Senior Living Marketing Perspectives: Widespread Effects of COVID-19 on the Senior Living Industry

Show Notes

Topics Discussed and Key Points:

  • Lead generation amid COVID-19
  • Why warmer leads have been converting better than cold leads in the past few months
  • What prospects want to talk about during the pandemic
  • The power of creative follow-up
  • Shifting your messaging from crisis communication to reopening
  • Creating a sales and marketing playbook for the new normal

Episode Summary:

In today’s episode, Debbie speaks with Julie Podewitz, Chief Sales Officer at Vitality Senior Living, on the widespread effects of COVID-19 on the senior living industry and best practices for how communities can navigate the new normal.

Asked about lead generation amid COVID-19, Julie notes that while leads have been down (more than 50% in some markets), sales conversations continue to remain strong—and in certain cases are actually higher than pre-COVID-19 numbers. A big factor is sense of urgency which, according to Julie, has been “moved forward in a massive direction”. Empathetic sales has become the norm. The pandemic has “forced us to be doing what we really should be doing, which is asking questions” as well as demonstrated the importance of building rapport using every available channel. While leads have lessened, phone calls have been longer and more meaningful. During these challenging times, busyness has morphed into productivity.

Even if prospects may not be able to move into a community anytime soon, there is no better time to connect with them than right now. Potential residents are looking not only for a resource, but for an ear as well. While leads across the board have been down, referral leads have been on the rise, which says more than anything else that prospects are looking for people that they can entrust their future to. By connecting with and creatively following-up with these prospects, getting sales is a given.

No matter the current climate, what needs to remain consistent in your brand’s messaging is honesty and transparency. Of course, this is especially true amid the pandemic, during which fear is the biggest shared hurdle that senior living communities must overcome in the minds of their prospects and current residents. By being upfront with your intentions in your communications, you will assure and inspire confidence in both your employees and customers.

Senior Living Marketing Perspectives: Painting a Picture of the Future of Senior Living

Show Notes

Topics Discussed and Key Points:

  • How the employees and residents of Belmont Village have weathered COVID-19
  • What has changed and what continues to work in the industry?
  • Building trust with a captive audience
  • The senior living industry should begin to tailor their messaging around reopening
  • Dealing with misleading and negative media coverage
  • Adapting your messaging and value proposition during a period filled with uncertainty
  • Becoming more prepared in the case of a second wave

Episode Summary:

In today’s episode, Debbie speaks with Carlene Motto, Chief Marketing Officer at Belmont Village Senior Living. The two discuss how COVID-19 has completely shaken the industry and drastically affected the lives of residents and the employees who care for them. After reflecting on lessons learned throughout this ongoing ordeal, Debbie and Carlene paint a picture of the future of senior living.

One of the biggest changes in the industry was making the switch from face-to-face to virtual with regard to connecting with potential residents. Prior to COVID-19, marketing “had to be creative” since most prospects and their families did not normally pick up the phone. Sales teams had to make use of texting, email, and other forms of written communication. Now, the tables have turned and people look forward to speaking with others. Aside from the phone, technologies such as Facetime and Zoom have become incredibly important for connecting and building trust and rapport with prospects and their families.
Belmont Village believes that “our opportunity is to tell our story through our website.” Due to the pandemic, efforts have been put into repositioning the brand to demonstrate real concern for their people. Out of respect for families who may be struggling financially at this time, focus has been put on connecting live with the families, providing meals to the community, and doubling down on blogging and other website-related strategies.

At a time when the media tends to conflate senior living with nursing homes and at times highlight negative stories regarding the industry, communities need to optimize their messaging on their website and do whatever they can to build relationships with residents, prospects, and their families. “I absolutely believe that senior living even during these dark times is the right place to be—where you can still have interaction, good nutrition and healthcare, and access to PPE.” Sales and marketing teams should continue to keep in mind that building trust in these turbulent times requires “timely, frequent, and transparent communication” with customers.

Both employees and customers want and expect regular and reliable communication during times of uncertainty. In the case of a second wave of the virus, one of the best things that a company can do to prepare is to learn to be alert and responsive at a moment’s notice. As Carlene says, “There’s no such thing as overcommunicating during a time like this. […] In real estate, it is location, location, location. In senior living, it is people, people, people.”