Senior Living Operators Get Creative With Digital Marketing, Pivot to Selling Value

Digital promoting continues to be an vital piece of senior dwelling operators’ gross sales and advertising and marketing methods– however how they’re advertising and marketing to residents has developed in 2022.

Unlike within the early days of the pandemic, senior dwelling operators now have an efficient playbook for reaching older adults that features extra than simply emails and Zoom calls. And extra gross sales groups are actually emphasizing the worth of their communities as operators look to increase charges and develop their margins.

Bonita Springs, Florida-based Discovery Senior Living is one such firm using that technique. Because rising bills in classes together with meals and labor are consuming into the operator’s web working revenue (NOI) and margins, the corporate is prioritizing worth with potential residents, in accordance to Senior Vice President of Sales Lou Maranto.

“This 12 months, greater than ever, we’ve got to push charges,” he informed Senior Housing News. “And as a result of we’ve got to ask extra from a value standpoint, we completely have to drive house the worth.”

Elsewhere, corporations like MBK Senior Living and The Springs Living are doubling down on digital advertising and marketing and on-line outreach.

“The pandemic reminded us tenfold how vital it was,” Christy Van Der Westhuizen, vp of gross sales and advertising and marketing at MBK Senior Living, informed SHN.

Selling worth

Though common occupancy has rebounded throughout the trade this 12 months, margins for a lot of operators have compressed. Higher-than-normal bills are the wrongdoer, with the price of labor typically recognized as the larger driver of expense progress.

At the identical time, many residents can afford to pay greater charges. For one, at the moment, excessive housing costs give many older adults a large chunk of cash on which to spend on senior dwelling. The red-hot housing market has additionally meant that many older adults can promote their houses extra simply than up to now.

Older adults are also receiving bigger social safety paychecks thanks to latest cost-of-living changes, a pattern that’s anticipated to proceed in 2023.

Discovery Senior Living has responded to these pressures by shifting away from gross sales concessions and different financial incentives to assist residents transfer in.

In January, the operator held a two-hour coaching on “promoting worth.” During the coaching, gross sales staffers realized suggestions for exhibiting, not telling, how a lot a senior dwelling resident stands to acquire by shifting right into a neighborhood.

For instance, a Discovery salesperson would possibly level out all the cash and hardship a potential resident can save by shifting right into a senior dwelling neighborhood, even when that neighborhood is dearer than one other one a mile down the highway. The firm additionally provides above-market commissions for gross sales employees.

“People get within the mindset of dollar-for-dollar, and so they lose that second issue … of comfort and security and safety,” Maranto stated in February. “[We] paint that image of all of our communities bringing worth to all totally different sizes and styles and greenback quantities.”

The firm additionally highlights the truth that lots of its 111 communities earned a distinction within the U.S. News and World Report’s Best of Senior Housing listing as a manner to drive the worth proposition house.

The Springs takes an analogous strategy with residents. COO Brenda Connelly stated that she is concentrated on getting residents to transfer in earlier than they want to achieve this, one thing that has been a problem to do in the course of the pandemic.

“An extra aspect that prospects need to know is how properly they’ll stay,” Connelly stated.

And MBK takes the strategy that “we don’t promote flats, we promote life-style,” in accordance to Van Der Westhuizen.

“If you’re growing your occupancy in a short time, you will have to do the issues that make folks really feel seen and heard and valued,” she informed SHN.

Digital strategy evolves

At the outset of the pandemic, many operators elevated their advertising and marketing budgets as they made the “shift to digital.”

That pattern is constant in 2022: Discovery Senior Living and MBK Senior Living are barely growing advertising and marketing budgets. The Springs Living, however, is spending much less on advertising and marketing.

Operators initially adopted extra digital advertising and marketing practices as a manner to address restrictions on in-person occasions and excursions. But with these restrictions eased in lots of markets, they’re taking a hybrid strategy to excursions and occasions.

For instance, Fort Wayne, Indiana-based Priority Life Care upped its digital sport in the course of the pandemic in response to the rising tech-savviness of the child boomer era, which Petras known as “a special era.”

They are internet-savvy,” she stated throughout a latest look on SHN+ TALKS. “Boomers do their analysis.”

But as vital as digital advertising and marketing is to the operator, Petras stated many prospects have returned to in-person occasions nowadays.

“When I’m trying throughout the board at what we’ve got scheduled, it’s all in-person,” she added.

Initially, the shift to digital got here as a shock to Julie Podewitz, founder and CEO of the senior dwelling occupancy agency Grow Your Occupancy and the previous chief gross sales officer with Vitality Senior Living.

“At first I believed ‘no manner, we’re a high-touch enterprise,’” Podewitz informed SHN.

But within the time since, digital advertising and marketing “has had an unimaginable impression on the enterprise,” she added. Operators are wielding digital instruments to create extra personalised experiences for prospects and generate information they will use within the gross sales course of.

For Irvine, California-based MBK, one revelation has been the effectiveness of its web site chatbot characteristic in promoting to prospects. In truth, it’s MBK’s greatest lead era supply,, in accordance to Van Der Westhuizen.

“It was shocking,” she stated. “I believed it might be [spam] coming into our databases, nevertheless it’s truly certified individuals who simply need data rapidly — they don’t need to have to decide up the cellphone on that preliminary contact.”

Irvine, California-based MBK’s portfolio spans 35 communities in Arizona, California, Colorado, Oregon, Utah and Washington.

Providing unit flooring plans on-line has been a technique that Discovery gross sales employees have wielded.

In truth, these are the most-visited part on the corporate’s web sites, in accordance to Maranto. The firm additionally gives pricing data on-line.

Floor plan choices at Discovery Senior Living’s Aston Gardens in Parkland, Florida.

To reveal particular unit pricing, customers should enter their title, electronic mail and cellphone quantity. By providing data on pricing on-line, but additionally gatekeeping the numbers, Discovery is in a position to each dampen the preliminary sticker shock that prospects really feel whereas making certain they’re severe about their inquiries.

“The purpose we didn’t do it up to now is that if [a prospect] resides in a home for 40-plus years with a mortgage paid off… seeing $3,000-$5,000 per thirty days for assisted dwelling lease is a shock,” Maranto informed SHN.

When it comes down to selecting the place to stay, seniors begin the place most individuals begin when making an enormous determination, on the web.

Creating an intuitive on-line expertise is vital to potential residents because it provides them and their households “the flexibility to analysis for themselves,” Connelly stated. “Which [is something] we’ve got discovered has been very interesting to people as a result of they’re doing it anyway.”

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