How to Identify Your Senior Living Community’s Target Market

Attracting new resident move-ins starts with identify and connecting with your senior living community's target market.

Ever play darts? The point of the game is to throw the dart as close to the bullseye as possible. The closer you get to the bullseye, the more likely you’ll win the game. But what happens if you remove the dartboard? The result would probably be a group of people randomly throwing sharp objects around a bar. Not great.

Marketing is pretty similar. Think of the dart as your marketing efforts: your website, social media pages, and advertising. The bullseye represents your ideal resident or your senior living community’s target market. Following the analogy, your marketing efforts (darts) are designed to reach your target market (the bullseye). Take the target away, and you’re investing time and money in promotions that are missing the mark. And no one wants that!

A Mailchimp analysis of 11,000 campaigns found that segmented campaigns had a 14.31% higher open rate than non-segmented campaigns.1 Which means targeting your campaigns correctly is just as important as the actual marketing. As a community marketer for a senior living community, do you think your advertising dollars would be well spent in the local college newspaper? Absolutely not. The readers of a college newspaper simply aren’t going to be interested in your services—no matter how creative your ad.

Your marketing needs to be where your prospective residents are. Marketing expert Meredith Hill has said, “When you speak to everyone, you speak to no one.” Fail to focus your advertising efforts on the right people, and you’ll waste time and money selling to no one.

Start finding your senior living community’s target market with these three steps.

Step 1: Assess Your Current Residents

Your current residents are your best source of information. These seniors are living, breathing representative samples of who’s most likely to make your community their home. Learn about them, and you’ll understand your market better. Start by analyzing their demographics, including:

  • Gender
  • Age
  • Marital status
  • Race
  • Ethnicity
  • Country of origin
  • Religion
  • Highest level of education
  • Annual income

While these demographics are where you should start, they’re by no means an exhaustive list! Also, keep in mind that every senior living community is different. Demographics vital to you might not be important for your competition. And that’s okay. Identify the key demographic indicators for your residents and community and focus on that metric.

Once you’ve sorted out what you know about your residents, collect your demographic information on a spreadsheet. Organizing the data will help you isolate relevant trends and home in on your target market.

If you’re having trouble finding the information you need, try sending residents a voluntary survey to learn more about who they are. You’ll likely be surprised by how many residents respond. If your residency numbers are low, analyze the demographics of former residents. The results will be limited, but the information gathered will still be valuable.

Step 2: Consider the Decision Makers

Senior living communities present many unique marketing challenges. One of those difficulties is simultaneously marketing to potential residents and the people who make decisions for them. Most of the time, their adult children or other close family members have a say in determining where a senior family member lives.

Although many businesses serve a wide variety of customers, senior living communities are a little different. The methods and marketing that appeal to potential residents probably aren’t the same as those that appeal to their caregivers. And to make matters even more complicated, the decision makers are a wide variety of ages and nearly every demographic.

The 69.56 million baby boomers in the United States2 are currently the largest share of your target market, both for residents and their family decision-makers. Boomers have been turning 65 since 2011 and won’t stop until 2030. From 2010-2020, the number of U.S. adults aged 65 and older increased by more than 34%.3

But Generation X is an equally important decision-maker demographic. Born between 1965 and 1980, Gen Xers are currently between the ages of 41 and 56. The way they evaluate the value and benefits of your community is entirely different from the Baby Boomers, so bear that in mind when targeting and tailoring your marketing.

For the most part, family decision makers are motivated by facts and want accurate information about your community. Regardless of age, they’re almost all internet users who read online reviews before making purchasing decisions, And that includes where their loved ones should live. Three out of four adults aged 55 and older read online reviews,4 and 80% of those aged 34-55 read them before patronizing a business.

Step 3: Assess the Benefits

Have you ever taken the time to assess the value of your senior living community? We’re talking about actually sitting down and writing out every benefit of residing in your community. Few senior living community marketers take this step, but all of them should.

Defining the benefits of your community reveals just how you’re serving your current residents and all the good you can do for a new resident. With this information, your marketing becomes more focused on what you can do rather than what you can’t.

But again, the more significant impact lies in how you target your marketing. When you outline your community’s benefits, consider who will care about those benefits. Is it a potential resident or their family decision maker? If it’s the resident, what qualities distinguish them from other seniors? If it’s the decision maker, what kind of person are they? How should you target specific demographics to get the message across?

Understanding the benefits of your community is key to targeting your marketing in a practical, meaningful way.

As a community marketer, you’re already in an uphill battle. According to a recent study by Merrill Lynch, a mere 10% of retired Americans want to move into an assisted living community.5 An overwhelming 85% say they’d rather receive care in their own home. Moving into a senior living community isn’t usually what residents prefer, which is why targeting your marketing efforts is so very important.

Some of your residents will vocally make known they’d rather be at home. That’s an unavoidable reality. But capturing the 10% who want to move to a community like yours is a goal worth having. Target your marketing correctly, and you’ll connect with the seniors and families who need you!

Need Help Finding Your Customers?

Dreamscape Marketing can help. Contact us today to learn how we can target your advertising efforts and enable you to find more new resident leads.


For a list of references, please contact us.