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What Can Sales People Do If They Cannot Sell?

Senior Living Sales Tips: What Can Sales Reps Do If They Can’t Sell?

EDITOR’S NOTE: Like everyone else around the globe, we’re struggling with this new reality due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Heartbreaking stories of loss and grief and a world economy inching towards recession are just some of the things keeping us up at night.

As a marketing agency focused solely on the senior living industry, we’ve been thinking about all our clients as they face these unprecedented times. It’s hard to see past this pandemic since we’re only in the early stages, but at some point, we know we’ll begin to adjust to this “new normal.” The articles we’ll be providing during this time are designed to offer senior living sales tips and marketing strategies that can help right now. 

Senior Living Sales Tips: Selling in the Age of COVID-19

COVID-19 has understandably restricted many senior living sales activities, such as tours, events, home visits, and move-ins, but there’s still plenty that sales teams can do to remain productive and helpful.

Here are some senior living sales strategies to consider.

Stay connected with prospective residents:

Remember, the goal isn’t to sell, but to connect. Be that reassuring voice people need in this time of uncertainty.

  • Work the phones in a compassionate way. This is the perfect time for senior living sales reps to call every prospective resident and see how they’re doing. (Your call-out connect rate should be very high with everyone being at home!) Really listen to people’s stories, their concerns, their fears, and how they’re navigating day to day. Again, there’s no need to sell. Let them know you’ll be there when they’re ready to move forward.
  • Give back to local businesses. Support local restaurants and have meals delivered to prospects who are isolated and/or purchase restaurant gift cards and send them out.
  • Put the CARE into care packages. Drop off care packages on prospects’ doorsteps with non-perishable foods, like canned soups, pasta, and rice; crossword puzzles/ game books; cleaning supplies (if you have them); and a good book to read.
  • Be a conduit of helpful info. Put together a list of local resources and mail this document to people (or include it in the care packages). To start, call local senior centers, area agencies on aging, Meals on Wheels, churches/synagogues, and so forth to learn how they are serving seniors. Get a list of delivery options for meals and pharmacies. In addition to sharing this info with prospects, post it on your website and social channels as well.
  • Post uplifting photos, stories, and testimonials. Include ones from residents and staff and post to places like Facebook. This will help show how your team is serving residents and staff during the pandemic.
  • Line up speakers who can provide virtual events. You can host these events via Facebook Live or Zoom to keep prospective residents informed and connected to your community.
  • Put together a “Daily Distraction” email. Include an uplifting message and things like links to fun activities to do at home, funny YouTube videos, zoo/aquarium cams, and so forth.
  • Continue to create virtual sales experiences. Check out this article with even more tips for creating positive virtual sales experiences.

More Senior Living Sales Tips: Help fellow staff members and current residents:

Sales teams can also offer a helping hand to overworked staff members. Some ways you can help:

  • Offer to lead activities or visit with residents to increase engagement. Ask your community’s activities director how you can help. They’ll have tasks for you, no doubt! (If you have a talent, interest, or hobby that you can share, go for it!)
  • Help residents remain in contact with their families. Set up Skype/ FaceTime for residents to connect with their families.
  • Roll up your sleeves. Assist with non-clinical tasks, such as delivering meals and cleaning common areas.

Attack that to-do list:

Have you ever said, “If only I had some extra time, I could get some of these things done”? Well, now you do. Start tackling some of those items that get pushed down the to-do list during busier times.

Some ideas:

  • Update online listings. This is the perfect time to update and optimize your Google My Business page and all your directory listings (we can help with this!). The more you can do today to improve search ranking, the better positioned you’ll be when your community is fully open for visits.
  • Crank out content. Write blogs about all the questions that prospects have in the sales process. Blogs will provide a much needed SEO boost for better search ranking when things return to normal.
  • Connect with the marketing team. Review analytics (pre-COVID-19) to better understand what marketing initiatives have been working and to brainstorm new ideas to try in the future. Sales and marketing teams should be working together regularly anyway, but this is a good excuse to re-engage with them.

As always, we’re here to help you market and sell more effectively during the pandemic. If you need other ideas regarding senior living sales tips and marketing strategies, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.

[WEBINAR] Senior Living Lead Generation During COVID-19

Even during a pandemic, we marketing and sales professionals must continue to connect and engage with our prospects, both existing and new. Learn what senior living lead generation options are available to continue your work towards those 2020 marketing and sales goals!

Senior Living Lead Generation During COVID

Here’s what you’ll learn: 

  • Engaging with prospects in the absence of tours and events
  • Alternative lead gen strategies
  • What prospects need from you during this pandemic
  • Maintaining and increasing your brand awareness
  • Best CTAs that are not tour or event focused
How to Write a Great Senior Living Blog Post

How to Write a Great Senior Living Blog Post

Last week, we discussed why all senior living websites should have a blog. Now, let’s talk about the anatomy of a great senior living blog post.

1. Have a plan and a point of view for your senior living blog.

This is also known as “write regularly about compelling topics that your prospects care about.” Keep things organized and moving forward by creating an editorial calendar. It doesn’t need to be fancy, either. Add a working title (one that’s compelling and that includes a keyword phrase you’re targeting), any relevant notes, the due date, and the assigned writer.

Need ideas for topics? Turn to…

  • FAQs. Think about the common questions people ask your sales team and/or the questions you get on Live Chat.
  • Your competitors. Are they covering any topics you’ve overlooked? We’re not suggesting plagiarizing—the content you write should always be original—but you can certainly go to other sites for inspiration.
  • Senior-focused publications. Both online and in print. Again, think inspiration.
  • Your staff. And not just marketing and sales, either. Ask everyone—operations, dining, activities, and so forth—about topics they think would be important to cover. (Bonus: you might be able to use these folks as subject matter experts and/or as guest contributors.)
  • Analytics. Google Analytics and Good AdWords reveal keyword phrases that are bringing people to your site. Could any of those keyword phrases become additional blog content?
  • Keyword tools, such as SEMrush and BuzzSumo, can provide excellent insights—and ideas.

2. Focus on a keyword phrase (but don’t be spammy about it).

Again, always write for humans first, search engines second. You’ll find lots of advice online about where to place keyword phrases and how many times to use each phrase, but the truth is that no one knows what goes into Google’s algorithm.
Yes, it makes sense to use the keyword phrase in the title tag since that cues Google—and readers—what the blog post is about. And it makes sense to use it in your compelling headline. From there, just use the phrase—and various synonyms—naturally in your blog post.

Note: Google does tend to like an organized format, so if you can use the keyword phrase (naturally) in sub-headlines and bulleted/numbered lists, go for it.

3. Mind your grammar, spelling, and punctuation!

This matters to readers AND Google. (Google is wicked smart.) Nothing can torpedo a great topic like lousy mechanics. If the person writing the blog post isn’t a writer by trade, that’s OK—just make sure you have someone with writing/editing chops who can review the work before it goes live.

4. Watch your tone.

Your blog is a great place to be friendly and conversational. And yes, you can still be those two things while also being professional. Avoid “stiff” writing. It’s OK to use contractions, end sentences with prepositions, start sentences with “and” or “but,” and write fragments, all of which will help support a friendly, approachable, conversational style.

5. Write about those things that no one else wants to talk about.

OK, this tip isn’t for every senior living community, but if you truly want your community to stand out, then this could be a good differentiator.

Talk about hard things, but in a friendly, approachable way. Example: Tips to Prevent UTIs for Healthier Bladders.

Or how about this: Sex After 70 – It’s Good For You! You get the idea. These aren’t the sorts of topics you’ll see on many other senior living community blogs, but they ARE the types of topics that—if done right—can help your community stand out in a good way.

6. Consider hiring a professional writer.

So, here’s the thing: lots of people can write, even though they don’t wear the label “professional writer.” As long as the mechanics are sound (see point #3 above), it’s good to have a variety of voices and styles on your blog. So you might not need a professional writer, provided you have a solid marketing person who can lead the efforts and proofread/revise posts as needed.

That said, if you don’t have a person like this available on staff (and not all communities do), then yes—it does make sense to hire a professional writer. But hiring a pro doesn’t mean you should get lazy about having original content. You should make sure the writer has access to “people on the ground” (in other words, the subject matter experts in your community). Otherwise, you can expect generic content that readers can find anywhere (like “5 chair exercises for seniors”).

7. Tell people what they should do when they get to the end.

When people get to the end of the blog post, tell them what to do. This is called the call to action or CTA. It might be links to related content, an invitation to subscribe to the blog, or a download. Bottom line: Engage them further. They got to the end of your blog post, after all, so you have their attention.

You can also experiment with providing CTAs throughout the content. Just make sure these CTAs don’t distract people. You can determine this through your website and blog analytics by seeing how long people stay on the page or even if they get to the bottom of the page.

8. Measure results.

Speaking of blog analytics, you want to get a sense of topics that tend to be popular so you can develop more content like it. But you also want to pay attention to lower-performing blog posts so that you can give them some extra TLC and help them perform better.

It takes less time and money to fix/tweak existing content than it does to create new stuff, so you might as well spend the time getting ALL content to hum. Experiment with page titles, try tweaking/revising sections, re-format, add different CTAs, and so forth. If you substantially change a blog post, add a note somewhere that says “Updated on THIS DATE” and consider republishing it to gain some traction.

9. Lather, rinse, repeat (aka: do more of what works).

Blogging is a long-game. Do more of what works, tweak and improve what’s lagging, and keep an open mind when it comes to trying something new and different.

Need help with blogging?

We have writers, editors, and strategists available for short-term or longer-term contracts. Choose what works for your situation. Let’s chat about it.

What is Marketing Automation & Do You Need It?

What is Marketing Automation & Do You Need It?

With marketing automation, you can easily schedule and duplicate various marketing tasks (typically connected with actions on your website) to happen without any further work on your part.

Marketing automation examples:

  • When someone downloads a piece of content from a site, they usually receive a thank you email. THAT’s marketing automation in action. This email can include additional information to engage them further.
  • Quality marketing automation software can automatically identify and label website leads as marketing qualified leads (MQLs) or sales qualified leads (SQLs) based on criteria you set. From there, the MQLs could be automatically entered into an email workflow for longtime nurturing.

The goal with marketing automation is to make everyone’s lives easier—think marketing, sales, and even your prospects.

How marketing automation helps senior living marketing teams

Your marketing team can “set it and forget it.” This frees up senior living marketing teams to do more important things like brainstorm and try out new ideas, create more of what works, efficiently move prospects through the sales funnel, and tweak existing campaigns based on results.

Remember, the majority of your website visitors are NOT ready to buy yet. They are researching and comparing. Marketing automation helps you capture these otherwise anonymous visitors (through forms) so that you can continue the conversation with them at their pace.

How it helps senior living sales teams

Sales can now spend more time focusing on true sales-qualified leads (SQLs). For example, if someone requests info on pricing, the automated system might label them as an SQL because of that action—and automatically notify sales to follow up with that particular lead.

Sales can focus on converting SQLs to tours and move-ins while the MQLs “marinate” in a lead nurturing program that readies them to become SQLs when the time is right. This means better close rates for sales teams.

How it helps prospects

Let’s say a prospective resident is browsing your site at midnight and is interested in reading your guide on “How to Finance Senior Living for Aging Parents.” Instead of requesting it and waiting for someone to manually email or snail mail it, the person will get it instantly—without anyone on your end having to lift a finger.

Does your senior living community need marketing automation?

If you’d asked this question a decade ago, the answer would have been “it depends.” As we enter this new decade, however, we’d argue that all senior living communities need some form of marketing automation in order to remain competitive.

The question you need to ask is what level you need.

Do you need the Cadillac version with all the bells and whistles or would basic software do? We’re huge fans of HubSpot (we’re a certified HubSpot agency). We’ve had a ton of success working with senior living communities who install HubSpot.

Marketing automation IS an investment.

But if your teams use it correctly, it will pay for itself over time by identifying sales-qualified leads when they’re truly “hot,” nurturing cool and warm leads over time, improving efficiencies, and providing deep insights in terms of analytics.

Still on the fence?

Or maybe you know you need some form of marketing automation but you don’t know what to do next? Don’t go it alone! The only thing worse than NO marketing automation is the wrong marketing automation for your needs—or setting it up incorrectly.

We LOVE helping our clients get the most out of their marketing automation. Let’s talk solutions.

Digital Marketing for Senior Living

Digital Marketing for Senior Living

Digital marketing has become a catch-all phrase for a wide variety of marketing and even sales activities. We thought it would make sense to define what we mean by digital marketing for senior living.

The word “digital” is key.

Synonyms of digital marketing include online marketing or Internet marketing. Essentially, digital marketing is all the marketing stuff you do that isn’t tangible (in the physical sense). Think emails, blogs, social media, pay-per-click advertising, and—of course—websites. You get the idea. All of those things happen in cyberspace, as opposed to some of the more traditional marketing efforts senior living communities are used to doing, like giving tours or hosting events or sending direct mailers.

Digital marketing for senior living vs. inbound marketing – what’s the difference?

Some folks make the mistake of thinking senior living digital marketing is the same thing as inbound marketing. In our minds, the reverse is truer: all inbound marketing is digital marketing, but not all digital marketing is inbound.

Inbound marketing involves attracting the people who are already looking for your services/products through tactics like excellent website optimization, compelling offers, and sticky blogs and social media profiles. And where do people typically “look” for products or services these days? Online.

So, if you’ve got an optimized website and an awesome blog filled with keyword-rich terms your audience is searching on—and said audience is coming to your site organically to learn more about your senior living community, then that’s inbound marketing/digital marketing.

But what if you buy a list of email addresses and send “cold” emails to the entire list? Emails come under the umbrella of digital marketing, but, in this case, the emails wouldn’t qualify as inbound marketing. Rather, it’s outbound marketing with digital marketing flare.

Or think about ads you see online. Some hit the mark—the ads might actually be for something YOU are interested in, so you click. But often times, they don’t match your needs/wants, so you ignore them. Again, that’s outbound marketing with digital marketing flare. See the difference?

Yeah, we might be splitting hairs, and, no doubt, some people will disagree with our definitions. We always tell our clients that they shouldn’t get too hung up on definitions anyway. In order for everything to make sense, use common sense. It likely makes sense to most people that “digital” means “online.”

Why is digital marketing so important to the senior living industry?

You already know the answer. Think about it. Many of your current residents began their search online, right? And the majority of your future residents (and their families) will definitely begin their search online. So you need digital marketing to help attract these folks and keep them engaged and coming back for more.

You’ll accomplish this through digital marketing efforts, such as the following:

  • Having an optimized website that allows people searching for a senior living community like yours to pop up regularly in their searches
  • Offering excellent content that people can’t get anywhere else (e.g., download of floor plans, virtual tours, guides about things to do in the area)
  • Having an easy way to score prospects who visit your site (e.g., cold, warm, hot) – and to have the appropriate automated follow-ups for each type
  • Making sure other sources of information about your community—particularly review sites and business listings—are up to date and responsive to both positive and negative feedback
  • Creating thoughtful pay-per-click advertising strategies wherever you do them (Google AdWords, Facebook advertising, digital ads on third-party sites)

 Senior Living SMART "Why Digital Marketing?" eBook

Senior living digital marketing is more than simply a necessity.

Digital marketing isn’t just something you need to do in this competitive online world. Yes, you need to play, but digital marketing also offers several benefits.

When done right, it takes a heavy load off marketing and sales.

You can’t have a sales person working 24/7, but your digital marketing efforts can work 24/7. For example, when you build a wonderfully optimized website with excellent info, it doesn’t matter if someone enters at 2PM or 2AM, as long as they can find the info they need and you can engage with them (e.g., via a form submission, newsletter sign-up, request for more info, even a helpful bot-chat).

When done right, it’s easy to duplicate/replicate.

Some of the sweetest words in a marketer’s ears: “Lather, rinse, repeat.” In the old days of direct snail mail, marketing and sales teams were at the mercy of designers, printers, and budgets. Today’s digital marketing is all about turnkey customization, like email templates you can make your own with a few clicks, clone with another click, and schedule as far out as you want. Take “winning” campaigns (email, social, PPC) and duplicate them to run again and again.

When done right, it’s easy to measure success.

The ultimate metric in senior living marketing is move-ins. But the great thing about digital marketing is you can measure all the other benchmarks that lead to the move-in, such as first contact, tour requests, and so forth.

How much of your senior living marketing budget should you spend on digital marketing?

The bulk of your marketing budget today will be spent on digital marketing efforts (welcome to 2020!). We’re talking a powerful, high-converting website and all that goes with it (e.g., hosting, maintenance, basic updates, content creation, and any special elements like live chat); email marketing (newsletters, lead-nurturing/drip campaigns); social media; reputation management (review sites); and, most likely, some form of online advertising.

Sure, you’ll likely still have some outbound efforts/needs as well (e.g., snail mail, billboards, traditional advertising), but we’re definitely seeing more and more of a shift in budgets. Depending on your goals and your community’s size, your split might be 60% digital marketing and 40% more “traditional” marketing, or you might be seeing more of an 80/20 split. Our point: more and more of your marketing dollars will be going towards digital marketing efforts this decade.

Digital marketing in the senior living space is a lot to take in. Don’t go it alone.

In fact, why not work with digital marketing experts who are ALSO experts in the senior living industry? That would be us. :)  We can guide your digital marketing efforts, making sure they follow industry best practices (and we mean both industries: senior living and marketing!).

Let’s Chat

30-minute no-obligation brainstorming session.

Senior Living Marketing Trends to Watch in 2020

Senior Living Marketing Trends to Watch in 2020

What senior living marketing trends should you be paying attention to?

So glad you asked.

Senior Living Marketing Trend #1: Always Think Mobile First.

An average of 68% of our clients’ website views and conversions happen on mobile phones. Websites built with a “mobile first” design will outperform websites built for only desktop experiences.

Remember, the real estate for messaging and lead conversion shrinks dramatically on smartphones. This means you must put the most important info at the TOP of the site.

Let’s break it down:

  • Copy. Messaging must be clear, concise, and explain the problem you solve and who you serve.
  • Navigation. Think simple organization. Focus on the most important information prospects are looking for, like locations and care levels. Design elements should include drop-down menus to easily access specific information. Or you should implement a properly-tested hamburger menu or jumbo menu.
  • CTAs (Calls to Action). Encourage visitors to take an action, but give them different options. Use colorful buttons designed for clumsy thumbs on the go. Be sure the phone numbers on the website are dynamic, too. For example, use “click to call” with tracking to measure website conversions.

FREE Website Assessment

Get out your cell phone and pull up your website to test the mobile experience.

Need help? Get a free website performance assessment today.

Senior Living Marketing Trend #2: Hyper-Target Prospects.

A recent user experience study published by Acquia reports that 80% of customers want greater personalization. In fact, respondents claim they would be more loyal to a brand that demonstrates an understanding of who they are.

The only way to get the right content to the right prospect at the right time, however, is to have the ability to track their behavior. Here is what you should need to track:

  • Everything prospects are doing on your website: You need to know how often they visit and what pages/blogs they’re visiting so you can personalize your follow-up based on each prospect’s specific interests. Marketing automation is an effective way to accomplish this.
  • Engagement: Consider the following…
    • Email opens and clicks
    • Paid advertising clicks and conversions from Google AdWords and Facebook
    • CTA interactions to track if they have downloaded a brochure or guide, requested a call back or scheduled a tour, and/or engaged with live chat or a survey.

Score leads based on the actions prospects take on your website. This will help you identify prospects with the greatest opportunity to advance and close.

  • ROI. Senior living providers should have a way to track the return on investment of every lead generation source. Your marketing team or agency should have the technology to quantify the cost per conversion and cost per move-in by channel. Extra points if you can also calculate the resident lifetime value based on actual revenue and length of stay data.

Senior Living Marketing Trend #3: Move to Open Source Technology.

“Consistently delivering convenient, personalized experiences across all channels requires technology that can readily access all the data personalization demands and flexibly support CX online, in-store, and everywhere else,” reports Acquia.

The senior living technology space has been dominated by closed-source platforms that do not allow integration into all of the data sources operators need to optimize their marketing results.

Our clients are moving away from these antiquated solutions in favor of newer open source technology providers that allow operators muhc more freedom and choice.

Here are the signs that it’s time to change your website hosting or CRM company:

  • The website is built on a proprietary platform. What this can mean…
    • You cannot make changes, updates, or edits to your own website.
    • They do not have or will not share an API key to allow integration with marketing automation, live chat, interactive surveys etc.
    • They decide what to measure. The problem? It’s usually not what really matters.
  • The senior living CRM is not integrated with a marketing automation platform OR it forces you to use their solution rather than the best-in-class that you would prefer. It does not connect to your website forms and/or third-party lead providers. This means any data entry on your end will have to happen manually. You cannot get the reports you need, such as lead generation by channel.

Ready to explore better CMS and CRM options?

Schedule a call with the Senior Living SMART team today. These senior living marketing trends will likely define the next decade. Don’t get left behind! Simple, strategic changes can make all the difference.

Senior Living Sales Tips: Characteristics of Super Star Sales Talent

Senior Living Sales Tips: Characteristics of Super Star Sales Talent

The National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care (NIC) reported that assisted living occupancy reached a new low last quarter (Q2-2019).

If you operate an assisted living facility (or other type of senior living community), what can you do to remain competitive and boost occupancy? You can’t change your location, product, or competitors. You probably don’t want to turn over the management team or cut rate. You might even think you have the best community (your competitors probably think the same thing). You say that you care more, that you have the best team, that you are resident-focused, just like everyone else says.

How can you improve your sales conversions?

Well, for one thing, you need a super star sales counselor, and they are a rare breed. But if you know what to look for, you might just be able to find one in the wild. Here are the five top characteristics of the best senior living sales talent.

1. They See Prospects as Real People.

Unfortunately, too many sales people in our industry treat prospects as a commodity. These sales folks tend to take the position of “subject expert.” They want to be right, and they believe they have heard it all before. They perceive prospects as numbers and assign them a value: top 10, hot, warm, cold, or future. This value assignment drives their effort and engagement. Their approach is to talk prospects into the community, and they often use fear and manipulation to create urgency.

You want to avoid this type of sales “talent” at all costs.

Because the greatest sales people seek to understand the prospect’s wants, needs, and goals. Solving the problem on behalf of the prospect is their biggest concern—and they are passionate that they have the best solution. This dedication to the prospect drives their engagement.

2. They Sell Value, Not Features.

After listening to thousands of mystery shops, it’s clear that too many sales people still approach interactions as a transaction. They spend most of the time talking, listing every feature, and hoping something will stick.

Great sales people spend time developing rapport with the prospects. In other words, they take a relational approach. They listen and reflect back what they hear to demonstrate that they care about the prospect. This builds enough trust to empower the prospect to open up and communicate their needs and goals. After this, the sales person can focus on personalizing the value of their community to each individual prospect.

3. They Are Respectfully Persistent.

Rejection is common in sales since more prospects will say “no” rather than “yes.” Most sales people give up after a couple of attempts because they are uncomfortable with rejection. But what these sales folks don’t understand is that it often takes multiple attempts simply to connect and build rapport. Still, these sales people would rather focus on the new leads and hot leads rather than nurture the leads that aren’t ready yet.

The greatest sales counselors understand that most prospects are stressed and emotionally exhausted. The best sales counselors know it takes multiple attempts to engage and build trust. They focus on what they can do and they are politely persistent in staying connected. They do not take rejection personally because they understand that when someone is making an emotional decision, the path is rarely linear.

These sales folks also embrace technology that can help nurture these “not ready” leads over time. They work with marketing to make sure relevant lead nurturing workflows are set up that will resonate with different buyer personas.

4. They Are Not Afraid of Silence.

Super star sales counselors leave space for silence to give prospects time to process the information. This type of sales person wants to hear what’s important to the prospect (or what the prospect is questioning).

In an interview, I always ask why the candidate thinks they will be successful in a sales role. The interview is over when they say, “I’m a good talker!” This type of sales person will not do well in an emotional selling environment because they will make the conversation about them, rather than about the prospect. Instead, I always perk up if the job candidate says, “I’m a good listener. I hear what people are saying and can respond accordingly.”

5. They Embrace Follow Up – Creatively, Personally, and Energetically!

It takes energy, effort, and optimistic persistence to continue to follow up with prospects over the course of their sales journey. Prospects inquire, go dark, re-engage, and change direction throughout the process. Most sales people work the hot leads and new leads because they are only interested in closing sales in the next 30 days—they’re not thinking about the long game.

Super stars realize they need to keep the pipeline full with leads at every stage of their journey. They meet them where they are and stay in touch throughout the sales cycle – without any strings attached. Super stars drop off dinner, write a personal note (yes, handwritten!), leave a plant with a note on a doorstep, and/or send a book they know will help. When they leave a voicemail, it’s to let the prospect know they are thinking of them, not just “checking in” for an update.

Bottom line: When it comes to filling your community with super star sales talent, hire for heart first. You can always train them on specific skills as they go along.

The Senior Living Marketing Rebellion

The Senior Living Marketing Rebellion

I recently listened to a Duct Tape Marketing podcast featuring Mark Shaefer, author of Marketing Rebellion: The Most Human Company Wins. The podcast addresses the “new reality” of marketing strategy. The insights are timely and relevant for the senior living industry.

The new reality is that the customer is in control of their own journey—and no two customers are alike. The buying journey in senior living is complex and emotional, often involving multiple decision makers and influencers. This journey is rarely linear, so today’s senior living marketers have to create an environment for prospects to be able to engage with the brand at every stage of their journey. We need to meet them wherever they are. Then, we must provide the information they need and nurture them along the path. Finally, we must keep them engaged until they make the decision to move forward.

When it comes to senior living marketing today, there have been three distinctive shifts.

Let’s look at each one more closely.

1. Shift in the Access to Information

Information is power, and we senior living marketers used to have it. Prospects had to call or visit the community to get any information. For example, pricing, floor plans, and marketing collateral were provided personally or snail-mailed out. And prospects waited for the information to come in their mailboxes!

Today, prospects expect to get information about everything on your senior living website. And if you don’t give it to them, they will quickly move to a competitor or third-party lead aggregator site. We are now marketing to a “shop-around” society, and they expect to be able to independently research and compare their options.

2. Shift in Transparency

There is no room for secrets in today’s senior living marketing strategy. Trust in business, brands, and advertising has declined for the last 10 years, and today’s prospects want to self-qualify or self-disqualify without a sales pitch.

What can a senior living marketer do? One of the most important things is putting your pricing on your website (the starting rates at the very least). If you don’t provide your pricing, the lead aggregators will, and you will be buying back your own leads!

3. Shift in Control

Our prospects are becoming the marketers, because we no longer control the conversation. They listen to each other, they learn from each other, and they trust each other (more than they trust us). We no longer control our message—social channels and review sites do. Our job has shifted from leading the conversation to finding ways of being invited into the conversations that prospects are already having.

We can, however, initiate conversations and offer expertise and resources, such as blogs, guides, and infographics. And we can make sure that our messaging intersects with where prospects are researching.

Remember, Rebellious Times Require Radical Changes

Successful senior living marketing today starts with the right strategy. Operators that jump at every bright shiny new marketing tactic will end up wasting a lot of money without results. There is no point in spending budget on a paid digital advertising campaign if the website is not designed to convert the leads generated. More traffic does not equal more prospects, and more leads won’t always translate into the right leads.

Ready to embrace this new senior living marketing reality?

Schedule a 30-minute brainstorming session today.

What Senior Living Marketing Agencies Don't Want You to Know

What Senior Living Marketing Agencies Don’t Want You to Know About Senior Living Branding

You may think you’re paying the senior living marketing agency for “custom” collateral, but in the end, it’s all the same: whatever they give you is simply another version of re-purposed designs.

Why? Because they can. Senior living marketing agencies have been doing it for decades, and richly rewarded during the process.

But here’s the good news: operators now have a better option for their senior living branding needs: our brand-on-demand technology: SMARTbrand.

Before we get into what SMARTbrand is, let’s quickly review design basics, copy, and collateral shelf life—and the inherent problems with each when it comes to senior living.

Senior Living Design Basics

Regardless of the senior living marketing project—brochures, rack cards, pocket folders, sell sheets, post cards, flyers, or invitations—limitations exist within the design structure itself. You have only so many placement options for the image, headline, copy, CTA, date and time, and RSVP fields.

Not to mention that only certain fonts work well for senior living branding (you need to avoid fonts that are too thin or too “scripty” because older eyes will have a harder time reading the copy).

And let’s face it: everyone buys the same stock images.

Senior Living Marketing Messages

There are only so many ways to describe the services, amenities, and programs that senior living communities offer. Sure, we can personalize the copy to add our branded names to the programs, but there are no new words.

Don’t believe me? Mystery-shop all of your competitors and lay out all of their collateral on the table (along with yours!) and you will see that it all looks the same and it all sounds the same.

Shelf life of Senior Living Collateral

The shelf life for most senior living collateral is under 30 days (longer perhaps for Independent Living). Event collateral and direct mail have a shelf life of under two weeks! These are the types of products that are best fulfilled with a brand-on-demand solution.

Say Hi to Our Brand-On-Demand Technology: SMARTbrand

Imagine taking all the marketing content that you’ve developed and paid for over the years and creating your own custom library for your teams to access—and doing so without ever involving an agency again.

Users could select a project, customize image and font selections from an approved gallery, and add their details (like dates, times, CTAs, RSVP info, and so forth). They then see a proof instantly and either download or professionally print the piece. And it’s not just print pieces, either. Users could also create digital assets, such as email banners and Facebook posts.

THAT’S the power of brand-on-demand technology, and it’s something we’ve perfected for the senior living industry with our SMARTbrand platforms.

Ready to save dollars, time, and endless headaches?

Demo our brand-on-demand solutions

A quick 30-min demo showcasing real web-to-print examples could change the way your

marketing department achieves slick and affordable campaigns, without the big overhead costs

associated with a third party agency!

Effective Marketing: 5 Metrics Everyone in the C-Suite Should Know

Digital Marketing for Senior Living: 5 Metrics Everyone in the C-Suite Should Know

A few years ago, Eat This, Not That! was published to provide advice on how to replace unhealthy food choices with better alternatives.

Today, we’re sharing Ask This, Not That! – a guide for VPs of marketing and the C-Suite to measure the effectiveness of their digital marketing for senior living.

We recommend focusing on five critical metrics:

1. Digital Marketing for Senior Living: Conversions, Not Traffic

Don’t be distracted by website traffic. Instead, focus on what matters: conversions. As in traffic that actually converts into customers.

Invest your budget in creating more website conversion points rather than simply increasing traffic. Here are some ideas for doing exactly that:

  • Blog more. Websites that publish new blog posts every week get 3.5 times more leads per month.
  • Create premium content such as guides, e-books, tool kits, and infographics. Gate them (put them behind a form) to increase conversions of anonymous visitors to leads.
  • Add live chat (like SiteStaff) to respond to prospects’ questions and convert chats to leads and tours.
  • Make your website experiential with interactive surveys (Roobrik), room planners (Design Floor Plans), and financial calculators.

Note: Marketing teams should be able to quantify how many leads have converted to inquiry calls (using call tracking, such as Marchex), scheduled tours, and brochure/ pricing requests.

Question to bring up during your next meeting with marketing and sales: “What are the conversion rates for each marketing channel?”

2. Digital Marketing for Senior Living: Not All Leads Are Created Equal

Asking how many leads are generated is the wrong question. A better question to ask is this: How many leads are Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) vs. Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs)? You should have a way of measuring both.

  • MQLs are early stage leads in research mode. They engage by reading blogs, downloading guides and brochures, and checking out pricing. Or maybe they are trying to self-qualify, but they’re not ready for a sales pitch. They want to be left alone until they are ready!
  • SQLs, on the other hand, are in the consideration and decision stages. These leads will opt into calls-to-action, such as “schedule a tour” and “speak with an advisor.” As such, it’s imperative that the sales team has immediate access to these leads.

Having technology that can apply lead scoring to quickly sort leads into MQLs and SQLs is critical in today’s competitive “speed to the lead” environment. And your marketing team should be able to provide the number of MQLs and SQLs in the pipeline.

Question to bring up during your next meeting with marketing and sales: “How do we identify MQLs vs SQLs so the sales team is working with the prospects most likely to convert?”

3. Digital Marketing for Senior Living: Nurturing the “Not Ready” Leads

Pressure on getting move-ins TODAY has created dangerous behaviors of focusing exclusively on urgent (high acuity) leads rather than building a healthy pipeline.

Each sales team member can realistically manage only about 10 active leads. So what do you think is happening with the other 200+ leads languishing in the CRM? Not much beyond maybe a few perfunctory “just checking in” follow-up calls to make an activity quota.

Marketing teams should have a strategy to keep the “not ready” leads engaged. Marketing automation (we use HubSpot) takes rote and repetitive tasks off the sales team’s plates and uses automated workflows to ensure that “not ready” leads are given resources while being exposed to your brand. Over time, this fosters trust and encourages the lead to advance to an SQL as they continue on their decision-making journey.

The best part? You can customize these strategic “drip campaigns” to each prospect based on their expressed interests and website behaviors. Links to blogs, premium content, newsletters, and event invitations keep prospects engaged until they are “ready.”

Question to bring up during your next meeting with marketing and sales: “What is our strategy to engage, nurture, and convert ‘not ready’ leads?”

4. Digital Marketing for Senior Living: Impact of Third Party Leads

The question most executives ask is “how many leads are in the CRM?” But a better question is this: “How many unique leads are in the database?”

A VP of Sales & Marketing recently told me that 80% of the leads in their CRM were generated from third party lead sources. This is important for two reasons. First, these leads averaged a 3% conversion rate. This means the sales team spends 80% of their time with low conversion opportunities. That leaves them only 20% of their time to work with leads generated from high conversion lead sources, such as friend and family referrals (35% conversion), professional referrals (40% conversion rate), and organic digital lead sources.

Second, these are shared leads – probably with five to seven of your nearest and dearest competitors. So in measuring actual lead volume, third party leads should only count as 1/5th or 1/7th of a lead. Counting third party leads as a unique lead will skew your actual lead volume and lull sales teams into a false sense of security that they have “plenty of leads” in the pipeline.

Question to bring up during your next meeting with marketing and sales: “What’s the lead percentage from each referral source category?”

5. Digital Marketing for Senior Living: It’s All About the ROI

At the end of the day, it is all about ROI. That is the difference between a marketing expense and an investment. You should be able to measure through every marketing channel—digital, paid AdWords and social campaigns, events, and traditional print, radio and TV advertising—the dollars invested and the leads generated in return.

Ideally, you should have a way to follow every lead through their journey and measure the cost per lead, cost per qualified lead, cost per tour, and cost per move-in. At Senior Living SMART, we help our clients go even further by calculating the resident lifetime value. Our clients provide the average length of stay and average rate by lifestyle for each community so we can accurately calculate the ROI of all marketing efforts.

Effective Marketing: 5 Metrics Everyone in the C-Suite Should Know

Question to bring up during your next meeting with senior living marketing and sales: “What is the ROI of each marketing campaign?”

Need help analyzing your analytics?

As a senior living marketing agency, we can help you understand the metrics that matter most. Get in touch!

How to Boost Occupancy & Lead Generation Through Inbound Marketing. Learn how we helped one client experience over 1200% ROI across 10 communities in fewer than four months! In this case study, track the growth of 10 communities using marketing automation, and view measurable results with reported ROI.