A panel of senior living marketing professionals will share strategies and tactics for lead generation, nurturing and conversions given current restrictions regarding tours, events and community visits.
Editor’s note: The following senior living sales content was inspired by discussions during our COVID-19 Webinar, which you can access for free here.
COVID-19 has forced all of us to change many aspects of our personal and professional lives, and this is especially true for senior living sales pros.
But here’s the good news: The adjustments you make to your sales process right now can serve you well over the long haul. Below are just some of the adjustments to consider:
1. Senior living sales tips: Stop selling. Start helping.
You’ve likely heard this advice before, especially if you’re a regular reader of our blog and newsletter. This isn’t a new strategy, by any stretch. But now is a great time to try it, especially if you’ve been skeptical of the concept.
So what do we mean by “stop selling, start helping“? No one likes being sold to (and definitely not during a global pandemic). But people do tend to be grateful for genuine help and concern.
Whenever you speak to a “prospect,” particularly during these uncertain times, forget the word “prospect.” Don’t think “how can I move this person to the next stage in the journey?” Instead, think of the word “human” and think about how you can help this fellow human.
Begin by asking questions…
- How are you and your family adjusting to social-distancing measures?
- What sort of activities are you doing?
- What do you miss most?
- Have you watched or read anything good lately?
- What do you need help with?
- What supplies are your running low on?
- How can I help/be of service to you right now?
Listen to their answers. Share your experiences as well. And if they need help with something, help them—get them answers to their questions, follow up in a meaningful way, drop off a care package at their door.
And guess what? If you build stronger relationships by making a real connection and demonstrating genuine empathy, you will naturally move people closer to a purchase decision when the time comes. And when the pandemic is over, you’ll find that most of the prospects will see you in a very different (and more positive) light. You’ll have created a much stronger and enduring bond than you ever could have done when you were in constant selling mode.
A final note on this strategy: Yes, these sorts of conversations with prospects will take longer. But you’ve got the time, right? And here’s an important tip: try having these conversations face-to-face via virtual methods.
Which brings us to our next point . . .
2. Senior living sales tips: Make an effort to move from voice-to-voice contact to (virtual) face-to-face.
In the “old” days of just a few months ago, making follow-up phone calls to prospects was the norm. And it worked fine. A phone call was more personal than an email—hearing someone’s voice and all that. But given social distancing and the isolation we’ve all found ourselves in, we’re all craving VISUAL contact right now.
You already know that seeing someone’s face (and being able to read nonverbal gestures) can be critical to the sales process. You now have the opportunity to make visual contact a regular part of your sales follow-up process.
Use apps like Zoom or Facetime to connect with prospects. This visual contact better enables you to develop a relationship with a person, rather than a prospect. It also allows the person to see YOU as a human being rather than merely a sales rep trying to sell them something.
Suggesting video calls right now isn’t a hard sell, either. People around the globe are using these modes of communication to keep in touch with family and friends, so they are poised to accept this sort of communication from businesses as well.
In fact, Axios reports that this year’s Easter and Passover celebrations forced many older Americans to take the plunge and try video conferencing, like Zoom, for the first time. And Axios also wisely notes, “Older generations are usually slow to adopt new technologies, but history shows that when they finally do learn, they’re hooked.”
3. Senior living sales tips: Include more virtual events in your overall event planning.
Why have more virtual events, especially once things have improved? Well, COVID-19 has taught all of us that how we interact with brands and companies—including how we buy from them—can and will continue to evolve.
Not every sale—even for big-ticket items, like new living quarters—has to be done in person, thanks to technology. This is true, even for senior living communities. Some of our clients are reporting to us that they’re still making sales and move-ins during this time, albeit creatively and with much less in-person contact.
And now that consumers are seeing that they don’t need as much in-person time with sales people in order to successfully purchase something, demand for virtual sales processes will likely increase.
As a result, senior living sales and marketing teams will need to get creative and offer more virtual ways to engage prospects. This will be especially true for so-called “bottom of the funnel” events, like in-person tours, open houses, and lunches.
An important caveat: We don’t think virtual events are going to replace in-person events. But including virtual events in your offerings gives people (aka, your prospects) more choices—and ultimately more control.
4. Senior living sales tips: Clean up/update your CRM—and keep it updated.
No more excuses. You have the time to clean up your CRM, so do it.
Of course, the real problem isn’t the cleanup, though; it’s maintaining a clean database by getting in the habit of logging all details after every call on a go-forward basis
Again, you have the time right now. So after every call—even the long ones—get in the habit of immediately updating the contact record in your database with notes, info on the follow-up call, and any relevant tasks. For example, if you were talking to someone who was unsure about senior hours at the area grocery stores, assign yourself a task to get a list to the person ASAP. This goes back to the “stop selling, start helping” point above.
Note: Don’t have a CRM? (Or maybe you’re thinking of making a switch?) Here are six crucial elements to consider when choosing the right CRM.
5. Senior living sales tips: Focus less on lead volume and more on conversions.
Listen, we get it. You’re in sales. You live and die by the numbers. But consider this: would you rather have a ton of leads that never convert or a smaller amount of leads with a high conversion rate?
Lead volumes are down across the board due to the pandemic—some of our clients are reporting by more than half. But our most successful clients are working the leads they have in a sensitive and empathetic manner (see point #1 above) and seeing an increase in conversions as a result.
Think about that, because it’s a powerful point. Nurture leads in a more authentic, real way, and possibly convert more of the leads you already have. That’s not a bad approach right now—or in the future when we’re (hopefully) back to normal.
Need help thinking through your sales process post COVID—and aligning it better with marketing?
We can help. We’ve been in your shoes. We understand the enormous pressures you’re facing! Let’s chat.
MORE HELPFUL TOPICS:
[Editor’s note: The following content was inspired by discussions during our senior living marketing webinar about the pandemic, which you can access for free here.]
Due to COVID-19 and the 24/7 news cycle, all eyes are on senior living communities, for better or worse.
In a recent article, we talked about how your community can use Facebook Live to help combat negative perceptions. Now, let’s have a deeper conversation about marketing during a pandemic.
In particular, let’s discuss how the senior living marketing team should re-frame your messaging during these unprecedented times.
1. Go longer and deeper with your messaging when marketing during a pandemic.
When it comes to effective content marketing for senior living communities, we usually advocate succinct, punchy copy. Right now, however, most people are stuck at home (whether they’re working or not), so you’re going to have a captive audience like never before. This means you can go longer and more in depth because people 1) are craving detailed info and 2) they have the time to read, watch, listen.
So what do we mean by going deeper? Don’t forget, you live and breathe the senior living industry every day, so everything is second nature to you, right? But for those on the outside looking in, they don’t know all the details. And thanks to the current media spotlight, people are curious. So educate them. Get into the fine details, the inner workings, the “inside baseball” stories, as we like to say.
Inside baseball is a metaphor for the minutiae—the detailed inner workings of a system that are usually only interesting to insiders and aficionados. Right now, many people are interested in the inner workings of senior living communities, such as how cleaning/disinfecting is done and who determines the daily menus.
Your content could be a series of “How We Do X” blog posts:
- How We Clean During a Pandemic
- How We Handle Social Distancing in Our Community
- What Goes Into Creating a Daily Menu
- How We Source Local Ingredients
You get the idea.
2. Talk about those “boring” topics you never would normally discuss in senior living marketing materials.
For example, who ever thought a topic like “senior living community supply chains” would be a must-read topic, yet here we are!
Right now, everybody’s focused on their own personal supply chain management. If you can show the differences between institutional supply chain management and your personal household management around toilet paper, eggs, and sanitizer, that will be a GREAT service to people.
How to accomplish this? Well, do something educational and reassuring by taking people “behind the scenes” via a Facebook Live video and bring them into the kitchen and supply closets and show an abundance of food and supplies like toilet paper—it’s not a direct sales message, but it certainly is a comforting one. People can “see” for themselves and think, “Mom will be OK. They have supplies, they have folks who are cleaning, and they have the infrastructure already built right in.”
No, this isn’t something that you would ever put in a marketing brochure—”Hey, when you choose our senior living community, you’ll always have toilet paper!” But right now, this is something that’s top of mind for people.
Bottom line: there are some interesting opportunities for creative storytelling around things that you never thought you would tell a story about.
3. Show your community’s commitment to—and expertise with—supporting older adults.
One example would be instead of simply saying you provide a safe environment, walk people through the exact procedures and protocols that you put in place to ensure safety every day.
And not just from a health perspective—yes, that’s the main concern on everyone’s mind right now, thanks to COVID-19—but also physical safety. For instance, how many lay people understand what the term “elopement” means when it comes to older adults? This is a great opportunity to educate about an industry-specific topic and to demonstrate your community’s specific approach.
4. Share the spotlight.
Again, this is a great opportunity to take people deep inside your daily operations. People love to understand how things work, so take advantage of that. You have talented people working in your communities. Make them the stars of these stories.
For example, bring forward your dining room supervisor, your chef, the person who’s running activities, or your head of healthcare. Make them the focus of your content and let them talk about what it is that goes into delivering the kinds of services that make up your community.
Hint: these make great topics for Facebook Live events (and then you can repurpose the content into blog posts and other written content).
5. Show your city/town spirit.
So many people are hunkering down right now and taking a keen interest in their local communities, particularly small businesses. Demonstrate how your senior living community supports and celebrates the businesses in your local town/city.
For example, talk about local businesses that you buy from/rely on. Keep a section of your COVID-19 website page dedicated to information that older adults (and their families) would find helpful, such as grocery store hours for older adults, pharmacy drive-thrus/deliveries, restaurants still offering takeout, and so forth.
Again, you’re celebrating your local town and city while also making your senior living community website a destination for responsible and accurate information as it pertains to seniors.
6. Continue to create responsible COVID-19 resources.
No one wants to be creating this content, but here’s the thing: YOU are uniquely positioned to discuss COVID-19 from a senior living perspective because YOU WORK IN THE INDUSTRY. Don’t let the uninformed or misinformed take control of your community’s story or narrative.
Instead, continue to create responsible COVID-19 resources that will truly help your residents, their families, prospects, staff, and the media.
- X Underreported Things Everyone Over 60 Should Know About COVID-19
- Step-by-Step Guide to Skype and Facetime
- X Ways to Keep in Touch with Your Senior Loved Ones During Lockdowns
- Keep the Body Moving: X Great Alternatives to Daily Group Walks
- X SMART Strategies for Helping Seniors Stay Safe during a Pandemic
Need more topics? People are searching on topics in Google all the time. Conduct a search on your own, such as “keeping seniors safe during COVID,” and scroll to the bottom for “People Also Search On” for additional ideas.
7. Share positive stories and messages, too.
People are rightly concerned about this pandemic, but that doesn’t mean you should forget to share happy news. Perhaps it’s a picture of a resident celebrating a birthday with their family members looking on through the window. Or it could be something as simple as sharing a pic of daffodils blooming in front of your building or outside a resident’s window.
8. Reconsider print advertising and direct mail.
With so many people stuck at home, now might be a great time to run some local newspaper ads and/or do some direct mail campaigns. You don’t need to “sell” either—it could simply be an alert regarding some strategies about how you’re keeping seniors in your communities safe. The call to action could be to set up a virtual tour or to join the next Facebook Live event. Psst: we make designing print pieces extremely turnkey—check out SMARTbrand.
Need help marketing during a pandemic?
We’re always happy to help senior living communities with their marketing during a pandemic or other crisis. Don’t hesitate to get in touch. And be sure to check out our COVID-19 resource library—everything is free to download.
[Editor’s note: The following content was inspired by discussions during our COVID-19 Webinar, which you can access for free here.]
COVID-19 has forced everyone to rethink how they communicate with their customers and prospects—and this is especially true for senior living communities.
Anyone who’s worked for any length of time in our industry has had to face troubling perception issues, such as “old folks’ homes” and the like. Given the recent pandemic, however, these problematic perceptions have increased exponentially, thanks in large part to the media breathlessly reminding viewers/readers that senior living communities serve as ground zero for the coronavirus.
How’s a community supposed to combat THAT sort of image?
Here’s one idea: Facebook Live.
What is Facebook Live?
HubSpot shares this solid definition: “Facebook Live is a feature of the Facebook social network that uses the camera on a computer or mobile device to broadcast real-time video to Facebook. Live broadcasters can decide who on Facebook can see their video and use this content to engage their audience during the moments and events that are important to them.”
You’ve likely encountered Facebook Live videos and not even realized it. Reporters use them in the field all the time. And even “regular” people will use Facebook Live to chronicle aspects of their day-to-day lives.
Could Facebook Live really make a difference when it comes to challenging people’s perceptions of senior living communities during this pandemic?
We think so. Regular, reasonable communication can have a huge—and positive—effect on people.
Consider this current example: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s midday news conferences have become legendary the last few weeks. His briefings are highly anticipated (they occur at roughly the same time each day). They’re also highly informative, but down to earth and accessible by lay people. And—most important—they are calming and rational. He doesn’t sugarcoat what’s happening in his state, but at the same time, he responsibly shares info and even finds opportunity for levity and humor.
The result? People are tuning in. Why? Because people crave reliable info, and they want to know what’s going on. (Plus, they’re a captive audience right now!)
Now, granted, Cuomo’s press briefings are broadcast via good old-fashioned television, but the concept is the same as Facebook Live: regular, real-time communication with an audience during these unprecedented times can be an excellent way to combat misinformation and troubling perceptions.
But don’t take our word for it. One of our clients, Vitality Senior Living, has been doing regular Facebook Live events with the CEO and President, Chris Guay—to great effect. You can see one here.
How do Facebook Live events work?
Here’s the good news: they’re easy to do! If you have a smartphone, you can conduct Facebook Live events for any Facebook page where you’re an admin or editor. You can also go live from a desktop equipped with a web cam (and, again, for pages you’re an admin or editor).
From there, it’s a matter of simply hitting the “go live” or “start live video” buttons/prompts. But we recommend doing a couple of private videos first, just to get comfortable.
Note: we know being “on camera” can be nerve racking for people. No one is expecting Meryl Streep or Brad Pitt. What we all want right now is a real person speaking real, unvarnished truths. If you stumble or um or ah at times—IT’S OK.
Need further guidance on how to get going? Check out the following resources:
- Facebook gives a good overview of its Facebook Live feature here.
- HubSpot has an in-depth tutorial on how to use Facebook Live—includes filming tips.
We’ll wait here while you check ’em out. Then, come back for tips on what YOU should be talking about regarding your senior living community and COVID-19.
Who should do Facebook Live events?
Executive directors are a good choice. And yes, we get the executive directors might not WANT to do it, but it makes sense for them to be the “face” of your community. But it doesn’t need to simply be the EDs. You could also have your Wellness Director, Facilities Director, Activities Director, and so forth host their own Facebook Live videos and talk about the specifics related to their role/department.
For example, here’s Vitality’s Regional Vice President of Wellness. This video currently has over 2000 views and 25 shares—that’s excellent engagement!
How often should you do them?
The pandemic is changing daily, sometimes hourly. Right now, it might make sense to do regular “briefings” (ideally at the same time every day—don’t forget, most of us are stuck at home, so you’ll have a captive audience).
But as the situation improves, you could move to a few times a week. Here’s the thing: because Facebook Live is such a great way to connect with people and communicate about your brand, you might discover that you want to continue doing these events long after the pandemic is over.
What should you talk about?
Use this “all eyes on you” opportunity to reframe some of the scarier messages that are out there about COVID-19 and senior living communities. Yes, older people are vulnerable to COVID-19, but that doesn’t mean every senior living community on the planet has become a death trap.
Instead, educate viewers regarding the following items…
- The current status in your community; be transparent about any cases and how your community is responding; if you DON’T have any cases, LEAD WITH THIS.
- How your community handles social distancing.
- How residents are still living full lives during these unprecedented times
- What you know, what you don’t know (no one knows everything about this situation, and it’s OK to say that—honesty is paramount here)
- Protocols in place for cleaning/disinfecting.
- Walk-throughs of certain areas—show that you’re well-stocked with toilet paper and food; people like seeing these visual reassurances.
- Happy, positive stories, such as milestone birthdays, anniversaries, and so forth.
- The measures your community takes every day to create a place that supports older adults in living rich, purposeful lives in a healthy, safe environment.
- When appropriate (and with permission, of course!) include an occasional live event with a senior and let them talk about how they’re dealing with things; for example, if your community is encouraging residents to Skype their loved ones, you could do a Facebook Live that shows a resident doing Skyping in the background.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. No doubt, as you continue to get comfortable and do more videos, you’ll come up with other topics. Not to mention, people will post questions during your videos. Be sure to address them—either during the live event itself or in a future Facebook Live video.
What else can you do with the Facebook Live videos?
Here’s the real beauty of these broadcasts—you do them live, but then they’re saved on your Facebook page (in the Videos tab) so people can watch them on demand.
Here’s what you can do with the videos:
- Send out a daily/weekly email with a link to the video and a reminder about when you’ll be broadcasting next.
- Share the video link on other social media channels, like Twitter and LinkedIn.
- Keep a “library” of video links on your COVID-19 page/section on your site. (You have one, right?)
Need help getting started with Facebook Live?
We’re always happy to help you shine! You can test drive some videos on us and/or ask us for talking points if you’re feeling nervous. Don’t hesitate to get in touch.
And be sure to check out our COVID-19 resource library—everything is free to download.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Like everyone else around the globe, we’re struggling with this new reality due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Heartbreaking stories of loss and grief and a world economy inching towards recession are just some of the things keeping us up at night.
As a senior living marketing agency, we’ve been thinking about all our clients as they face these unprecedented times. It’s hard to see past this pandemic since we’re only in the early stages, but at some point, we know we’ll begin to adjust to this “new normal.” The articles we’ll be providing during this time are designed to help communities with their senior living marketing during the pandemic, either now or when they’re ready to move forward.
Senior Living Marketing During a Pandemic: Keep Prospective Residents & Their Families Engaged
While some people can delay their decisions to move into a senior living community, plenty of others need to make the move sooner rather than later, even with COVID-19 happening. You need strategies for engaging both types of prospects.
Messages for prospects who are delaying their decisions:
- Continue to share educational information that’s relevant to them and where they are in their journey (e.g. “Protecting Financial Assets during Times of Uncertainty”).
- Demonstrate how you communicate during a crisis. This can be an opportunity to highlight your community’s approach to tough times, a topic that’s front and center in everyone’s minds right now.
- Provide fun distractions! Many of your prospects will be self-isolating/staying inside. If your community provides a daily diet of laughter—think funny clips, heartwarming stories, and online activities—to these prospects, they’ll remember your community fondly when they are ready to resume their search. (See our list of additional “daily distraction” ideas at the end of this blog post.)
Messages for prospects who need to make decisions sooner rather than later:
- Always provide multiple ways for people to reach a member of your sales team—phone numbers (direct lines, when possible) and virtual meeting options, like Skype or video conferencing.
- Provide easy ways for people to experience your community, even if they can’t visit in person. Think virtual tours, virtual floorplans, interactive surveys, and the like. We’ve provided tips here for creating a rich virtual experience.
- Develop content that will be helpful to them, NOW. Topics like “How to move safely during a global pandemic” would make for a timely blog post or checklist that these prospects would find valuable.
How should you get these messages “out there”?
Use marketing automation thoughtfully to ensure consistent communication. Marketing automation is exactly as it sounds: your marketing messages go out automatically, often via email. It’s an efficient, turnkey solution.
That said, during this crisis, you need to be mindful of your messaging. You can’t NOT address COVID-19, at least right now.
- Audit existing emails that are already set up. Make sure you go through all existing emails and add in necessary language and relevant info about COVID-19. Every email that goes out should speak about COVID-19, if only a bolded headline at the top that says something to the effect “Learn more about our community’s response to COVID-19” (and the link should go to a thorough, well-designed page on your site).
- Segment your audiences. If you already use marketing automation, you’re already doing this. If you’re new to it, you’ll need to identify who falls into which categories (those who need to make decisions sooner vs. those who will likely be postponing their decision). But good marketing automation software, like HubSpot, helps make this process fairly straightforward (and we can help!).
More Fun Ideas for “Daily Distraction” Emails
- Videos with chair yoga exercises and/or online fitness classes led by your activities director
- Links to previous Facebook Live events
- Virtual field trips to museums or other cultural events
- Funny YouTube videos
- TED Talks
- Aquarium/zoo cams
- Stream your community’s events
BONUS: Make your senior living marketing a conduit for helpful information at the local level as well:
People crave reliable information during times of crisis. This is more good info to share via email automation to prospects (and it’s also good info to have on the COVID-19 section of your website). Provide …
- A list of important “hotline” numbers (local emergency management shelters etc.)
- A round-up of grocery stores with senior shopping hours
As always, we’re here to help. If you need assistance with your senior living marketing during COVID, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.
Marketing during a pandemic brings up many challenges. In this senior living marketing webinar, a panel of senior living pros will share strategies and tactics for lead generation, lead nurturing, and lead conversion. Yes, even in this climate of increased restrictions due to COVID-19.
HERE’S WHAT YOU’LL LEARN
- How to setup Facebook Live
- What to communicate in email marketing
- Leveraging technology to create virtual experiences
- How to use each senior living marketing channel effectively
- Communication best practices
- Optimizing positive brand awareness
EDITOR’S NOTE: Like everyone else around the globe, we’re struggling with this new reality due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Heartbreaking stories of loss and grief and a world economy inching towards recession are just some of the things keeping us up at night.
As a marketing agency focused solely on the senior living industry, we’ve been thinking about all our clients as they face these unprecedented times. It’s hard to see past this pandemic since we’re only in the early stages, but at some point, we know we’ll begin to adjust to this “new normal.” The articles we’ll be providing during this time are designed to offer senior living sales tips and marketing strategies that can help right now.
Senior Living Sales Tips: Selling in the Age of COVID-19
COVID-19 has understandably restricted many senior living sales activities, such as tours, events, home visits, and move-ins, but there’s still plenty that sales teams can do to remain productive and helpful.
Here are some senior living sales strategies to consider.
Stay connected with prospective residents:
Remember, the goal isn’t to sell, but to connect. Be that reassuring voice people need in this time of uncertainty.
- Work the phones in a compassionate way. This is the perfect time for senior living sales reps to call every prospective resident and see how they’re doing. (Your call-out connect rate should be very high with everyone being at home!) Really listen to people’s stories, their concerns, their fears, and how they’re navigating day to day. Again, there’s no need to sell. Let them know you’ll be there when they’re ready to move forward.
- Give back to local businesses. Support local restaurants and have meals delivered to prospects who are isolated and/or purchase restaurant gift cards and send them out.
- Put the CARE into care packages. Drop off care packages on prospects’ doorsteps with non-perishable foods, like canned soups, pasta, and rice; crossword puzzles/ game books; cleaning supplies (if you have them); and a good book to read.
- Be a conduit of helpful info. Put together a list of local resources and mail this document to people (or include it in the care packages). To start, call local senior centers, area agencies on aging, Meals on Wheels, churches/synagogues, and so forth to learn how they are serving seniors. Get a list of delivery options for meals and pharmacies. In addition to sharing this info with prospects, post it on your website and social channels as well.
- Post uplifting photos, stories, and testimonials. Include ones from residents and staff and post to places like Facebook. This will help show how your team is serving residents and staff during the pandemic.
- Line up speakers who can provide virtual events. You can host these events via Facebook Live or Zoom to keep prospective residents informed and connected to your community.
- Put together a “Daily Distraction” email. Include an uplifting message and things like links to fun activities to do at home, funny YouTube videos, zoo/aquarium cams, and so forth.
- Continue to create virtual sales experiences. Check out this article with even more tips for creating positive virtual sales experiences.
More Senior Living Sales Tips: Help fellow staff members and current residents:
Sales teams can also offer a helping hand to overworked staff members. Some ways you can help:
- Offer to lead activities or visit with residents to increase engagement. Ask your community’s activities director how you can help. They’ll have tasks for you, no doubt! (If you have a talent, interest, or hobby that you can share, go for it!)
- Help residents remain in contact with their families. Set up Skype/ FaceTime for residents to connect with their families.
- Roll up your sleeves. Assist with non-clinical tasks, such as delivering meals and cleaning common areas.
Attack that to-do list:
Have you ever said, “If only I had some extra time, I could get some of these things done”? Well, now you do. Start tackling some of those items that get pushed down the to-do list during busier times.
- Update online listings. This is the perfect time to update and optimize your Google My Business page and all your directory listings (we can help with this!). The more you can do today to improve search ranking, the better positioned you’ll be when your community is fully open for visits.
- Crank out content. Write blogs about all the questions that prospects have in the sales process. Blogs will provide a much needed SEO boost for better search ranking when things return to normal.
- Connect with the marketing team. Review analytics (pre-COVID-19) to better understand what marketing initiatives have been working and to brainstorm new ideas to try in the future. Sales and marketing teams should be working together regularly anyway, but this is a good excuse to re-engage with them.
As always, we’re here to help you market and sell more effectively during the pandemic. If you need other ideas regarding senior living sales tips and marketing strategies, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.
EDITOR’S NOTE REGARDING CRISIS COMMUNICATION: Like everyone else around the globe, we’re struggling with this new reality due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Heartbreaking stories of loss and grief and a world economy inching towards recession are just some of the things keeping us up at night.
As a senior living marketing agency, we’ve been thinking about all our clients as they face these unprecedented times. It’s hard to see past this pandemic since we’re only in the early stages, but at some point, we know we’ll begin to adjust to this “new normal.” The articles we’ll be providing during this time are designed to help senior living sales and marketing teams when they’re ready to move forward.
Crisis Communication: Appropriate Messages during COVID-19
The messages your senior living community puts out during a crisis matters. You’ll need to halt salesy messaging like “Schedule a Tour” or “Join Us for Lunch” and focus on complete transparency. Yes, transparency should always be the foundational element of your sales and marketing messaging, but let’s face it: in normal times, messaging doesn’t always sound like that, does it?
But we’re not living in normal times. So things NEED to shift to 100% transparency.
The crisis communication messages you should be sharing:
Your leadership’s clear and direct response to COVID-19. You should have a call-out in the header area of your website with a clear link to your community’s full response. This response should include basics, like how your community is addressing the outbreak, visiting hours, important phone numbers, and how you’ll be delivering updates. Check out this blog post for more tips.
The various ways your community is supporting residents, staff, and their families. Social media is an excellent way to share real-time images of your community’s social distancing efforts, cleanliness efforts, and modified activities in the Age of COVID-19. People crave reassurance during this time. Visual images can go a long way in helping. (This goes without saying, but under no circumstances should you “stage” any photos. Be real. Be authentic.)
Unvarnished truths. No sugarcoating is allowed. Don’t try to convince people that they’re better off in a community when all credible news reports are constantly reminding us about social distancing. Instead, talk about how your community is helping everyone stay safe and adjust to new realities. At the same time, you can and should absolutely share solid truths. For example, if your community is indeed fully stocked with food, cleaning supplies, and medical supplies, that’s a reassuring message that people will want to hear.
Safe, actionable things that family members can do to support their loved ones. This is likely going to be one of the biggest things you need to focus on—the feeling of helplessness that so many family members are going to have when it comes to being able to connect with their loved ones. Some ideas:
- Provide iPads to residents for scheduled FaceTime/Skype sessions with family members. (Obviously, you’ll need to thoroughly clean the iPads between use.) PROMOTE this activity on social media, your website, and in email communications.
- Remind family members that seniors love getting real letters and cards.
- Allow visual contact on your grounds, when possible and safe. We love this story about a granddaughter safely sharing the news of her engagement with her granddad.
Marketing and Sales: Changes to Messaging
Update the messaging in paid advertising. Paid campaigns will need to have different calls-to-action for the time being. Again, halt the “schedule a tour” messages and focus on “virtual experience” items. See this previous blog post for ideas regarding that.
Pause lead nurturing OR update it to reflect the current situation. If you let your automated lead nurturing simply continue “as is” during this pandemic, your community will come across as out of touch and incredibly insensitive. So pause all campaigns OR update every email with a simple disclaimer at the top about COVID-19 (in italics, in a different font—something to make it clear there are humans behind these emails). Double check subject lines and revise any that are too cute/clever.
Review any scheduled social media posts. If you schedule out your social media posts, take a moment to review everything that’s scheduled and pause, delete, and revise, as needed. Remove any posts that are too self-promotional. Make sure you’re sharing a good mix of COVID-19 related messages (see first section above).Be mindful about third-party posts that you share. ONLY share from credible organizations like the CDC or your local department of public health.
Consider shifting some digital marketing dollars to more traditional direct mail efforts. Direct mail might have a better chance to stand out since more people are at home right now. Reminder that we have a turnkey solution for your direct mail efforts: SMARTbrand (including a basic free plan).
Update email signatures. Your marketing and sales teams should update email signatures with a link regarding your community’s response to COVID-19 and provide a way to “virtually” meet, like a link to an online scheduler.
With COVID-19, things are changing hourly, and recommendations will change.
What we recommend now could change tomorrow or a week from now. If you need help with your crisis communication plan and messaging, call us. We’ve worked in senior living communities for decades and know what it’s like during times of chaos. Let’s chat soon.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Like everyone else around the globe, we’re struggling with this new reality due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Heartbreaking stories of loss and grief and a world economy inching towards recession are just some of the things keeping us up at night. As a senior living marketing agency, we’ve been thinking about all our clients as they face these unprecedented times. It’s hard to see past this pandemic since we’re only in the early stages, but at some point, we know we’ll begin to adjust to this “new normal.” The articles we’ll be providing during this time are designed to give senior living sales strategies and marketing tips that can help.
Senior Living Sales Strategies: Think Virtual & Interactive Experiences
The current “no touch” reality due to COVID-19 will require creative approaches for senior living sales teams. Several states have suspended move-ins and on-site visits. As a result, occupancy rates can only go down until these restrictions are lifted.
No doubt, the last thing on most people’s minds is marketing or sales, but it’s important to keep initiatives going—in a thoughtful and compassionate way, of course. For the foreseeable future, tours, events, and perhaps even home visits will not be options, so here are some ideas for creating effective (and, bottom line, SAFE) sales experience for prospective residents.
Your New Front Door
People might not be able to physically enter your community, but that doesn’t mean you can’t provide them a glimpse inside. Remember, your website has always served as your virtual front door. And, for the time being anyway, it is THE entry point into all that your community offers. Everything that people would usually come into the community to experience must be available on your website.
Here’s a quick list of must-haves to create an interactive experience:
- Live Chat. Real human chat “hosts” should personally welcome website visitors, answer questions, provide information, and generate leads. Your human “hosts” can work from the safety of their own homes.
- Video Conferencing. Meeting “face-to-face” in this new reality is possible, thanks to virtual conferencing options. Skype is free and widely accessible. Paid options like Zoom are budget-friendly.
- Downloadable brochures (gate this with a form so you can gather contact information and follow up). Here is an example.
- Video Tours. If you don’t have professional video tours, invest in a technology such as HeartLegacy and have the sales team create videos to highlight the community. Here is a sample.
- Interactive Surveys such as Roobrik allow prospects to find their best senior housing and care option.
- Floor Plans and Interactive Room Planners. Here is an example.
- Testimonials to show the experience of living in the community. Check out these examples.
- Links to Facebook to highlight all the positive stories within each community.
- A Robust Resources Section. Think blogs, guides, videos, links to COVID-19 articles, and guidelines to show that you are well prepared, caring, and reassuring.
Taking these steps won’t be in vain, either. Since most searches for senior living begin online, creating a strong virtual experience for people is something that will help your community for the long term.
If you need assistance making any of the above happen during this chaotic time, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.
We’ve gathered industry experts for this FREE senior living marketing webinar to give you the tools to effectively manage the COVID-19 pandemic in your senior living community. From resident and staff health, effective procedures for cleaning and disinfecting to managing crisis communication.
Here’s what you’ll learn:
- Strategies to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in senior living communities
- Prevention, treatment of COVID-19
- COVID-19 HR Policy
- CDC Recommendations
- Safety FAQs
- When should you use standard precautions
- Three types of transmission
- Practicing good EVS procedures
- Supporting staff, residents and families
- Crisis Communication
- Virtual sales tools
Senior Living SMART
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