Having a strong marketing plan is vital, no matter what your business. For retirement and senior living communities, marketing strategies are changing. As the baby boom generation reaches retirement age — with some 10,000 boomers retiring daily — retirement communities should begin to shift their strategy from focusing on the Silent Generation to the baby boomers.
Whether they're looking for homes for themselves or finding placement for their elderly parents, baby boomers are the prime market for retirement communities. Marketing to this generation, many of whom have adult children who grew up during the Information Age, requires a move toward digital marketing and web-based strategies. More and more, baby boomers embrace and use technology in their daily lives. Recent surveys of technology use in the U.S. have found that 83% of baby boomers use the Internet, 67% own a smartphone, 52% own tablet computers, and 57% have social media accounts.
Considering these stats, if you're not marketing to the baby-boom generation online, you're missing out on a golden opportunity to reach this generation as they enter their golden years.
10 marketing ideas and tips for retirement communities
As you begin to change your strategies to market to boomers — either as residents themselves or as the adult children of parents needing additional care — you'll start attracting more and more residents. With these 10 marketing tips, you'll be well on your way to bringing new occupants into your senior living facility and retirement community.
1. Revamp your website
In this day and age, a good first impression begins with having a solid website and web presence. A few internet guidelines will ensure your site performs well in searches and provides valuable information that caters to potential residents.
- Implement mobile-optimized design: Make sure your site is mobile-optimized — meaning it's viewable and looks attractive on all devices, particularly cell phones and tablets — and loads quickly.
- Optimize content for search: Your site should be easy to find on search engines, so make sure you're using search engine optimization (SEO) best practices.
- Start online advertising: Consider investing in pay-per-click (PPC) ads, which appear at the top of web search pages with a small "Ad" indicator. PPC is a great, affordable way to get your site noticed.
- Include valuable information: Your website should also include important details about your services and amenities, including the continuum of care offered, pricing packages and activities for residents.
- Improve the user experience: Your site needs to be easy to navigate, particularly for less-tech-savvy individuals. Though boomers are using technology more and more, they're still not as knowledgeable about the Internet as younger generations.
- Add visual content: Show your site visitors what your facilities look like. Carefully select images of the living spaces, outdoor spaces, community areas and dining rooms.
- Write a blog: Having a blog and other content can help you rank better in searches and builds trust with your potential residents.
These tips will ensure that your site is drawing the customers you want and providing the information they're looking for. A comprehensive website is the first step in converting prospects into buyers.
2. Provide formal training to the sales team
Develop a standardized, mandatory training program that all members of your sales team go through. Your training should encompass sales tips, best practices and etiquette. One false move from one of your salespeople can quickly turn off leads and result in lost sales.
Combine online training from sales experts with in-house sessions that integrate your brand and messaging. And consider having new staff shadow your seasoned professionals so they can ask questions of and learn from the best.
3. Use your current residents as brand ambassadors
Your current residents who love their lives in your community are your best sales tools. Approach them about being brand ambassadors. Your brand ambassadors can give tours of their living spaces, host prospects at meals, talk about community events and provide testimonials. Start a referral program, and ask residents to refer their friends. This will help foster a sense of community that will benefit both your brand and your residents.
This tactic will vary depending on the level of care offered at your facility. If you're wondering how to get assisted living clients, consider approaching residents' adult children and other family members to discuss their parents' experiences in your facility and the care they have received.
4. Manage your online reputation
What are people saying — and what are potential residents and their families seeing — about your facility online? Be sure you know. It's essential to manage your online reputation. If you have social media accounts, respond to comments and online conversations. Keep track of what people are saying about you on review sites and respond when appropriate.
Don't be afraid to reply to criticism and take responsibility for your mistakes. This ensures that anyone looking at negative comments also sees your point of view and shows that you're responsive.
However, don't get sucked into arguments online. Be professional and courteous, even if the reviewer is attacking you on an emotional level. Sometimes the best thing you can do is move the conversation off the Internet so you can deal with the problem one-on-one to diffuse the situation and provide a resolution.
5. Be open and transparent about your community
When a resident moves into a new community — particularly if they're no longer safe in their current homes and losing their independence — they have many considerations to weigh and questions to ask.
Don't hold back any information. Provide transparency and full disclosure. Your honesty will help them feel comfortable with the thought of moving to your senior living community. And that honesty may also impact their final decision.
6. Listen to potential residents' needs
When your sales associates are talking to potential customers, it's important that they're engaged in more than just their sales pitch. They should be actively getting to know the seniors and their families and asking about their needs and desires. This can help them tailor their sales message to the unique needs of each family. An active senior will be interested in activities and events, while one who is more a homebody might be turned off if the salesperson emphasizes these things.
Start a conversation, and be ready to engage with reluctant movers. Talk through their insecurities and address their reservations.
7. Create a new marketing brochure
Freshen up your marketing materials by designing a brochure that speaks to the needs of today's older adults. Highlight activities and events, amenities and services and anything that sets you apart from your competition. Add testimonials, profiles and quotes from current residents to add a personal touch. And include photos that show seniors living and engaging in your community.
Be aware of the language you're using to describe your facility. In fact, consider doing away with the word "facility" altogether, as it can sound a bit cold and impersonal. Use "community" instead. As opposed to "units," call them "apartments." Language like this is more friendly and warm and doesn't evoke bleak images of sterile hospitals.
8. Use Facebook ads
Market your facility via Facebook ads and through other social media channels. You can spread your blog posts and other content marketing materials through them, and you can post ads or pay to promote posts that are performing well to reach an even broader audience.
Facebook ads are affordable and easy to create. Plus, you can blast your message to very specific audiences. Facebook ads provide you with a vast amount of insight about who's viewing your ads and clicking into your website and landing pages. Targeting your content and engaging with your audience is a great way to build relationships — which is critical for marketing senior living communities due to the personal nature of the services you offer.
9. Target adult children
Keep in mind when you're marketing your retirement community that the resident isn't always the audience you need to reach. Often it's their adult children who are making the ultimate decision that their senior parents are no longer safe living at home.
If this is the case, the decision is likely the source of tension between family members, and alleviating those fears will be necessary to make the choice easier on all parties. Think about the most common questions you receive from adult children, and consider providing materials that you can give to seniors' family members that help them talk to their aging parents about the fears they might have and the advantages that come from living in a senior living community.
This will foster trust with seniors' families struggling with an emotional decision, help alleviate some of the fear that their parents may have and promote the value of your community — that's a win-win-win situation.
10. Host events for residents and prospects
Foster a sense of community for both your current residents and prospects by hosting events catered to both. Holiday parties and other occasions are great ways to earn the trust of potential residents and their families and showcase the culture and sense of unity your community has to offer.
You can also expand your reach by advertising events and inviting the greater community in your area. Other ideas of marketable events include health lectures, themed luncheons, and financial planning sessions.
Four tips for marketing pre-construction retirement communities
As discussed previously, a solid internet marketing strategy is the key to capturing new clients. But what if you're trying to attract clients to a new community that's in the pre-construction phases? This is another prime opportunity to use your digital reach to capture new leads and convert them into residents.
Let's explore a few ways that your pre-construction community can bring in new clients.
1. Provide virtual tours of your community
A virtual tour is basically like an online open house. For pre-construction projects, computer-aided modeling can let potential residents "walk" through the spaces before they are even constructed and will allow you to give clients a vision of the finished project. The process takes the architectural blueprints of the community and transforms them into both interior and exterior 3D visualizations. You can also virtually stage the space so prospective residents will have the best idea of the potential of their new home.
2. Showcase your amenities
By providing virtual tours, you're doing a great job of showcasing what is to come. Also, be sure to provide information on all the amenities that will be available to seniors in your new community. Include information on dining and recreation, the number of units, the surrounding neighborhood and anything else that might be relevant.
3. Provide as many details as possible
Pre-construction projects are notorious for providing very little information about what's to come. Marketers do this intentionally to create intrigue — but don't fall into this trap. Be clear about property details, such as unit size, materials used, project timeline and price.
4. Be accessible
Let potential residents know that you're available to answer questions and will update them as the project progresses. Also, provide as much information as possible related to the project on your website — particularly your virtual tours and 3D models. That way, seniors and their families can explore the facilities 24/7. Include a contact form, phone number and email address on your website so they can reach out to you if they want additional information.
Keep in mind a couple of additional factors as you market your pre-construction retirement community:
- People like to be the first! Capitalize on this ego-driven trait and reiterate the fact that residents who sign up now will be the first to experience your brand-new facility.
- Scarcity drives buyers. Emphasize the fact that there are only a limited number of units available to create excitement and encourage potential buyers to act quickly.
Create a marketing plan
Now that you have a slew of marketing ideas for your retirement community or pre-construction facility, it's time to craft those objectives into a comprehensive and actionable plan. Think about what makes you different from your competition and develop a strategy based on those ideas.
- Analyze your competition. Find out who they are, what services they offer, their pricing models, their positioning and branding and market reputation. Figure out their strengths and weaknesses.
- Consider your unique selling proposition. Now that you've analyzed your competition, ask yourself what makes your senior living facility distinct. Outline how your community differs from others in the area.
- Develop your mission statement. Even if you have an existing mission statement for your business, take a look at it and consider revising it, if needed. Does it reflect your goals? Does it speak to what your senior care facility does as well as how and why you do those things?
- Distribute your message across a broad range of channels. The best way to reach your target market, be it seniors themselves or their adult children, is to distribute your message and marketing materials over a wide range of channels. This includes your facility's website, blog, social media accounts, email marketing list, paid advertising channels and direct mail pieces.
Once you know who your competition is, what makes you unique, what your message is and how you want to say it, you can begin to distribute that message to your market, start talking to potential clients and begin converting them into new residents.
Implement your marketing plan
Impress older adults and their children with online content that highlights the beauty and practicality of your existing facilities or new construction. Show potential residents their new homes by offering virtual tours and 3D renderings of your community. And feel free to contact us to get started.