In our last post, Change Your Mind Change Your Marketing For the Better, we discussed how NOT using resident-centric marketing is hurting your efforts at acquiring move-ins & new residents for your senior living & care community. We also promised that we would discuss resident-centric marketing in more detail once you’d had some time to get YOUR head wrapped around the idea. And that’s just what we’re about to do.
First, a brief recap: resident-centric marketing requires a philosophy shift change. You and your “stuff” are NOT the most important things in your prospective resident’s mind. What YOU think is important, really isn’t. They are in the midst of a mental conversation and you have to join it. Meet them where they are, and then move them forward.
Resident-centric marketing isn’t that complex of a concept. But it isn’t quite as simple as “meet them where they are” either. It’s vital to keep the resident in the front of your mind from beginning (actually before) to end.
Resident Centric Marketing’s Four Elements
There are four essential elements that make up resident-centric marketing, and all four MUST be practiced for your marketing efforts to be successful. In short, they are:
- What prospects want
- What prospects need
- What prospects say
- What prospects fear
You can actually anticipate some of these elements and get ahead of the game before your prospect and you ever make that first contact. Knowing how your prospects are thinking, feeling, the questions and fears they bring with them BEFORE they discover your community even exists or what it has to offer can mean a world of difference to you, your marketing success, and to the prospect, too. We’ll discuss that as we look at each element in detail.
What Prospects Want
The first key element of resident centric marketing is remembering that what you think is important and what the prospect thinks is important are often worlds apart. The vast difference can often be explained by looking at things from a two-fold perspective, an inner dialogue and an outer reality.
We briefly touched on your prospects inner conversations in our last post. Let’s delve into that a bit further.
Everyone, from you, to me, to your prospective resident and their family members are all carrying on an inner conversation when it comes to making a major life-altering decision. It goes something like this:
“Do I really want to do this? Is this the right choice? What will happen if I DON’T do this? How much longer can I go on without making SOME choice in the matter? Is THIS the RIGHT choice? What if I make the WRONG choice?” and then it starts all over again in a vicious cycle.
By knowing this is going on inside your prospects’ heads, you can anticipate some of their indecision and act accordingly. What you DO NOT want to do is to move too fast. Don’t jump from “hello, nice to meet you” to “so, when do you want to move in?” or “hi, glad you found us” to “when can we schedule a tour?” They aren’t ready for that kind of commitment yet. They will most likely decline your offer and you’ll never hear from them again.
(Sound a bit like your current marketing efforts? Thought so…)
Resident centric marketing would have you building a relationship with them. Making them comfortable with the idea of you and what you have to offer. Nudge away that doubt. Take part in that conversation by acknowledging its existence and entering into it.
(Much better than what you’re doing now, right?)
What Your Prospect Needs
You also want to focus on the outcome of their decision.
They are looking for more than just a nice day room or activities calendar. Their doubts, their inner conversation, is spurred by the need for peace of mind. In fact, it can only be resolved by peace of mind.
By focusing on material aspects of your community, as appealing and important as they are, won’t do much to resolve that inner conflict and provide that much needed quietude of spirit. So your chef trained at the Cordon Bleu. So you have 12 hours of organized activities or self directed opportunities every day. In their minds, you’re getting a big fat “So what?”
Offer them the features of your community that will provide that peace of mind, and you’ll go a whole lot further toward move in day than focusing on lesser important priorities than your chef’s background in Paris. Talk to them about the things they NEED to hear about.
Like how happy other residents and their families are with their choice in your community. About how your community offers JUST the RIGHT type and level of care they’re looking for. And how you offer the best in that care the area has to offer.
Focus on the needs that are driving them to even consider making such a life-altering choice, and you’ll find more of them choosing you to fulfill it.
What Your Prospects Says
Here’s where some more “pre-prospect” work can be accomplished, at least in some respects.
First, you have to REALLY listen to your prospects when they are talking to you. Engage in conversations that allow them the opportunity to give you lots of details, great insights, into their situation, their lifestyle. How else are you going to know whether or not you can truly meet their needs unless you know at some length what those needs are?
Studies have shown that most people don’t listen to understand. They listen to respond or react. Teaching yourself and your staff to listen to understand, instead of just hearing what you need when it’s your turn is a good step toward resident centric relations, as well as marketing.
Second, you have to be aware of how YOU and your staff speak. Prospect communications are no place for jargon or lingo. Learn to ask if they know what “_____” means before you use it thirty times in a ten minute conversation. Define terms for email and other printed messages.
Also, remember that just because they are of an older generation is no reason to speak to your prospects as though they were little children. Ageism, even accidental or cultural in nature, will not win you many prospects. On the other hand, remember too that the people you may be conversing with aren’t necessarily going to up on the hottest, hippest slang, either.
Use clear, simple language for best results.
What Your Prospective Residents Fear
Face it, many times you are dealing with individuals who have come to a difficult point in life. They realize that they can no longer care for themselves, or their loved one. They are experiencing a great deal of doubt, as we have seen. They are also facing a good bit of fear and guilt, too.
Fear that a move to your community means an end to their independence. An end to life as they’ve known it. That they are placing themselves at the mercies of strangers. Some may even see it as the beginning of the end; that they’ve come there to die.
Family members may be fearing that they’ll be seen as lacking in compassion or capability, “putting” a loved one in a “home”. They may be dealing with the guilt that, no, they weren’t capable of handling dad’s dementia and the children’s needs, too. They may be fearing for their loved one – experiencing some of the same fears as the resident – placing them in the care of strangers.
Resident centric marketing will have you acknowledging these fears. Assuaging them as best you can. Showing them that assisted living does not mean a total loss of independence. Proving to them that your staff is fully trained and capable of caring for dad’s needs. Helping them to know that their fears are real, and perhaps well-founded, but don’t apply to your community.
By dispelling your prospects’ fears from the start, you’ll once again be way ahead of the game in converting a prospective resident to a resident or resident’s family.
Resident Centric Marketing – First, Last, Always
As we’ve seen, resident centric marketing is the ONLY philosophy to have behind your senior community’s marketing efforts. It comes before they come to you. In staff training. In prospect communications. In conversations. In how you conduct your every move in moving them from stranger to resident.
If resident centric marketing isn’t the mindset you have in mind, you’ll find your efforts are more difficult, less successful, and more stressful than they need to be. Change your mind, change your marketing. Change your community.
Resident Centric Marketing, ConversionFormula, and the SmartChoices Tool
When it comes to knowing what your prospect wants and needs before they make contact with you, our SmartChoices Tool can help. It assists the prospect in defining the level of care and type of care they or their loved one needs. It lets them AND you know just what to look for, what questions to ask, what needs need to be met. Check out a demo today and see just what the SmartChoices Tool can do to help you become more resident centric.