Marketing is a process that constantly evolves. It adapts according to how people are most likely to get their marketing messages. Today’s proven method could be tomorrow’s abandoned strategy. Unfortunately, a lot of life plan community marketing seems caught in a bit of time warp.
For a variety of reasons, many senior living communities have clung to more traditional methods of marketing. Often, it occurs partly out of habit and partly because senior communities simply don’t fully understand newer marketing venues like social media (or even email marketing).
Life plan community marketing for many facilities relies heavily on things like direct mail and print ads in local newspapers. These were certainly the big drivers of senior marketing 15 or 20 years ago. However, the world has since gone digital.
Life Plan Community Marketing – One Step Forward, Two Steps Back
In a recent online survey in conjunction with the American Seniors Housing Association (ASHA), it was revealed that life plan community marketing at many facilities relies on community websites first and foremost. That’s a good sign because a website is the most important marketing asset a retirement community has. However, the survey made it clear that senior living communities were still relying on 20th century marketing in a 21st century world.
The survey showed that 51% of retirement communities felt direct mail was important while only 21% felt that social media was. Even print ads were viewed to be slightly more important than social media. That’s a bit of surprise. Considering how many newspapers and magazines have gone out of business or seen their circulation plummet, it’s actually a shock.
To their credit, a majority of senior living communities can sense the value of a well-designed website. In the survey, 68% deemed a website the most effective marketing tool for a retirement community. That makes sense because retirement communities have seen big increases in website conversions.
Like other age groups, seniors (and their adult children) turn to the internet to do research on products or services. When they want to find out more about retirement living, they head straight to the web. Senior communities understand this phenomenon. Yet, other aspects of digital marketing elude them. For example, many engage in email marketing but few feel it to be effective. How is that even possible?
Why the Disconnect in Digital Marketing?
Although senior living communities may take an interest in digital marketing, it doesn’t mean they possess the skills to reap the benefits. If they’re disappointed in the results, they probably haven’t leveraged digital media correctly.
Another problem is that life plan communities may have an unrealistic expectation of how something like social media or email can yield results. If, for example, a community approaches email in the same way they approach direct mail, they will be disappointed. You purchase direct mail lists. However, a purchased email list isn’t going to be as effective. It comes down to expectations. People detest spam emails. If someone sees your email as spam, your marketing efforts are doomed.
In Social Media, Be a Trusted Voice, Not a Salesperson
The best way to leverage something like social media is to speak to your audience as a trusted friend. Share information with your audience. Engage them. Don’t sell them.
For example, it would be ridiculous to judge each of your Tweets or Facebook postings by how many leads you get from them. It’s just not that simple. That may be how you evaluate direct mail but the rules are different in social media. And it’s the reason so many businesses try and fail with social media. The problem? Their expectations are unrealistic and they don’t truly understand the medium.
So much of traditional life plan community marketing centers around generating initial inquiries (usually brochure requests). What’s often missing is the focus on increasing broad levels of engagement or reviving old inquiries. When supported by dynamic and content-rich marketing, your social media is the perfect way to pursue these activities.
Not every senior is ready to come to lunch or get on a waiting list. The future of your life plan community marketing depends on using the right channel of communication at the right time… to the right person. Sometimes you want to go after the lead, sometimes you simply want to keep an audience engaged and informed. The real trick is knowing when to do one versus the other.
Take Your Life Plan Community Marketing Into the Future
It’s a digital age. Consequently, your life plan community marketing content should embrace it. The big question is, does it?
Dreamscape Marketing has created hundreds of dynamic websites for our healthcare clients. In addition, we’ve created more than 50,000 pages of original content to drive viewers to websites. As a Premier Google Partner, we understand what it takes to get a website to rank better in Google searches. We’re ready to put that experience to work for you.