Getting the word out about your senior living community can be a challenge. It’s easy to put together an ad with photos of your rooms, friendly and caring staff and happy residents; but that’s so generic. It’s been done a million times. You know your community has more to offer, but how can your marketing better showcase those differentiators and help you stand out from the competition?
Making your community more attractive to the influx of baby boomers is a must-do. From a financial perspective, appealing to this gigantic and growing market is critical to creating a sustainable business that will thrive in this competitive marketplace. Think of it this way: Boomers are the top-of-the-funnel. They come to your community to enjoy a vibrant, active, carefree lifestyle and then, as they age, stay for the full continuum of care — from assisted living through skilled nursing (if offered).
So how do you get the attention of the baby boomers? Remember this one all-important piece of advice, and apply it to every piece of marketing you produce: More than any generation before them, baby boomers don’t want to be thought of as “old.” If you speak to them like the young people they feel they are inside; you will speak to their heart — and they will listen.
Come Here to Live and Love Life
Boomers don’t want to be thought of as old and beyond that, they are looking to actually change the paradigm of growing old. They don’t just want a place where they can be “active;” they want a place where they can thrive in every aspect of life.
Showcase cultural offerings that appeal to a younger crowd — craft beer tastings, open-mic nights, food truck visits, etc. Promote any and all opportunities for creativity and self-expression – not just in your community, but in the surrounding areas and neighborhoods.
Your Community As a Go-To Destination
Become a destination boomers seek out. Look to hospitality marketing for ideas. Baby boomers want communities that provide a resort-like lifestyle — an affordable, yet luxurious experience. They want to be offered the retirement that they dreamed about and worked so hard to achieve.
Focus your messaging around being carefree. Your community is competing with aging-in-place technologies. Your marketing needs to showcase all the benefits they could be enjoying if they chose to thrive in your community, instead of staying at home.
Promote a life of leisure:
- No more yard work or laundry, ever
- Let someone else do the cooking and eat gourmet meals
- Create more time in your life for travel and hobbies
- New experiences at the tip of your fingers
You want your advertising and online presence to show that your community is a place where they can live life to its fullest — through great dining, entertainment, education, athletics, adventure, and a thriving social scene.
Your Residents are your Brand Heroes
One of the best ways to highlight the vibrancy of your community is with resident stories. Engage your residents and encourage them to share who they are and what they’ve accomplished in life. Tell stories that show how they continue to thrive and maybe even explore new activities by living in your thriving community.
There are always hidden gems to highlight from the lives of the residents, staff and even friends and family. One may have been a world-class swimmer, or was the first female college graduate of a notable university. Highlight these stories along with powerful photos to visually illustrate your community is the place to be for life!
Create both video and print pieces showcasing residents sharing, in their own words, what they love about living in your community. Ask them to be specific. You want your audience to walk away thinking, “Wow! If he/she is so happy living here, I could be too!”
Not the Same “Old” Senior Marketing
In short, the more you can appeal to the fact that baby boomers are young at heart and want to squeeze the very best out of their aging years, the more your community will become the go-to destination. Think young and thrive!
About The Author: Kurt Milligan
Kurt Milligan is CEO of Spark Evolution, a data-driven Inbound Marketing agency that accelerates revenue growth with rich, interesting, and meaningful content delivered when it matters. Spark Evolution attracts, converts, closes and delights customers at every stage of the purchase process. The agency is a Hubspot Gold Partner, providing its clients enterprise marketing automation services, and is also a Wistia agency partner, providing comprehensive video marketing strategies and campaigns. Learn more on their website, or contact Kurt via email or by phone (603-651-7929).
This year’s SMASH conference will provide key focus on digital marketing in the senior care space, kicking off with a workshop lead by Michael Brito, Senior VP of Digital Marketing with LEWIS. Michael is also the author of several books on digital marketing, including Participation Marketing set to release in 2016. The workshop is entitled, “Navigating the Digital Waters: A Playbook to Transform your Organization into a Digital Powerhouse.” Its goal is to help senior living communities untangle the confusion often associated with building a successful digital marketing strategy.
The workshop will explore four key areas that must be integrated before launching a digital marketing program. Here’s a brief rundown:
1. Your Client Demographics – Digging Deeper
You know who your clients are. That’s a given. Now it’s time to gather what Michael refers to as “audience intelligence.” That means taking a deep dive into two key areas:
- Characteristics: What are their unique interests? Where, when and what device do they go online to research senior care and senior housing needs.
- Conversational patterns: What is their vernacular? This is important in that it defines not only how your audience converses, but the words they are using in online conversations and transactions. What phrases are common to them? How do they abbreviate and what colloquialisms are common within their demographic group? This is critical for search purposes as well as content. Knowing all this will help you get the right message in front of them and responded to move to closing more quickly.
“We now have the capability to index and use virtually every scrap of behavioral data,” says Michael. “The key is putting it into a structure that allows you to work with it,” he adds.
- 2. Creating an Actionable Plan
There is an enormous amount of intelligence moving through your organization and client communities. That’s why organization is so important. It is not something you just do every so often. It needs to be a steady stream of input, analysis and organization of the input into a format that can be managed. Once this “engine” is working within your marketing and sales organization and your client communities, you are ready to put an actionable digital marketing plan into play across all your media — free, paid, shared, etc. That also includes press releases, blogs, articles, advertising, and even your print media.
“What your plan should do is to provide integrated storytelling that can be distributed across all your channels,” says Michael.
- 3. Understanding Your Digital Needs and Finding Stars Within Your Organization
Every individual within your community has the potential to become a valuable brand ambassador and/or a client research arm. Before you build out your marketing programs, tap into the pool of talent and industry awareness that lies within your own doors. “Your teams will form the foundation of any digital marketing campaigns you put together,” says Michael. Here are a few things you need to know:
- Are your teams organized effectively? Are they integrated with each other or working in separate silos? Today’s younger workers are less boundary conscious and more willing to work in teams and share ideas. Use that to your advantage. Regular communications both inter- and intra-department are key to creating brand ambassadorship and customer demographic research. What are the talents and interests of each team member, not only in the marketing department, but throughout the organization? Create a process that will systematically bring their ideas to the marketing table. Include their input in major marketing initiatives, such as social media campaign, digital advertising, persona development and story telling. It will add freshness and dimension to your efforts.
- What skill sets do you have on board? This should include not only operational skills such as social media, campaign creation and website skills; but include softer skill sets such as creativity and design ability. Make sure you are making use of untapped talents.
- What skill sets are you in need of? Once you’ve taken inventory of what you have in house, the gaps should become evident. Then you can decide if you need to fill them through added training or hiring for the needed skills or increasing your agency criteria. Remember, if you use an agency, you still need to know these things. How is your agency’s team organized? Is their organizational approach compatible with reaching your goals?
- 4. Measuring and Adjusting
Of course you need to set your expectations and goals up front, as well as your desired ROI. It’s important to make sure your metrics reflect goals with clear actions attached. By doing so, you can measure and adjust your actions accordingly.
“The bottom line is how well your programs convert to tours and, ultimately, move-ins,” says Michael. “If you can stay on top of trends, settle on an actionable strategy and take measurable movement forward, you are setting your community up for success.”
Visit the SMASH and LEWIS websites for more information on both organizations. Through August 30th, there is a special $600 savings offer (Use code: SMA600) for readers of this Caring.com industry blog.
About The Author: Bailey Beeken
As president of Validated Learnings, LLC, and managing director of SMASH, Bailey is a prolific content curator, expert gatherer and relationship alchemist who thrives when passion meets purpose. Relentlessly curious and innately intuitive, she sees patterns, connects the dots, and does what needs to be done to support great ideas and make really interesting things happen. She’s a super-connector advancing, brands, businesses, industry partnerships and careers. To learn more about her professional experience, please visit her LinkedIn profile.
August is “Boomers Making a Difference” Month, celebrating Baby Boomers who have made a significant contribution to their communities by helping others improve their lives. August 21st is National Senior Citizen Day (officially proclaimed as such by Ronald Reagan in 1988) to celebrate and honor the lives and contributions of older adults. Either observance gives your senior care organization the opportunity to spotlight specific Boomers or seniors in your area who are making a positive difference and are worthy of some public recognition.
Content Tips for Any Senior Care Company
- Pick one or both events, and identify associated individuals to highlight. Outreach to them ASAP to get their agreement on participation. Interview them, and feature their responses as a Q&A article, or woven into a blog post, or shared in social media with photos.
- Have a Baby Boomer on your staff who deserves to be recognized for improving the lives of others? Submit their story to the Baby Boomers Network for consideration to be the 2016 Featured Boomer.
- How does your organization recognize, celebrate or thank seniors? Take this opportunity to highlight those ways, whether through your blog, newsletter, or social media profiles.
- Consider creating a list of the best senior citizen discounts in your area as a way to celebrate National Senior Citizens Day.
- Content Tips for Senior Living Communities
- Are there residents in your community who have unique and/or compelling stories related to their contributions to society? For example: Brice Harris, a resident at Villa Gardens in Pasadena, CA who is a retired history professor and chairperson of a special summer camp for youth held at the community this year. Or the resident artists and woodworkers at The Holmstad in Batavia, IL who created a fairy garden scavenger hunt for a local Girl Scout troop. Or Aliya Kuykendall, who recently celebrated her 105th birthday with a mayoral proclamation and a few songs the grand piano at Atria Senior Living in Carrollton, TX (Aliya taught piano lessons until her mid-90s). Find the socially active seniors and stories at your community, and highlight those throughout the month, or on August 21st.
- Consider hosting a National Senior Citizens Day event, activity, or party at your community with your residents as the guests of honor.
- Content Tips for Home Care Agencies
- Is your agency caring for a senior who has a unique and/or compelling story related to their contributions to society? How about seniors in your community who are inspiring and worthy of note? Consider a blog post featuring these individuals, such as Griswold Home Care did in this post on their blog.
Caring Resources to Support this Spark
- Lasting Legacy Project — ideas for documenting the talented, amazing seniors and/or Boomers you choose to highlight
- Centenarians’ Secrets — stories of individuals age 100+
- Caring.com Interviews Series — Sample Q&A articles with various interesting individuals with senior care expertise
- Recognizing Exceptional Caregivers — Going Above & Beyond for Seniors — these stories highlights professional caregivers (some Boomers, some seniors) who are excellent examples of individuals who deserve the spotlight
Additional Resources to Support this Spark
- Baby Boomers Network – Boomers Making a Difference Month
- Love to Know — Ideas for Celebrating National Senior Citizens Day
- Growing Bolder — profiles of people whose stories rebrand aging
- Senior Corps — interview them about their organization and why observances like National Senior Citizens Day are important to celebrate
Content Sparks are part of Caring.com’s Content Made Simple program. See all of the August 2016 Content Sparks.