Over the years I’ve heard countless ideas and strategies for marketing long-term care and senior living communities. Inevitably, like any strong marketing plan, there is no one-size fits all answer. In fact, you need a variety of efforts and use of media to really make it all work to ultimately increase your census. So, what should you do to get the most bang for your buck when margins in the senior care world continue to get slimmer and tighter? What is the combination that will make it all click?

Before you jump into any major media buying or hiring another marketing liaison, take a step back and look at your building and imagine it differently. Examine the spaces, and put yourself in the shoes of someone who has never stepped foot into a nursing home or a senior living community. What do you see? What do you want your new visitor to see?

We know that one of the most effective ways to enhance your building’s reputation in the community is to bring people into your building. Increasing people’s comfort level, smashing myths, changing perceptions about what happens in a senior living community or a nursing home — this is the power of inviting the community into your home and the home of your residents.

Great, so go out and purchase a list of age and income qualified folks, spend thousands on direct marketing and phone banking…not so fast! This direct marketing blitz tied to large open houses are done, particularly for higher-end senior living communities, are effective at increasing leads, prospects, and ultimately, new residents.

But, let’s talk about a more cost-effective strategy that will accomplish similar goals over time (with a much smaller budget). Further, the mega-blitz direct marketing strategy doesn’t click for nursing homes like it does in the retirement living world, because of the decision-making process. Let’s face it, no one wants to go to a nursing home and the resident and/or their family make a choice only when that need to make a decision is thrust upon them. It’s far less of a prospect evolution than providing a comfort level and building relationships for when the time comes.

Notice, also, for nursing homes you don’t have to be as interested in age and income qualifications of those who arrive in your building. Remember who your decision-makers are, and remember that it will be daughters, sons and even grandchildren who make the critical choices. Making your facility a comfortable place for those of every age is a powerful step.

In Part 2, I’ll talk about how you can develop your cost-effective strategy for grassroots community marketing of your building.

John Krol
President of OneEighty Media, Inc., and lead communications consultant for this full-service marketing, communications and advertising firm. John’s extensive experience in journalism, broadcasting, public relations, government relations, SEM, community outreach and marketing provides a unique perspective for businesses looking to re-energize and diversify their marketing efforts. Read more...