Mastering the Art of Marketing for Retirement Homes
In today's digital age, the avenues for marketing are vast and varied. As a corporate marketer for a retirement home, your objective isn't just to fill rooms, but to build a community, establish trust, and ensure that seniors and their families feel right at home. Yet, this is the first roadblock you will face.
The ultimate GOAL is to fill rooms or beds. This very statement is the challenge because although the goal is for profit by ‘renting’ the space, it is very different than running say a hotel or Airbnb. In most cases families are involved in the decision of choosing a retirement home lifestyle over the other age-in-place options.
Stakeholders and marketers often apply the basics of marketing or how they would market other businesses and apply them to the seniors housing market. While the techniques are valid, one must look at the customer journey and begin their marketing planning based on fulfilling those needs. The journey often involves younger family members to gather information and the process is riddled with challenges. Therefore, the journey to picking up the phone and calling you, may be a long one
Consider these 4 points.
- Be seen and be top of mind:
You need to be where your potential client is looking – when they are looking!
Keeping in mind the importance of word of mouth, communities need to be known and seen in and around the community which they draw business from (catchment area). This includes community events, local papers, in house events, networking, marketing (print, mail, radio, tv) plus all the digital options such as: Seniors’ directories, social media, Google strategies, video, blogging, website, etc.). Repetition is key.
- Make an emotional connection:
It’s not enough to print a flashy brochure –
Understand the journey.
WHY are they searching for options?
What problem can you help them solve?
Will they have an improved quality of life?
Will they feel the value in having to pay you to solve their problem?
- Be where your competition is:
We are often hesitant or afraid of being where the competition is, don’t be, embrace it!
Most likely they have identified the benefit of being present – if the client sees them and you’re not there, you’re not seen! If the client sees them And they see you there too, it is only natural to not buy the first thing they see rather they will want to check out the other options too.
Think about when you go to the mall to purchase a clothing item or maybe even a car – do you buy the first thing you see or do you hunt the other stores and providers to see what might look better or offer better value? If there are 4 communities competing within a city but only 2 do sufficient marketing, who out of the 4 do you think are going to receive the most inquiries?
- Don’t forget the resident:
Once you have made the connection be sure to follow through on your offer(s), level of services and continuum of care. Although your goal is to fill rooms, you ARE in the business of deliver a safe, caring, and nourishing environment for a typically vulnerable sector – TRUST is everything!
So, how can retirement homes effectively advertise and reach their intended audience?
Where is the Best Place to Advertise to Seniors?
As we look to understanding and face the reality that print media, as with other traditional mediums is almost all gone and that digital media is king, we must turn our focus to a younger demographic (family), that is now existing in and often dependent on a digital landscape.
- Senior-focused online directories: Websites such as www.SeniorCareAccess.com are crucial. These directories offer a curated platform, ensuring that your advertisement reaches individuals actively seeking retirement home options. Directories such as SeniorCareAccess are specifically designed for the senior demographic providing ‘families’ with the opportunity to perform searches and discoveries as they begin to build on information working towards having to make a decision.
- Social Media: Platforms like Facebook and Instagram have substantial senior user bases. Sponsored posts and targeted ads can reach the elderly and their families effectively.
- Google and the like: The world we live in is 95% digital and most people will turn to the internet for their research. The competition to be found online is an expensive venture and many Canadian retirement communities are still behind the curve. Having both an organic presence and if you can afford it a paid presence will drive traffic back to your website or digital promotion.
How Do You Market to Elderly People?
- Empathy and understanding: Recognizing the needs and concerns of the senior demographic is crucial, and with that is the opportunity to solve the often-overwhelming burden or responsibility on the adult children. Tailor your marketing messages to address safety, community, and quality of life. How can moving into your community solve a challenge they face?
- Utilize testimonials: Peer reviews and testimonials resonate. Featuring real stories from current residents can build trust.
- Offer a mix of stats and emotion: Identify industry awards and recognition. Share employee achievements. Resident achievements/activities. Offer competitive comparison charts. Inspection reports/awards. Safety features etc.
Who is the Target Audience for Senior Living?
- Seniors looking for community living: This includes active seniors desiring a hassle-free lifestyle without the burdens of property maintenance or responsibility of the property. Those seeking to improve isolation. What do your residents seek?
- Families researching for their elderly loved ones: Often, it's the family who conducts the initial research. Appeal to their concerns about safety, healthcare, and community engagement.
What Age is Best for a Retirement Home? While there's no one-size-fits-all answer, most people start considering retirement homes in their late 60s to early 70s. However, it's essential to highlight that age is just a number. The deciding factors often include health needs, desire for community interaction, and convenience. Basically, an improved lifestyle and quality of life.
"Marketing in the senior living sector is not just about reaching seniors. It's about connecting with families, understanding their concerns, fulfilling their journey in decision making and offering solutions that provide safety, community, and comfort within a budget. Advertising to this demographic will require you to have a multifaceted and often expensive marketing program."
Paul Cutajar, Esther Goldstein – Lifestyle55+ Network Inc. www.SeniorCareAccess.com – The original ‘Comprehensive Guide to Retirement Living®’.
Let’s take a quick look at the some of the pros and cons of marketing options:
1. Traditional Advertising
- Established Audience: Newspapers, magazines, and TV spots are still widely consumed by the older generation; however many print options are now transitioning to digital and may require a paid membership to access.
- Local Reach: Local newspapers or radio stations can effectively target the immediate community.
- Cost: Often more expensive than online options and only offer a single date of exposure.
- Limited Metrics: Harder to track the return on investment (ROI).
2. Online Directories
- Targeted Audience: Directories cater to those specifically seeking senior housing solutions. Often demographics who are conducting research for future action.
- Organized and simplified: Let’s face it, most people do not know how to perform online research and decipher the results GOOGLE spits out. A Senior focused directory puts the power of research in the hands of the researcher. It allows them to identify the purpose of their search and offers results in one platform - hopefully allowing them to avoid the rabbit hole of the internet.
- SEO Benefits: Can boost your home's online visibility. Search Engine Optimization
- Allows you to be seen where the competition is: We spoke about this and its importance. A directory will offer results (you and the competition). Be sure to ask about promotional options that will allow you to be seen ahead of the competition.
- Can offer Backlinks: Depending on the value given to the directory, a sponsored listing can draw important ‘backlinks’ to the advertising property. This is a powerful benefit for your SEO strategy.
- Competition: Your home will be listed alongside competitors – not a bad thing.
- Cost: You will want to be listing in both FREE directories as well as the better positioned paid directories.
3. Social Media
- Engagement: Build a community, showcase events, and engage directly with potential residents and their families.
- Ads: Platforms like Facebook (and others) allow for targeted ads specifically tailored to seniors.
- Social proof: Today we are always looking for others’ opinions. This is achieved using reviews, testimonials, and social proof. Social proof allows the viewer to see that you are active, involved, insight to ‘a day in the life of’. Facebook is more than just photos of cats!
- Maintenance: Requires regular updating and engagement. There is a cost involved in hiring to manage your social or to market on.
- Learning Curve: If unfamiliar, there's a learning curve for optimal use.
4. Content Marketing & Blogging
- Authority Building: Share stories, expert advice, and information to establish your retirement home as a leader in the field. Let them know you have information to share.
- SEO Boost: Fresh content can improve your website's search engine ranking.
- Time-Consuming: Requires regular updating and high-quality content. Cost involved in creating and managing content.
- Long-Term Strategy: Benefits might not be immediate.
5. Community Outreach & Events
- Face-to-Face Engagement: Directly engage with potential residents.
- Build Trust: Showcasing your community and staff in a real-world setting builds credibility.
- Logistics: Requires planning, staff involvement, and potentially additional costs.
- Limited Reach: Primarily targets the local community. Out of city/province searchers will rarely benefit from this.
6. Email Marketing
- Direct Communication: Regular newsletters can keep your community top of mind and direct them to other promotional and marketing goals.
- Segmentation: Tailor messages to different audiences (seniors, families, professionals).
- Spam Concerns: If not done incorrectly, emails can be seen as spammy or salesy.
- Content Creation: Requires fresh, engaging content for regular mail-outs. Will require a manager and a CRM system to manage.
7. Partnerships & Collaborations
Example: Collaborating with a network like Lifestyle55+ Network Inc.
- Niche Audiences: Access to a new audience that trusts the entity you're collaborating with.
- Resource Sharing: Joint events, content creation, or promotional efforts can be more efficient.
- Leveraging Affiliation: Working with or sponsoring other events/organizations implies your ‘acceptance’ by the other organization, impressing your value to the viewer.
- Shared Branding: Your retirement home's identity might blend with the collaborator.
- Dependence: Over-reliance on a single partner can be risky. Look at several options or maybe do all!
Understanding ROI in Retirement Home Marketing
ROI, or Return on Investment, is a performance measure used to assess the efficiency of an investment. In the context of marketing for a retirement home, it determines how effective your marketing campaigns are in generating a desired outcome, typically measured in terms of new resident acquisitions, inquiries, or increased awareness.
As we initially shared, you are probably reading this in the hopes of getting some great nuggets of inspiration to generate move ins, BUT, Marketing and ROI is more than that.
Remember before they move in, they need to find you, know you and trust you and that should be your first task in building your marketing strategy.
How should ROI be measured by a marketing person of a retirement home?
Step one Establish a GOAL: Build awareness – hold 1st position on Google – out position my competition – achieve a directory listing - create an event, get a move in! Being aware of the goal and the reason for it will give you the correct perspective in measuring the ROI.
example: The goal of building awareness is very different than that of achieving a move in!
- Cost vs. Revenue: The most straightforward approach. Deduct the cost of your marketing campaign from the revenue it generated. Divide by the cost and multiply by 100 to get a percentage.
Formula: ROI = [(Net Profit - Marketing Costs) / Marketing Costs] x 100
- Resident Acquisition Cost: Determine how much you spend to acquire a new resident through a specific marketing channel. If a Facebook ad campaign costs $1,000 and resulted in five new residents, the resident acquisition cost is $200. Keep in mind there is a time consideration and a result may not happen as a one off.
- Engagement Metrics for Digital Campaigns: For online campaigns, ROI isn't just about monetary returns. Track metrics like website visits, time spent on site, and social media shares to gauge interest and engagement. Digital ROI is becoming a high priority as marketers are seeking improved result positions, longer periods of viewer engagement and backlinks. This is a huge, complex area of marketing and typically requires a management organization to assist a community.
- Feedback and Surveys: After a campaign, survey new residents and their families about how they heard of your retirement community. This can provide qualitative insights into the efficacy of your marketing efforts.
- Lifetime Value of a Resident (LTV): Instead of just looking at the immediate revenue, assess the estimated revenue a resident will bring during their entire stay. Compare this LTV to the cost of acquiring that resident to gain a longer-term perspective on ROI.
- Brand Awareness: Sometimes, the goal is to increase visibility rather than immediate sign-ups. Monitor brand mentions, online reviews, backlinks and local press to gauge increased awareness.
By understanding and efficiently measuring ROI, marketing professionals in the retirement home sector can optimize their strategies, ensuring they're getting the most bang for their buck and effectively reaching their target demographic and marketing goals.
About the author:
Paul Cutajar and Esther Goldstein are business partners of Lifestyle55+ Network Inc. A Canadian organization serving the senior sector in retirement housing, consulting and training. The organization delivers Canada's largest seniors' housing directory portal: www.SeniorCareAccess.com - The Original - Comprehensive Guide to Retirement Living®.
The organization also offers a directory of service providers focused on working with seniors, Consulting for families seeking assistance in navigation and placement as well as training programs for industry professionals called the Lifestyle55+ Affiliate and Lifestyle55+ MASTER programs.