We work with senior living sales and marketing managers on a daily basis. Regardless of whether you work in independent living, assisted living, memory care, or the full continuum, these are our best ideas to help you better market your community. Many of the people we work with have worked their way up from other jobs within the community. Most managers have little to no formal background or training in modern marketing methods. If that’s you and you're looking for some creative help, we've compiled this list of actionable ideas you can start using in your senior living community.
1. Market in the year we live in!
I started here on purpose. Too often, marketers fall victim to historic means or overpriced marketing channels because they “worked in the past.” The basic idea of idea number 1 is to use social media, paid advertising, and search engine optimization (both organic and advertised) to spread the word that you offer the best independent living or the friendliest assisted living staff in the state. Your residents should be 80 years old, not your marketing methods.
2. Let them try before they buy!
Free trials are for more than just software sales. We don’t recommend pushing for an overnight visit, it’s too weird. Instead, plan a day trip for your residents to your community. Round out the day with activities catered to the potential resident and lots of interaction with other residents.
3. Use a Senior Living CRM.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software can help track leads, automate follow-up, and seamlessly pass new leads across your team. It’s worth the investment of time and money to outline, implement, and use a good CRM. Some of the senior living specific tools include SherpaCRM, Enquire CRM, and Welcome Home. If you’d like more information on buying software for your senior living community, we have an article here.
4. Standardize your systems.
Standardize paperwork and procedures across all of your company’s communities. This will allow each community’s marketing manager to make adjustments and improvements that benefit the whole company.
5. Offer unique opportunities.
Expand your assisted living community outside of your four walls. One company is connecting seniors with international video pen pals that help foreign students practice English. What other creative means can you implement to enliven your residents? Think specifically about the activities you could offer independent living residents, assisted living residents, and memory care residents.
6. Utilize the talents of your staff.
Do you have someone on your team that’s great at photography? Or cooking? Or another great hobby? Have them teach a class to your residents and make sure you invite your prospective residents and their families.
7. Leverage partnerships.
Leverage your partner providers like home health/hospice and others to teach and inform, or provide free services like flu shots or medication destruction for your residents or the broader community.
8. Find opportunities to digitize more.
Find and use digital tools more. Make RSVP and follow-up for your events easier. Simplify the process for scheduling tours. Help residents review and sign from home. Nowadays, people expect it, so just pick a few tools and use them. More on this later.
9. Schedule appointments.
Sales don’t happen at events, they happen in the follow-up appointment you scheduled at the event. Make sure your community is well-represented at your event and push for traditional tours and appointments.
10. Consider a refresher of your job title.
Do you cringe when you get a call from a “Sales Manager”? You may be soliciting the same internal response from your prospective residents and their families. Create a title that conveys care and service. Use words like “counselor,” “advisor,” or “companion.”
11. Avoid the senior living F-word.
“Facility,” “institution,” and “nursing home” can all elicit a negative reaction from your prospective residents. No one wants to move their loved one into a facility. Maintain dignity by referring to individual residents by name. Refer to your building as a community or neighborhood. Work hard to eliminate these harsher words and phrases from you and your team’s vocabulary.
12. Avoid senior living jargon.
For most residents and their families, this is their first senior living search. Words like “CCRC,” “Independent Living,” “Active Senior,” “Assisted Living,” “Memory Care,” “Skilled Nursing,” and other terms can be difficult to distinguish between. Go the extra mile and explain the differences between the care types you offer.
13. Look to add more care to the problem.
People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Be sensitive to the situation. This is a difficult time of transition for seniors and their families. They’ve never looked for senior housing before. We’re all new to aging. Recognize that you’re an advisor as much as a marketer.
14. Hone your sales and marketing skills.
You should be looking outside of the senior living industry for new tactics and methods to improve your marketing efforts. If you’re not trying new things, you’re not learning.
15. Pick a cadence and stay consistent.
Regardless of occupancy level, you should always be marketing and building your lead pool. Market for the long-term and you’ll build a brand that pays ongoing dividends.
16. Qualified until proven otherwise.
Don’t disqualify residents based on dress, appearance, vehicle, or other non-descriptors. Assume that they understand the value of your services (more on this when we touch on the website) and are able and willing to pay for them.
17. Know your community.
Nothing looks more unprofessional than a manager that doesn’t know every detail of his/her community. What time is dinner served? What are the most popular activities? What physician do most of your residents use?
18. There’s always a cost.
Recognize that every resident costs your company money to acquire. Treat every name and referral that comes to you as something you are paying for — because you are. Whether it’s $10, $1,000 or $5,500, there’s a cost associated with that person, so you better act like it. If you’re implementing these amazing marketing ideas, your senior living community should be acquiring new residents at a fraction of the cost.
19. Know your competition.
Recognize that your real competitor is a senior’s home. There are countless innovations, services, and technologies, that are helping people stay at home and “age in place” longer. Recognize that this is happening, and look for ways to implement and improve on those innovations from within your community. We’ve heard some amazing strategies around offering services to the larger community surrounding your building.
20. Decision-making made easier.
Create tools and guides that help families in their decision-making process. Outlining a list of amenities and services along with their cost can help a resident when deciding on your community. Maybe offering a price comparison, unit layouts, or other amenities and moving options can help you control the narrative surrounding your competition.
21. Marketing is all about attention.
Marketing and advertising are all about attention. Understanding whether the attention you're paying for is overpriced or under-priced is your job. Established and traditional mediums often lack the attention to warrant the price demanded. Things like newspapers, print ads, billboards, and television are high-priced and nobody is really paying attention.
22. Polish your product.
Create model units within your community and look for partnerships with designers and/or home furnishing companies in your area to spruce things up.
23. Track everything.
Metrics are an important part of improving your marketing efforts. How many tours do you convert? What is your average cost to acquire a new resident? How many hours of your time are spent outside of marketing? What items can you automate so that you can spend more time with people?
24. Check your list twice.
Create a pre-tour checklist. Make sure your model units are clean and presentable, inform your frontline staff that a visitor is coming in, gather the resident welcome committee, and set out the plate of cookies. Preparation will show.
25. Create a company central marketing command.
Website traffic and online leads usually result in phone calls and chat interactions. It may be more cost effective to have a company call center to handle inbound leads for all communities. They could better answer questions and schedule tours to free up the time and focus of local marketing managers.
26. Tell more stories.
You have unlimited content from your deep pool of resident stories. Share these across social media platforms and other channels. Utilize your staff, your management team, your residents, your Veterans, your community pets, and any other stories you can tell about your community.
27. Organize a Meetup.
Meetups are a great way to find new residents and even new employees. Utilize your qualified staff and start a Meetup around caregiving, or dementia support, or grief counseling, or financial planning, or a home health/hospice provider. Show you care and share your expertise.
28. Offer your location for other events.
Find other Meetups organized around partner services or referral industries and offer your location for free. Become part of the bigger, surrounding community. Update: this may not work with Covid restrictions, but that doesn’t mean you can’t insert senior services into the larger community surrounding your building.
29. There’s no such thing as bad press.
Don’t hyperventilate when you get a negative review online. The way you handle the complaint says far more about your company than the complaint itself. Treat every comment as a chance to change and improve and to authentically show that you truly care.
30. Use live chat.
Implement a free chat tool like Drift to interact with your customers as they’re live on your website. I’ve been less impressed with chatbots with automated responses or help articles unless it’s outside of your normal operating hours. But if you’re at your desk, engage in the conversation.
31. Use a calendaring tool.
Calendly and other free tools will help your prospects schedule tours, even if you’re out of the office or away from your desk. These tools easily connect to your calendar (usually Google) and help eliminate all of the back-and-forth of finding a good time to come in for a visit.
32. Videos, videos, and more videos.
People are far more likely to watch a video than to read your 9 paragraph explanation of how great you are. (Or your list of The 40 Best Marketing Ideas for Assisted Living Managers). If you struggle around ideas for content, start with this list. Tours of unit types. Resident interviews. Community event highlights. Classes and activities. Amenities, staff introductions, and community values. If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video is worth millions.
33. Share your pricing.
For heaven’s sake, every referral website has your pricing listed, so why don’t you? The toll booth companies, as I like to call them, capture leads using your information and then they sell that lead back to you. Add a pricing page and you’ll start to set your community apart. The added benefit of sharing your pricing is that you will establish reasonable expectations of price early, and residents will self select your community based on their budget constraints.
34. Hire a professional.
Start cheap and get an idea of what’s working and what’s not. This will go a long way in convincing your executive team to sign-off on hiring a professional photographer, videographer, graphic designer, or web team to handle future ideas and updates. Finding a budget for these roles is far easier when spread across several assisted living or independent living communities from the same company.
35. Display your diversity.
Represent a variety of demographics within your marketing materials. Single, married, black, white, Hispanic, LGBTQ+, everyone should feel as though your community would be a good fit for their needs.
36. Update your content regularly.
A website that is constantly refreshed and cared for says a lot about your community. Monthly calendars and events, current staff and management profiles, upcoming events, can go a long way in showing people that you care.
37. Make your website into a digital tour.
Outline your website like a community tour. Show them the amenities, sample the different unit types, introduce the staff, outline your community values, discuss pricing and move-in procedures, and then ask for information so you can follow-up. Stay consistent with your call-to-action and drive towards one goal.
38. Always ask.
Don’t forget to ask your website visitors for more information. Use contact forms to discover more about your prospects and don’t forget to follow-up in a timely manner. This is a good place to implement your CRM and maybe some professional help.
39. Pre-qualify your residents.
Website forms can be a great means of pre-qualifying potential residents. Ask questions about their price expectations, care needs, and other relevant information you’ll need to match residents with your services. This will help you focus your efforts on those residents that have the greatest chance of needing and affording independent living, assisted living, or memory care services from your community.
40. Electronic Signature.
Use Senior Sign to automate your move-in paperwork and go paperless. Focus on the people, not the paper, and get back to working on the rest of this awesome list!
Congratulations if you made it through all of The 40 Best Marketing Ideas for Senior Living Communities. Feel free to reach out with questions or for more clarification on one of these ideas.