Senior Living Marketing Updates from an Expert

Yesterday morning, like most mornings, I have a new blog post report in my inbox from Senior Housing Forum.  Many of the articles I skim through, but some catch my attention enough to compel me to go to the link and read through them.  Some, like yesterday’s, take me a step further to commit to listening to a recorded session.  This Will Boost Your Occupancy Numbers in Less Than 45 Days was one such article.  I listened to the recording of the Leading Response seminar from Argentum by Valeria Whitman.  If you are in marketing for a senior living community, you may want to consider listening to the recorded session as well.  There were many interesting points.  I will highlight a few of my takeaways here, but since I market senior fitness classes, there may be some areas that would be helpful to others that did not strike me as particularly relevant.

Whitman was talking about hosting Q&A sessions for prospective clients at off-site events.  Leading Response claims to get a huge turnout for these events, which they host on behalf of their clients (senior living communities) at local restaurants.  I have not heard of any of our communities hosting off-site Q&A Events like this, but I would love it if you would let me know if your community has, and if the event was successful.  If many of our communities are conducting such events, it would be helpful for us, as a partner, to be aware of these events – as some of our regional owners may be interested in helping to host events such as this.  We may even be interested in providing some additional marketing support for the offsite events.  I have actually even posted a poll on LinkedIn to see if anyone is hosting such events, but there has been no response to the poll.

Regardless of whether you sponsor offsite events, there were a few valuable marketing takeaways.  One of these was to answer your client’s BIG QUESTION up front and clearly.  That question would be, of course, your cost.  It is interesting to me that, many years ago, this was a taboo subject and most senior living communities shied away from providing that information until they were able to get the potential residents and/or their families in for a scheduled tour.  I understand the logic – by simply quoting a ballpark price, you will turn off potential clients who will never be aware of the value they are getting for their dollar.  But, I was imagining the scenario if you were selling new vehicles.  If no one knew what price tier any of the vehicles were in, all buyers would have to visit all showrooms, from the Mercedes Benz to the Kia dealerships, even if they were, say a recent college graduate on their first job out of college.  This camouflaging of the tiered pricing, which we are all aware exists among car buying options, would waste a great deal of time for both the showroom sales staff and the potential buyers, by not pre-qualifying their buyers by at least letting them know the base sticker prices so they are beginning the new vehicle search where they can afford to begin.

It seems like that same information should be available for consumers as far as where each senior living option in their area falls on the continuum of pricing.  After all, if your family will only be able to afford rent for 6 months at a particular location, it would be helpful to either know that they should not consider that option, or else know if the community accepts government or insurance pay options after the money runs out.  It really makes sense to publicize at least the base rent options available within your communities, as well as the type of aid options your community accepts.  To that end, the speaker suggested that communities make those base numbers available up front, and stated that some communities are even posting those prices on their websites.

If you are a senior living community, I would be very interested in hearing if how you handle the pricing question and what your thoughts are on this suggestion.  I am sure there are pros and cons to both sides, and it would be very helpful to hear both!

Another interesting takeaway was the fact Leading Response stated that direct mail garnered their highest response rate.  We do have some marketing materials available for direct mailing, but we tend to find that email marketing gets us the best response rate.  Again, if you are a senior living community, we would love to hear from you!  What marketing do you do that yields the highest return rate?  Let us know!