As we navigate the third month of 2021, stop and think about what you were doing at this time last year. March 2020 was when the COVID-19 pandemic really took hold in the United States, upending the way we did business and completely changing the landscape of life as we know it. Now, as the vaccine continues to roll out and restrictions are slowly and cautiously being reconsidered, the senior living industry (and many others) are wondering: what’s next?
Here’s the good news: the future is looking bright for our industry. With the right messaging and communication, you can position yourself as an informed leader in the senior living space and can become a trusted resource for future residents and family members.
Information and Education Are Key
Throughout the pandemic, many senior living facilities were touting the safety of their communities and highlighting the safety measures they had adopted. Unfortunately, our industry still took a hit in the “trust” category. It’s no secret that a number of communities, even with strict precautions, still had outbreaks of COVID-19 that led to significant illness and even death. Understandably, there can be a reluctance on our industry’s part to avoid the topic and talk around it. However, being honest, open and proactive will go far in helping establish you as a trusted resource for family members, current residents and prospects who are considering your community.
In the article “Changing the Conversation: How Senior Living Can Counter 2020’s Reputational Damage,” Peter Stanton, CEO of Stanton Communications, Inc. outlines four several key communication points that senior living operators should focus on in 2021.
Start by telling the truth.
Senior living operators can stand out from their competitors by simply doing what our parents always told us was the right thing to do: tell the truth. The pandemic affected our industry greatly, especially among residents in skilled nursing or who had underlying health issues. But that also caused us to take a hard look at policies and procedures and put operational changes into place to protect staff, family members and residents. Many of these changes were beneficial in helping to protect countless individuals. In order to gain trust with your audience, senior living operators can share the lessons they have learned along the way and follow up with discussions on improvements, new standards and other procedures being adopted that will continue to focus on health and safety.
Focus on the positives.
The idea of “staying positive” sounds a little bit funny, we know. However, we can’t negate the benefits that seniors receive living in communities like yours. Older adults, particularly those who require assistance or a level of care that they simply can’t get at home. Active, healthy adults can stay physically and socially active at a senior living community – unlike individuals who spent much of 2020 hunkered down in their homes, avoiding contact with others. While you don’t want to gloss over the seriousness of the situation, the fact remains that our industry offers real, tangible benefits that can improve the health and happiness of older adults. Plus, since senior living communities are some of the first groups to receive the COVID-19 vaccines, you can highlight everything you’re doing to improve health and safety of residents, staff and family members.
Remember the power of the personal seal of approval.
It’s one thing for you to talk about how safe and secure your community is. It’s another thing entirely for your residents and family members to talk about what you’re doing to keep everyone healthy. Consider weaving these firsthand accounts from your biggest cheerleaders into your communications. Provide opportunities for stories to be shared on social media, on your website and other mediums. These powerful personal stories will spark attention and provide a level of trust and validity that millions of dollars in advertising can’t match.
Stay alert and be proactive.
The pandemic showed us that a swift response and instant information dissemination is absolutely critical. We don’t believe that will change this year. Make sure that you have various channels and ways to connect with family members and other key players to share information about what your community is doing in response to whatever has come about. You must provide a consistent message across all channels while also providing opportunity for authentic dialogue and information-sharing. Being alert, focused and proactive in the face of any changes will truly position you as a valued expert who’s completely engaged in the health and safety of residents – current and future.
SageAge Strategies: Here for You, Always
At SageAge Strategies, our marketing team excels in helping senior living communities target prospective residents and gather essential information through surveys, focus groups and other tools that will help communities just like yours get the information you need to succeed.
If you need assistance in any areas of marketing and integrated growth strategy to improve your business results, we invite you to contact us today to learn more about our proven strategies that have transformed other senior living communities like yours.
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 / email@example.comYou can also visit us on our website at www.sageage.com/.
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