You’re likely familiar with the statistics. The American population is aging—and fast. In 2017, there were 47 million people over the age of 65. By 2060, that number will more than double to 100 million.
Today, the oldest Baby Boomers (those born in 1946) are in their mid-seventies, the youngest Boomers are nearing sixty, and the oldest folks from the Gen X population are right behind them.
Of course, these numbers are enough to make marketing and sales teams downright giddy! With so many people coming of retirement age, it would be easy to think that senior living communities can simply sit back and wait for prospective residents to come a-knocking.
But keep in mind that these retirees crave a much different experience than folks from the Silent Generation who were born during the Great Depression and WWII.
In the Boomers’ lifetime, they’ve been rock ‘n roll fans, hippies, flower children, Vietnam veterans, disco dancers, civil rights marchers, and even partakers of illicit drugs. (Hey, we’re just keeping it real, dear reader!)
Boomers usually worked at the same job for years and years. They moved to the suburbs. They raised their families. Owning their own home was the ultimate American Dream—one they could and did attain.
As for retirement? They only have their parents’ and grandparents’ experiences to guide them—experiences that often involved stereotypical “old folks homes” where residents simply faded away. In other words, an experience Boomers don’t want for themselves.
All of this is going to dramatically shift our industry over the next decade. Demand for truly independent senior living communities will increase—and folks will likely reside in these communities much longer before entering into assisted living, memory care, or nursing homes. (If they enter them at all! Many will opt for in-home care.)
As this shift happens, senior living marketing will have to adjust as well. Because how you market to these younger demos will (and should) be different from the marketing geared toward the 80+ crowd.
So let’s talk shop, specifically independent living marketing ideas that will resonate with Boomers.
Switch up your community’s messaging (if you haven’t already).
If you’ve already started building marketing campaigns around the concept of “this isn’t your grandmother’s senior living,” you’re on the right track. Because as we explained above, Boomers do indeed crave something different—something better.
Boomers value their independence. They demand customization and personalization. Think cappuccino machines and sushi bars, Paris vacations and weekend getaways. Plus, thanks to medical advances, Boomers (and Gen Xers) will remain truly active and independent for much longer than their parents did.
Your senior living messaging needs to show you “get” all this—and that your independent living community has built a lifestyle that caters to Boomers, not their parents or grandparents.
Watch your language. (And be willing to pivot.)
Nope, we’re not referring to profanity. We’re talking about the keyword phrases people use to describe “independent living.” For example, the senior living industry still hasn’t figured out what to call communities geared toward younger Boomers eyeing retirement.
Active adult? 55+? 65+?
And to be honest—the industry won’t drive this decision. The Boomers will. Check out some keyword research we recently pulled from SEMrush. These are real phrases people are currently searching on.
Our point: You’ll likely need to use a variety of phrases until (and if) one term prevails.
Embrace video storytelling—and do it regularly.
If you’ve been working on the marketing side of things long enough, you’ve probably heard that good stories help sell. And this is absolutely true no matter the demo. But we’d venture to say it’s even truer for the “me generation.” Boomers want to easily identify with people who are already living happily in your independent living community. Stories—particularly ones captured on video—will help accomplish this.
- Get in the habit of recording a welcome video with each new resident. Ask them about their journey to your community, what made them decide to buy in, and what they’re looking forward to.
- Record videos with longer-term residents. In addition to the newbies, you want to get stories about people who’ve been living in your community for a while. What surprised them about this lifestyle? What do they love most? What do they wish they’d known before they moved in?
The key with video storytelling is you need to be consistent. You don’t simply record a few videos and move on. Video storytelling has to be a regular, ongoing marketing task, like blogging and posting to social media platforms.
Show, don’t tell.
This adage absolutely applies to Boomers and Gen-X. They don’t want you to tell them how wonderful your independent living community is . . . they want you to show them. In other words, put your money where your mouth is and prove it.
Pay attention to these areas in particular:
- Your website imagery. Don’t use stock images. Use real shots of real people in your community. Yes, this is an investment. And yes, you will have to re-invest in photography every year to keep things fresh.
- How you market amenities. Telling people the food is delish is one thing. Inviting people in for a made-to-order meal allows them to experience it for themselves.
- Your marketing campaigns. Boomers are rightly skeptical of jargon and buzzwords. You need campaigns that are authentic, yet heartfelt. For example, consider building a video ad campaign using a REAL resident that prospects can easily identify with.
Invest in reputation management.
Boomers do their homework. And that begins online. Your community’s online reputation matters because it will influence decisions, including whether your community even makes the initial list of places to tour.
Like video storytelling, senior living reputation management isn’t a once-and-done task. It’s not even an annual or semi-annual task. You need to stay on top of reviews as they come in, particularly on your community’s Google Business Profile (formerly known as Google My Business).
Now, you might be thinking: “OK, manage reviews. I get it. But what has this got to do with independent living marketing ideas that resonate?”
Glad you asked. See, don’t let reviews simply sit there. Yes, people will find them. But leveraging your reviews through various marketing channels (like your website, paid ads, and social media) can be an excellent way to reinforce key messages and get solid ROI on your reputation management dollars.
For example . . .
- On your home page, you can create a module with scrolling reviews being pulled in from various review sites.
- Employee email signatures can include links to review sites and/or a line from a glowing review.
- You can feature quotes from five-star reviews in digital ads and email marketing.
Keep your eye on “younger” social media platforms, like TikTok.
Right now, according to Statista, people 56+ spend most of their time on YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram. TikTok, which is hugely popular with Gen Z, barely registers with Boomers—at least right now. But guess what? There was a time when Facebook was a “young person’s” platform, too. How times have changed, right?
Our point: Social media platforms geared toward senior living aren’t static—tastes change, interests wane, and fads come and go. Keep your eyes on the numbers. And be prepared to pivot fast. (Note: We’re starting to see movement on TikTok. Simply google “senior living TikTok” and see for yourself.)
Work with a marketing agency that stays current. (Like ours!)
Not all marketing agencies are created equal. And even fewer have experience within the senior living industry. We know marketing. We know senior living. And we’re closely following the shifts and trends. We can keep your community not only competitive, but also ahead of the curve with independent living marketing ideas that truly resonate with Boomers. Let’s chat!