I have some encouraging news for the senior living industry. Amongst talk of possible recovery patterns that sound like a bowl of alphabet soup – U-shaped recovery, W, V, even a Nike swoosh for good measure – there’s reason to be excited about the road ahead.
If we dig below the foreboding headlines to reveal what experts predict for assisted living communities, we see that providers communicating real value, safety, and compassionate care to prospective residents and family members are the ones likely to see robust occupancy rates in the near future.
Naturally, that leaves marketing teams across the industry asking themselves the million dollar question – how can we ensure our community is leading the pack and maximizing occupancy?
To answer that question, I’m going to cover five strategies that increase census numbers in all market conditions, always keeping you a step ahead of the competition.
1. Embrace the New Marketing Paradigm
To start at the highest level, it’s important to understand that prospect expectations have changed drastically in the last few years. Therefore, what your audience “values” has also changed, where amenities now seem like a dime-a-dozen across communities that all appear similar, at least from a distance.
That means communities must embrace this new marketing paradigm and understand that what worked a decade ago won’t necessarily connect and engage today. In other words, potential residents and their adult children might like the way a remodeled lobby looks in a set of glossy pictures, but it won’t drive move-ins like it might have in the past. Times have changed and value takes on a different meaning in today’s marketplace.
2. Focus on What Matters Most
So what provides such value now? And how can you convey that value proposition in your marketing plan to improve occupancy rates? People want to see compassionate care and a fulfilling quality of life, and both of those qualities stem directly from the amazing culture you cultivate across your community.
Showcasing that culture is the best way to differentiate your senior care facilities and staff members from the competition and, thus, drive more move-ins. From a prospect’s point of view, they want to see that the next chapter in their life is going to be satisfying or even exhilarating, not pedestrian and dull.
And since maintaining occupancy also depends on minimizing turnover in your existing residents, a satisfying culture ensures they will never want to leave. When you focus on camaraderie, fun, empathy, and memorable experiences, it attracts new residents while helping to retain your current ones.
3. Make the Experience Personal and Memorable
Think back to some of your best vacations. Maybe that includes a resort you had long dreamed of visiting, or a four-star hotel that you booked on a whim for a weekend getaway. While you might remember how elegant the bathrooms were or how comfortable the pillows felt under your head, it’s probably the guest service that stands out most to you.
When people greet you with a smile on their face, address you by name, and convey a genuine desire to make the experience as satisfying as possible, it leaves a positive imprint that stays with you, even years later. Likewise, when a retirement community's staff treats prospects, residents, and loved ones like they’re checking into the Ritz Carlton, it makes a big difference in the decision-making process.
Of course, that goes back to the culture you create and maintain across your community. When you make a point of emphasizing the importance of the resident experience in your labor management and marketing efforts, it becomes second nature to your people. And when that occurs, you’ve created a competitive advantage that automatically lends itself to increased occupancy rates.
4. Master Your Digital Voice and Message
In the last five years, we’ve seen website-driven leads rise from 9% of total lead generation to 25% in the senior living industry. Given the speed that technology moves these days, it’s safe to say that trend will only continue well into the future.
The digital landscape is going to be every community’s bread and butter in the extremely near future. Whomever masters their digital voice and messaging best will likely be ahead of the competitive curve. For marketing and sales teams, that means you must be able to educate, engage, and progress prospects and their families along the sales funnel through that digital voice.
In many ways, your digital marketing represents the biggest opportunity for your community and its occupancy rates. The senior living industry isn’t exactly synonymous with technology, but that’s a notion that’s quickly changing. And it’s the early adopters that stand to gain the most through tools like automated CRM platforms, social media messaging, digital referral sources, and other tech-based solutions.
For senior living communities, technology epitomizes that old saying, you snooze, you lose. Simply staying on top of the latest tools is one of the easiest ways to avoid seeing your occupancy rates fall.
5. Video Marketing
My last strategy is an extension of the previous one. Digital marketing isn’t exactly a new concept, even for an industry like senior living that has traditionally been slow in embracing change.
But an effective marketing strategy is one that drives ROI and the bottom-line by positively impacting occupancy. And no other form of digital marketing accomplishes those essential goals as well as personalized, branded, and highly curated video content.
In a recent case study, we discussed how simply including a OneDay video in a marketing email increased response rates by 95% for one of our partners. As a communication medium, video is far more engaging, emotive, and immersive than still pictures or text can ever be.
But video marketing is still in its infancy in the senior living industry, which means there's a massive opportunity! The communities that master it first will enjoy a lasting competitive advantage that’s tough to catch up to, much less beat.
OneDay exists to give our partners that unbeatable edge. While other communities are still finding their sea legs during some historically challenging times, we’re helping senior living providers focus on a more successful future. Because along with the other strategies I’ve discussed, video marketing represents the keys to the occupancy castle. And OneDay is here to lead the way.