No matter how you slice it, marketing senior living facilities is tough. There is a rare mixture of emotions that come with moving your loved ones out of their home and, as a marketer, you’ve got to know how to address it the right way.
Think about the slow and calculated process of buying a new home. Add the potential emotions associated with moving a loved one into a senior living community, and it becomes clear why marketing in this field is so tough. The sales process of an senior living community has to be handled delicately. It's your job to hold a caregivers hand through the process.
Think about it from your buyer's perspective - would you send your loved ones somewhere that you weren’t absolutely positive embodied the perfect new home for them? Not likely.
On the other hand, is it easy to communicate the value of your community over others to caregivers? Also, not likely, but we can combat these both of these difficulties.
Here, I’ve got three tips for marketing your senior living community. Grab a pen and paper.
Marketing Your Assisted Living Facilities
1. Know your audience
The general first rule of thumb in marketing is knowing who you are trying to attract.
Now, you may be rolling your eyes saying, “well duh, Kyle,” but bear with me here for a second.
It’s likely pretty obvious you are mostly targeting the sandwich generation in the geographic area around your community, but what’s less obvious is what they are looking for in their search and when.
Awareness stage: This is a consumer becoming aware of a problem. For your prospects, it could start with them noticing that their mother is starting to forget taking her mid-day medicines. This generally leads to someone searching for a solution to this problem; more often than not, digitally via Google searches like “elderly forgetting to take medication.”
Consideration stage: At this point, the prospect has defined the problem: “My mother needs someone to help take care of her to some degree.” The prospect will start researching different options on how they could solve this problem. It could mean them looking into a bit more flexibility in their job to stop by mom’s house at lunch or it could mean searching for things like, “in-home care vs senior living facilities.” This is your consumer trying to understand all their options in solving a problem.
Decision stage: Now your prospect knows they want to explore moving Mom to an senior living community, but doesn’t know which one. Your consumer is going to look at locations, reviews, and, finally, your website.
But wait -- why are they only looking at your website now? It would seem like they are almost all the way through the buying process. Don't worry; we'll cover this in the next section.
Try and put yourself into your prospect’s shoes. Can you identify a few examples of what each stage may look like? Write these down. I can’t stress how critical this is for the next step.
2. Establish Your Staff As a Group of Experts
This is the step that, in my opinion, most marketers get wrong. When I say, “establish yourself as an expert,” most people immediately think about all the great things that they are doing within their community and cool ways they can show this off.
I get responses like, “we can make a YouTube video that shows off our beautiful community,” or “if we talk about our core values on our homepage, everyone will know what we’re all about”
Now, I’m not saying that’s a bad idea, but do you really think it establishes you as an expert in senior care? Does that make you stand out from your competition?
Let me rephrase this with an example. Have you ever gotten a random call from a salesperson? You took everything they said with a grain of salt, right? Of course, you did! The whole time they were talking, your mind was screaming, “DANGER: SALESPERSON.” You put up that barrier to protect yourself.
Now, in no way am I trying to compare your community to a slimy salesperson, but wouldn’t you agree that prospects subconsciously read your claims of excellence cautiously? I would.
So, if telling them how great you are isn’t the solution, how do you establish your community as a group of experts? And circling back, how do you get in front of prospects earlier in their buying journey?
I hate to say it’s simple, but in theory it is.
What if when that prospect first looked up how to help her mother with her medication your senior living community was there with the answer? That would accomplish both things. You’d start establishing yourself as the expert way before your competition was every on the prospect’s mind.
Undoubtedly, you or part of your staff has experience helping the elderly stay on schedule with their medicine. You also probably know a good bit about the pros and cons of a senior living community versus in-home care. All you need to do is put information online so people can digest it as they seek out solutions to their problems.
You need to share what you already know in a way that is shareable and easy to understand.
You are the experts. Are you properly communicating that expertise?
3. Implement Best Practices
While we could go into a great amount of detail on how exactly to get this up and running, there’s not a one size fits all solution. Approaching the idea of getting content on the web to attract, convert, close and delight new customers can be done in a variety of ways, but in the beginning I recommend starting with the basics.
Start blogging. “Marketers who prioritize blogging are 13x more likely to achieve a positive ROI on their efforts (source).” Remember all those examples you thought of earlier (things your prospects would search on the web)? Answering those questions are your first blog posts.
Distribute your new content on social media. Social media isn’t only great for starting a conversation and getting your content in front of more eyes, it serves as a valuable way to start building “google juice” aka SEO rank! 70% of business-to-consumer marketers have acquired customers through Facebook. (source)
Start converting visitors into contacts. If the only form on your site is a contact us form, you are missing out on the ability to nurture your contacts with subscriber emails. Add a blog subscription form so that your visitors can stay connected and you can start learning what’s really resonating with them.
This guide is the first part in a three part series on marketing your senior living community. In the next two blog articles, I’ll discuss converting these new prospects into nurturable contacts and then how to close these contacts to customers. It’s easy to get notified of the next two articles, just subscribe below!