Senior Living Communities: What Are You Selling?

In marketing a senior living community (independent, assisted living and continuing care), we often find that if you look at a website or read a community’s brochure, it seems they are all saying the same thing.

In our competitive shops which compile community brochures, for the most part they look the same.

Communities offer resort-style living, gourmet meals and maintenance-free living. Are you using some of these phrases in your marketing collateral?

By using a marketing audit which should include a combination of competitive research, focus groups, interviews and team meetings, a unique selling proposition can be determined that describes a community and separates it from the competition. An audit will indicate perceptions and first impressions customers may have of your community. Including a communications audit will also reveal correspondence via email and response time to internet leads.

You want to determine how your community is better than the competition and how it can stand apart. This is referred to as the unique selling proposition (USP) and provides your community’s competitive advantage.

A good analogy is the automobile industry. Whether you are driving an American made or foreign model, they all have similar features. Yet they are able to distinguish themselves and their brand. Dealerships promote their customer service. A local Lexus dealer has massage chairs, cappuccino and a comfortable lounge with many computer stations and Wi-Fi. The Mercedes dealer is pretty bare bones with only two computer stations and self-serve coffee.

Understanding the target market is essential in strategic marketing and also is part of the USP. You need to know where your customers have come from and their motivations.

We often find sales doesn’t hone into their data. We’re told in strategic marketing meetings, our customers are coming from all over. By studying the data we may find that adult children from within a 15 mile radius are bringing their parents to the community. By drilling down we can better determine the strategic marketing for a community.

This would validate all of the marketing efforts of the community including events, direct mail and advertising which all need to be geared to these adult children driving their parents’ decisions.

An owner-operator recently mentioned to me that his community provides superior care to competitors in the area for less than others were charging. That’s a pretty strong statement. Yet while he’s telling me this, you don’t read anything about the community in the local newspaper or anything about the community’s care on their website. There’s a disconnect about what community’s owner is promoting versus what the public may learn. This possibly isn’t a strong message in the sales presentation that a mystery shop would reveal.

Want to separate your senior living community from the pack? Start thinking of the USP and use this for guidance in your marketing efforts.
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