The operators who win are those who make it easy for prospects to find them, engage with them, and choose them, by meeting them where they are and removing friction along their journey.

As the industry shifts from catering to the Greatest and Silent Generations to the Baby Boomers, the key to success is to take everything that already works and “dialing them up by hundred,” as Robyn puts it. Radical authenticity and more customizable living spaces are also vital.

Debbie likens generational changes in the senior living space to those of the university, where the traditionally uniform college environment has largely disappeared so that the modern student now enjoys a plethora of choices regarding where they live, work, hang out, and eat.

Sherry Bonelli headshot

Senior Living Marketing Perspectives: Search Engine Optimization Tips and Tricks


Topics Discussed and Key Points:

  • What is a Google Business Profile Gold Product Expert?
  • Elevating your local search ranking
  • The importance of keyword research
  • Building authority in your industry
  • Taking advantage of voice search
  • Getting to page 1 on Google
  • Beating your competitors at the SEO game
  • Using third-party tools on your Google Business Profile

Episode Summary:

In today’s episode, Debbie speaks with Sherry Bonelli, owner of early bird digital marketing, a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and digital marketing professional with over 23 years of experience. Early Bird digital marketing serves clients all over the country. Sherry Sherry also holds a Master’s of Internet Marketing Degree, is a LinkedIn Learning instructor, and is the host of the Marketing Plan Podcast.

She is a Google Business Profile Gold Product Expert and is a columnist for leading digital marketing websites like Search Engine Land, MOZ, Search Engine Journal, Adweek, SEMrush, BrightLocal, SCORE and others. She received Search Engine Land’s 2018 SEO Contributor of the Year Award. For two years in a row her blog posts were among the top 10 most read articles on Search Engine Land’s website.

Sherry gives her top tips and strategies on elevating your local search ranking. Best practices include optimizing your Google Business Profile (including picking a specific category and accumulating reviews), website, and becoming an authority in your industry by writing valuable blog posts and gaining recognition by other players in your space through guest blogging and appearing on podcasts. “It’s not just one thing that Google is looking at,” says Sherry. “It’s hundreds of different factors.”

Keyword research is also crucial when putting together a strategy. An often overlooked reality is the fact that many potential customers may be using different words and terms while searching for the solution you provide. A provider may think that prospects are searching for “assisted care living” when they might be looking for “nursing homes” or “old folks homes”. At the same time, a good rule of thumb to keep in mind is to write for your user, not for Google.

One way to address this is to creatively include these keywords on your website, articles, and copy to educate visitors on why your facility uses a different term to describe itself. In other words, don’t get trapped into only using industry lingo or jargon.

Take advantage of available tools to figure out how your competitors are winning the local search game. This can be as simple as searching for those top ranking businesses yourself and taking note of how they distribute their keywords on their websites. In short, says Sherry, “Mirror what they’re doing on your site—but do it better!”

Resources Mentioned:

Early bird digital marketing

Transcript

Image of Claire Carlile

Senior Living Marketing Perspectives: Local Search Marketing

Topics Discussed and Key Points:

  • Why you should treat your business listing on GBP as an extension of your website
  • Optimizing your listing
  • Maximizing user experience
  • Understanding GBP’s Insights and utilizing UTM tags
  • How reviews impact your ranking
  • Improving your local ranking
  • Citation management

Episode Summary:

In today’s episode, Debbie speaks with Claire Carlile, who works at BrightLocal as their Local Search Expert. She also owns her own U.K.-based marketing agency, Claire Carlile Marketing. Focused on making the most out of the digital marketplace, the company specializes in SEO, local SEO, and review management.

Claire does a deep dive into Google Business Profile, formerly known as Google My Business. Your business listing is often the first thing that people see when doing a Google search. That piece of information directly influences whether they visit your website or give you a call, or move on to your competitors.

Because of this, Claire encourages businesses to treat their GBP as an extension of their website. There are several steps you can take to optimize your listing, the first of which is to claim the listing and give the right people access to it. Make sure the company’s name, address, phone number, and primary category are up to date.

It helps to focus not just on the ranking factor, but also the conversion factor. Ultimately, ensure that your profile has everything it needs for visitors to be able to contact you.

Claire explains how to get the most out of your Insights, keys to citation management, and how to create a strategy that can reliably net your listing a substantial number of good reviews.

She also speaks on ranking for local SEO, both organically and for a 3-pack placement. Google’s local algorithm factors in proximity, relevance, and prominence. She reiterates that your GBP listing is a critical influence on the algorithm, particularly your reviews.

Resources Mentioned:

BrightLocal

Claire Carlile on Twitter

Pleper

GMB Spy (Chrome extension)

Postamatic (Google Sheets add on)

BrightLocal guide to GBP posts

Claire’s UTM tagging sheet and Moz WBF

Transcript

Senior Living Marketing Perspectives: Defining the Sales Process

Topics Discussed and Key Points:

  • The senior living industry from a sales perspective
  • Five situations prospects find themselves in
  • Tailoring your message for lead acquisition versus lead nurturing
  • Attributes of the best salespeople in the senior living space
  • The best way to approach personalization
  • Keys to empathetic selling

Episode Summary:

In today’s episode, Debbie speaks with Leff Bonney, an Associate Professor of Marketing at Florida State University where he teaches both graduate and undergraduate courses in sales and sales management.

Leff has been involved in various consulting projects for major senior living providers to help them define their sales process and do a better job engaging with prospects and guiding them along the decision journey.

Some of the primary insights uncovered by Leff and his team include the fallacy of the persona-driven segmentation. Different situations may arise between customers who match established demographics. Therefore, Leff recommended shifting to situation-based segmentation that takes context into account.

Another unproductive practice is the one-size-fits-all approach that prevents providers from differentiating themselves from others, which of course is vital in attracting the right prospects.

Prospects find themselves in one of five situations when they come through the door. The top two situations are what Leff calls dazed and confused (comprising about 20% of prospects) and red alert (comprising about 30% of prospects), with the rest being either in the ready referral, prepared shopper, or tire kickers categories.

Asked for the attributes of top-performing salespeople in the industry, Leff names adaptability as the number one skill, as this allows them to navigate the often fast-paced developments that a prospect for senior living providers tends to undergo.

Another is curiosity, which allows them to paint the best picture they can of the prospect and their particular situation. Likewise, creativity minimizes the tendency for the salesperson to fall back on a one-size-fits-all approach.

In the same vein, the ability to personalize experiences dramatically boosts that all-important know, like, and trust factor, not to mention contributes to differentiation when done right.

Finally, Leff comments on the power of empathetic selling and how a focus on defining the problem instead of the solution, along with simple tweaks in copy, can make all the difference.

Resources Mentioned:

Leff Bonney on LinkedIn

Transcript

Senior Living Marketing Perspectives: Is Print Dead?

Topics Discussed and Key Points:

  • Is print dead?
  • The basics of a successful direct mail campaign
  • Integrating online and offline marketing seamlessly
  • Measuring the success of a campaign
  • Little touches that set your printed material apart

Episode Summary:

In today’s episode, Debbie speaks with Scott Burford, President of Fischer Group, a marketing agency which creates efficient systems that streamline the marketing materials supply chain by providing creative and branding support, cross-media solutions, direct marketing services, fulfillment, and promotional materials.

Fischer aims to answer three questions: 1) How can our marketing team get more done for less money?; 2) How can we control cost and creative more easily?; and 3) How can we reduce waste and work smarter?

“Is print dead?” It’s a question that Scott has heard time and time again—for over 15 years now. While digital marketing has taken center stage, Scott says that, “If you follow the trends and read the reports, you’d know that print is still a very vital component of any marketing campaign.”

If anything, it is only the form of print that has evolved. Debbie agrees, saying that, while in the past, print was released “in big runs and generic, now it’s in smaller runs and more personal.” This is especially true in the senior living space. From branded books and photo albums to creatively textured business cards, the sky’s the limit when it comes to creating printed material that prospects and existing occupants and their adult children won’t forget.

When it comes to putting together a successful direct mail campaign, an important yet overlooked factor is consistency. Ideally, it will consist of a series of mail drops that are delivered strategically over a period of time. The key is to have enough meaningful touchpoints that increasingly resonate with recipients. Brand recognition grows with consistency therefore creating value.

What also contributes to the success of a direct mail campaign is an updated and relevant list, a meaningful offer, and multiple options for the recipient to be able to respond—whether via QR code, phone, email, or a link to a website where they can fill out a response form.

Resources Mentioned:

Fischer Group

Transcript

John Gonzales

Senior Living Marketing Perspectives: Utilizing Marketing Channels Creatively

Topics Discussed and Key Points:

  • How to use trusted marketing channels more creatively today
  • Attracting young talent into the senior living space for the long-term
  • The case for providing training for emotional intelligence
  • How to make employees feel welcome after the marketing campaign
  • Minimizing your turnover rate

Episode Summary:

In today’s episode, Debbie speaks with John Gonzales, President of Haven Senior Living and Senior Vice President of Haven Senior Investments. With over 30 years of experience in the industry, John shares his experiences and perspectives on the state of today’s senior housing landscape and what operators should expect in the new normal.

“It’s a critical time in our industry right now,” says John. After a 10% drop in occupancy in 2020, it is only now that the numbers are finally leveling out across the board.

A lot of the issues can be solved with a change in messaging to ensure maximum health and safety for potential occupants and their adult children. The virtual tour is a powerful way to provide this assurance.

“If you have a strong presence online, they’ll find you. But when they do, you have to have the right message to attract those folks.”

Speaking on ways to bring in the newest generation of talent, John believes that employers need to think about creating “anchors” for employees that not only attract them into the industry, but also motivate them to commit to their work. For young talent, this means instilling a sense of purpose in what they do and encouraging relationship-building between staff and residents.

John asserts that marketing, sales, and operations need to be integrated, not just for attracting prospective residents, but for the purposes of recruitment as well. It is not enough, he says, to put together the “perfect” campaign and promote a great image of your facility. There needs to be actual follow-through that actualizes the welcoming environment projected by marketing and promised by sales.

Resources Mentioned:

Haven Senior Investments

Transcript

Senior Living Marketing Perspectives: All Things Mailing Lists with Adam Van Wye

Topics Discussed and Key Points:

  • What can we do with lists these days?
  • How to attract high-value clients
  • What to know about list pricing
  • What ailment data tells us
  • Marketing to the independent living adult versus their adult child
  • Reaching out to individuals in caregiver roles
  • How to create integrated campaigns and what kind of results to expect
  • The relevance of direct marketing in today’s digital world and pull versus push marketing

Episode Summary:

In today’s episode, Debbie speaks with Adam Van Wye of Mailing Lists, Inc. Founded in 1994, Mailing Lists, Inc. offers highly targeted and cost-effective lists for direct mail, telemarketing, opt-in email, mobile marketing, digital advertising, and multichannel campaigns.

As a list broker, Adam describes his responsibility as “[putting] the right message in front of the right person at the right time. When you do that effectively, it’s a win-win for everyone.” This means that the message, no matter how masterfully crafted, means very little if it is ill-timed or sent to the wrong person.

Adam explains that targeting goes beyond highlighting the usual demographics of age, sex, geography, and marital status. He gives often overlooked facts surrounding an individual’s “household income”, considerations around targeting homeowners versus renters, and tips on creating campaigns for marketing events.

He also goes over compiled lists versus response lists, how to determine whether an email list is worth investing in, and how marketing changes based on whether one is marketing to the older adult or their adult child, best practices for target profiling, and how to transition from offline to online through integrated campaigns.

Ultimately, says Adam, the key to strengthening any outreach campaign is through continuous testing.

Finally, Adam makes the case that the vast amount of resources available in today’s digital world doesn’t mean that direct marketing is no longer relevant. In fact, he does a deep dive into the merits of pull (inbound) marketing and push (outbound) marketing and why great marketers never have to choose between the two.

Transcript 

Resources Mentioned:

Mailing Lists, Inc.

[email protected]

1-800-570-LIST

Senior Living Marketing Perspectives: Discussing Senior Housing Providers with Pam Steitz


Topics Discussed and Key Points:

  • Good news for senior living communities in 2021
  • Why market analysis is valuable to senior housing providers
  • Penetration rates between different types of providers
  • Why developers should consider building smaller, more intimate settings to serve as social hubs for seniors
  • Segments (i.e. independent living) that have fared better than others (i.e. assisted living)
  • How the industry should innovate or reimagine itself to respond to questions of health and safety in the new normal
  • When and how to adjust prices or create short-term incentives

Episode Summary:

In today’s episode, Debbie speaks with Pam Steitz, President of PLS Market Analysis, LLC, which provides market research services including feasibility studies and focus groups to senior housing providers. Pam is also a member of the Board of Directors for the Liberty Lutheran Senior Services and Retirement Community.

Because data informs marketing strategy, Pam speaks on how providers are doing research in order to adapt to the logistical, organizational, and even cultural challenges that have developed over the past year.

Market studies, she says, should always aim to answer the question, “Why are we struggling?” Whereas the senior living industry was somewhat saturated in pre-COVID times and required a different set of skills to navigate, providers now need to pinpoint the obstacles they face in simply maintaining their lead base or nurturing new leads entirely.

Market studies are not a one-and-done event—they are meant to be updated ideally once a year. “We’re going to see so much growth in this industry in the next five years that a market study really needs to be something that is routine,” Pam asserts. She speaks on the value of consumer research to extract lessons from mistakes and, using these lessons, determine how to reposition one’s marketing.

Market analysis is also about helping providers home in on their niche. According to Pam, “It’s really important to understand the marketplace, and that is really through data, both quantitative and qualitative.”

Pam also gives her thoughts on what providers need to know about the future of the senior living industry based on takeaways from market analyses in 2020 and early 2021.

Resources Mentioned:

PLS Market Analysis

Pam Steitz on LinkedIn

Senior Living Marketing Perspectives: Operating in the Senior Living Space Post-COVID with Amy McKinley


Topics Discussed and Key Points:

  • Operating in a completely virtual environment
  • How salespeople can effectively address concerns related to COVID-19
  • Introducing empathy in the call and building a genuine relationship with the prospect with a no-touch system
  • The senior living space in a post-COVID world

Episode Summary:

In today’s episode, Debbie speaks with Amy McKinley, a 35-year veteran of the senior living space and the Co-Founder and CEO at Senior Source Consulting Group.

Amy discusses the overnight reality of having to advise providers on selling their community in a no-touch environment. Amy says that salespeople “now have to be more on point.” For instance, in-person tours and face-to-face mystery shopping have exclusively turned into virtual walkthroughs and phone calls—which arguably take more skill to manage.

She adds that, nowadays, “we have to be more transparent, but in a way that is meaningful to the prospect.” It is important to make people feel important on the phone. This is, indeed, more work, but if done correctly, can easily allow one community to stand out in a sea of ever-increasing noise.

Health and safety have obviously become top-of-mind concerns among both prospects and providers. It is vital not just to demonstrate the safety measures your facility adheres to, but also to give good reasons why a family member should make the move to that facility as soon as possible. One point to emphasize is that it is much better for that family member to live among a community than to be alone in these uncertain times.

Salespeople should never rely on filling the CRM alone. Unfortunately, most do. What Amy recommends is for the salesperson to apply tactfulness during the call, keeping an appropriate balance between discovery and building rapport. In other words, salespeople should never forget the lasting power of building genuine relationships.

Emotion, after all, is what creates urgency to make a decision. “They’re not going to get to that point if you’re just asking a checklist of questions,” says Amy.

Resources Mentioned:

Senior Source Consulting Group

Amy McKinley on LinkedIn

Contact Amy: 615-330-9553

[email protected]