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At Walker Marketing, we don’t just talk about thought leadership—we practice it. You’re invited to read our blogs and compare your thoughts on marketing and public relations with ours. We welcome your comments and questions.

Direct Mail Offers That Get Seniors Responding

In recent years, overall use of direct mail has continued to decrease as digital marketing has taken off in many industries. But in senior living, direct mail continues to serve as an effective means of reaching your target market. More so than most other demographic groups, the over-65 set continues to respond well to direct mail offers. Not all direct mail campaigns are created equal, though. When it comes to crafting an effective direct mail offer, the million-dollar question is: What persuades seniors to respond? To get your phones ringing, consider the following four types of offers. 1. A Special Event Most people love an invitation to an exclusive event, and seniors seem to respond particularly well to a beautiful, well-designed invite. Whether it’s an open house, luncheon, cocktail party or picnic on the grounds, an enticing event will get seniors into your community. If your community develops a reputation for throwing especially fun or interesting events with excellent food, your response rate should increase even more. As you plan events, give careful consideration to the setting, menu, speaker or entertainment. Every event detail matters. Think strategically about how you design your invitation. If your dining program and chef are crowning jewels for your community, don’t be afraid to brag a little. Listing the mouth-watering courses your guests can expect certainly won’t do any harm, either. It also may be beneficial to plan smaller events and have them fill up quickly so you can add prospects to a waiting list for your next date. Exclusivity breeds desire, after all. 2. A Great Deal It’s likely that some of your...

Marketing Person-Centered Care

Over the past few years, the person-centered care movement has begun to sweep the senior living industry. For residents and caregivers, person-centered care is a wholly positive shift away from the image of cold, clinical senior living “facilities” of yesteryear and towards warm, inviting environments in which individual dignity is respected. If your community has implemented person-centered care, you know it’s a complex concept involving every aspect of your organization. What are some strategies you can use in your marketing efforts to fully explain the value that person-centered care brings to residents? Get Personal As the name suggests, person-centered care is about individuals. To fully communicate the value of person-centered care, you’ll need to see life from the perspective of an individual resident. For someone living in assisted living or skilled nursing, what does person-centered care mean on a daily basis? How does it change the daily routine? Many seniors fear losing their independence and ability make choices about their activities; person-centered care attempts to return some of that control to the individual. In real terms, it means that if you hate waking up early, you can sleep in and not worry that you might miss breakfast. It means you get to choose when you want a bath. It means you make decisions about your own care, and it means you have the right to determine how staff members can best meet your needs. On your website, in print collateral, on social media and elsewhere in your marketing efforts, make it clear that person-centered care is about choice. Update Your Mission Mutual respect, understanding and the individual’s right to...

Resident Photos in Marketing – Part II

In Part I of our Resident Photos in Marketing series, we looked at the advantages and disadvantages of your senior living marketing images: stock photos and resident photos. We also offered a solution that can give you the best of both worlds. By professionally shooting your own “stock photos” that feature your community’s residents, you get original, creative images that meet your needs for a variety of marketing scenarios. You’re also relieved of the worry that a royalty-free stock photo you’ve used prominently in your marketing will end up on a competitor’s website or in an undesirable ad. You now know how to choose a skilled, compatible photographer and how to recruit your resident models. But it’s also important to consider how you can get great active shots, what scenes to shoot, how to safely back up your photos for future ease of access and how to update your shots in the future. Amazing Active Shots You know how dynamic your residents are and you’re well aware of the vast array of activities that occurs on a daily basis in your community. The challenge is conveying that spirit of joie de vivre in photos. To determine the locations, activities and specific shots that will show your campus and your residents to best effect, consider doing a little sleuthing. Ask the professional photographer you’ve selected to visit the community on a couple different days. Together, take some time to walk around and peek in on different scenes and activities. Be sure to include active areas, such as: The wellness center. The pool. The art studio, library and other areas where...

Make the Most of Your Senior Living Website

With so many marketing channels available these days — we’re looking at you, social media — you may wonder if your community still needs a website. The answer is an emphatic “yes!” Your website acts as home base for your brand, and it’s critical for educating prospects about your community and collecting valuable data. But the site that served your needs five years ago likely isn’t sufficient today for anchoring a robust senior living marketing program. To maximize your website investment, pay attention to these important features. 1. Responsive Design The number-one critical functionality your website needs in 2016 is responsive design. A few years ago, “mobile” site design became a priority in web design. Today, you can assume that a significant percentage of your site visitors will arrive via mobile devices. In 2014, the number of web users on mobile devices exceeded the number using desktop machines. The question now is, what types of mobile devices will your visitors use? With consumers viewing your site on so many screen sizes, it has become virtually impossible to design “mobile” sites to meet every need. Enter responsive design, which automatically adjusts your site’s pages to look good on any screen size, whether on a tablet, phone or desktop. Responsive design take a lot of the guesswork out of design so you can be assured your site looks good on all viewing devices. 2. Enticing Images and Video Social media has raised expectations among consumers for information to be delivered in easy to consume, bite-sized nuggets. Compelling photos and videos deliver messaging about your community much more quickly than text can,...

Resident Photos in Marketing – Part I

Imagine a prospective future resident is browsing your website, learning more about your community and growing more comfortable with the idea of a move. She notices a photo of a nice-looking gentleman playing a game of cards with friends. He seems so familiar! She wonders, “Where have I seen him before?” Then it hits her: That same man appeared in an ad for another senior living community — your closest competitor. How much allure does your community lose when your prospective resident realizes that the man doesn’t actually live there, but instead is a paid model? Stock Photos in Senior Living Stock photos are fantastic for many purposes. Royalty-free photos are cheap, fast and abundantly available. They represent a diverse population, depicting people of both genders and every race, age, hair color and style of dress. But these convenient marketing props also have some downsides. As your prospective resident found, a stock photo you’ve used prominently can end up in a competitor’s materials or — even worse — in an ad for a product with which you’d prefer not to be associated. Sure, exclusive rights are available for purchase for rights-managed photography on sites such as Getty Images, but you’ll pay upwards of $1,000 or more for it. Resident Photos in Senior Living If stock photos and exclusive rights in your geography are cost prohibitive — at least for images you’ll prominently feature on your website and in other collateral — what’s the alternative? One approach is to take photos of real residents. But that option can be fraught with peril, too. Some senior living communities use any and...

Five Compelling Events for Senior Living Communities

As a senior living marketing professional, you know that scheduling regular events is vital for getting prospective residents into your community and converting interest into reservations and move-ins. But are your events drawing the turnout required to keep your sales pipeline humming along? Many communities limit marketing events to standard luncheons with topics like “Community Advantages” or “The Benefits of Life Care.” Assuming the goal is to get prospective residents to visit your community as often as possible, how reasonable is it to expect these much-covered topics to do the trick? If your marketing events aren’t having the desired impact on your community’s bottom line, it may be time for an upgrade. Here are five of the most compelling categories of events from senior living communities around the country. 1. Resident Speakers Talk to a prospective resident for more than a few minutes and you’ll learn that he takes what “marketing people” say with a hefty grain of salt. Your prospective residents likely are visiting other communities in addition to yours, and they’re hearing roughly the same sales pitch. What many prospective residents really want to know is the truth about living in your community. And they want to hear it from the horses’ mouths, so to speak — your residents. Events that feature current residents tend to boost turnout. Configure your resident-starring events in a variety of ways: A panel discussion with several residents. An “Ask-A-Resident” Q&A session. Residents who have had a stay in your health center, for example, can speak about their personal experiences and the pros and cons. 2. Parade of Homes Individuals considering a...

5 Ways to Influence Adult Children

If you’re speaking with seniors on a regular basis, you know that adult children often play a major role in determining when — and even if — Mom and Dad move into a community. In some cases, adult children are in favor of a move. They want what’s best for their parents and will encourage them to move to a senior living community while they’re still young and healthy enough to enjoy the many amenities and activities.