Undertaking a marketing assessment for a life plan, independent and assisted living community offers valuable information that helps in strategizing for future success.
As competition grows in many geographic markets as new senior communities open, customers have greater choices in senior living options. It’s worthwhile to undertake a marketing assessment annually.
Just to offer a few key findings from a marketing assessment:
- It’s important to understand the scope of the assessment and if it is focusing on providing the information that is needed. For example, one of our clients wanted an assessment of residents and families to learn their views regarding the community’s new ownership entity. Rather ask residents and families to complete a written survey, it was more useful to conduct a combination of focus groups, exit interviews, and staff interviews. Not only was a wealth of useful insights were revealed, the assessment proved extremely beneficial for creating goodwill. People liked sharing their opinions and felt their thoughts were appreciated.
- How does your community compare with the competition? It’s useful when a third-party can look at the subject community as well as the competition. Not only is the competitive data important, it’s also essential to understand the competition’s selling style and marketing messages they are giving a customer. Perhaps they are offering incentives and talking about upcoming renovations. Maybe they make negative remarks about your community or are using social media to reach customers. Certainly, you can call for current pricing but a competitive marketing assessment uncovers much more information. We toured a competitor’s community and noticed a cute ice cream cart that was used for afternoon activities. We also found that assisted living residents were segregated from independent living residents in the dining room and told where they could and couldn’t dine. Both observations were helpful to our client in their positioning.
- Determining the selling style of the sales team and its effectiveness. Each sales person has their own selling style but is it working and does it reflect the image of the community? Telephone mystery shopping is very effective in learning how customers are handled on the telephone.
Are sales people able to counter the objections? Are they prepared for their appointments? Are they comfortable demonstrating the residence and using benefit selling techniques? An assessment critiques all of the sales team and offers constructive criticism to strengthen their performance.
- Strengths, weaknesses, threats, and opportunities (SWOT) analysis may be conducted with the sales team and/or with other key team leaders. This type of analysis assists in learning the perceived vision of the community and helps the entire team buy into the obstacles that need improvement. Getting people on the same page is essential in effective selling.
- Impressions and perceptions of external audiences are very important in an assessment. Community resources such as the Chamber of Commerce and senior referral resources offer great information about the effectiveness of outreach. Learning that one of our clients had joined their local Chamber but never attended any of the events was valuable in helping the community with recommendations to improve their sales goals.
- Telephone mystery shops focusing on customer inquiries are very helpful. As important as calls are during normal business hours, we’re interested in learning how inquiries are handled later in the evening at about 6 or 7 o’clock and on weekends. When sales need improving this can be a weak link that needs to be strengthened.
- Communication assessments may include reviewing advertising and potential opportunities that can be tapped in new media.
- Learning if local media knows of the community and would consider the community as a resource is valuable too. Public relations efforts should also be assessed and if there are opportunities used to promote the community through third-person articles in local newspapers and more.
- Brochure kits seem to become catch all’s for information. An assessment includes looking at the brochure kit’s content and making sure the information is relevant, useful and makes a good first impression when received in the mail.
- First impressions a community makes often starts from the street where it’s located. An assessment may include the visual first impression of an entry as well as of the community’s vehicles that are seen around town. While a community may have updated its logo, none of the signage, vehicle identification and community banners may reflect the new look.
- Customers are turning to the internet first for inquiries and therefore a constructive assessment will also include a critique of the speed of responses and ease of obtaining relevant information.
A recent assessment of a community revealed excessive and tenacious calls to a family member who had requested a brochure from the internet.
- Communication assessments may also look at Facebook and the community’s Blog. The frequency of posts and relevancy are reviewed. Many communities have infrequent and inconsistent posts. Content isn’t marketing driven and these are missed opportunities in creating potential sales.
A marketing assessment is well worth its cost and its findings can quickly improve sales. To learn more, please call The Ehlers Group at 954-726-9228 to learn about a marketing assessment for your senior living community.