The Changing Face of Senior Living Marketing

The Internet has changed so many aspects of senior life, from the ways in which they shop for a continuing care retirement community (CCRC), to the ways in which they communicate with their doctors. Marketing strategies for those companies and health care providers also is changing as seniors become more adept at using the web and social media.

Price Transparency

In Cassandra Dowell’s “New Senior Living Shopper Demands Price Transparency,” the point is clear: if CCRCs want to close deals with seniors and/or their adult children, they are going to have to embrace price transparency.  The days of people visiting CCRCs and making their own decisions seem to be a thing of the past, as potential consumers and their adult children price-shop CCRCs online.

As older people and their adult children begin to look for CCRCs, they no longer just want to know about the services and amenities; now they want to know about providers’ contracts, financial stability, and property financials, history, and management information.  The economic downturn seems to have made it even more important for seniors to know more about their choices in CCRCs and feel secure in their decisions.

But, providing the right types of information and amount of price transparency online can be a daunting task for CCRCs.  Databases such as LifeSite Logics and Silver Living have compiled the information and done their own research and reviews on CCRCs and provide consumers with the information and reports they may be looking for when considering a CCRC.

These sites also aid consumers who may not trust information directly from the CCRCs and who are looking for unbiased tools to help them make decisions about their care.

shopping online

When this information is unavailable online, consumers have a difficult time in making those decisions, and with so much information about other CCRCs becoming available, they may just ignore the sites that don’t provide enough information all together.  So, while some CCRCs may consider keeping prices under wraps to encourage on-site visits from prospects, they in actuality are shooting themselves in the foot.

Consumers who know the pricing is within their budgets are more likely to tour the facilities because they don’t want to waste their time looking into CCRCs that are out of their league.  When price transparency is in place, CCRCs create more meaningful follow-up opportunities with prospects and save everyone a great deal of time: only those prospects who can afford your CCRC are contacting you and scheduling tours.

Diane Twohy Masson, CASP, has outlined ten goals with walk-in tours in mind, with number 1 being the highest level to achieve:

  1. Getting a senior to move into your senior living community.  Congratulations on helping them find a solution for their needs!
  2. Scheduling a move-in date – their house sold and they are ready to move in.
  3. Depositing on an apartment – you’ve made a sale!
  4. Coming back to choose an apartment – be careful not to make any assumptions or they will leave before making a choice.
  5. Coming back to discuss financial requirements – get an administrator involved to help.
  6. Coming back to discuss health concerns – remember, this may or may not be the official health assessment.
  7. Coming back to dine with residents – encourage this so the residents can work their magic on your prospect.
  8. Attending an event – help them to imagine the lifestyle of your community.
  9. Touring a second time – invitations to dine with residents, look at the perfect apartment, or meet with some residents and staff are very beneficial.
  10. Wanting to ask more questions – this is the first indication that they are interested, so be on the lookout for a solution to their needs.

Getting the information out to prospects and their adult children online is just the first step in marketing to seniors.  CCRCs need to have a strategy in place for tours and meeting goals to ultimately close the deal with seniors looking for a care facility.

Connecting Through Social Media

Just as the internet has made finding and choosing CCRCs easier for older people, social media and the web have made connecting and communicating with health care providers easier too.

Angie Haupt points out that hospitals have been building an online presence for some time, driven by marketing and supported by relatively large budgets, but there is a trend in more primary care and other private-practice doctors expanding their horizons on the web.  And, the numbers of doctors who are blogging and tweeting are increasing every year.

But, “Should You ‘Friend’ Your Doctor?”  That’s a topic Kristine Crane explores in her May 2014 US News & World Report article, and it appears as though the answer is yes: as long as both the patients and the doctors follow the same rules of communication.  One rule of thumb to follow is that patients should avoid contacting doctors all of the time or for very serious issues online, and doctors are prohibited by law to have specific conversations about patients on social media.

doctor using technology

One of the more effective ways of connecting with doctors through social media is through the various chatting and forum options.  Patients with similar health concerns are able to connect with one another and their doctor and share similar concerns and questions.  And, some doctors are creating podcasts and YouTube videos for patients to listen to or watch prior to their visits, so they attend appointments already armed with critical information.

Again, transparency is the key to effective online communication.  The more information CCRCs and doctors provide to patients online, the more likely they are to transform from prospects to customers and patients.

Images via Flickr by Tim Reckmann and HI TRICIA!

Post by Angela Stringfellow

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