When you hear the words “senior living marketing plan,” do you roll your eyes? Get a tummy ache? Feel the pressure like you did in high school the night before a big report was due?
You’re not alone. For some reason, those words—MARKETING PLAN—can induce extreme reactions among marketers and sales teams alike. Some people love planning. Others find it limiting. And all too often, well-intentioned marketing plans are created at the beginning of the year but forgotten by April.
Our goal with this article is to explain how to create a senior living marketing plan that works—and that everyone on your team can find useful. As a bonus, we’ll share our recommended “must-haves” for 2023.
Let’s dive in!
Start with a strategy discussion.
A marketing plan is so much more than simply developing and scheduling campaigns, ads, and emails. An effective marketing plan is all about the strategy for getting the most out of those things. To do this, you need to make sure you understand your ideal buyers—their needs, their goals, and their pain points.
And guess what? These needs, goals, and pain points can and will change from year to year. That’s why you need to start your planning by having this strategy discussion first. Ask yourself how your ideal buyers have changed over the last 12 months and how you will address these changes.
Accept that there’s more than one way to create an effective senior living marketing plan.
One of the biggest mistakes marketing and sales teams make when developing plans is thinking there’s only one way to go about it. An effective marketing plan is the one that works for your community.
Signs that your marketing plan is working . . .
- Marketing tasks are moving forward. People are making their deadlines. There’s momentum. And even enthusiasm.
- There’s no more silo mentality. Everyone is aware of what other folks are doing. People collaborate. There are no surprises.
- The plan is adjusted along the way. Plans are just that—plans. Results are what matter. People should be reviewing analytics and making necessary adjustments to the plan based on results.
- The tasks and initiatives are driving results. There’s that “R” word again. Increased move-ins are the ultimate measuring stick, the ultimate result. But plenty of other metrics exist, like increased conversions from marketing leads to sales leads. Pay attention to those as well.
- The plan is built on a sound strategy. As we noted above, effective plans are fueled by a smart strategy.
Don’t worry about creating a detailed marketing plan for the entire year.
How can you plan for next December when you haven’t gotten through Q1 yet? Sure, you might have a hazy sense of some marketing tasks and events that will be happening 12 months from now. But the previous quarter’s activities—what worked, what didn’t—along with what’s happening on the ground in real-time will and should influence your plans for the next quarter. Creating a 90-day marketing plan makes things more manageable for everyone.
Create channel-specific marketing plans or editorial calendars.
Blogging, social media, print ads, email marketing, online ads, marketing events, direct mail—there are so many different moving parts when it comes to senior living marketing. While it’s wise to have a primary marketing plan, one that’s all about the 30,000-foot view, it also makes sense to have channel-specific plans and calendars. Make sure you link to them from within your primary plan.
For example, it would make sense to have a separate blog editorial calendar that includes topics, keywords, assigned writers, due dates, and so forth. But if you were to put all of that info in the primary marketing plan, you (and everyone else) would feel overwhelmed super-fast.
The key is to make sure everything is linked so that people can click on the info they need. The sales manager might not care as much about the nitty-gritty of your blog editorial calendar, but they’ll know where to find it if they need it.
If you’ve created a primary marketing plan in a Google spreadsheet, you can use the tab function at the bottom for all the various channel-specific plans: blog, social media, newsletters, marketing events, and so forth. You get the idea.
Make it easy for everyone to access your senior living marketing plan.
Your marketing plan doesn’t need to be pretty, but it does need to be accessible. It should be a working document, one that the marketing and sales teams will need to regularly revisit throughout the year.
Create a shareable marketing plan using a free tool like Google Docs or a paid tool like Asana, Basecamp, Monday.com, or Microsoft Teams. Make sure you grant access to everyone who needs it.
Pay attention to trends, but don’t let them dictate your plan.
TikTok is a hot social medium platform—there’s no denying that. But is it right for your prospective buyers right now? Like most things in life, the answer is “it depends.” There’s nothing wrong with paying attention to hot trends and experimenting with them. But it wouldn’t be wise to allow these trends to dictate your primary marketing plan.
Consider working with a senior living marketing agency if you need help.
There’s no shame in asking for help, especially with something as pivotal as a marketing plan. A marketing agency that understands the senior living industry can be a huge asset to your team—both in the development of your plan and its execution.
BONUS: Some recommendations from our team as you head into 2023.
- Embrace in-person marketing events. If you haven’t gotten back into the swing of holding live events, make that a top priority next year. You can (and should!) still offer virtual options, but most prospects still crave seeing, feeling, touching, and smelling the communities they’re considering.
- Get back to wooing your referral sources in person. In-person visits to professional referral sources suffered during the pandemic. Use early 2023 as an opportunity to look at your top referral sources pre-pandemic and get in touch with those sources in person.
- Stick with your email marketing strategy. Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection (MPP) has caused reported open rates to take a hit, so those metrics are becoming increasingly unreliable. And yet email continues to be an effective marketing channel in general and for senior living in particular. Stick with it, but like everything else, monitor results. The good news? Most forms of personalization remain unaffected. Check out this article for helpful tips about email marketing in 2023.
Need help? Call Senior Living SMART.
Senior living marketing is ALL that we do. (And we’re really good at it!) We love helping marketing and sales teams achieve their objectives. Get in touch and let’s chat.