Marketing in a Profoundly Changed World
Direction for Success in 2011
By Catherine S. Martin, President, Hamlyn Senior Marketing
The Great Recession of the past three years has dramatically shifted the mindset of senior housing prospects. The Great Depression of the 1930s left that generation with a last focus on thrift.
Today’s prolonged economic decline has left the current generation of age 75+ retirees with a major and likely permanent shift in their priorities. Today, the need to limit spending – almost without regard to actual wealth – and to look for outstanding value is paramount, crowding out lifestyle as the key consideration for decisions about one’s retirement future.
This is not a situation that the senior living industry can wait out until things return to “normal.”
How, in this upcoming decade do we market and sell to consumers who have been forever changed in how they see the world?
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2011 CCRC Marketing Forecast
Societal attitudes have abruptly switched from ever-increasing affluence to fear about the future, the loss of trust in corporations and the tremendous amount of information available to consumers on the Internet. This change has transformed what seniors want, how to get their attention and what will convince them of the advantages of your community.
Today, the key strategy is to educate the market with valuable, honest information to build your community’s reputation as a trusted advisor through a highly personal marketing approach – one that has its finger on the pulse of prospects more than ever before.
Focus on your community’s primary market area, where you can have the dominant position in that area (ie, lowest cost — not just low cost; or best value — not just good value). Molding your marketing to a particular audience will target your resources and efforts, producing the best results at the lowest cost. This is contrary to the tendency of many communities in challenging times to market geographically further in an attempt to increase the number of people they reach.
Reinstitute a strong community relations and events program with a community outreach director who is well known, respected locally and who becomes the public face of your community. This strategy was heavily used in the earlier days of our industry to maximize trust and educate the marketplace, but fell out of use in the past decade in favor of less time-consuming print advertising.
Train your sales teams to ask the right questions to help prospective residents understand the financial value and overcome their fears. Selling to today’s seniors involves more than showing the lifestyle and healthcare benefits of your community. It involves a sophisticated knowledge of financial operations, contract details and healthcare costs.
Utilize marketing dollars for personalized strategies that educate and build trust rather than on advertising that is inherently seen as slick.
|Community relations outreach||Print advertising|
|Personalized, conversational direct mail
letters that resonate with seniors and
paint a picture of life at your community
|Slick direct mail pieces|
|Personal email communication and
|Order-taking selling that waits for the consumer to initiate contact|
|On-site educational workshops|
|Events that feature well-spoken residents and
staff (CEO, CFO, etc)
|Resident referral programs that motivate
larger numbers of residents to promote the community
There is no substitute for the human touch. In today’s uncertain world, everyone wants a trusted friend who understands and is interested in them.
Our job as marketers is to integrate the power of new electronic marketing with other, more traditional marketing tactics (networking, direct mail, print, telephone and grassroots) in a multilayered approach to enhance and increase the means for relevant, personal interaction in each lead-generating campaign.
|Saving $ for retirement — travel,
vacation home, etc
|Saving $ for children (lost job) and grandchildren (college)|
|Planning ahead||Waiting until things improve|
|Excitement and energy||Caution and deliberation|
|Larger residences; upgrading at own expense||Less expensive, smaller residences with modest upgrades|
|75 to 85 years of age||80 to 90 years of age|
|Reports||Quality-driven, observation, participation|
|Motivation||Accountability, financial reward|
|How many?||Why or why not?|
|No sales leader (instead, marketing director)||Executive director/CEO is sales leader|
|Blanket the market||Targeted personal focus|
|Large number of leads||Quality of leads; cost per lead|
|Advertisements, one-way dialog||Personal communication — word of mouth, conversational direct mail letters|
|No need for networking||Networking to generate leads, build trust|
|Sponsor reputation drives via word of mouth||Individual community reputation drives via word of mouth|
|Printed material and mailings deliver message||Multilayered marketing tactics — electronic, networking, direct mail, print, telephone and grassroots all covered in each lead-generating campaign|
|Number of contacts to sale = 6 to 8||Number of contacts to sale = 15 to 20|
|Time between 1st inquiry and sale = 1 to 2 years||Time between 1st inquiry and sale = short when need driven (6 months) sometimes
long (2+ years), finally deciding when need driven
|Reason to move = want, planning for future||Reason to move = need|
|Decision-maker = prospective resident||Decision-maker = prospect and many others|
|In front door||Through back door (rehabilitation, etc)|
|Call, call, call||Call, email, connect through community|
|“Funnel”||Techniques, hard work and outcomes|
|Wait list marketing||Move-in marketing|
|Social worker / church worker becomes marketer||Career salesperson marketer|
|Passive sales staff with prospects directing sales process||Proactive sales staff initiates many contacts, builds relationships and trust|
Hamlyn Senior Marketing is one of the most experienced marketing consulting firms in the senior living industry with over 33 years of retirement community sales success in all types of economic climates.
To learn how Hamlyn can help you, call Cathy Martin, President, 856-857-0800 or email: Marketing@HamlynMarketing.com