In retail, real estate, and other transaction-heavy industries, good marketing is driven by convincing your customer to buy your product or service, and persuading your prospects to choose your brand over the competition.
Yet in the senior living industry, we deal with people’s lives – a responsibility that we do not take lightly. We believe proper marketing should reflect the empathy with which we approach this unique marketplace.
As we have discussed in prior blogs selling begins by listening deeply to prospective residents and their family members to discover their story, their purpose in life and the experiences that drive them. This “storytelling” approach gives you a deeper understanding of your customer, allowing you to better tailor what your community offers to the resident’s unique objectives. Your sales and marketing messages should create communications that support the prospect’s sense of purpose and empower individuals to be the best they can be, says Lauren Messmer, chief operating officer at Solutions Advisors.
The overall marketing message that embraces the idea that people continue to develop and grow no matter their age is consistent across all levels of care: independent, assisted, and memory care. When you can do that properly – and not simply talk about your community’s features – you’ll truly differentiate your location from others.
To that end, we offer five ways to build customer-centered marketing messaging for the senior care industry.
Create marketing messaging that communicates the community’s support for residents and highlights all the ways it empowers people to live their best life, through activities and programs, events, and convenient amenities.
Understand where potential residents’ minds are. David Solie tells us that maintaining control is a key driver for older persons as so many feel losses each day – of strength, health, peers, authority, identity, and financial independence. Think about these implications and fine-tune your marketing message to their objectives.
“In the messaging we create, we try to avoid language about what we can do for them – and instead focus on how we can support them in their journey to get where they want to go,” Messmer says.
Whether online or in print, your marketing messages should capture the lifestyle and ways residents will feel empowered and engaged in the community. You create the environment to empower residents to live to the fullest and the residents bring the culture to life through activities and programs.
There are terms we purposefully avoid in our marketing messaging – “facility,” “retiree,” “unit” and other such “cold” terms. We are communities and neighborhoods…use of “facility” connotes a clinical, uninviting setting. In general, use welcoming phrases and terms that foster a sense of connection, engagement, and empowerment.
The irony is that prospects tend to use such “cold” words, in part because they are used to seeing them on senior living brochures or websites. But just because they say it, doesn’t mean you should. Make your writing and style stand apart from the rest.
A style or brand guide – two or three pages of terms to use and those to avoid – is a critical tool for both your sales and marketing teams and will ensure consistency across your organization in how to speak to prospective residents and their families.
When reading your marketing messages, place yourself in the position of the prospect: Is the message condescending or unintentionally disrespectful? Ensure your tone and intent speaks to the prospect’s level.
Note, too, that courtesy and manners were paramount in the younger adult years for those now in their 60s, 70s, and 80s. People knew each other’s names and treated each other with respect in every business interaction. Replicate that same level of courtesy and regard.
While your instinct may be to talk about the buildings and gardens, consider leading with the lifestyle and program elements of the community: What’s it like to live here? What is there to do? How can the community continue growing a resident’s sense of purpose?
As beautiful and stylish as your community may be, it’s hard to compete with the familiarity of one’s own home. Instead, show new residents all they can do at the neighborhood – and how engaged and fulfilled their life will continue to be.
We encourage you to review your marketing messages with these five points in mind. Are you over-emphasizing how residents are “taken care of,” and not including enough verbiage around creating a sense of purpose? Are you focusing too much on real estate, and not enough on lifestyle? Is your message condescending? If you answered “Yes” to any of these questions, it could be time to rework your marketing messages.