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Marketing Solutions Must Haves

Senior Living Marketing Solutions: 5 Must-Haves

You don’t need every marketing solution under the sun for your senior living community to be successful. In fact, sometimes too many bells and whistles can dilute your efforts. That said, there are some must-haves that you shouldn’t skimp on. Below, we discuss five essential senior living marketing solutions that we recommend to all our clients.

1. Senior Living Marketing Solutions: Invest in a Strategy.

Somewhere along the way, the word “strategy” has gotten a bad rap. Probably because strategizing involves stepping back, identifying real objectives, and creating a marketing roadmap for achieving them.

Some might see strategizing as a synonym for slowing down, which is a challenge in our always-on, always-rushed world. And we can certainly appreciate why slowing down can be extremely hard for marketing and sales teams that have a long list of vacancies to fill.

But we’d argue that a sound marketing strategy is needed precisely because it’s so competitive out there. If you approach your marketing willy-nilly—without understanding your buyers or your current website conversions, for example—how can you successfully execute important marketing tasks, like creating content that converts? You can’t measure what you don’t know, right?

The very act of sitting down to create a marketing strategy forces everyone to take a hard look at things like . . .

And that’s just the beginning. No, it’s not “sexy” work. It’s not fast work, either. And it’s not the type of work that will produce results right away since the work itself involves reviewing, compiling, and planning.

But once the work is completed and a plan is in place based on real intelligence? Get ready for turbo-charged marketing that will deliver reliable results over the long haul.

Doesn’t that sound smarter than just winging it?

2. Senior Living Marketing Solutions: Treat Your Website Like the 24/7 Salesforce That It Is.

Sure, every serious business on the planet has a website nowadays. So setting one up might feel like another box you need to check off your endless to-do list. But your community’s website matters. Why? Because it serves as your 24/7 salesforce.

When people are on the hunt for something—new sneakers, a new car, a new home—their search begins online. This is true even among older adults. Consider the following stats:

    • Baby Boomers spend more time online than Millennials, and a staggering 92% of Boomers shop online. [Source: The Shelf]
    • 75% of all Boomers are on Facebook, and 35% use business-focused networking sites, such as LinkedIn. [Source: Kenshoo]
    • Boomers have great attention spans and will read your content! 60% of Boomers regularly read blogs, and 70% percent watch video content online. [Source: The Shelf]
    • Boomers are almost as likely as Millennials to own a tablet. [Source: Marketing Charts]
    • 68% of Boomers own a smartphone. [Source: Pew Research Center]

For most prospects interested in senior living, your website will serve as their first experience with your community. And like it or not, first impressions still matter. Yes, some folks might land on your Google My Business listing first. Or perhaps they’ll see an ad or a billboard or hear about your community from a friend or family member. But they will end up on your site at some point—and usually multiple times.

Bottom line: Don’t treat your senior living website as an afterthought. Don’t treat it like a box you need to check off. And don’t make it look like every other senior living community’s website.

Instead, approach its creation (and its subsequent iterations) with a sound strategy. Pay attention to analytics that give insights into traffic numbers and conversion rates. And if you outsource, choose an agency that knows what it’s doing when it comes to building senior living websites that get results.

3. Senior Living Marketing Solutions: Let Marketing Automation Do the Heavy Lifting

Your community can’t effectively compete if it doesn’t have a seamless method for nurturing marketing-qualified leads (MQLs) over the long haul. Because here’s the reality all communities are facing right now: Prospects require multiple “touches” before making a decision to move into a community. And when we say multiple touches, we’re talking upwards of 20+ for marketing-qualified leads.

Think about that for a second. Let’s use easy math to illustrate. If your site brings in 100 MQLs a month on average, and these MQLs require a minimum of 20 “touches” before making a decision . . . how on earth can your marketing team manually send that many unique emails to that many different people, month after month, year after year?

New MQLs Per MonthTouch Points to ConvertUnique Emails Sent
100202,000

They can’t. At least, they can’t do it efficiently. Things will fall through the cracks, meaning your community will lose great leads to competitors.

Marketing automation solves this problem. Instead of manually sending lead nurturing emails, you’ll program the system to keep track of where the MQLs are in their journey. The automation’s main purpose is to deliver the right content to the right prospect at the right time.

Marketing automation is no longer a “luxury” of national chains, either. Even a small, independently-owned community must use some form of marketing automation to remain competitive.

Luckily, most reputable marketing automation software offers various tiers. So a larger chain might opt for an enterprise license while a smaller community might choose a nimble, budget-friendly option.

The key (beyond choosing the right marketing automation software) is setting it up properly. This takes work, including a deep understanding of your prospects and their buying journeys. But once set up, marketing automation does the heavy lifting so that your marketing team can focus on other things—like creating compelling content, analyzing results, and doing more of what works and less of what doesn’t.

4. Senior Living Marketing Solutions: Remember to Use Lead Scoring

This goes hand-in-hand with marketing automation. But we find that lots of communities either overlook this point or they don’t take full advantage of lead scoring.

When properly set up and executed, lead scoring provides several benefits:

    • A real-time view of where leads are in the sales funnel. At a glance, you’ll have a solid sense of your overall pipeline and which leads are nearing decision time. This will help improve sales forecasting.
    • Increased efficiency and sales productivity. Sales teams can focus their time on sales-qualified leads.
    • A key input to your marketing automation software. Lead scoring will automatically indicate which lead needs to go where. SQLs will be served up to the sales team. MQLs will enter appropriate nurturing campaigns.

In order to work, however, lead scoring requires . . .

    • Sound strategy. What makes a lead sales-qualified vs. marketing qualified? Do you want to go deeper than simply scoring a lead as an MQL or SQL?
    • Smart implementation. You need to make sure lead scoring is set up properly on the backend. Our biggest tip: This requires more than one set of eyes. And you absolutely must test to ensure the leads are being scored as you envisioned they would be.
    • Revisiting over time. Marketing automation’s biggest advantage—the automation part—can sometimes be its biggest curse. Too often, marketing and sales teams will “set it and forget it”—for good. You do need to occasionally revisit your lead scoring strategy: Has it changed? Have you learned anything new that could affect how you score leads? And you need to occasionally revisit the actual setup to see if anything has broken along the way.

Again, don’t skimp on this process. Lead scoring is a critical component in successful marketing automation.

5. Senior Living Marketing Solutions: Think Analytics.

Practically everything we do as marketers is measurable. While the number that matters most is move-ins, that’s the finish line. Many milestones exist along the way—important milestones that will help deliver leads to the finish line. And all of those milestones have analytics attached to them.

Think about things like . . .

    • Website analytics (traffic, landing pages, calls-to-action, etc.)
    • Google Analytics
    • Social media analytics (specific to each platform)
    • Advertising analytics (print, digital, radio, TV)
    • Lead analytics (such as MQL-to-SQL conversions and SQL-to-move-in conversions)
    • Email marketing analytics (opens, click-through-rates, conversions)
    • Call center analytics
    • Live chat analytics

And the above isn’t an exhaustive list, either.

Some marketers love numbers. Others hate them. If you fall in the latter group, don’t ignore the analytics because you don’t like them. Instead, consider outsourcing the analysis. A good consultant or marketing agency can help you understand what the numbers are telling you so that you can make informed decisions.

Bonus Solution: Work with a Reputable Senior Living Marketing Agency

Because marketing is SO involved, it can be challenging for marketing and sales teams to manage everything on their own. Luckily, there’s a solution for that: outsourcing some of the work to an agency like ours. We know senior living. We know marketing. Let’s talk about your community’s specific marketing needs.




Senior living lead eggs hatching with footprints towards sale sign

5 Things You Shouldn’t Do with Your Senior Living Leads

If we could share one article with every senior living marketing and sales team, this would be it. Why? Because it has to do with everyone’s favorite topic: senior living leads. Specifically, mistakes to avoid. Let’s get to it.

1. Don’t treat all senior living leads the same.

If you’re a Senior Living SMART client and/or a regular reader of our blog, you’ve likely heard us say that not all leads are created equal. Some leads are ready to buy now. Others might be ready two years from now.

How should you handle the very different needs of various leads? To start, you should divide your leads into two buckets—sales-qualified leads (SQLs) and marketing-qualified leads (MQLs). SQLs want to buy sooner rather than later, so they will be served up to the sales team. MQLs aren’t ready yet, so they will enter longer-term nurturing campaigns.

For all of this to happen efficiently, you’ll need marketing automation software and website forms that capture meaningful info to help segment and score your leads. You can choose to get more granular with your lead segmentation if you wish. For example, within your MQLs, you might segment leads according to buyer persona (e.g., senior vs. adult child).

Bottom line: Meet your leads according to where they are on their journey. Don’t treat them all as if they’re ready to buy today or tomorrow.

2. Don’t ignore leads just because they’re in the very early stages.

This goes along with the previous point, but it’s worth repeating. Too often, we see marketing and sales teams ignore leads that are in the earliest stages of their journey (think leads that don’t plan to buy for at least a year). This is short-sighted. Remember, today’s researchers are tomorrow’s buyers—even if that “tomorrow” is eighteen months from now.

While you might not market as aggressively to early-stage leads, you should still provide regular, helpful communications. The goal? For the lead to think well of your community so that when they are ready to buy, your community will be top of mind.

3. Don’t bombard your leads with the same marketing messages.

Since you have a variety of leads coming in, you need to have a variety of marketing messages at the ready as you nurture MQLs to SQLs. Because that’s precisely what good nurturing is—delivering the right message to the right person at the right time.

Getting to know your leads is an excellent way to develop engaging content for them. But how do you get to “know” your leads? Simple. Through your website forms.

Earlier, we mentioned having website forms that capture meaningful info. But if you want to take it to the next level, consider implementing progressive profiling. With progressive form fields, you can control which questions appear on which website forms. Not only that, but once a person has filled out one set of questions, they’ll be asked a different set the next time they fill out a form on your site. The answers will give you valuable insights into your prospects. As a result, you can serve up nurturing campaigns that make sense to them.

For example, maybe your website forms capture people’s favorite hobbies. For those who love food and cooking, you can serve up emails that discuss all the fabulous activities in your community centered around cooking: breadmaking class, sushi night, wine-tasting every Thursday afternoon, pot-luck dinner parties, etc. For those who cited sports as a favorite hobby, you can serve up a similar set of emails that talk about your fitness center, tennis and pickleball courts, golf league, football get-togethers, and the like.

The basic email campaign can be the same, but you will customize the messaging so that it speaks directly to your leads. Custom messaging is the secret sauce to effective lead nurturing.

4. Don’t “set and forget” your marketing automation.

With marketing automation, it’s easy to set up email nurturing campaigns and forget all about them. While automation is supposed to make your life easier, you still need to monitor results—and make adjustments based on what the numbers tell you.

What you should pay attention to:

  • Engagement. Are people opening the emails? Are they clicking through to your offers? Are they converting on those offers? Don’t send emails just to say you’ve sent them. You want your emails to work, meaning they should motivate the recipient to take a specific action—even if that action is something as simple as reading a blog post.
  • Conversions. Over time, provided your email nurturing is effective, you should see increased conversions: MQLs to SQLs and SQLs to customers.
  • Messaging. Even if engagement/conversions look good, revisit messaging to make sure everything you say is accurate. For example, you might have promoted virtual tours due to COVID. Now, you might have options for both in-person and virtual tours. We recommend looking at all messaging at least twice a year.

Don’t be afraid to adjust messaging that isn’t working. Trust what the numbers are telling you. You could throw a whole campaign out the window and start over. Or you can A/B test smaller changes. For example, if people aren’t opening your emails, test different subject lines. Haven’t tried personalization yet? Maybe you experiment with that and see how the results look.

Effective marketing automation is part science, part art—and it absolutely requires the human touch.

5. Don’t assume you’re in control. (Because you’re not.)

This is the hardest pill for sales and marketing teams to swallow. Twenty years ago, before everyone was online and before every senior living community had its own website, each community’s sales and marketing team was very much in control of the sales process. If someone was interested in learning about your community, they had no choice but to call or come in for a tour, which put them (the buyer) at the mercy of the sales team.

Things have changed. Thanks to senior living websites, review sites, and social media, buyers can now research to their heart’s content before ever talking to a salesperson. And they’ll only do the latter on their terms when they’re ready for a sales interaction.

If senior living sales and marketing teams want to succeed today, they must embrace this shift and focus on enabling buyers to get the info they need, when they need it. This means marketing and sales must remove any friction from the process and make it as easy and straightforward as possible for the buyer to purchase from you. Say hello to your new top priority!

Want more helpful strategies for increasing senior living leads? Download our guide.

Even though we bill ourselves as a marketing agency, we also have expertise in the senior living sales process, as this free guide demonstrates. Enjoy it with our compliments!

And, of course, if you need assistance, get in touch and let’s chat about your senior living sales challenges.

How to Increase Sales in Senior Living Schedule a 30 minute brainstorming session
senior living leads, MQL SQL Blocks

Senior Living Leads: Why You Should Think Beyond 60 Days

Our industry has gotten into a bad habit. Too many marketers and sales folks neglect senior living leads that haven’t signaled a need to move within 30 to 60 days. In addition, many communities purchase marketing software like HubSpot thinking they’ll suddenly have an influx of sales-qualified leads (SQLs) for sales reps to work their magic on. 

What most of these sales reps and marketing folks don’t seem to understand is that the majority of senior living leads come in as marketing-qualified leads (MQLs), not sales qualified.

Ignoring MQLs isn’t the answer. Learning how to nurture MQLs to sales-qualified status is. Follow the best practices below for doing exactly that.

Create different paths for different buyers.

We’re famous for saying that not all senior living leads are created equal. Now, let’s take it a step further: Not all MQLs are created equal, either. 

Some MQLs will be older adults looking for a place to move in 6 to 12 months. Others will be adult children looking on behalf of their parents. The older adults might be married, divorced, or widowed. Some might be in excellent shape and others might have health challenges. In the older children camp, some might be searching for a loved one who’s resisting the move. Others might be dealing with complex family dynamics (sibling against sibling).

  • Your Task: Create plenty of marketing paths on your website to satisfy many different types of MQLs. For example, the content an adult child needs will be different from the needs of an older adult who’s buying for herself. The first step in this process involves doing buyer persona work.

Create compelling lead nurturing campaigns.

The keyword is “compelling.” The biggest mistake communities make is treating lead nurturing like a box they need to check off, meaning not much thought is given to the emails in each campaign.

Content matters. Don’t send emails simply for the sake of sending them out. Think about what the campaign is trying to accomplish. Are you trying to get someone to download another piece of content? To view a video? To schedule a tour? While it’s easy to think “Yes! I want everyone to schedule a tour,” keep in mind that not all MQLs are ready for tours just yet. Nurture, don’t rush.

Monitor your lead nurturing campaigns.

The next big mistake that communities make with their lead nurturing is setting up and forgetting about it. Marketing automation is the culprit here. Don’t get us wrong: Automation is great! It was designed to eliminate manual, rote processes, after all. But setting up something to automatically go out and never following up to see if what you’re sending out is actually working isn’t a smart strategy.

  • Your Task: Look at overall conversions for each campaign. Is the lead nurturing campaign accomplishing what you set it up to do? If the goal of the campaign was to get someone to download the next piece of content that makes sense for them in their journey, how many folks in the campaign did exactly that? A dismal 1%? Or an impressive 20%?

For the campaigns that aren’t delivering impressive conversions, take a deeper dive.

  • Look at the analytics for each individual email. Look at open rates. Yes, open rates can be misleading/deceiving, but you need to start somewhere. Study the subject lines in the winning emails from your successful lead nurturing campaign. Can you draw any conclusions on why they’re so effective? (Such as length or use of personalization.) Tweak the subject lines in the emails that aren’t enjoying high open rates and see if things improve.
  • Look at the content in the emails that have high open rates, but low conversions. Try changing one thing—perhaps the call to action or the length of the email—to see if it improves conversions.

While analytics are based in real numbers, how you respond to the analytics and what you decide to fix/change to get more senior living leads will be less scientific. 

The numbers might be telling you that email #1 has a 42% open rate but 1% conversions on the offer. You know something isn’t working. But now you have to experiment to see if you can figure out why it isn’t converting—and if you can come up with a solution. This part is more art than science. Once you make your adjustment, you’ll then return to the analytics in a few weeks or months to see if your adjustment changed things for the better.

Track what successfully moves an MQL to an SQL to an actual customer.

As you nurture more MQLs to SQLs, and convert SQLs to residents, pay attention to where the lead conversions happened. Is there a certain piece of content that’s doing the trick? You might want to spend more time promoting that content (and not just on your site, but through other means, like paid search). Is there a specific call-to-action that gets people to schedule a tour? Use that CTA in other emails and on your site.

  • Your Task: Do more of what gets you the results you crave and less of what doesn’t.

Work with a senior living marketing agency that can help you maximize your MQLs.

Even with automation, you still need to keep track of a lot in order to get the amount of senior living leads you’re looking for. And you’re already juggling ten million other things. That’s where we come in. We can help you maximize your MQLs. Reach out and let’s chat →

 

senior living marketing event ideas, food truck

Senior Living Marketing Event Ideas to Try

Need some fresh senior living marketing event ideas as we emerge from the pandemic? Here are some to consider. 

Senior Living Marketing Event Ideas to Boost General Awareness about Your Community

With these events, the goal is to create awareness about your community with the people who live in the surrounding area. These events cast a wider net—in fact, some of the events might skew younger—but the idea is everyone knows (or is connected to) someone who fits your ideal buyer persona

In other words, that twenty-five-year-old might have a grandparent in the area, or that forty-year-old might have a mother who’s been thinking of making the move to senior living.

Host a blood drive.

The American Red Cross has a turnkey system for hosting a blood drive. You provide the space, the volunteers, and the donors. The Red Cross takes care of everything else.

  • Who to invite: General population in the area, current leads, residents/families. The nice thing about this event idea is that you gain a lot of traction in one fell swoop. 
  • How to promote the event: Promote it to your lead database via email, promote it to residents and families, and promote it to people in the area through local advertising (such as Patch.com and the local paper—you can often submit event listings for free).
  • How to market your community at the event: After people donate blood, send them off with a goody bag with collateral about your community and a fun branded promotional item. Have sales reps on hand in case people have questions about the community. And make sure the reps are prepared to conduct impromptu tours if someone is interested.

Host “Food Truck Friday.”

Reach out to local food truck vendors in the area and designate a “Food Truck Friday” event. The trucks come from, say, 4-8 and park in your lot for residents/families and people from the larger community to enjoy.

  • Who to invite/how to promote the event: Same as above.
  • How to market your community at the event: You bring dessert! Set up a candy booth with your company’s signage. (Like the candy tables that are popular at weddings.) People can fill a bag of candy (for free). The bag will be branded with your community info and include collateral. Again, have sales staff available in case someone attending the event has questions about your community.

Senior Living Marketing Event Ideas to Woo Hot Prospects

When it comes to creating events to court prospects who’ve already expressed sincere interest in your community, you need to think strategically. These events will be “smaller” in terms of scale—and if any particular event proves successful, be prepared to start running it on a more regular basis.

Spaghetti Supper to Go

One of the most popular questions that prospects ask sales counselors is this: “How’s the food?” Show off your chef’s mad skills by offering spaghetti dinners to go—complete with garlic bread and cannolis. Serious prospects can finally taste food that they’d see on your menu if they lived in your community.

  • How it works: Prospects can reserve their order and drop by to pick it up between five and seven on the appointed day. With each order, make sure someone greets the prospect, helps them carry the dinner to their car, and offers a swag bag with some extras, like fun branded promo items. The next day, the sales rep can follow up and ask what the prospect thought of the meal.
  • Who to invite: Limit the initial send to hot sales-qualified leads (SQLs). And if this is your first time doing an event like this, limit the total number. Discuss with your chef about a reasonable number of spaghetti suppers they can prepare for one evening and start with that number as the upper limit. (So if the number is 10, send the offer to 10 prospects. There’s little chance that all 10 would say yes, but if by some chance they did, the chef could still accommodate all of them.)
  • How to promote it: Use a combo of email marketing and good old-fashioned phone calls. 
  • Bonus tip: The sales rep should follow up the next day with the prospect and ask what they thought of the food and to see if they’re any closer to making a decision. Plus, once you get in a rhythm, this can be an easy ongoing event—one you do every month for hot SQLs you’re trying to close.

Backstage Pass

You’re trying to sell how great your community is as a place to live, right? So give some of your hot prospects backstage passes to try out certain amenities.

For example, do you have a fabulous fitness center with lots of fun classes? Give the prospect a free pass to try it out for a week. Got an amazing restaurant on site? Give prospects a pass to enjoy a meal on the house. You get the idea. The goal is to give the prospect the opportunity to experience the community without a sales person hovering.

  • How it works: Determine ahead of time 3-4 amenities that you’ll allow free passes to (and any rules/conditions). Create a nicely designed oversized “backstage pass”—something that reflects your community’s branding. Give it to the prospect and explain how it works. Even if they don’t use the pass, the offer itself will likely have a powerful—and memorable—effect.
  • Caveat: Make sure relevant team members are aware of the backstage pass. So, for example, if the pass is for the fitness center, everyone who works in the fitness center should A) be aware of this promotion and B) be alerted when someone is given a pass to the fitness center. This way, the fitness center employees can greet/help the prospect accordingly.
  • Who to invite/how to promote it: Determine on a case-by-case basis. If the hot prospect seems really interested in your community, this might be the offer to help seal the deal. Or if the prospect is wavering between your community and another one, this offer might help them decide.
  • Bonus tip: The sales rep should follow up with the prospect after the person has “used” the backstage pass. Again, inquire about the person’s experience and see if they’re any closer to a decision.

Senior Living Marketing Event Ideas for Thanking Referral Sources

Coffee and Donuts On Us

Don’t underestimate the value of your existing referral sources. It’s always good to thank them and remind them you’re there. Invite them to a quarterly “drive through breakfast” at your community. The goal is to reconnect with those you know and to show your gratitude for their referrals.

  • How it works: Buy boxes of coffee and donuts/bagels ahead of time. (It’s always good to order them ahead.) Have a team managing a booth at your entrance with all the goodies between, say, 6 and 9. Invite your referral sources to stop by and pick up breakfast—on you. Offer a little swag bag with a gift card to Starbucks and some collateral that they can use to promote your community (like a stack of postcards or brochures).
  • Who to invite: Referral sources—active ones and ones who’ve gone quiet.
  • How to promote the event: Create an ongoing email list of your referral sources and do a three-prong email blast. Send the first a week out. Send the second a few days before. Send the final one either the night before or early AM on the day of. The gist is simple: Go for a “thank you for your referrals. Enjoy donuts and coffee on us” message.
  • Bonus tips: Record who shows up! Get names. Then, follow up with the person individually via email saying you hoped they enjoyed the coffee/donuts, and you’d love to have them over to the community for lunch sometime. Again, you’re trying to stay top of mind in these folks’ heads while also giving them reasons to promote your community (by experiencing the great food, seeing the gorgeous grounds, and so forth).

After-hours Networking

Hosting an after-hours networking event is always a great way to mingle with referral sources—and possibly meet new ones! In terms of how to set it up . . . you can be in charge of doing everything—securing the location, food, etc. Or if your community is a member of the local Chamber of Commerce, they often have sponsorship opportunities for after-hours networking events.

  • How it works: Host a cocktail hour at your community or a nearby restaurant. Invite referral sources and prospective referral sources for an evening of cocktails and networking. Make sure everyone leaves with a swag bag (filled with a promo item, something special like a gift card, and collateral about your community that they can hand out on your behalf).
  • Who to invite: Your current referral sources and a list of referral sources you’d like to get.
  • How to promote it: Follow the same steps as above for your current referral sources. For your prospective referral sources, create a separate email list. You’ll use similar messaging—”Join us for a night of networking. Sponsored by Awesome Senior Living Community.”
  • Bonus tips: Have several team members at the event and make sure they mingle. They should pass out business cards and get cards from whoever is there. Then, the next day, they should send a personal email to each person they met (new referral sources and existing ones) and ask to set up a one-to-one coffee chat to foster the relationship further.

Senior Living Marketing Event Ideas: Don’t Underestimate the Value of Virtual Events

As we emerge from the pandemic, we’re all itching for more in-person events, which is why we focused on those sorts of ideas above. But if the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s this: Virtual events can be effective—and can sometimes even work better for certain personalities (like introverts) or for people who want to explore your community from afar.

So don’t stop hosting virtual events. Your best bet moving forward is to offer a combo of in-person events and virtual events—and to monitor the results.

Check out these helpful articles for more info:

Remember, the Key to a Successful Event is Starting with a SMART strategy.
Be strategic in your planning—from the purpose of the event, to how you’ll market it, to how you’ll follow up. Need help along the way? Reach out. We love helping our clients develop and execute effective senior living marketing events.

senior living sales consultant, two women talking

Hiring a Senior Living Sales Consultant? Read This First

If you’re thinking about hiring a senior living sales consultant because something isn’t working with your sales team, read this first. Not all issues require an outside consultant. In fact, many issues are fixable within the team itself, especially if yours is grappling with one of the very common issues below.

Are the marketing and sales teams working in silos?

Departmental silos are so last century—and for good reason. Collaborative efforts between sales and marketing teams reduce friction and unnecessary redundancies. When marketing and sales teams work in harmony, the results can be powerful. (HubSpot refers to this alignment as “smarketing.”)

How can you tell if an alignment issue exists? Well, do your sales and marketing teams meet regularly to discuss goals and results? If the answer is no, that’s usually the first (and biggest) clue that your sales and marketing alignment is out of whack.

Is the sales team attempting to work all leads?

It doesn’t make sense for sales departments to work all the leads that come in. Why? Because most leads aren’t ready for a sales interaction. The lead wants time to engage with your site and content (often upwards of eight times!) before talking to anyone in sales. Here’s the good news, though: When a lead is ready to talk to sales, they’re going to be much easier to close.

How is the overall lead quality?

Maybe the problem isn’t the sales process, but the lead quality itself. We often remind clients that more website traffic isn’t always better—sometimes it’s just more. Don’t get taken in by vanity metrics. Instead, focus on quality. Attracting a smaller volume of highly quality website traffic is much better than a high volume of low quality traffic.

  • SOLUTION: Revisit your buyer personas and audit your website’s messaging and keyword strategy. What messages and keywords brought in the types of leads that have converted in the past—and that you’d like to see more of? Again, making this adjustment might cause you to see a dip in overall website traffic. Don’t panic! If lead quality and conversions increase, even if traffic has decreased, you know you’re on the right track. (And, of course, you’ll follow the above tip about scoring leads appropriately!)

Has a lead nurturing program been developed and properly executed?

If your sales team has been treating all leads the same way, then the answer to this question is “probably not.” Remember, marketing-qualified leads (MQLs) aren’t ready to talk to a sales person just yet. That’s OK. Your job is to provide helpful info that will empower them during this journey. A good lead-nurturing workflow will do all of that in the low-pressure way today’s buyers crave.

Has the team given up too quickly on leads?

If your sales team has been working all leads, no doubt you have a high number of leads in your senior living CRM that are labeled cold or dead. The problem? Many of those leads were likely only marketing-qualified, not sales-qualified. So of course a high number of them didn’t answer the phone or return your sales reps’ calls.

Implementing lead-scoring and lead nurturing workflows for MQLs is a great solution for moving forward. But what about all those so-called cold or dead leads already sitting in your CRM? Aren’t at least some of them still viable? 

Still not sure what you need? Give us a shout.

We work closely with marketing and sales teams and can help identify ways to shore up your processes without dumping valuable dollars into a senior living sales consultant. (But if we think a sales consultant is the answer, we’ll tell you that, too!) Reach out and let’s chat →

 

senior living leads business infographic

Senior Living Leads: Think Quality vs. Quantity

Whenever we deploy lead scoring and marketing automation for a client, we always receive the inevitable panicked call from someone on the sales team: Where did all the leads go?

Here’s the thing: The leads are still there. What’s changed is the way the leads are being handled. And that’s a good thing. Sales-qualified leads (SQLs) move onto the sales team, while the marketing automation nurtures the not-ready-yet leads. (Also known as marketing-qualified leads or MQLs.)

Why do we follow this strategy instead of the old “move all leads to sales no matter what” approach? Simple. Most senior living leads aren’t ready to buy.

Consider the following:

  • 80% of new leads never translate into sales. [Small Biz Genius]
  • 96% of visitors who come to your website aren’t ready to buy. [Small Biz Genius]
  • 50% of the leads you generate are qualified, but not ready to buy right now. [Business.com]
  • 25% of the leads you generate are totally unqualified; they won’t ever buy. [Business.com]
  • 19% of buyers want to connect with a salesperson during the awareness stage. 60% want to connect during the consideration stage. 20% want to talk during the decision stage. [HubSpot]
  • At least 50% of your prospects are not a good fit for what you sell. [HubSpot]

Obviously, mileage will vary depending on a variety of factors, but the overarching theme to keep in mind is this: Since most leads aren’t ready to buy, most won’t be interested in a sales interaction. So why serve up not-ready leads to the sales team?

Doesn’t it make more sense for your sales team to work the leads that have the highest potential of converting while your marketing team nurtures the cooler and warmer leads to turn red-hot? Of course it does!

Still, this can be a hard sell to a sales team that’s used to seeing a big bucket of all leads. So, what can you do to help your sales team embrace the idea that lead quality trumps quantity? Get them to focus on other things.

Instead of fixating on the number of senior living leads, sales reps should focus on the following:

1. Give sales-qualified leads the VIP treatment.

Sales-qualified leads are gold! Treat them as such. In other words, don’t give up on your SQLs after only one or two attempts.

Here’s more compelling stats from our friends at HubSpot:

  • 60% of customers say no four times before saying yes. And yet 48% of salespeople never even make a single follow-up attempt.
  • 80% of sales require 5 follow-up calls. And yet 44% of salespeople give up after one follow-up call.
  • 70% of salespeople stop at one email. Yet if you send more emails, you’ve got a 25% chance to hear back.

2. Revisit buyer personas to ensure a solid understanding of prospects’ pain points.

Revisiting your buyer personas will help ensure the sales reps are familiar with all the relevant details—details that will help the reps ultimately sell better.

Reminder, personas are fictional representations of your ideal prospect. These personas provide important insights into things like challenges the prospect is facing, their financial health, and what they’re looking for in senior living.

Why is persona work so critical? If sales reps are only focusing on sales-qualified leads, the leads will probably closely match a corresponding persona. Now, instead of the sales rep having to rely on a broad one-size-fits-all sales pitch, they can customize their presentations to solve for the lead’s specific challenges, thanks to the intelligence provided by the persona.

Isn’t that a much smarter sales strategy?

3. Audit sales collateral used in follow-up communications with SQLs.

Sales reps might be working fewer leads, but they’ll be working better leads. Once again, you need to consider these your VIP leads and give them the VIP treatment. This most certainly includes how you follow up with them—including the words you use in your emails and the content you provide in brochures and guides.

Audit your existing follow-up materials, especially all emails. Create email templates that cover most scenarios you encounter. For example, create a set of emails for that awesome lead who is on the fence between your community and one of your competitors. Another set of emails for the hot lead who is leaning your way, but just needs a nudge. And so forth.

Doing this legwork now will make it easier to quickly customize when you need to send something out.

4. Offer an array of options for interacting with senior living leads.

If the pandemic taught us anything it’s this: It is possible to sell senior living via virtual methods like Zoom and online tours. And just because the pandemic is winding down doesn’t mean you need to abandon these methods, either.

Providing VIP prospects with multiple ways for them to interact with you will help make it easier for them to do exactly that.

5. Provide input to marketing teams regarding ideas for emails that nurture marketing-qualified leads (MQLs).

The marketing team usually manages the lead nurturing campaigns, but sales should provide input. After all, everyone’s goals are aligned—to convert MQLs to SQLs to move-ins. Sales reps often hear feedback from prospects regarding info that the prospects sought during the buying process but couldn’t find. Share these learnings with your marketing counterparts.

Remember: When it comes to senior living leads, quality beats quantity. Every. Single. Time.

We can help get your marketing and sales teams up to speed with lead scoring, marketing automation, and effective lead nurturing. Get in touch and let’s chat.

Senior Living Marketing Events: 5 Tips for Going Virtual

When it comes to hosting senior living marketing events, everyone has had to pivot this last year, thanks to the pandemic. The good news? Learning how to create effective virtual events will serve your community long after COVID-19 is over.

Why? Well, because virtual events offer two key benefits:

  • Anyone can attend. In other words, people aren’t limited by location. This is important for people who might be looking at senior living communities in your area, but they live out of state (or in another part of a big state, like Texas).
  • Instant access. Recording virtual events and posting them on your site or social channels means that people can access them when they

Now, let’s discuss tips for creating engaging senior living marketing events for virtual audiences!

1. Develop different types of events for different personas.

For example, create one set of events for seniors/older adults. Create another set of events for adult children who are searching on behalf of their parents. You’ll also want to customize the event to various stages in the buyer’s journey.

For example, an educational seminar called “Can you afford to move into a senior living community?” is quite different from virtual armchair yoga for residents and their families.

And keep in mind that the events you plan for people interested in independent living will (and should) be different from events you plan for people who are interested in memory care.

2. Decide how you’ll broadcast your senior living marketing events.

You’ll do this step in conjunction with the previous step. But it’s so important to a virtual event’s success that we wanted to give it its own step. A variety of platforms exist. Two of the most popular include Zoom and Facebook Live.

Zoom is great for truly formal events. Think events where you want people to register and the topic is incredibly targeted. You have control over who can access/enter the Zoom event. It’s not “open” to the masses—people need a link to access. With Zoom, you have a free version and a paid version. The free version has limitations (like how long you can have a video call).

Facebook Live is excellent for more casual events. Think conversations or last-minute events. Many of our clients had standing Facebook Live chats planned in the early days of the pandemic. For these “events,” anyone could hop on and watch the Facebook Live stream as it was happening. Or they could go to the Facebook page after the event ended and watch the video. (You can also do Instagram Live Events as well.) Facebook Live is also free!

3. Once you’ve selected a platform, pay attention to the details.

You’ll want to test the technology, such as microphones, recording capabilities, and even the lighting in your space. In addition, figure out how interactive you want your event to be. For example, will you use chat, live Q&A sessions, or polls to survey attendees?

Feeling overwhelmed? Not to worry!

We have free guides that’ll walk you through the specifics:

4. Advertise and promote the events appropriately/accordingly.

In other words, make sure you understand the difference between low-cost promotional options and higher-cost options—and which options make the most sense for your events.

  • Low-cost promotional options include social media posts, social media advertising (because you can get good results with a small budget), website pop-ups, and email alerts.
  • Higher-cost advertising includes print ads in newspapers, direct mail pieces, and radio advertising. You’ll probably want to reserve the higher-cost ads for bigger events, such as authors or big-name speakers.

Keep in mind that a one-size-fits-all approach isn’t a smart strategy. You’ll use different ad combinations, depending on the type of event, your budget, and how much lead time you have to promote it.

Like anything else, measure results. You might discover that running Facebook advertising gives you the biggest bang for your buck—maybe even more so than print ads. Or you might discover the opposite is true—that print ads work better for older adults in your area.

5. Follow up and share your senior living marketing events!

When it comes to these events, record them! Then, SHARE them. Too often, people put on great events and they either forget to record or they don’t share the on-demand events.

  • Have a designated area of your website for webinars and past events. Your “Resources” section is a good place for this. For particularly engaging/successful events, you should highlight them on your home page for added traction.
  • Send a follow-up email to all registered attendees. Include a link to the recorded event (do not require them to fill out a form).
  • Promote the events on social media. And continue to promote them. The shelf life of a social media post isn’t long. You need to continually promote all your content (including recorded events) via all your senior living social media channels.
  • Use the events in your ongoing lead nurturing. On-demand webinars and events that people can watch at their leisure make for GREAT lead nurturing fodder.
  • Speaking of lead nurturing, create event-specific lead nurturing workflows. For example, if you’ve just delivered an event on the amazing food options in your dining room, the follow-up lead nurturing can share related content, like downloadable dinner menus, a Q&A with your head chef, or a video of a happy resident talking about the food.

Need fresh senior living marketing event ideas?
We can help!

We’ve got decades of experience in the industry. We know what excites prospects. Let us help you create fabulous senior living marketing events that get the results you want—more move-ins and happier residents/families. Get in touch and let’s brainstorm!

Our Senior Living Marketing System

We recently became part of Duct Tape Marketing, a network of marketing agencies and consultants from around the world.

As the Duct Tape Marketing website explains, “Duct Tape Marketing is founded on the simple belief that marketing is the most important small business system. And we just so happen to believe that small business owners are the true heroes of business, so we’ve made it our mission to build, train, support, and teach small business marketing strategies and tactics to as many of these heroes as possible.”

For us, we joined Duct Tape Marketing for three reasons:

  1. We wanted to bring in thought leadership from outside the senior living industry.
  2. We wanted to participate in a community of professionals who are as passionate about marketing as we are.
  3. We wanted to use a proven system that simplifies digital marketing.

Being a part of the network has helped us refine how we work with our clients. This has resulted in our ability to offer clients more choices, dependable delivery of work within budget and timeframes, and consistent results.

So, what is this marketing “system” that Duct Tape promotes? The system’s foundation involves creating three levels of marketing support: Build, Grow, and Ignite.

For the Build phase, we create a solid digital foundation that enables prospects to easily find your senior living community.

A strong digital foundation includes many components:

Once that work is complete, we move into Grow.

This is when we focus on content, such as . . .

When it comes to content, we create compelling pieces for all stages of the prospect journey so they will keep coming back to your website. With this new content, we can also optimize a variety of social channels (think Facebook, Instagram, and even Pinterest). In addition, we often start (or re-start) a monthly email newsletter to re-engage existing leads.

Then, we move to Ignite.

We fire up the lead generation turbo booster known as marketing automation. Marketing automation offers many benefits, but the biggest one is that it automatically scores and segments leads.

Remember, not all leads are created equal! Some leads are in the early stages of their journey, conducting research. They have no interest in talking to sales—yet. Other leads need to decide soon. And still other leads will fall somewhere in between.

How you treat different leads will—and should—vary, based on where the lead is in their journey. Your marketing team will work on nurturing the “not ready” leads (i.e., marketing-qualified leads or MQLs). In the meantime, the sales team will work on the sales-qualified leads (SQLs).

The marketing automation system makes this process seamless, by automatically serving up the SQLs to the sales team (and, ideally, your senior living CRM). For the MQLs, the marketing automation funnels them to appropriate lead nurturing workflows based on how they engaged with your site and what answers they provided on opt-in website forms.

This saves everyone time, and it increases conversions, since your sales team will only be focusing on high-intent leads rather than ALL leads.

During the Ignite phase, we often implement paid advertising to increase the number of qualified prospects coming to your site. We are good stewards of client budget. And we don’t recommend pursuing paid advertising until we reach the Ignite phase. After all, why waste money driving people to a bad website with poor navigation, limited content, and nothing to do when they get there?

This three-prong approach to senior living marketing has many advantages.

First, it aligns expectations and timelines for deliverables. Second, it keeps everyone focused on results. And, finally, it works! Interested in learning more? Let’s set up a complimentary 30-minute brainstorming session so we can discuss your senior living marketing and sales challenges.

Connect with us to learn more!

Let’s chat about your senior living marketing and sales challenges.

Business man finding the perfect fit marketing automation solution

Senior Living Marketing Automation Platforms: How to Choose

If you’re a regular reader of our blog, you know we’re big fans of marketing automation platforms for senior living communities.

Last year, we provided some tips for evaluating different platforms. That discussion resulted in some good questions from readers, including costs and our recommendations. So we’re addressing some of these questions here.

What’s the most important thing to consider when choosing marketing automation?

The most important thing to consider is the functionality your marketing and sales teams need. THIS WILL VARY COMMUNITY TO COMMUNITY. Survey your teams regarding what they want and what they feel is currently lacking when it comes to things like scoring leads (marketing-qualified vs. sales-qualified), segmenting leads, nurturing leads, and analyzing leads and conversions.

For example, maybe you simply need lead nurturing, not a centralized marketing hub that does everything (including your laundry).

Or maybe your teams have gotten adept at deciphering Google Analytics. If that’s the case, you might opt for marketing automation that provides only basic key performance indicators (KPIs) rather than endless options for sophisticated reports.

Or perhaps you already have a thriving blog on your senior living website. You won’t need blogging functionality, which tends to be a popular option in many high-end automation platforms.

How much does marketing automation cost?

Price points vary just as widely as the products themselves. And here’s the thing: Pricier products aren’t always better. Typically, the more expensive, the more functionality. (But, of course, some products might have inflated price points. Always make sure you understand what you’re buying.)

Remember, buy for your marketing and sales teams’ needs. Start with what the automation software must do. Then, look for companies that offer products that match those desired capabilities.

Going back to our example above: If you don’t need blogging capabilities, don’t consider products (or product tiers) that have a blogging function since that will only jack up the price.
A few other things to consider when comparing price points:

  • Will you be paying monthly or annually? Some marketing automation companies offer a discount if you opt for an annual subscription.
  • How does the automation company base its subscriptions? Is it based on the entire number of contacts in your database? How does it alert you if you’re skirting close to the next subscription tier? (Which can often result in a price increase.)
  • Do you need to consider who will be managing the marketing automation implementation and ongoing management? If you outsource this to a marketing agency, like ours, you need to consider those costs as well.
  • Make sure you’re comparing apples to apples. This should be obvious, but in case someone needs to hear it, there you go!

Should my senior living CRM integrate with my marketing automation platform?

We believe integration is critical because you want marketing and sales to work in harmony. No more silo mentality here! Marketing automation, when implemented correctly, will serve up sales-qualified leads to sales while continuing to nurture the marketing-qualified leads until they’re ready for a sales interaction.

Connecting your CRM and your marketing automation software helps “close the loop” and supplies important insights to both teams about the quality of leads and conversions.

That said, buyer beware! You should NOT settle for an inferior marketing automation product that is “built in” to your senior living CRM. Sherpa, Enquire, and Eldermark have “white labeled” a product called ActiveDEMAND. We’re not fans of this product, based on our experience with it.

Ugh, so does this mean I’ll be limited in marketing automation platforms based on the CRM I’m already using?

Not necessarily. The best solution is to find the marketing automation platform that best meets your needs and then find a CRM integration partner (like us!). We’ve have done a variety of successful marketing automation integrations with Yardi, Sherpa, Enquire, and Welcome Home.

What marketing automation platforms do we recommend?

HubSpot is an excellent “Cadillac” solution with plenty of sophisticated capabilities, like lead scoring, personalization tokens, smart CTAs, and amazing analytics (just to name a few items). ActiveCampaign marketing automation (not to be confused with ActiveDEMAND) is an excellent budget-friendly option for basic emailing and lead nurturing functionality.

If someone wants to have a centralized marketing portal to run their paid/social campaigns, blog, and lead nurturing plus CRM integration and robust custom reporting, HubSpot is the way to go. But we recommend that you work through a HubSpot certified partner (like us!). An integration partner will make sure you get the right package. In addition, they can negotiate pricing on your behalf. We recently saved a client over $70,000 in first-year licensing fees!

Still need help choosing a marketing automation platform? You're in the right place!

Trust us, we get how overwhelming it can be. We’d be happy to provide guidance and/or our thoughts on the products you’re considering (even if you plan on handling everything in-house!). Get in touch and let’s chat about your marketing automation needs.

Robot helping sales person write emails and complete tasks

Senior Living Sales Strategies: 3 Surprising Benefits of Marketing Automation

We don’t have to tell you that senior living is an ultra-competitive industry. You live and breathe it every day, right? Which is why you always need to find ways to enhance your senior living sales strategies. Good news! Marketing automation is an effective budge-friendly way to do exactly that.

Here are three surprising benefits.

1. Say hello to your “always on” sales assistant.

When it comes to successful lead conversion, here are the two biggest factors:

  • How quickly leads are responded to
  • The persistence of follow-up attempts

Let’s tackle that first factor. Marketing automation ensures that your senior living leads receive an instant response after they take an action on your site. If they fill out a form, for example, they’ll automatically be redirected to a thank-you page that speaks directly to them. AND they’ll receive an auto responder email.

Everything happens automatically in the background—whether it’s 2 p.m. or 2 a.m. And it happens no matter what’s going on in the world, like a pandemic. In other words, marketing automation becomes your 24/7 sales assistant.

Now, let’s discuss the second factor: persistence of follow-up attempts. Remember, you want to implement effective senior living sales strategies. With marketing automation, instead of lumping all leads together and handling them the same way, you can segment leads, score them appropriately, and create custom lead nurturing workflows.

Gone are the days of treating cool leads the same way you do hot leads. Truly hot leads—for example, someone requesting a tour tomorrow—can be passed off to sales and handled ASAP. But cooler leads can be nurtured according to their needs, interests, and timelines. You can customize your messaging so it speaks TO the person (rather than simply some generic message that you share with everyone).

BENEFITS RECAP: Marketing automation ensures that every prospect gets an almost instantaneous response and a reliable follow-up plan. Follow-up effectiveness and timeliness no longer depend on the availability or skillset of the community sales person. Now, the sales team members can focus on their strengths, such as building relationships with prospects, rather than performing rote tasks (like sending brochures).

2. Eliminate the blind spots in the sales process.

Marketing automation provides visibility into every action a prospect takes on your site. Think the number of times the person visited a specific page, the blog posts they read, how long they spent on a page, and so forth.

So, for example, if someone requests a tour and the sales person can see that the prospect spent a lot of time consuming financial-related info as well as articles about amenities your community offers, the sales rep can be sure to discuss those two areas.

In addition, when you integrate your marketing automation software with your senior living CRM, you’ll get an excellent big picture regarding sales conversion points (i.e., tours, deposits, and move-ins). With this knowledge, you can measure the ROI of every marketing effort and channel. This is critical since more and more marketing budgets are being slashed and/or coming under greater scrutiny.

BENEFITS RECAP: Building a profile of each prospect and passing that information on to the sales team empowers them with relevant information to personalize their interactions.

3. Nurture “not ready” leads until they ARE ready to decide.

We touched on this in the first point, but let’s take a deeper dive. The majority (up to 90%) of the prospects visiting your website are “early stage” opportunities. They want to remain anonymous and gather knowledge, information, and resources in a self-directed way.

Your website should provide everything the early-stage prospect seeks. You should provide this info without requiring the prospect to engage in a sales interaction.

Once you get people’s info, you need to be thoughtful in how you handle it. Your sales team shouldn’t be wasting valuable time pestering “not ready yet” leads with calls and emails.

Instead, marketing should handle these leads by entering them into custom lead nurturing workflows. When we say “custom,” we mean custom, too. The workflows shouldn’t be one size fits all. You should have a set of workflows to match specific lead attributes, like buyer persona and timeframe. Robust marketing automation can ensure the right person gets the right set of emails at the right time.

BENEFITS RECAP: With strategic lead nurturing, you’ll build trust and demonstrate your community’s expertise. When the person is ready to book a tour, request pricing, or make the leap and move in, your community will be top of mind. (BONUS: We’ve designed a turnkey lead nurturing program for SUPER COLD senior living leads. We’re talking leads that have been sitting in your CRM for over six months. LEARN MORE.)