The Senior Living industry is currently undergoing a massive transition, due to the disruption brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. No aspect of the industry has been spared, including management, operations, and sales and marketing. Sara Nay, host of Duct Tape Marketing’s Agency Spark Podcast, interviewed Debbie Howard, CEO and Founder of industry marketing agency Senior Living SMART, to talk more about this. In the interview, Howard was candid about how this disruption has impacted her experience growing an agency, and how they have pivoted to better meet the needs of their clients.
A solution for the pandemic disruption
There is an entirely new reality for the industry that has been evolving since the start of the pandemic. The senior living providers that wish to survive and succeed will be those that are most innovative in working to create value-added platforms for the future. That’s where Senior Living SMART comes in. “We had to reimagine the entire prospect journey,” Howard said. “We had to create solutions that would normally be touchpoints that HAD to happen in person.” On top of that, the Senior Living SMART team found that prospects were craving content that felt “real” and provoked a feeling of human connection. The solution? Technology.
The COVID-19 pandemic created rapid and powerful momentum for the technology movement that Howard admitted had already started transforming the industry years ago. Howard recognizes that this change can be uncomfortable for the client, but she encourages them to embrace it. “Prospects are empowered to have more choice in how they want to engage,” she said.
Senior Living SMART helped clients bolster their digital footprint by incorporating:
- Still photography (showcasing interactions between staff and residents)
- Architectural stills with movement
- Virtual tours
- Facebook Live events to engage with prospects
Staying focused on the prospect
Though some of the Senior Living SMART strategy had to change, their client-focused mission never wavered. Their focus on the client’s ideal prospect (through very comprehensive persona work), set them apart. Howard cites for example the difference in experience for the adult daughter versus the adult son – emphasizing that the strategy must resonate with both. In addition to personas, Senior Living SMART provides clients with:
- A TOPA (total online presence audit) to inform website optimization.
- Content development (blogs, guides, eBooks, newsletters).
- Email marketing and marketing automation.
- Social media & paid search.
Howard emphasized that they do the paid part of the strategy last because they want to make sure the website is set up to convert inquiries to leads.
Senior Living SMART strives to be the best partner for its clients, providing comprehensive solutions based on experience and research. “In our industry, we have to make things turn-key,” she states. As part of that goal, Senior Living SMART offers clients entry to its Marketplace, which provides access to carefully vetted, best-in-class resources that will help clients grow their occupancy.