Some years ago, a popular television show called Early Edition shared the story of a man who got tomorrow’s newspaper, today. With it, he was able to save lives and make a positive difference in his community. Chances are, you know a few marketers, business professionals and entrepreneurs who wouldn’t mind being treated to an early edition once in awhile, and perhaps for less selfless desires. Staying one step ahead of the market – and the competition – is a constant struggle, no matter what business you find yourself in.
No one wants to be yesterday’s news, least of all the community leader at a senior living community. “Competition is always nipping at our heels, and the senior living market, while more steady than in some other industries, is still a dynamic one,” says Malissa Illiano, Senior Consultant & Director of Market Research at SageAge Strategies. You don’t need your own early edition, though, to stay a step ahead. Today, we’ll explore tips and strategies for not just keeping up with the market demand and your competition, but getting a step ahead of them.
Staying on Top of Your Target Market
Nothing can stop a well-planned marketing and business strategy in its tracks like a hard shift in customers’ expectations and attitudes – for a variety of reasons. Just when you think you’ve got everything dialed in, something in the market changes, and you’re left wondering what went wrong. It can, at the very least, mean you miss out on prime opportunities, while at the worst, cause you to lose quite a bit of money.
It’s really easy to get caught up in the bubble of your own world, especially when you’re entrenched in the day-to-day frenzy of managing a community. Here are our tips for keeping a finger on the pulse of your market and on best practices for reaching your customers.
Get and stay involved with professional and nonprofit organizations in your area. Use interviewing, surveys and market research to determine what groups and organizations your target market is involved in, then get involved yourself so you can keep an ear to the ground where it matters most.
Don’t turn your nose up at social media. Many see social media as a frivolous pursuit, but the best business and marketing professionals know you have to go to where your audience is. That includes online, and social media is a fast-growing outlet among seniors. Of course, it’s not enough to simply show up; you have to be engaged and keep an eye and ear out for news, trends and other insight. Think of it as though you’re a secret spy or undercover reporter!
Staying on Top of the Competition
Many of the tips we shared above for keeping a finger on the pulse of your market will apply in terms of staying on top of your competition as well. By being a part of local professional groups, you’ll be in-the-know regarding what your competition may have planned, for example. Here are some other ways to ensure your competition doesn’t pull the rug out from underneath you.
Do some mystery shopping. The tried and true method of mystery shopping your competition is still very relevant. Up your game by instituting a regular, scheduled method for touching base with your competition, either through mystery shoppers on your own team or through a hired service. Over time, you’ll begin to notice patterns in how often your competitors revamp their programming. The very best way to stay ahead of your competition is to know them better than they know themselves.
Talk to your newest customers. Those who recently moved into your community are the most likely to have had an experience with your competition, so pick their brains in the form of focus groups, surveys or just casual chats by the fireplace about how they perceived their experience. What made them choose you over the competition?
Talk to your employees. Chances are, your employees did their research before choosing to work with your community. Some of them may even have past experience with the competition. Tap into this resource by having check-ins with your employees, and also use it as an opportunity to show your team members you value them and their unique contribution to your community.
Invest in Education and Technology
The easiest way to get left behind is to stop investing in the future of your company and its employees. By investing in the newest technology and education opportunities, you ensure to keep an eye on the latest trends, show your employees you value them (which will increase buy-in and decrease turnover) and always have the most powerful tools at your fingertips.
In an industry where every differentiating factor matters, each one of these tips can make the difference between a misstep and a smart move. Start getting your own early edition on your doorstep today!
SageAge Strategies is a multiple award-winning, strategic growth and marketing organization that can provide market research expertise for your community. For more information, please call or email Malissa Illiano at 717-695-6740 | email@example.com.