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5 Marketing Plan “Must Haves” for 2016: Tips for Creating a Marketing Budget Built for Success (Part 2 of 2)

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by | Sep 30, 2015 | Marketing & Branding

In Part 1 of our blog, we reviewed several effective ways for developing a performance-based budget plan for the coming year. In Part 2, we will focus on marketing plan budget “Must Haves” for 2016 (i.e. those strategy components that are considered “mission critical” for optimizing your community’s success over the next year).

5 Essential “Must Haves” for 2016

1. Mobile Accessibility – In today’s marketplace, growth-focused communities must have a strong mobile presence. If you do not, you will stunt your own growth.

The use of mobile applications is increasing by the week. Senior living shoppers are using mobile devices more and more to research products, compare deals online and make purchases. Think busy adult children who don’t always have the luxury of sitting at home in a comfortable chair in front of their home computer to leisurely research communities for their parents.

2. The Latest SEO Tools – When Google’s “Hummingbird” SEO algorithm was introduced just a few years ago, it was a game changer for marketers’ and their tactics for achieving a high search ranking. In a single stroke, Hummingbird modified the entire SEO dynamic and increased the value of responsive, consumer-oriented information (content) that truly responded to their needs, answered their most pressing questions and offered them cost-effective solutions to their problems. Today, the evolution and refinement of SEO continues and it is important to stay on top of those changes.

As we’ve discussed previously in this blog, web search analysts emphasize, “If you’re not on ‘Page One,’ you don’t exist!” Why? Because busy online shoppers rarely, if ever, look beyond the first page of their topic search. This is particularly true of adult children who have neither the time nor the patience to search page after page of community web listings.

Today, there are a variety of tools and techniques available that can maximize your chances of being found and connecting with prospects that are looking for what you offer.

Says senior living sales and marketing expert Adrienne Mansfield Straub, “The latest technologies have become so sophisticated in their function that fully optimized websites have the ability to clearly outperform the competition in creating viable, convertible leads. These systems act like ‘heat-seeking’ lead creators that maximize the impact of your content, nurture customer engagement and generate new business opportunities. Not staying up-to-date means you are continually missing out on business growth opportunities.”

3. A Robust Social Media Presence – The importance of a strong social media presence has become highly important to today’s increasingly social consumers and SEO algorithm “tekkies” alike. 

Interestingly, some marketing pundits are even predicting that social media components such as Facebook will actually replace the traditional internet website as the preferred “go to” source for useful information and insights into an organizations true identity, values and culture.

The value of social media in today’s competitive world was recently highlighted by the prestigious Forbes.com. In their article, “The Top 10 Benefits of Social Media Marketing,” they describe in detail why social media is now an essential part of any comprehensive business strategy. In addition, studies have shown that social media has a much higher lead-to-close rate than traditional marketing tactics. A higher number of social media followers also tends to improve trust and credibility in your brand – a primary consideration in senior living decision making.

Social media, including Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, blogs and more, is a highly relevant and influential part of today’s best practice marketing arsenal and should be a part of your marketing plan and budget. And if you’re doing a blog – which is highly recommended – publish it on a regular basis. Don’t just let it languish on your website. Tweet about it, link it to your Facebook page and if you have a list of your prospects’ email addresses, send it to them! Blogs are an ideal way of demonstrating your thought leadership, engaging with your prospects and providing them with useful tips and information.

4. Optimized Content Strategy ­– These days, an effectively conceived, constructed and managed content marketing strategy is a “must” if your primary goal is higher occupancy, increased revenue and overall growth. The numbers tell the story.

Current statistics show that the majority of top-rated organizations use content optimization as a primary strategy. Additionally, organizations that strategically focus their content on the detailed personas of their key customer groups outperform those that take a less targeted approach. These businesses achieve an average website conversion rate that is far superior to others – 5.9 percent vs. 3.8 percent respectively.

Similarly, a recent study by Forbes found that leaders in responsive, data-driven messaging are at least six times more likely than their counterparts to achieve a competitive advantage and increase profitability.

Clearly, your content messaging should respond directly to the expressed needs, questions and concerns of your key customer groups if it is going to register with them and motivate them to respond. A mere listing of your services and features is no longer sufficient. Your content needs to speak directly to the issues that your prospective customers have as well as offering them compelling reasons why you offer the most effective solutions.

5. A Performance Dashboard – Performance “Dashboards,” which measure your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), have become increasingly important in the competitive senior living industry. Not surprisingly, top performing organizations use them as an integral part of their growth strategies. Not only do dashboards record and track the performance of measures that are important to your success, but by their very existence they drive greater performance in those key metrics that are being measured – some of which may be sluggish or clearly underperforming. 

This could be anything from the number of monthly leads generated and where they are coming from (or not coming from) to whether your resident/family satisfaction scores are meeting your targets – and if not, why not? Well-conceived dashboards give you timely, pertinent feedback for managing your business. They tell you what is working, what isn’t working and where you need to spend your time and energy to optimize your community’s performance. Think of it as a report card that gives you a grade for the most important indicators of your success.

Establishing a system to clearly define and measure your performance indicators should be a key part of your marketing plan and budget. Because of its increasing value in today’s ROI-sensitive senior living environment, SageAge Strategies has developed a performance dashboard that can pinpoint your weaknesses, improve your operations and, most importantly, boost your return on investment. This dashboard is built on the most critical KPIs and measures both your online (digital) and traditional marketing effectiveness.

And Don’t Forget the Basics: Performance Still Trumps Promise

While you’re creating your optimized marketing plan and budget for 2016, don’t forget your marketing basics. These are “must haves” as well!

Keep in mind that your actual performance should always equal or surpass what you “promise” to customers. Once prospects connect with you and experience your community’s brand, it is critical that your people and your systems match the public persona you have worked so hard to develop.

Consumer “word of mouth” can still be a deal maker or breaker, so don’t forget about the internal “vibe” that your community projects – from staff members’ attitudes to food service and cleanliness. Is your community a place where you would want to call home? And in today’s world of instantaneous e-sharing, comments about your community can be viewed by a multitude of other prospective customers in a few keystrokes or button touches. Think of it as word of mouth on steroids.

If you do not have the expertise or resources internally to provide the bandwidth required for an optimized plan, consider an external partner for support. If you do choose to evaluate external partners, choose wisely. Make sure they are cost-efficient, cost-competitive, provide great service and have strong insider knowledge of the nuances of the unique senior living marketplace and its various component parts.

Learn More About Growth-Based Senior Living Best Practices Today

SageAge Strategies is the ideal partner for strategically growing your sales and building your census. If you are a senior living provider considering the need for assistance in increasing your sales and growing your community through best-practice digital strategy, marketing plans and budgets, communications and creative design, contact us today for more information.

SageAge Strategies is a multiple award-winning, strategic growth and marketing organization that operates exclusively in the senior living industry and was recently named one of Inc. Magazine’s Fastest-Growing Private Companies in America. For more information, please call or email Adrienne Mansfield Straub today at 570-601-1720 ext. 100 / adrienne@sageagestrategies.com.

Start growing with us today!

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