Senior Living Communities Must Learn to Do More with Less

Less Guesswork, Less Wasted Effort—and More Qualified Leads.

“I know I’m wasting half my advertising budget. I just don’t know which half.” – Sam Wanamaker

Unless you’re tracking, measuring and reporting your results with clear, accurate technology, you’re right down there with Sam. It’s like driving from Maine to Florida without a GPS. The solution is at hand. Why not use it?

For senior living marketers in this economic environment, the problem is pure mathematics. Many communities must develop 60 to result in a single move-in.

If you’re spending as much as $500 per lead using traditional direct mail, you’re spending $60,000 chasing 120 leads that never even pick up the phone.

To compound your challenge, an unconscionable number of incoming leads are simply lost. Dropped calls, hang-ups or missed emails let genuinely interested prospects shift their interest to the community down the street. The person who answers that first call will give your prospects their first impression of your community. How well trained are they? How motivated? Do you have an easy way to listen and learn from those calls?

You need to make decisions based on provable evidence. Being able to track and measure results clearly lets you apply your dollars to the tactics that generate the most return.

The Incredible Shrinking Budget

These days, you have to work with the same budget and staff you have now—or less. You need to generate less costly leads to drive your overall cost down. How?

One answer is using proven, provable online tactics such as Search Engine Optimization, pay-per-click, local directory listings and other online media outlets. They not only can greatly reduce your overall cost; they are also the only realistic way to target the elusive adult child.

Measure well, budget less, trust facts—not gut feelings,

Effective tracking is the means to determine which tactics are achieving the most leads. Now you’re using hard facts to know whether or not your print ads or direct mail will elicit more responses. You know which promotions are getting people to pick up the phone. You can justify your budget decisions with hard data—not guesswork.

What’s more, you’re able to hypertarget: identifying target segments (i.e. people over 70, singles or couples, adult children) and then reaching them by zip codes or other precise channels—along with messages or offers geared specifically for them, such as ‘extra’ room availabilities, move-in assistance or other financial incentives.

Otherwise, you just stay the course, betting on the unproven tactics your community has always used.

As UCLA Coach John Wooden used to say, “Do not mistake activity for achievement.”

The missing link: Technology that thinks the way you do.

With the right technology, you can implement this targeted approach with speed and accuracy—not only fine-tuning the audience, but changing messages, photos and offers with ease.

Ask yourself these questions:

Is your web site updated often enough? Do you have people on staff that can key in updates quickly and easily? Delegating it to a busy IT department or to the individual content providers may fall to the bottom of a very long to-do list. With the pressure on for results, long to-do lists just won’t do.

Do you have means to return phone inquiries from leads within an hour of receiving them? One highly successful sales director recently told me that when you return an inquiry promptly, it becomes seven times more likely that the prospect will actually move in.

Finally, regardless of whether leads come in by computer, phone or regular mail, can your sales and marketing people access the critical information from any location, organized for optimum usage?

Good technology is key to the entire process. We have found this true with clients across the country, from blue-sky to fully operational communities. All too often, communities are using cookie-cutter system, gerry-rigged from generic IT solutions. They’re simply not designed for the unique needs of a senior living marketer.

Our own Community Center™ is the kind of technological solution that can provide that key. It is unlike any other system: It was created exclusively for the senior living industry. It not only tracks leads swiftly and precisely, but also provides all-in-one web and print content management—all with turnkey speed and ease. And we developed it specifically to help senior living communities overcome today’s time- and budget-oriented obstacles.

The age of accountability

With the right tracking and measuring system, you know where your resources will get the most return. You can justify your decisions in black-and-white to upper management. Oh, yes: knowing that you have complete accountability for your marketing results, you can sleep better too. When you rely on facts, not gut feelings, your gut churns less in the middle of the night, because your residences turn faster.