senior living marketing

The Power of Storytelling in Marketing: Use Real Images

You’ve probably heard about the power of storytelling in marketing. Resident photography and videos can be excellent ways to tell the “story” behind your brand. These images and stories can also help prospects overcome fears and stereotypes typically associated with senior living communities.

In our quest to better understand the benefits of telling stories in marketing materials, we interviewed Tom Sanders, founder of Senior Living Visuals. Tom does an excellent job of creating powerful stories through visuals. He’s created films and photo shoots seen by millions of prospects. Many of these images include residents who are veterans, artists, painters, centenarians, and long-married couples. Many have truly unique stories, such as working under John F. Kennedy or playing baseball with Jackie Robinson.

Below is our interview with Tom about the power of storytelling in marketing. Specifically, we talk about the importance of using real images.

SLS: Tell us about a compelling story that you brought to life for a senior living community.

TS: I made a three-minute film with MBK Senior Living on a painter who is going blind and has an optimistic outlook on life to keep discovering and evolving as an artist. The film titled “Lynn the Painter” was picked up by the positive news website Upworthy. To date, the film has received over a million views worldwide. Lynn chose to live at an MBK community up in northern California because it matched her personality.

SLS: What strategy or process should people follow to create a positive emotional response?

TS: In most cases, every story generally needs some sort of a story arc where there is a struggle. The “Hero’s Journey” by Joseph Conrad is a universal book that explains the struggle and overcoming of a challenge you want in every story (the book is not an easy read; you can watch this documentary on “The Hero’s Journey” here if you have limited time).

SLS: So once you’ve created these compelling themes, how do you integrate them into marketing strategies and tactics?

TS: You need to know which resident portraits are applicable to print, digital, direct mail, display ads, events, and on-site at the community. In most cases, if a photo series is photographed on a certain subject matter, such as couples who have been married for over fifty years, the photos can be used at the community level and all the way up to the corporate level for any kind of marketing.

A series shot on 80-year-old-plus athletes might only function for a calendar and the wellness/fitness section on a senior living community’s website. Films, in most cases, can live on the community’s main websites and social media platforms for two years. After two years, the wardrobe begins to look out dated and reflects poorly on your branding.

SLS: Is there any particular project that has touched you most personally?

TS: Yes, my ongoing veteran photo series with Belmont Village. Each community proudly displays a permanent exhibition of the veteran portraits of their residents. This resulted in my book from Random House, The Last Good War: The Faces and Voices of WWII.

SLS: We so often see the same stock photography used repetitively in digital and print campaigns. Most of the time, we see images that are completely unrealistic or silly, such as seniors taking rides in wheelbarrows. Do you have any thoughts on that?

TS: Please try hard not to buy stock photography and films. Your competitors are using the same stock imagery that your company is using. Photograph and create films on your residents for your marketing materials. This way, the stuff you use will be truly unique to your company, you can build a library of your own films and photos, and the marketing materials will match the real heart and soul of the characters that live within your communities.

More info on Senior Living Visuals and Tom Sanders: Senior Living Visuals was founded by Tom Sanders, a photographer, author, and filmmaker. Tom has been creating films and photography for the senior living industry nationwide for over 13 years. His book, The Last Good War: The Faces and Voices of WWII, was published with Random House in 2010. In addition, the book was named the non-fiction book of the year by Foreword Magazine.

Sanders traveled the country photographing and interviewing WWII veterans at retirement communities, launching him into the aging industry right out of college. Sanders has been interviewed on TV news over one hundred times. His short commercial films have received millions of views worldwide.

Interested in learning more strategies for exceeding prospects’ expectations?

Let’s chat! We’ll spend 30 minutes brainstorming with you.

senior living marketing

Senior Living Websites: 6 Questions to Ask Digital Agencies

Almost anyone can “build” senior living websites, thanks to YouTube tutorials and free website templates. But that doesn’t mean the website will work from a sales and marketing perspective. Why? Because an effective website needs a strong strategy that shows an understanding of the senior living industry.

Here are six strategy questions to ask agencies before choosing one to build your senior living website.

1. How will you drive the right prospects to my website?

Not all traffic is good traffic. The right digital agency will ask YOU about your ideal prospect: who they are, what they care about, how they search. If the agency doesn’t demonstrate a keen interest in your senior living community’s buyer personas, walk away. Otherwise, you might end up with a generic “one size fits all” website that doesn’t attract targeted traffic.

2. How will you attract ideal prospects to my senior living website?

Your digital partner should conduct keyword research. In addition, the agency should have experience with search engine optimization (SEO) for senior living. This involves understanding…

  • The search terms that prospects use when looking for senior living options
  • How often each term is searched monthly
  • How difficult it is to rank for these prized terms
  • Where you and your competitors currently stack up

Note: Senior living SEO is also a skill. Don’t be shy about asking the agency to show results that they can quantify.

3. What is your strategy to turn anonymous website visitors into contacts and leads?

Driving qualified prospects to your senior living website is just the beginning. The website also has to convert visitors into tours and move-ins. Ask the agency how they plan to accomplish this.

4. How will you nurture the early stage leads to keep them engaged?

If you generate 100 form requests, you might have 10 that will make a decision in the next 30 to 60 days. The other 90% of these contacts are “not ready.” But if you put all 100 into your senior living sales CRM, your sales team will get frustrated. They will disqualify most of the leads and move them to cold since the leads are not ready. The chances of the sales team ever returning to those “not ready” leads are slim as well.

What a good agency partner will do is make sure you have a good lead scoring plan in place. The urgent leads will go to sales. The not-ready leads will be nurtured until they are ready.

5. How will you get the right information to the right prospect at the right time?

Prospects are in different stages within their journey. Again, your digital partner should be able to identify where each prospect is and provide relevant content for each stage. Having high quality blogs and premium content (e.g., guides, checklists, and e-books) aligned with your keyword strategy is incredibly important.

6. How well does your digital partner understand your sales process?

A strategic partner will be able to articulate your prospect’s journey from the point they begin their research online through their path to conversion and move-in. Marketing strategy must be aligned with sales strategy. Most digital agencies only understand marketing, but that is not enough. Understanding the discovery, advancing, and closing process is critical in designing the right experience for prospects and for the sales team.

Bottom line: Don’t hand over the keys to your senior living website to just any ol’ agency.

Remember, building a new senior living website is going to require an investment of scarce resources: time and marketing budget. Operators expect to see results, which is why you need to make a good decision when choosing the right strategic partner.

The Senior Living SMART team has years of experience on the operator side of the industry. We understand buyer personas. Not only that, we’re experts in digital marketing. Let’s chat about your website project.

FREE Website Assessment

Ready to find out how your senior living website matches up? See how your site is performing with our instant report that you may save and share.

 

Senior Living Marketing and Sales: CRM Search Made Easy

Senior Living Marketing and Sales: CRM Search Made Easy

Matrixcare is retiring REPS Leads™ leaving many users looking for a replacement CRM. Choosing a new CRM can be a daunting task, but it can also be an opportunity to discover new features that can enhance your sales culture. In this edition of SMARTNews, we will provide guidance to assist you in making the right selection.

Starting the Search: Make Your List and Dream Big

Before you schedule your demos, make a list of what you like about your current CRM and everything that frustrates your users. Create three lists – Must Haves, Would Be Nice to Have, and Non-Negotiables. Here are some of the top considerations:

  1. Ease of Use: This is important because like our prospects, we are comfortable with the familiar. Having to make the change is difficult and we want our users to transition with ease.
  2. Better Reporting: With more robust reporting, you can increase transparency of the strengths of the marketing and sales team. Managers often want a way for the team to hold themselves accountable to achieving goals and hitting metrics. Look for a system that delivers what you want on all levels of reporting from basic user through leadership team and board reporting.
  3. A Refined User Experience: Sales and marketing teams today don’t function on recording activity alone. There are many roles within the department and having a CRM that can deliver role-based layouts, reporting, and custom data fields is an increasing need. Having a system that can deliver an experience tailored to your role (so you can focus on your job and not be inundated with additional data fields or reports you’ll never run) is ideal.
  4. Simultaneous Support of Multiple Service Lines: Communities are no longer operating within the brick and mortar communities. Today, there are multiple lines of service, community outreach efforts, and census management functions. Each one has its own set of data fields, workflows, and supporting reports. Choose a CRM that can deliver on the expanding markets your community is either currently immersed in or considering for the future.
  5. Defined Sales Process: Senior living counselors are no longer order takers. Competition is fierce. Having a defined sales process that everyone follows is the key to success. Whether you want a pre-defined process or want to build your own, make sure to implement a CRM that supports process. Bonus points if it can simultaneously support multiple processes or workflows that tailor the experience for your different service lines.
  6. Marketing Automation: Whether it’s simply having a more efficient way to send and track personal email or you’re seeking full-blown marketing automation, the future of senior living marketing and sales involves marketing automation. Select a tool that supports forward-thinking and emerging marketing trends.

Fear of Data Migration:

One of the biggest concerns voiced regarding the change is, “Will all my data transfer?” Make sure the vendor you select can seamlessly move your data, including your waiting lists and prospect activity history. Find out if they can execute the project and data transfer on their own, or if they need to outsource that piece of the project. Some things to ask potential vendors:

  • Do you have a reliable and robust process covering all data migration facets of extraction, translation, cleansing, and validation?
  • Will you perform analysis and inspection of the information to validate data quality, and pinpoint required data and highlight gaps in the data from the current system?
  • Are you well versed in detailed mapping and transformation exercises to define migration rules, cleansing routines, and final execution plans?

Training, User Support, and Flexibility

Learning a new system requires training, reinforcement, and on-going support. Here are some questions to ask before you sign a contract with a new CRM provider:

  • How do you support training of the new CRM?
  • What kind of ongoing support do you offer and do we have to pay extra for it? (Think online learning center, live support, built-in knowledge base)
  • Is the CRM flexible enough to support future changes users may want to make in data fields, workflows, and reporting? AND… can we make these changes ourselves, or will we have to pay you (the CRM vendor) for any changes?

Implementation: Embrace the Change

Regardless of which CRM you choose, you will experience a learning curve. Embrace this fact and go with it. Fear of change can be paralyzing and inhibit the ability to accept and retain new information. The impact of learning a new system will be far less scary if each member of your team is open and receptive to change.

Finally, don’t let the fear of change, or the fact that you’re busy, keep you from diving into the search. The process of vetting, selecting, and implementing a new CRM may take longer than anticipated, and you don’t want to be caught at the June 30 deadline without a new CRM. Budget at least 90-120 days for the process. This gives time for you to be up and running and trained on your new CRM before your old system is deactivated.

Guest author Kristin Hambleton is the VP of Business Development at Continuum CRM. Let their experienced team help guide you on this journey and use our experience to assist in the transition. Learn more about Continuum CRM in the Marketplace or call 800-570-6030 to request a demo today.

Download our Guide to Choosing the Right CRM here.

senior living marketing

Senior Living Websites: Why Do a Website Audit?

My dad would always tell me, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” And when it came to my 1979 beat up Dodge Aspen, his advice made perfect sense. But when it comes to your senior living website, you must anticipate the broken bits (ideally, before they happen or just as they’re happening) so you can nip them in the proverbial bud.

How?

By conducting regular website audits.

Why do a website audit? Here are three reasons why you need to make this a part of your ongoing web marketing strategy:

1. Improved website performance will lead to better user experience (and happier users make for happier leads/customers).

Even your website needs a yearly physical to see how the systems are running. A website audit will help you determine your website’s technical performance. Think framework and infrastructure, page speed/load time, and navigation—all of which affects the user experience (UX). When auditing your site, pay close attention to the following:

  • Is your website mobile-friendly? According to @similiarweb, mobile drives 56% of all traffic.
  • Is your website error free? Dead ends and broken links can be frustrating to the user.
  • Is your page size below 9.5 mb? The heavier the site page, the slower the load time.
  • Do your web pages load within three seconds? Any slower and visitors will abandon your site, reducing conversions and sales.

2. Enhancing your search engine optimization (SEO) means your site stands a better chance of coming up in organic searches.

By conducting an SEO site checkup, you’ll be able to identify any missed SEO opportunities and remedy any mistakes.

  • Does your website have XML sitemap files? This tells Google and other search engines what pages on your site you want crawled and indexed.
  • Do you have a title tag and how long is it? The title tag is an HTML title that is used to briefly and accurately describe the topic and theme of an online listing. Your title tag should be no longer than 65 characters in length.
  • Are your page titles optimized? Remember, 60% of all organic clicks go to the top three organic search results. Optimize your page titles and use a compelling meta description to get off on the right foot.
  • Are you reviewing your keywords? Look at your keyword performance. Find out which keywords are giving you the biggest gains in traffic and leads and make sure you are adding relevant content to your website that targets those keywords.

3. Reviewing and tweaking conversion paths will help you boost overall visitor-to-leads and leads-to-customers.

A website audit enables you to re-evaluate your lead generation and conversion funnels.

  • Are you providing high quality content on your website that provides value to your prospects? Companies that blog get 55% more web traffic and 70% more leads than those that don’t. Blogging is the best way to reach your target audience with useful, educational information they’re out there looking for. Not to mention how much it helps your search rankings.
  • Do you have a variety of content that appeals to all your different prospects (e.g., potential resident, adult child), including where they are in their journey (e.g., research, planning)? Understanding your buyers by developing (and regularly revisiting!) personas will help you create targeted content that speaks to them and gets them to act.
  • Do you have a system of following up with your leads and keeping them engaged in your content and brand? Calls-to-action, marketing offers, and landing pages play a major role in the performance of your website.

Let’s Audit Your Website!

Ready to find out how your senior living website is doing? Get started here.

senior living web design

Senior Living Website of the Future: A Case Study

Vitality Senior Living wanted to build a senior living website of the future. We worked with them to integrate website design and function to align with their sales culture.

Vitality wanted to accomplish the following with their new senior living website:

  • Provide the right content at the right time to the right prospect
  • Create a highly engaging site that would encourage visitors to stay longer and keep them coming back
  • Represent senior living in a positive light using vibrant images and positive language
  • Engage prospects in every stage of readiness, not just those ready to move in within the next thirty days
  • Allow prospects to self-select their stage of readiness, consume content created for that stage, and advance seamlessly through the journey
  • Automate lead nurturing campaigns for earlier-stage prospects while advancing prospects who are ready to engage with the sales team
  • Generate high quality, organic leads

Step #1: Personas, Stages of Readiness, and Content – Oh My!

We created buyer personas and mapped the buyer’s journey based on three stages of readiness: Research, Planning, and Action.

First, we created a buyer persona for the adult daughter and the older adult prospect and mapped out motivations, obstacles, priorities, wants, and needs for each. Then, we were able to plan the right content that would be valuable to each persona. In addition, we could organize the blog and resources by stage of readiness.

For example, a prospect in the beginning stages of Awareness and Research usually wants to know where they will live, what they will do, who will take care of them, and if they can afford to live there. Someone in a Planning or Action stage needs to know how they are going to downsize, which community will be the best fit, when to make the move, and how to have the conversation with the family. Once we completed this, we created a blog calendar and the writers got to work. We moved on to the next step – engagement.

Step #2: Drive Traffic To the Site & Keep Them Coming Back

Vitality didn’t want to use traditional senior living labels, such as seniors, assisted living, or memory care. Instead, they wanted positive age-neutral descriptions, such as older adult, lifestyles, and choice. As a result, we had to get creative in using keywords to drive search engine optimization.

To engage website visitors, we included several Senior Living SMART partners in the development of the website.

  • Site visitors can take a Roobrik assessment. Each assessment takes 3 to 5 minutes and leads prospects to a personalized Care Fit Report that presents their best care options. Prospects can share their report with other family members or save it for later. This keeps them on the website longer and increases return traffic and conversions.
  • We also added interactive room planners for each community. This way, prospects in Planning or Action stages can choose an apartment style and design it by adding furnishings. These room planners by NextGenTools are the only ones that work on mobile devices and allow prospects to share their completed design on Facebook or email to other family members. This increases time-on-page by 6 to 8 minutes and creates a reason to come back to the website.
  • Future enhancements include adding live chat to improve conversion from anonymous visitor to qualified leads and tours. With SiteStaff, we are getting 40% conversion from chat to lead and 20% conversion from chat to scheduled tour!

Step #3: HubSpot & CRM Integration

Vitality wanted to automate lead nurturing strategies for all of the leads that are earlier stage. An “earlier stage” lead is a person who is not ready to tour or talk to a sales person, but they’re still expressing interest. Vitality also wanted to be sure that “urgent” leads quickly went to the sales team.

As a result, we recommended integrating the website with HubSpot (for automated nurturing). We also recommended integrating the site with their senior living CRM (they use Sherpa) to connect leads in an Action Stage to the sales team for face-to-face and voice-to-voice relationship building.

The results? A senior living website of the future!

The new Vitality website is attracting more of the right traffic, engaging them longer, and speaking to (and converting) them throughout their journey.

Want to take your senior living website to the next level? We’d love to help! Request your free 30-minute brainstorming session or fill out the form below to get a website assessment.

FREE Website Assessment

Ready to find out how your website matches up? See how your site is performing with our instant report that you may save and share.

Senior living marketing

Using Big Data and Direct Mail Best Practices to Drive Occupancy

By Valerie Whitman, Leading Response and Senior Living SMART

In this information-packed presentation, you’ll learn how to develop immediate move-ins and create a pipeline of exclusive, qualified leads. Reduce reliance on third-party lead generation and use big data, targeted events and direct mail campaigns to increase qualified prospects and reduce resident acquisition costs.

 

NEED HELP TRYING NEW IDEAS? WE’RE THE APP FOR THAT! 🙂

Seriously, we’ve been in your shoes, and we can help. We keep our eyes on the latest and greatest technology and get a sense of if and how it could work for the senior living industry before we recommend it to our clients. Get in touch and let’s talk about how we can help.