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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!

Marketing Strategies for Senior Living: The Marketing Hourglass

When it comes to effective marketing strategies for senior living, we follow the marketing hourglass, which our friends at Duct Tape Marketing developed.

The marketing hourglass involves seven important steps: Know, Like, Trust, Try, Buy, Retain, and Refer. This differs from the classic marketing and sales “funnel” approach, which typically involves Awareness, Consideration, and Purchase.

Duct Tape Marketing contends that the funnel ignores an important fact: that happy customers are often your best tools when it comes to lead generation and referral generation. The hourglass approach, on the other hand, takes customers into account (especially in the “retain” and “refer” steps).

Let’s break down the seven steps so you can apply them to your marketing strategies for senior living . . .

Step #1: KNOW

Basically, can people find you? If you operate a senior living community in Dallas, Texas, and someone in Dallas searches on “senior living near me” or “senior living Dallas,” will your community’s website come up on the first page of Google? If the answer is yes, great. If the answer is no (or you’re not sure), then you’ve got some work to do!

For your community to be “known,” you need to create a highly secure and highly optimized digital presence. This includes doing the following (at the very least):

  • Make sure your site is optimized with relevant keyword phrases. You want to use keyword phrases that your ideal prospects are searching on. (This requires research and know-how.) Then, you want to use these phrases naturally throughout your site, both on the page itself and in the meta data (the title tag and meta description).
  • Make sure your site has SSL security. How to tell? Call up your senior living website in a browser and look at the URL. Do you see a warning that says it’s “not secure”? Google penalizes sites that don’t have SSL security, meaning you’re less likely to rank well in organic search.
  • Make sure your site is optimized for mobile devices. More and more people (yes, even seniors) conduct searches on their phones or tablets. Your site needs to automatically “respond” to different devices (and screen sizes). Again, if your site isn’t built for mobile, Google will penalize you.
  • Make sure you site is speedy. It needs to load quickly! This is critical for the user experience (no one likes watching an endless pinwheel while a page loads). Again, Google takes note of slow sites as well. Incorrectly sized photos, bloated and unnecessary code, and big videos can slow down sites.
  • Make sure your Google My Business listing is up to date. Google cares about Google products. Google consistently serves up Google My Business listings when people search for things, particularly physical locations, like senior living communities. Consider your Google My Business listing as a mini website. Apply the same level of care you would on your main site. Include updated contact info, compelling text, great images and videos, and lots of reviews.

Step #2: LIKE

Once prospects find your senior living website, what happens next? Keep in mind that people have only so much patience when it comes to websites. If they don’t see what they’re looking for within a few seconds, they WILL bounce off your site—and go to a competitor’s site.

To encourage website “stickiness,” make sure . . .

  • The website navigation is clear and intuitive. Make it easy for people to work their way through the site. Keep in mind you’ll be dealing with older eyes. Think larger fonts and good color contrasts.
  • The keyword-phrase that brought people to the page is relevant and fully “dealt” with in the copy. For example, if someone landed on a page about “senior living community prices in Dallas,” the page better thoroughly deal with that topic and deliver the goods. (Rule of thumb: each page of your site should have one main keyword-phrase focus.)
  • The design is welcoming . . . and authentic. DON’T USE STOCK IMAGES. If someone is doing research on senior living communities in Dallas, chances are good they will see the same tired and unoriginal stock images on multiple sites. Don’t let your site be one of them. Invest in custom photography that highlights your community—and that helps people remember it.
  • The website is truly helpful. Make sure the site has a Resources section, contact info at the top of every page, and, ideally, some sort of Live Chat function so people can get answers right away.

Step #3: TRUST

You’ve lured prospects to your site. Now, you need to build trust. A variety of “trust signals” exist. The best websites will use a combination.

  • Both text-based and (ideally) videos of real people talking about how much they love your community. (A combo of residents and staff can work well! A happy staff indicates a happy place, too!)
  • Relevant logos for any awards, recognitions, certifications. Your website—particularly the home page—is a great place to highlight “best of” and other awards.
  • In-depth resources that you offer for free. Position your community as the go-to place for information about senior living in your area. Offer educational content on hot topics like financing, how to move, checklists for evaluating options, resources for family members, and so forth.
  • A clear and compelling “team” and/or management page. Prospects want to get a sense of the people behind the scenes. Supply warmly written bios and photos that capture the people who bring your community to life.
  • Relevant info about COVID-19. For the immediate future, you need to have information front-and-center about how your community is navigating COVID-19. And guess what? This section isn’t static. It NEEDS to change to reflect what’s going on in your community. (Hint: Check out our free resource on how to market your senior living community during a pandemic.)

Step #4: TRY

Today’s prospects expect websites to be interactive. Yours should provide opportunities for prospects to “try” out your community so they can picture themselves or their loved ones living there.

  • Offer virtual room builders/floor plans. Room builders allow people to get a sense of space and décor. In addition, they help people envision how their belongings would work in the space.
  • Offer “on demand” tours. In this case, we’re referring to a tour you’ve recorded on video. While being able to experience a community in person is always preferable, it’s not always possible—due to things like COVID-19 or even location. If someone in Boston wants to get a feel for your community in Florida, an on-demand tour or other virtual event can help.
  • Let people download menus and activity calendars. It’s one thing to tell people about everything your community offers. It’s a whole other thing to allow them to see a breakdown on a real day-to-day calendar.
  • Make it easy for people to access your YouTube channel, Facebook, Instagram. Your social media channels are a great place to go “behind the scenes” in your community. While professionally shot videos and pictures are great for your site, your social channels can house the candid shots and videos (which often come across as more authentic and relatable anyway).
  • Allow people to schedule tours (in-person or virtual) directly on your site at a day/time that’s convenient for them. This empowers the prospect and eliminates unnecessary back-and-forth between a sales rep and the prospect.

Step #5: BUY

You need to make it easy for prospects to buy from you. Now, we know what you might be thinking: “If someone wants to buy into our senior living community, all they need to do is talk to a sales rep.”

But that’s not how most people buy today. People do their homework first (as we described above). For senior living especially, prospects also try to self-qualify by researching and requesting pricing.

So ask yourself: How transparent is your senior living website when it comes to things like pricing, financing options, and so forth? Even if you don’t list pricing, you need to ADDRESS pricing so that people have a sense of ranges—and an understanding about what’s included. Then, beyond that, how easy is the overall buying process when someone does indeed want to buy?

Focus on the following:

  • Evaluate your website from a “I’m ready to buy now” perspective. Is there an area that clearly addresses the buying process soup to nuts? Bottom line: you want to enable prospects to buy from you.
  • Audit the overall buying process from start to finish. Begin with the moment someone says “Yes, I want to move in.” How easy is it to make a deposit? What happens next? Do you offer transitional services? Have you streamlined paperwork? Do you provide move-in checklists and downsizing tips?

Step #6: RETAIN

A prospect who becomes a happy resident will be your best form of advertising going forward. So the question is, how do you keep your residents happy?

  • Make sure you have programs in place designed specifically for new residents and their families. Think welcome kits, orientations, and “meet your neighbors” events that help new residents acclimate.
  • Conduct surveys. We recommend doing surveys two weeks after move-in. Why? Because 17% of all move-outs happen in the first 30 days! If you can get feedback/insight into how new residents are acclimating (or not), you and your team can identify any issues and (hopefully!) address them before someone decides to move out.

Note: The insights you gather during the “retain” step can inform your marketing and sales efforts. For example, use positive quotes from surveys and highlight them on your website.

Step #7: REFER

Did you know resident and family referrals have a 30 – 35 % closing rate? (For comparison, third-party leads close at 3 – 6 %).

  • Make sure you have an easy system in place for soliciting referrals from residents and their family members. One idea: “I’ve just moved!” postcards that you supply as part of your welcome kit to new residents. Encourage them to send these to their friends.
  • Make it easy for residents and their family members to review your community. In addition to referrals, the words of real residents can be incredibly compelling. Encourage people to leave reviews on your Google My Business page and via social media.

5 Strategies for Powerful Senior Living Branding

Marketing jargon like “branding” can often sound equal parts mysterious and intimidating. But effective senior living branding doesn’t have to be either.

1. First, make sure you understand what a brand is.

An effective brand evokes a reaction in people whenever they come across the company’s name. They might get excited (Game of Thrones!). Or hungry (Krispy Kreme!). Or nostalgic (Fun Dip or Pop Rocks!).

Bottom line: Effective branding will make people feel. HOW they feel very much depends on the experience you deliver to them—or that people have heard you deliver.

For example, if you’ve never eaten at Awesome Pizza Shop, but you’ve heard your friends ooh and ahh about the food, the prices, and the customer service, you’ll likely have a very positive reaction to the brand even though you haven’t experienced it yourself yet. That’s the power of branding.

2. Develop accurate and insightful buyer personas.

Before you can develop an effective brand that delivers the type of experience your ideal prospect craves, you need to understand your ideal prospect first. We accomplish this through persona development.

Don’t rush this process. Taking the time to understand and develop your buyer personas will help you develop a brand that accurately reflects your community and truly resonates with people.

The ONLY way you can develop an accurate senior living persona is by talking to . . .

  • Real residents (and/or the adult children) who chose your community (including those who love the community as well as some who might be disappointed in it)
  • Lost prospects (to discover why they didn’t choose your community)

You can’t rely on your sales and marketing teams to develop the personas on their own. They will (and should) have input, of course. But you need to talk to real people in order to challenge and confirm assumptions. Bottom line: You can’t develop effective senior living branding if you don’t know your ideal buyer inside and out.

3. Choose words, colors, and visuals that reflect and reinforce what you discovered during the persona development process.

If you’re developing a brand for people in their 60s when your ideal persona is 80, your messaging is probably going to be off the mark. If your ideal buyer tends to skew conservative, but you’ve created a brand that has a more progressive tone or feel, it’s not going to resonate.

So, how can you make sure you’re developing messaging and visuals that hit the mark? Share your persona work with your writers and designers. (The best writers and designers will ask you for your persona info; but if they don’t, you should share your key findings.) Learn more about writing and designing for senior living audiences here.

4. Always be authentic and honest.

Which do you think will resonate more with your prospective buyers: images of older adults where everything is posed? Or natural, candid photos of people from your community? Or how about this: Do your personas want to hear cliched stories about the “golden years” or a refreshing take on growing older in your community?

Authenticity can go a long way in helping to create a winning senior living brand. But brand authenticity has to be exactly that—authentic. And remember this: you MUST deliver on your brand promise. If not, you will be called out on it in places like social media and online reviews. And that could damage your brand for the long-term.

In fact, Chief Marketer recommends that you begin your brand development by looking internally to the people who deliver your brand every day—because being “self-aware” is just as important as being honest. For senior living communities, this would include not only your sales and marketing teams, but everyone on the operations side—activities, facilities, dining, health, and so forth.

Chief Marketer says, “Make it a collaborative process, and be sure to include the right people. It’s just as important to hear from customer-facing staff as it is the C-suite. Involve your internal stakeholders early in the process, and empower them to ‘be your brand.'”

5. Be consistent with your senior living branding across all media.

Too often, we see senior living communities do awesome branding work, but they forget to update all marketing and sales channels. Think website, social media, email signatures, collateral materials, business cards, stationery—the list is seemingly endless. And it can get even more complex when you have multiple communities that fall under the same brand umbrella.

Task someone within your marketing team as the “brand manager.” This person will serve as the keeper of the brand, making sure the look and feel and messaging are consistent across all media.

To make their life easier, they should check out SMART Brand and SMART Stores. These solutions will help them manage the brand consistently within the community as well as across multiple locations.

Need help? Choose a marketing agency that "gets" senior living branding.

Honestly, the best thing you can do is partner with an agency that has experience in the senior living industry and experience in branding. Not all marketing agencies do branding, and even fewer have dedicated industry experience in senior living. The good news? At Senior Living SMART, we’ve got deep experience in both. Schedule a complimentary brainstorm session with us today and let’s talk about your community’s brand identity!.

senior living marketing

6 Components of a Successful Senior Living Social Media Strategy

Using Social Media to Create a Fully Integrated Growth Strategy

For growth-oriented senior living communities and health-related organizations today, a sound social media strategy should be an integral part of the total marketing program. Your community events and outreach activities should now be viewed in the context of how they fit into your overall social media strategy. They represent an ideal opportunity for positive social interaction with the surrounding community. Social media becomes a vehicle that can take virtually anything positive that is happening and turn it into a valuable marketing opportunity. Social media, which is increasing in usage and popularity every day, becomes a way to supercharge and magnify your marketing efforts.

The overarching goal for senior living organizations today is to become the recognized “go-to” resource for all things related to senior care and senior lifestyles. This involves a strategic shift from an “advertising/event mindset” to becoming a valuable and valued educational resource for your community. Ultimately, your social media strategy is not just about getting your name in the marketplace, it is about getting prospects to visit your community and to choose your community as the best option over competing communities or remaining in the home.

Specific Goals that Support Your Senior Living Community’s Growth

Sage Age works with our client-partners to develop a comprehensive marketing strategy that includes social media as a vehicle to accomplish the following key goals:

  • Building Credibility – Even if never spoken, families have two questions: Will mom or dad be safe here? Will mom or dad be happier here above all other options? When social media is effectively implemented, it will build credibility, trust, and confidence – the keys to the “purchase decision.”
  • Storytelling – Storytelling is the oldest and most effective form of marketing that exists. It grabs the heart, builds credibility and is most powerful when it is a resident or their family member that is telling the story. Social media is the only effective way to tell fresh stories to a large audience.
  • Crowd Sourcing – This is a business term for “viral marketing.” If you tell compelling stories and provide useful information, the crowd will tell your story for you. They will pass the stories on to their families and friends, to people you might never be able to reach directly through traditional marketing approaches.
  • Content Marketing – For most communities, finding time to write, knowing what to write, and actually writing it effectively is often a significant challenge. Yet creating valuable content on a consistent basis is a powerful way for you to stay personally connected with your prospects, your family members, and your referral sources. Sage Age excels at creating relevant, compelling and engaging content that will garner your customer’s interest, attention, and response.
  • E-mail — E-mail is the tool that supports and reinforces the above tasks. It is how you get the word out.
  • Assessment – Finally, it is essential to continually assess the effectiveness of your efforts and to make minor adjustments or radical changes based on the findings.

Does your senior living community have a social media strategy? Let’s Chat!

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reputation management

Strategies for Better Senior Living Reputation Management

Why is senior living reputation management so important? Well, let’s face it: people rely on online reviews more now than ever before. So, what people say about your community MATTERS (regardless whether you agree with their assessment or not).

Consider the following stats:

And that’s just the tip of a very large iceberg when it comes to stats about consumers and online reviews.

This shouldn’t surprise any of us senior living marketers. After all, we’re consumers, too. We seek out reviews (and judge businesses accordingly) just like everyone else.
Read more