Over the last four months, the entire world has experienced upheaval caused by this pandemic. With a significant proportion of deaths occurring among older citizens, senior living communities have felt the pain. Life is not going back to normal anytime soon. As such, senior living marketing strategies must transform to be effective in the new reality of a COVID-19 world.
All is not lost. We’ve seen rays of light as the world moves past the initial panic to an adjusted path forward. For example, when comparing April and May statistics, we have seen that move-out rates are down and move-in rates are up. In order to see even more improvement, we need to recalibrate our marketing strategies.
Historically, tours have been a mainstay of senior living marketing. However, since the COVID-19 outbreak, tours have been less effective than other marketing techniques because of health and safety concerns. That means we need new ways to connect with prospects.
At the onset of the pandemic, senior living communities quickly shifted from live tours to virtual tours, which are a different marketing tool altogether. Virtual tours in real time require careful planning to create a meaningful connection with the audience while also highlighting key parts of the community.
Prerecorded tours offer more control, yet don’t provide the same level of interaction as as virtual tours in real time. A combination of a prerecorded tour with a salesperson hosting the tour and answering questions throughout the meeting can create a level of immediacy that personal tours offered.
Build Trust with Transparency
As communities reopen to allow move-ins for new residents, use honest and clear communication to build trust. Create consistent messaging across all of your marketing channels to communicate a clear and unified brand image and information about your safety protocols for the community.
Residents and their families won’t be impressed with the shiny messaging and images that have worked in the past. Instead, they want to know they and their loved one is safe with prioritized care.
Shift the focus in imagery from amenities to safety. This might include care staff wearing masks and gloves, or social distancing in action. Showcase the thoughtful ways the community has used to stay engaged with one another. Combined with other consistent messaging, the right images and videos can go a long way to providing the reassurance everyone is searching for in uncertain times.
We also recommend the use of data analytics to target specific audiences with the right message. What’s communicated to a family member should differ from what’s communicated to the resident. Messaging needs to be sensitive to the each group’s needs and concerns throughout the larger senior living community at this time.
What’s Working Now
The industry has seen sharp drops in new leads for the past three months. That means marketing teams need to shift from their tried-and-true pre-COVID strategies to new approaches.
As in-person events aren’t being scheduled, digital sources, like websites, are proving more effective. If you haven’t already done so, now is the time to invest in a clear and easy-to-use web experience. And now is also the time to urge your sales team to spend more time planning so that when they do connect with a lead, they achieve better outcomes.
The data shows that since the start of the pandemic, sales teams continued spending more time on tours than other marketing activities. Since tours aren’t producing the expected results, it’s time for a change. We’ve seen a trend with seniors seeking out independent living options earlier to find a better support system. Consider ways to capitalize on this trend by speaking directly to the advantages of being a valued member within a community before you need more support.
Data-Driven Marketing Produces Results
At Sabal Group, we provide accurate and authentic data with the right insights to help build effective marketing strategies and campaigns. I invite you to reach out to me today to discuss how Sabal Group can help you with your marketing needs in our new reality.