Last time, we discussed the importance of the resident value journey on your senior living community. And we tried to explain the resident value journey in terms of dating someone new. We went from that first introduction all the way to getting more info and more time from them. In digital marketing speak, from awareness to conversion – in this case, getting them to commit to a tour of your community. And that’s where we pick up now.

Click here to read Part 1:  From Possibility to Powerful Force:  The Resident Value Journey & What It Means For You – Part 1

Step 5: Get Them Excited

When you plan that second, third date, or that first weekend away, with that new someone, you naturally want it to be all it can be, right? Romantic. Fun. Special. A memory to last a lifetime, if you get it right.

Your prospective resident and/or their family members deserve nothing less from their tour of your community. They don’t know, really, what to expect, especially if they’ve only interacted with you and your community online.

So now your job is to WOW! them. Give them an experience that will be tough to beat. Knock their socks off, as my grandpa used to say. You can’t just be polite, polished, and presentable. That’s what everyone else is shooting for. No, you need to be a bit extraordinary. A bit memorable.

Want to go above and beyond the competition? Know a bit about them before they arrive, so you can show them exactly how your community will best meet their needs. You can do this through an initial interview, a questionnaire, or our SmartChoices tool.

Imagine – you know from your first date that your new love interest is enamored with the 1940s. The fashion, the music, the dancing, the films. All that Hollywood glamour just pulls them in like a moth to a flame.

Now, imagine how they would react to a night at a classic film festival at a local theater, complete with Big Band dancing and a chance to dress in style. You’d be so much more likely to advance the relationship than if you took them to a plain old fancy restaurant with the guy in the corner on the piano, wouldn’t you?

So, step back and imagine how a prospective resident and their family will react when you show them all the mobility-accessible features of your community. The wide even sidewalks through the grounds (ok, your landscaping CAN count for something), the pool with the ramp for water therapies, the raised planters that allow them to garden from the comfort of their wheelchair or scooter.

Or how about inviting them for their tour on the very same day as the community Scrabble tournament, knowing from their prior info that it is one of their favorite pastimes? What kind of impression do you think that would make?

Do you think you could turn prospects into residents more quickly and easily when they have an interesting, exciting experience with you that first time out? Yeah, I do, too.

Here’s some other things you can do to build excitement around or into your prospect’s community tour:

  • A “thank you” card in the mail with reminders about the date, time, and other specifics of the tour
  • An email series of informative, interesting facts about your community, so they are better informed and prepared when they come
  • A video, delivered to their email, of smiling staff welcoming them to your community

Going the extra mile, just like on that special date or weekend, can mean the difference between a commitment and a Dear John response.

Step 6: Ascend to Greater Things

Once you’ve reached this point, it’s time to take the relationship to the “next level”. Your prospect has decided to make a commitment to your community. For both dating and senior living communities, it’s been decided that you’re “the One” for them.

Ascension is one step in the resident value journey that may not be possible in every situation. It involves what the marketing world calls “upselling”. In our dating scenario, you’ve so impressed the other person with your thoughtfulness, your charm, your personality, that you’ve grown quite close. You feel it’s time to move on to the next step – engagement, sharing an apartment, or even marriage. All you need do is make the offer to step up.

In your resident, you need to make an offer, too, that goes up from just becoming a resident. They’ve already decided on that, but now is your chance to do a bit more. (And that’s why Ascension is an option – your individual situation may not allow for any higher “ups” than what you’ve already offered.)

You can upsell to a larger floorplan. You can upsell to an upgraded package of some sort. Or you can upsell an option to stay in continued care once their rehabilitative stay has finished.

Now, like your significant other, they can always refuse. Maybe they are happy with the relationship the way it is. Maybe it’s a little too soon – they still need to get to know you better. (And here’s where Step 2 comes back into play again– content marketing to keep the available options front and center on their minds.) Or maybe they just aren’t sure they WANT more. The point is, never stop trying to take them higher if you can. Everyone wins when they accept an offer.

Step 7: Opportunities for Advocacy

We’ve moved from complete strangers to happy residents and their families. In our dating world, we are happily a “couple”. But we’re still a new relationship, because it’s not the same relationship we had before. In neither case are we quite ready for “raving fan” status, yet.

Ever notice how a new couple is sometimes hesitant to introduce their new mate to others, especially family? Forget dinner at Mom’s house, or Aunt Martha’s birthday. Too small, too close. Give them an opportunity to do so in a less-intimate setting, though, and they typically can’t help but take you up on it. That retirement party for your boss after work, or your second cousin’s wedding, or your company picnic? Perfect! Thanks for asking.

Your new residents and their families may not be reluctant to tell others about your community for the same shyness, but rather because they don’t really know how. They aren’t aware of your review platform, or that you even can BE reviewed. Here’s another place where that good old content from Step 2 can come into play. Remember, it’s all about ENGAGING them. Including them.

Want quick advocates? Host a community-wide contest for the “best testimonial” videos, including and encouraging family members as well as residents to participate. Have a “red carpet” night where you view ALL the videos submitted, and then announce the winners. First prize is to be the video on your community’s home page, or as part of an advertising campaign. Second place gets sent in an email to prospects way back in Step 2 at the beginning of their resident value journey. Third prize is proudly pinned to the top of the community’s Facebook page. Let your residents create the content you use to create other residents!

A less grand, but also effective way to solicit advocates to speak out in favor of your senior living community is to simply provide them with the information on your review platform. Google business, Glassdoor, or industry specific sites like SeniorAdvisor and SeniorLiving offer first-hand reviews. Positive reviews on these platforms can also be used to impress prospective residents and help them along in their resident value journey.

Step 8: Let Them Do the Promoting for You

At this point in our dating relationship, we’ve become that happy couple that’s SOOOOOO in love, everybody knows it. And we want everyone else to not only know it, but to experience the joy and bliss of love for themselves. We’re trying to set up all our friends, create romantic possibilities for every single person in our lives, because in love is the ONLY place to be. And yes, some find us annoying, but others appreciate our efforts.

At this point in our digital marketing relationship, we’ve got our raving fans. They tell everyone they know about your senior living community, about the great things you do, or have done, for themselves and their loved ones. You are the only place to be when it comes to senior living communities. And that’s marketing that no amount of money can ever truly buy.

How to turn residents into raving fans willing to promote your community? Hopefully, just by being the best community you can be. On a marketing side, though, a little strategy can go a long way. How about a referral program that rewards residents with a discounted month’s stay for any new resident they refer? Or one of those upgrades after X number of new residents sign up because of them?  Perhaps a monetary or other award for family members? Whatever it takes to create them, you need to be doing it.

Did you know that 3 out of 4 people make a buying decision based on the recommendation of someone they know and respect? Those raving fans, whether it be over the hot restaurant in town, or a brand of toothpaste, or your senior living community, make a HUGE difference in your marketing impact. The more of them you have, the less you might have to devote to marketing.

From Bottom to Top, and Back Again

As you can see, the resident value journey isn’t a one-way street. We revisit steps along the way, and when done right, it leads almost in a circle, with raving fam promoters bringing in more folks who weren’t aware of your presence.

It takes time, effort, investment, and a clear strategy to make it work. Each step must logically lead to the next one. Each movement needs to be one moving forward.

How many steps are you and your community engaged in?

What’s your forward momentum look like?

For that matter, do you even have a strategy in place?

If you aren’t sure or would like a better idea of just what you’re doing right, get your resident value journey score. Here’s our evaluation tool – the RVJ Grader. Check your score now.

Let’s get you moving from possibilities to a powerful force of raving fans!