August is Boomers Making a Difference Month – and considering all the differences boomers have made in our world over the years, it’s not surprising that we’ve set aside an entire month to celebrate them. Because SageAge is an integrated marketing agency that is focused specifically on the senior living space, we’ve decided to dedicate this blog to how boomers have changed our industry – specifically, how they’ve changed our marketing and selling efforts.
“The senior living industry is thriving – and rapidly shifting – as more and more boomers enter retirement age and look for new living situations to meet this new phase of life,” says Melinda Schmitz, President of SageAge Strategies. “Besides demanding more from their senior living experience, boomers are also expected to live longer than previous generations. Each aspect of the senior living spectrum requires different approaches when it comes to selling and marketing, and that will only become increasingly important as we press on into the future.”
Selling a Lifestyle, Not a Service
Perhaps the biggest and most obvious way that boomers have changed selling senior living is what they’re asking for. In the past, senior living communities – or “nursing homes,” as they were often called – focused primarily on the services they provided. These days, boomers aren’t content with being shuttled off to be “locked away” and live life quietly. They are excited about this stage of life and are ready to embrace all the opportunities that come from retirement and living in a maintenance-free community.
“In order to differentiate themselves, senior living communities have had to do a seismic shift from selling their services to selling their lifestyle,” says Melinda. “And as senior living communities are built and developed, this idea of differentiation in lifestyle opportunities becomes more and more important.”
These days, you can find a senior living community that meets all your wants, needs and desires. Want to live in an urban center, close to transportation and all the culture, entertainment and opportunities that a big city offers? Would you prefer to live on a serene, large, wooded campus that’s outside of town and allows you to commune with nature? Do you want a community that’s more artsy, or would you prefer one that’s more active?
Boomers are demanding options in the lifestyle on campus, too. They want activities and opportunities and the time to enjoy them. These days, a maintenance-free lifestyle is a must for any senior living community, as well as options ranging from art classes to traveling and more. Gone are the days when weekly bingo was the only option for seniors – today, the sky’s the limit with lifelong learning, volunteer opportunities, cultural events and so much more.
Developing Omnichannel Strategies
What does your marketing and advertising strategy look like? If you’re not looking to digital marketing as part of a strategy, you’re missing out. Yes, the old stereotype of seniors being afraid of the Internet are as outdated as bell bottoms and teased bangs. boomers are huge adopters of technology and are online twice as much as Millennials. They’re not just using personal computers, either. They’ve got smartphones, tablets, smart watches and the highest-tech cars on the road.
Boomers, more than any other generation, have more spending power in today’s society, and they’re voting with their dollars. So while tech companies are marketing mostly to the younger crowd – think Gen Z and Millennials – seniors aren’t shy to spend their money on tech.
What that means for you, then, is that the old days of direct mail, television advertising and radio spots as your only marketing tools are over. Instead, you need to be sure that you have a robust digital marketing campaign that includes PPC (Pay-per-Click), lead generation/nurturing campaigns, SEO (Search Engine Optimization), SMS (Short Message Service) … in short, you need to put your community out there where the seniors are.
Focusing on Whole-Person Wellness
The Baby Boomers, even though they’re technically seniors, are not “old.” Far from it. This generation tends to look at themselves as 10-20 years younger than their physical age, and they’re redefining what being older looks, sounds and feels like. In order to continue to do all the things they want to do now and in the future, though, they need to be healthy – which means focusing on whole-person wellness in order to not just become healthy but stay healthy.
“This goes back to the idea of selling a lifestyle,” says Melinda. “Instead of simply talking about the care services offered, senior living communities are now marketing how they approach wellness on a holistic level. For example, many communities are highlighting the nutritious, locally sourced and gorgeously crafted meals offered in their restaurant-style dining rooms. Or they’re showing off the various programming options that enable seniors to nurture all aspects of wellness, from physical to emotional to spiritual and more. Or they’re highlighting their state-of-the-art fitness center that has a saltwater pool, and personal trainers. Baby Boomers do not want to go gentle into that good night – they want to wring every ounce of excitement, happiness and joy out of their lives, and wellness is a key part in helping them do that.”
Shifting Strategies in a Changing World
The examples we’ve talked about are just a sampling of the ways that Baby Boomers have changed – and continue to change – how senior living communities successfully market and sell to them.
“The rise of technology means that society is ever-shifting, becoming ever-more informed and continually adapting what it means to ‘market’ to a demographic,” says Melinda. “It’s practically impossible for any one community to understand the ins and outs of how to market to Boomers while also taking exceptional care of their communities. Therefore, it’s essential to partner with industry experts who understand the marketplace and are constantly arguing the landscape in order to adopt best practices and ensure continued success, ROI and growth from marketing plans.”
SageAge Strategies is a multiple-award-winning, strategic growth, marketing and consulting organization that operates exclusively in the unique senior living marketplace. For more information, please call or email Melinda Schmitz at (816) 349-0464 or [email protected]. You can also visit us on our website at sageage.com.
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