What do you do when you discover a restaurant where you absolutely love the food, the service, the atmosphere – everything? What happens when you see a really great film that lives up to all its preview hype?
Do you keep all that good stuff to yourself? Probably not.
Word of mouth marketing is THE most effective, powerful form of marketing any business can have. But how do you get to the point of having raving fans telling everyone about you?
Simple. Something called a “value journey”. For your senior living community, that would be your Resident Value Journey.
There are 8 steps to the resident value journey, moving the possible resident through a pathway that ends with them becoming one of those raving fans telling everyone about all of your community’s “good stuff”.
Now, 8 steps may sound daunting and perhaps even a bit overwhelming, but if you think of like dating…yes, dating and forming OTHER personal relationships, it becomes easy to understand and implement.
One word here…this IS serious marketing. You will have to put in time and effort, invest money and yourself, to create this resident value journey pathway for your senior community. Those powerful “word of mouthers” don’t just develop overnight or without assistance from you, just like a meaningful relationship takes time effort, and yes, money.
Ready? Then let’s get started.
Step 1: Making Them Aware
Awareness is the first step in the resident value journey. You need to make those strangers who have never heard of you conscious of your very existence.
Look on this step as the “introduction” you get through an online dating service, or your best friend, or perhaps more like just saying “hi” in a club to that cute person at the end of the bar.
Your senior living community may be well-known in your larger community, but just how many of your neighbors really understand your services? You must reach out, get found, and stand out from the rest.
There are some solid, effective ways to create awareness online. They include:
- Paid ads – Google and Facebook ads are great ways to reach out and make yourself known to both the seniors themselves, and their loved ones who may be doing the searching for them
- SEO (search engine optimization) – Helping your community’s website, blog, and other online “properties” rank high in the search results means you get found, and seen, quickly
- Local SEO – this approach to SEO helps those neighbors of yours find out all about you and what you have to offer by focusing on those searching the internet in your local area
Step 2: Engaging Conversation
The next step in the resident value journey is to engage your potential resident or their family member in meaningful, valuable conversations. This step is one you’ll come back to repeatedly throughout the journey.
I mean, think about it. You don’t go on a first date with someone and only say “hello” at the beginning of the evening, do you? No. And that’s exactly what this step is like.
It’s your first date. You get to know one another. You ask questions. You answer questions. You tell stories, share photos on your phone. And in doing so you make a connection. You begin to form a relationship.
As to coming back to this step again and again, you don’t stop talking to each other after a successful first date, do you?
No! You continue to communicate, continue to nurture your relationship, continue to share and grow closer together. Your resident relationship is no different, and that is why this step in the resident relationship journey is so important, so vital to your business.
Some ways you can create those conversations are through content marketing using:
- Blog posts
- Video content – your own YouTube or Vimeo channel
- A Facebook group
Step 3: Create Subscribers
You’ve had your first date. You really like the other person and they like you. Now, where do you go from here? You’ll most likely exchange contact info.
“Here’s my email. Here’s my phone number. Here’s my work number.”
You’ve earned the right to this more personal information because of the new relationship you’ve formed. Because you now find value in continuing the relationship begun on the first date, in those first conversations. Because you now have some trust in the other individual. And that trust makes all the difference.
Your potential resident MUST trust you before they will give you any of their limited resources, be it time, or money, or effort. They also have a desire to find what you have to offer of significant value.
That value isn’t based on how good YOU are – your food, your landscaping, your activity calendar. That value is based on THEM and the internal conversations they are having.
Let’s go back to our date…we’re sitting at the table or walking down the street. Our date is telling us all about their job, their rescued dog, their vacation last year.
We’re not thinking, “oooh, yeah, I’d love to meet that dog.” No. We’re more likely thinking, “Oh, they rescued a dog from the shelter. That’s a cool sign of a caring personality. That’s something attractive.” OR “Oh, a dog person. There go my allergies. Too bad.”
Your potential resident or their family member is the same way. They aren’t thinking, “how good is the food?” They are wondering what level of care your community provides. They may even be confused as to what the differences in care levels are. They are wondering if you can meet the most important needs they or their loved one has.
Your menu and your gardening are the last things on their mind.
In your resident value journey, this step is where you give them something really valuable, something that addresses THEIR needs, and in exchange, they give you an email address. They’ve become a subscriber to your email list. And they’ve deepened their relationship with your community.
Some ideas of REAL value you can offer to get those precious subscribers include:
- A questionnaire that helps determine the level of care a loved one truly needs
- A virtual tour of your facility
- A checklist to help create a “senior safe” environment
They sign up. Their questionnaire results are delivered to their inbox. Or their tour video loads on a separate page with a “thank you” message. Or their checklist is delivered in a printable file that they can access either through your website or their email.
It’s instant, real value that meets their real needs. It builds trust and shows trust.
On another note, it also helps you, too. These are people with a real interest in your senior living community. Especially if they stay subscribed to your email list. They’ve opened up a line of communication between you and them. It’s like getting that private phone number at the end of the night.
Simply put – They want what you have to offer.
Note here…many skip over this step and go straight for a deeper commitment. It’s tempting and so easy to do, but it doesn’t work. It’s why 98% of their leads are unqualified, or uninterested, or never follow through. They are asked to do too much, too fast. This step ALMOST guarantees that the individuals on your email list are one more step closer to making a commitment to you and your community.
Which leads to…
Step 4: Commitment or Conversion
This is where, in our dating scenario you are ready to have that second, third, even fourth date. You’ve become a source of real value, of a meaningful relationship, to the other person.
NOW, you can ask for an “escalation” in that relationship. For your resident value journey, that escalation is in the form of a commitment of TIME. Just like asking your date to spend more time with you, now you can ask your potential resident to spend more time with your community.
Come and take a tour.
Come and meet some of our staff or residents.
Join us for lunch.
Spend the afternoon here on Saturday.
Some may not be ready and that’s perfectly all right. You simply continue to nurture the relationship through your engaging content marketing. (Back to step 2, again.)
It’s like the date who isn’t comfortable meeting your parents or having dinner at your place but doesn’t mind meeting for coffee or lunch or a walk in the park. It doesn’t mean the relationship is over – it’s just not as close as it could become.
So far, we’ve taken the potential resident from not knowing who or what we are all the way to coming for a tour. We’ve gone from complete strangers to a deeper, more meaningful, valuable relationship. We’ve given, and received, trust. And we’ve made your job easier because you know that those prospective residents are REALLY interested, are REALLY good leads.
Next time, we’ll examine the remaining 4 steps in the resident value journey, where we go from interested party to saying, “I do” to saying “you should, too”. We’ll get you those raving resident fans, just wait and see.