Marketing Strategy Changes for the Pandemic
For senior care facilities, changing your marketing strategies is just as important as adjusting daily operations in light of the pandemic. From new marketing messaging to different ways of connecting with audiences, a facility’s marketing team needs to pivot to stay effective during this time.
New Marketing Platforms
Many of the marketing platforms and strategies that senior care facilities previously relied on, like in-person events, just aren’t effective (or possible) right now.
Elizabeth Hanes, BSN, RN and content marketing expert at Hanes Health Communications/RN2writer, says it’s essential for facilities to shift to virtual events. “I think you have to think in terms of creative questions,” explains Haynes. “How do we do a virtual tour? Can we do video? Can we have live segments? How do we accomplish this now? I think it’s an exciting time in terms of marketing channels because everyone has to branch out from ‘we have a web page and make a phone call for an appointment.’”
Barbara Goldberg, CEO and co-founder of O’Connell & Goldberg PR, agrees that technology provides senior care facilities with valuable marketing opportunities during this time. “Marketing vehicles that utilize technology are by far most effective. With video, a facility can show the ease of moving in or a day in the life of a resident. Videos of staff or residents are effective, and they give a facility a chance to convey that they offer outstanding care, that they’re prioritizing safety during COVID-19, and that residents are active and engaged.”
Goldberg also recommends that senior care facilities seek out residents doing interesting things and highlight them. “We work with a retirement community with a resident who loves to cook,” says Goldberg. “We suggested she host a virtual cooking series and post it on the community’s social media pages. The resident loves the idea, and families can watch her make wonderful recipes. Video has been a great marketing vehicle, and it’s a vibrant place where users are active.”
The right messaging is important to effective market at any time, but messaging has become even more essential during the pandemic. Hanes advocates for empathy and honesty in marketing messaging. “Facilities need to be boldly transparent right now,” she says. “That is the way to build that connection with the target audiences to say, ‘We understand that you’re very concerned about this because we’re very concerned about it, too. Together, we can figure out how to make this work for everyone.’ Acknowledging anxiety is crucial.”
Goldberg also notes that facilities should acknowledge that this is an unsettling time, as well as identify the steps that they’re taking to keep residents safe. Being upfront about screening requirements for visitors, activities that are taking place, and what procedures are ready in case someone tests positive can help to build trust in the facility.
Valuable Marketing Best Practices
Now, more than ever, is a great time to highlight positive human interest stories. “We’re inundated with negative news right now, and people are craving those good stories,” says Goldberg. “A milestone birthday, anniversary, a resident who’s taken up a new hobby – publicize those stories to local media and repurpose them through emails to families.”
Hanes notes that consistency of messaging across multiple platforms is extremely important. “Voice and tone and messaging need to align with your brand and be consistent across your assets. If your website is outdated and saying one thing in one tone, and your newsletters say something entirely different, that disconnect is going to unsettle people.”
Situations can change rapidly during the pandemic, and facilities need to take some proactive steps to ensure that they’ll be able to deliver that consistent messaging, especially when working to quickly share news and updates. Goldberg recommends that a facility’s executive director, marketing director, and sales director hold daily meetings and establish a strong communication system. Drafting letters ahead of time and drafting up answers to questions a facility might face is also an excellent preparedness strategy. Additionally, a facility should maintain updated lists of who needs to receive what information, and should have updated email addresses of family members.
Like most elements of senior care, the pandemic requires businesses to revisit their marketing techniques. By adopting techniques and messaging that are relevant and effective during a pandemic, a business can build public and family trust and engage with its audiences in powerful ways.
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