Now that we’ve reached the end of the first quarter of 2018, it’s a good time to step back and take stock of the current marketing strategies and tactics that are playing a prominent role in the growth plans of senior living communities nationwide.
As of today, there is no particular “shiny new thing” that has captured the imagination of senior living leaders and altered their strategic gameplans for optimum lead generation. Rather, growth-oriented senior living communities are focusing their efforts on adopting and perfecting tried-and-true, best-practice strategies that have proven to have the greatest impact on their lead generation and sales volumes.
While there are many moving parts in the senior living sales, marketing, and PR universe, here are 5 bellwether strategies that forward-thinking providers are actively pursuing today. These strategies offer substantial payback in terms of filling your sales funnel, managing and engaging your leads, and converting your prospects into new customers for your community.
5 Prominent Growth Strategies for 2018
1. Digital Marketing – As the HubSpot article, “What is Digital Marketing?”, explains, “The reality is, people spend twice as much time online as they used to 12 years ago. And while we say it a lot, the way people shop and buy really has changed, meaning offline or traditional marketing isn’t as effective as it used to be.
“Marketing has always been about connecting with your audience in the right place and at the right time. Today, that means that you need to meet them where they are already spending time: on the Internet.”
Digital or online marketing has become a powerful business-to-consumer strategy and is now outperforming more traditional marketing approaches. Digital marketing tactics include a variety of online initiatives such as hyper-targeted online advertising, optimizing your website for SEO, social media engagement with target consumers, blogging, email marketing and online brochures and videos.
Digital marketing provides more effective message and content delivery and when combined with traditional media in an integrated plan, offers the ideal combination of tactics to attract, engage and convert quality leads.
2. Marketing Automation – Marketing automation systems are providing senior living communities with the software and automated processes needed to make their prospect identification, engagement and nurturing processes much more timely, efficient and targeted.
By eliminating many of the time-consuming manual steps involved in managing a lead, marketing automation has proven to be a powerful asset to sales teams’ in their follow-up and lead-nurturing efforts. In addition, marketing automation tools can automatically follow up with specific prospects at specific intervals, or when they perform a particular action, with targeted content and messaging. Thus, marketing automation provides the mechanism for sending individual prospects the right messages at the right times as they move through their customer journey.
This means less time spent on manual tracking for your sales team. For your customers, it provides a more customized and relevant experience based on their individual interests and needs as demonstrated by their specific web page views, emails opened, information downloaded and more.
The added value of marketing automation is illustrated by Marketo data, which tells us that “Triggered email messages (i.e. those triggered by marketing automation processes) average 70.5% higher open rates and 152% more click-through rates than traditional email marketing messages.”
Marketing automation is not inexpensive, but when implemented effectively – with internal staff education and the creation of specific prospect parameters and marketing goals – it can provide excellent ROI by improving your conversion rates and turning those prospects into sales and revenue more quickly.
3. Social Media Marketing and Blogging – Broad-based social media initiatives continue to be a winning inbound strategy for lead generation in the senior living space. Connecting your relevant content to your target prospects’ needs, concerns and life challenges remains a priority whether your target audience is older Americans, their adult children or senior living referral sources.
Using the full range of social media channels available today, you can consistently demonstrate how your senior living community understands your prospects’ life circumstances and provides solutions that can make their lives better. Your Facebook page is particularly important as it provides a wonderful opportunity for daily engagement and dialogue with your primary customers and their families.
However, to function as an effective engagement tool, your Facebook page and other social tools must be managed and updated frequently to maintain customer interest and provide them with a continuous flow of valuable information, stories, photos and videos that speak to their life needs and encourage them to connect with your community.
Likewise, blogging has proven to be a powerful social tool for informing, engaging and connecting with both family caregivers and older Americans who are experiencing the challenges of aging. As noted in “HubSpot’s Sixth Annual Report of Inbound Marketing and Sales Trends,” companies that blog are 13 times more likely to generate a positive marketing ROI.
Effectively written blogs, using digital writing best practices and meta tagging, enable you to demonstrate your expertise as a thought leader in senior living, improve your community’s web search rankings, and provide readers with an opportunity to comment on and share your content. Blogging is an ideal tool for targeting your content to the pressing issues, problems and questions that your prospects – including family caregivers – experience daily.
4. Refreshing Your Brand – Remaining relevant and appealing in the minds of your customers requires evaluating your brand performance periodically and conducting an honest assessment of where you stand.
Your brand consists of many different elements. And although some struggle to define what their brand is, ultimately, it is what comes to mind (and to heart) any time your community’s name is mentioned. For your customers and prospects, this can involve everything from your name, tagline, logo and color schemes to your communications, your people and the public’s experiences with your services.
Even the strongest brands can become stale over time. That’s why most successful organizations make an effort to keep their brands current and relevant as times and consumer preferences change.
A brand refresh can benefit senior living communities in a variety of situations and circumstances. Examples include:
Changing your service focus from assisted living to memory care
Renovating or expanding your community and adding new services and programs
Adding energy and vitality to a stale or underperforming brand
Relaunching your brand to distance yourself from past reputation issues
So how do you know when it might be time to refresh your brand? You can start by asking yourself the following questions:
Does your brand identity still reflect who you are today?
Have you lost ground to other competing senior living providers in your market area in terms of reputation or market share?
Is your brand associated with negative feelings in your service area?
Is your brand clear and consistent across your entire communications platform from website to brochures to stationary?
Your brand is your calling card to the world. An updated brand that keeps you fresh and relevant can have a substantial, uplifting impact on how your audience views you and responds to your offerings. And while you’re refreshing your brand, be sure to evaluate your website as well. Today, so many senior living websites have not kept pace with game-changing digital best practices and transcendent digital technologies such as mobile devices. As a result, they are falling well short in their role as the primary lead generators for new prospects.
5. Market Research – When you think of senior living growth strategies, market research might not be the first thing that comes to mind. However, various types of senior living research including market feasibility and demand analysis studies, competitive analysis, focus groups and mystery shopping can create a laser-guided path for market expansion, lucrative new program and service development, and improved lead generation and sales. Mining the latest marketplace information and consumer data enables you to create the best version of yourself while also gaining an edge on the competition.
Yes, there are valid reasons why global market leaders such as Procter & Gamble invest millions in market research each year to refine their product offerings, sharpen their marketing plans and hardwire their consumer messages.
Market research increases your odds of making the right decisions by adding clarity and predictability to the process and enabling plans that are evidence-based. In the highly competitive senior living space, where new forms of competition are constantly appearing, the stakes are simply too high to “trust your gut.”
For crucial development decisions such as building a new wing, developing a second location, or revamping your service offerings, prudent CEOs, administrators and their boards are seeking market-based evidence that their projects will be successful. Research tools can answer important questions, such as “Should we expand into memory care?;” “Is there a market for additional independent living units?;” “Does a short-term rehabilitation service make sense for us?;” and “Should we purchase that green field site in the next county for a second community?”
With finite budgetary resources and so much uncertainty in the marketplace, more and more senior living communities are turning to market research to guide their path to success.
Helping You Reach New Heights in Senior Living Performance
Our professional consultants and experienced subject experts at SageAge Strategies look forward to helping you achieve higher levels of performance using today’s strategic drivers of senior living success. We will work with you as strategic partners and an extension of your leadership team to provide the expertise, implementation, and support you need to reach your goals. We offer exceptional quality, rapid turn-around times and a shared passion for helping seniors.
SageAge Strategies: Leaders in Integrated Marketing and Lead Generation
At SageAge Strategies, our team of marketing professionals and consultants excel in the latest senior living strategies and best practices that increase quality lead generation and grow your occupancy. If you need assistance in any areas of integrated growth strategy, digital marketing, social media, blogging, marketing automation, market research, and sales training to improve your performance, we invite you to contact us today to learn more.
SageAge Strategies is a multiple-award-winning, strategic growth, marketing and consulting organization that operates exclusively in the unique senior living industry. For more information, please call or email Adrienne Mansfield Straub at 570-601-1720 ext.100 / firstname.lastname@example.org.