Creative Ideas for Marketing Senior Care Facilities During the Pandemic
Senior care facilities can always benefit from creative marketing, but marketing ingenuity has become even more important given the challenges of the pandemic. Not only do many facilities have open beds that they need to fill, but the pandemic has left many traditional marketing methods, like event presentations and networking, ineffective or impractical.
Now more than ever, senior care facilities will benefit from getting creative and innovative with their marketing.
Focus on Messaging First
Before exploring new marketing avenues and techniques, it’s important to analyze and perfect your marketing message. Katie Adkisson, APR, co-founder of Reed Public Relations, recommends facilities remain as transparent as possible in their messaging. “There’s no faster way to lose trust than by shrouding certain piece of information from the families and residents most affected,” she explains.
It’s also essential for facilities to deliver consistent messaging and transparency across all of their marketing platforms. “Once you’ve shared all the necessary and pertinent information regarding COVID-19, it’s time to highlight why your facility is the safest place for seniors right now. Mention your regular testing, vaccination program and other safety measures like social-distancing and mask mandates in every Facebook post and family letter you draft. Make sure you showcase images of people who are adhering to CDC guidelines. Communicate regularly, even if you don’t have big news to share, so prospective clients know you are keeping family members’ needs top of mind,” she recommends.
Embrace New Marketing Techniques
Senior care facilities can move beyond their traditional marketing to reach new audiences in different, yet effective, ways. Adkisson suggests that facilities reach out to their local hospital administrators and share the facility’s policies and procedures, as well as bed vacancies. Hospitals might be willing to recommend the facility to senior patients who need care after being discharged.
Adkisson also highlights the importance of embracing digital marketing and social media. She suggests facilities that also try hosting a monthly Zoom information session. “You can invite multiple interested parties, so the event retains a “group setting” feel,” she explains. “It also allows you to share information with multiple families at once.”
“Depending on COVID-19 rates in your area, you could also partner with a local restaurant or business,” suggests Adkisson. “The restaurant or business can donate products to your residents to keep spirits high, and you can share the news with family and friends on social media, as well as with the local press. The result is a positive message that benefits both parties.”
J.J. Rusnak, Ph.D., of FindContinuingCare.com, also believes that senior care facilities need to embrace online marketing solutions. He suggests that facilities use webinars instead of seminars, video tours in place of in-person tours, and Zoom or Skype meetings in place of in-person meetings.
He also suggests that facilities hire a company to create an online basic tour to let seniors and their families see what the facility offers in key areas. “Offer personal tours through Zoom to show the housing you have available,” he says. “Learn how to create stories on Facebook and Instagram with your residents enjoying their day. Show how during the pandemic, your community is thriving. Ask senior residents for testimonials to post on your website. Let them speak to how your community is handling the pandemic and let potential new residents know how they are thriving.”
Stephan Baldwin, founder of AssistedLivingCenter.com, agrees that video tours are an excellent entry point to a facility’s sales funnel. He recommends that a facility invest in the most professional supplier they can find to create the video. Rather than creating one long video, though, Baldwin highlights the value in creating a series of bite-size videos that highlight different aspects of the facility. “Create a YouTube channel and host the videos there, linking to your website, in order to benefit from exposure on one of the world’s top search engines,” he recommends. “Be sure to write accurate, attention-grabbing, persuasive titles and descriptions for the videos.”
Baldwin also notes that facilities can boost their SEO by completing their free Google My Business profile. He recommends that facilities make sure the profile is fully optimized and up to date with as much information and imagery possible. Facilities can then ask happy residents and families to leave a review on the profile.
Sometimes, trying something entirely new can pay off for senior care facilities. Adkisson highlights the work done by Blakeford Senior Life in Nashville, Tennessee. “Blakeford Senior Life is working on an exciting partnership with the Nashville Symphony,” she explains. “Blakeford has entered into a yearlong partnership with the symphony to support its musicians, while the symphony supports Blakeford residents by playing special virtual concerts. It’s ta truly symbiotic relationship and has also resulted in media coverage for both parties.”
Testing and Evaluation
As with all marketing efforts, facilities will see varying results from their new marketing efforts, so it’s important to be strategic in implementing these new strategies. “I always recommend making changes in small doses,” says Adkisson. “Don’t overhaul everything at once; start by updating your language, then change your images and graphics. Make sure you have enough time between edits and to receive and consider feedback.”
Adkisson also recommends that facilities get feedback from staff at all levels of the organization, and also ask trusted community members to provide feedback in a focus group, if time allows.
The pandemic has required facilities to adopt new procedures and outlooks. Adopting new marketing techniques can help facilities continue to fill vacancies and better connect with potential residents and families.
Topics: Business Marketing Including Social Media and CRM , Featured Articles , Policy , Resident Care