Senior Living Marketing Firms vs. Consultants: Which Do You Need?

When it comes to senior living marketing firms vs senior living marketing consultants, is one better than the other? Like so many things in life, it depends on things like your community’s goals and budget. Let’s take a deeper look.

Senior Living Marketing Consultants: Pros & Cons

A senior living marketing consultant is usually a one-person shop. (Otherwise, they’d refer to themselves as a marketing firm or agency.)

Outsourcing to a senior living marketing consultant can have many benefits:

  • Fees are typically lower (at least at first) than engaging with a marketing agency. An agency offers numerous service providers under its umbrella—think designers, writers, PPC specialists—resulting in a higher fee.
  • Working directly with one person might feel less overwhelming and more efficient. You have one go-to person rather than an account team with several different players.
  • Starting and stopping your engagement might be easier with a consultant. Again, since you’re only dealing with one person, you can more easily monitor what they’re doing. Hitting pause is easier—it’s akin to slowing down a small car rather than a long train.

Some of the downsides to working with a senior living marketing consultant:

  • They’re only one person, meaning they can’t be your everything. Consultants typically shine in one broad area—like marketing—but they need to bring in others (web developers and writers, for example) to complete projects. 
  • Other fees can add up quickly. Since the consultant will need to bring in other folks, additional fees can add up fast. Not to mention paying for everything separately isn’t as efficient from a monetary standpoint.
  • If the consultant disappears, work can come to a grinding halt. If something happens to the consultant—illness, family emergency—their work for you might stall indefinitely.

Senior Living Marketing Firms: Pros & Cons

Marketing firms or agencies, on the other hand, typically have a full-time staff as well as a stable of dependable freelancers.

Benefits of working with a senior living marketing firm:

  • You get a whole marketing department at your disposal, usually for one price. Whether you need a writer, a designer, or a PPC specialist, a reputable firm will already have a stable of expert resources in place.
  • If one person on your account team goes down, the work still goes on. Listen, life happens. People get sick. Family emergencies come up. But when you have a team of people working on your behalf, the team itself won’t miss a beat—which means your marketing campaigns won’t either.
  • More heads are better than one. The adage holds true here, especially given the topic. Senior living marketing is incredibly complex, given all the different channels, tactics, and personas. The good news is that a marketing firm is often built on the shoulders of specialists rather than generalists. So, for example, the social media person REALLY understands all aspects of social. The SEO writer knows all the best optimization practices. And so forth. Check out our talented team of specialists.

Some of the downsides to working with senior living marketing firms:

  • You’ll probably pay more up front. But the good news is you get a much better overall value, especially if you keep the agency on retainer. And reputable firms often have various retainer price points—and even budget-friendly products to help you sample their work. (To wit: See our total online presence audit, which you can buy for $995.)
  • Recommendations can pile up quickly—and overwhelm. The recommendations can also lead to friction between marketing and sales teams if everyone hasn’t bought into working with an agency. It’s important to get everyone on board before proceeding.
  • Price points might put some agencies outside the reach of smaller owner-operators. The fact that pricing and scale go hand-in-hand means smaller operators are at a bit of disadvantage in that they do not have the ability to allocate their marketing investment across a larger portfolio; the financial impact per community can therefore be higher. In this case, working with a good marketing consultant might make more sense.

When in doubt, interview both senior living marketing firms and consultants.

Interview a few options in each category. Make sure you understand their fee structure, what’s included, and what they can—and can’t—do. Talk to a couple of their clients as well. (Clients with a similar portfolio as yours.) You’ll get a sense of which one will likely be a better fit for your needs and budget. 

And, of course, if you’re considering a senior living marketing agency, we’d love to be in the running. Reach out and let’s discuss how our approach can help your community boost occupancy.