Assisted Living Marketing that Misses the Mark
I have a friend who is in triage mode. She’s searching for a place for her parents.
She has several siblings, but the responsibility has been dumped on her. Trying to navigate the options available for her parents and not really knowing where to turn, she called me.
We discussed her father’s ADL’s, diagnoses, and current daily routine. We talked about the struggles her mother has in keeping up with meds and getting worn down. Caregiver stress is making her forgetful.
The siblings answer?
“Tell mom that dad needs to go to a home.”
I advised my friend based on general income, and the very little assistance her father actually needs, to look into home health.
She was going to talk to her parents this past weekend, so I have been curious about how the conversation actually went. The siblings’ advice to tell mom what she needs to do is bad.
I reminded my friend that because her mother is fully independent, the decisions for her dad are her’s, not my friend’s, and not the siblings. The best way to alienate a parent is to tell them they have to live separately from a spouse of 40+ years.
Put yourself in that position. How would you feel?
My curiosity about her search led to me “Googling” senior living communities in her area. I wish I could say I found a couple of good potential fits and all the information I was looking for. But I can’t.
Why not? It’s the way many communities choose to market themselves.
Here are the questions I found myself asking while going through this frustrating experience:
The first thing I noticed is no pricing anywhere on the websites I checked.
The debate revolving around posting pricing has been a big one in this industry for years. I say emphatically: POST THE PRICE.
Can you imagine the adult child in triage mode like my friend, who is a single mother, working a full-time job, trying to narrow down selections for their parents? Who has time to request information from all the communities, make appointments, and go on visits, only to find out the community is not in the family budget?
I’ll repeat… Post the price.
Why Is This Taking So Long?
For the communities I found that had cost estimator tools, I went through the entire assessment and I was still required to enter my information before I could get the estimate. Adult children don’t have time for this!
Transparency will win you business every time. Most people will skip all this work and move on to getting what they need. Help.
Make your websites easy to gather information for your prospect, whether that is the adult child or the prospective resident.
What About Couples?
I also discovered that nobody, and I mean nobody, advertises that an independent living and assisted living couple can live together in the same residence. This is vital for converting qualified leads!
Couples care about staying together in the same residence for as long as possible. Most of what I found on the sites I visited read like you were looking to “put your loved one” somewhere.
My friend doesn’t want to “put” her parents anywhere. She wants to help them make an informed decision that absolutely doesn’t involve separation.
The lines between Independent and Assisted Living are becoming more blurred and communities often allow couples to stay together. The assumption is the well spouse will supply most of the care with perhaps some services provided in the apartment. With advances in technology and support services that can be put into place for residents to stay in their apartments, this is becoming a more viable option.
If you’re going to allow Assisted Living appropriate residents to reside with their spouse in Independent Living, why not promote that couples are encouraged to remain together? From an IL marketing standpoint, I get the argument that it will drive more AL qualified couples to your door.
First, this is happening anyway. Second, you don’t need to lead with it on the home page of your website. I believe there is a proper way to promote this to drive interest and increase the community value proposition.
Couples want to stay together. Let the adult children know this is a possibility. You’ll instantly give them what they’re searching for.
Do Any Happy Residents Live Here?
I wrote a previous blog about the use of stock photography. I’ll emphasize it here again. Use real residents.
Don’t show empty rooms, which give a cold feeling. Warm it up by photographing actual residents in their real residences. Many of your assisted living residents are still quite independent and deserve to be portrayed as such.
Am I Helping?
The adult children who are navigating this world for the very first time are scared. Just as much as their parents, they are afraid of making a wrong decision for their loved ones.
Help them see that they can help their parents, by making it easy for them to get information and get back to their hectic lives or working full-time and raising a family, instead of turning the search into a full-time endeavor.