Senior Housing News: Conference Breakdown

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Jared Hancock
Senior Housing News Sales & Marketing Conference 2024, Tampa, FL

The more I experience in my professional life, regardless of the industry, the more I see that the challenges we face are not unique to just our own business (or even industry). We are far more similar than we think. This was abundantly clear at the Senior Housing News Sales and Marketing Conference in Tampa this past week. I’d like to share a quick recap of 4 key themes. 


  • While the senior living industry is competitive, everyone looks to share best practices and has a genuine desire to see the entire industry elevate in the pursuit of providing the best possible experience for seniors. 
  • The Silver Tsunami is upon us, but this does not mean that competition has slowed. In fact, seniors today have more options than ever, and they compare those options more than ever before. This brings me to my next point, brand identity.   


  • Because your residents have so many options, your community needs to stand for something. Moreover, potential residents will be swayed by what they feel in your community more than the list of available amenities. After all, they are looking for a place to call home. We must meet our residents where they are physically and emotionally. 
  • Christy Van Der Westhuizen and Larry Williams shared a poignant perspective in their session: “Census is important. But it’s more than just acquisition, it's about satisfying current residents and retaining them.” I would also point out that your residents are your best marketing, and frankly, the people that help create the feeling you are selling. 

Christy Van Der Westhuizen & Larry Williams (SHN Conference Session Quote)


  • Start with your objectives and strategy. Then create your core message and adapt that message to the optimal marketing channels to reach your target customer. BUT - before executing the plan, build your measurement system so you can continually optimize and scale the winning combination. 
  • Your social media needs an internal champion and this champion may not have “marketing” or “sales” in their title. If you don’t have a designated champion and approval process, the social media execution will fall flat and be a disjointed mess of off brand content. Social media is table stakes for this industry. Your future residents and their families expect to see content. Furthermore, the posts act as a way to nurture your leads in a more organic manner. Providing a platform for them to see what their life would be like in your community. 
  • Drive for the highest value engagement possible with your prospects. Below is my assessment of least to most effective (ironically, also in order of easiest to most difficult to execute):

  • Text - simply telling a prospect about your community is far from an ideal marketing experience, but necessary at times to move the prospect along
  • Images - providing visuals of your community and the individual apartments improves the experience a bit more, but still comes up short
  • Video - the data is clear that in the digital world, this is about as good as it gets - an immersive experience that allows the prospect a more complete image
  • Referrals & Testimonials - here is where we must push ourselves. How do we empower our residents to attract like minded people to the community? Give them a voice. Let them tell their stories
  • Experience - Giving our prospects the opportunity to experience the community through more than just a tour. Stop for lunch, engage with an activity. Let them go beyond visualizing their life - let them experience the community


  • Start with your business objectives and evaluate technology solutions that support these objectives. Don’t fall in love with a technology solution that solves a problem you don’t have. 
  • Have a plan for implementation. Work closely with the provider to map out how to roll out across the organization to get the highest level of adoption and ROI.
  • In one general session, we heard about the frustration of arriving at move-in date, only to find that the paperwork was missing signed physician forms. The result? Costly delays to the move in and frustrated families. If this is the problem, look for a solution that solves that specific pain. And if you are still with me, here is my shameless plug for Senior Sign. We built our solution to resolve that problem and let your sales and marketing teams focus on the experiences that bring more residents in the door. 
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