22 Dec Top 10 Marketing Tips
Cynthia: Well, welcome, all of you aging cosmonauts and senior living professionals. This is Cosmic Soup, a podcast that covers everything around successful aging, and we provide helpful information for communities that serve an aging population, namely senior living communities. Although, we do try not to use the word “senior” too much. We cover topics of positive aging messaging, branding, dining, culinary, business practices, sales practices, and more.
My name is Cynthia Thurlow, and I am the principal here at 3rdPlus.
Cynthia: I am very excited to be accompanied by Derek Dujardin, one of my very favorite people in the world. He’s also one of my favorite coworkers. Derek?
Derek: Hi, everybody. I am Derek Dujardin. Now that everybody knows that I’m her favorite coworker, we’re going to have to email – probably clear that up with the rest of the staff. [Laughter]
Derek: Anyway… They probably won’t listen to the podcast anyway, so we’ll probably get away with it.
With that said, the topic for today is the top ten ways for making marketing magic in 2023.
Cynthia: Yes! Let’s make some marketing magic in 2023. Of course, we want to make marketing magic with you and for you. But if we can’t do it, we want you to do it on your own.
Derek and I have put together our ten ideas. We’re going to go through these quickly because we think you’re probably sitting in your offices cleaning things up between Christmas and New Year when you hear this. Maybe it’ll inspire.
Our first one is to build a custom photo library that’s strategic and styled. We talk about this all the time, but it’s very different than hiring, say, a drone photographer or just a photographer to show up and shoot.
This is intentionally styled photography that tells your brand story. You want to get your brand story identified and then shoot the photos. Check out our website to see some good examples of that.
Derek: Yeah. Let me jump in on this as well. As we know, when site visitors go to a website, one of the most visited pages is the photo gallery. Because it’s one of the most visited pages, people are always asking themselves a singular question, “Can I live here? Could I see myself living here?”
Your photos go a long way to help build that image in their mind and at least get them maybe or for sure. Then they will engage further.
But a lot of people, they come to your photo gallery and they’re not liking it. That will answer the question, “This isn’t for me,” and they’ll go to another competitor.
Cynthia: Yes. Derek, number two?
Derek: Number two is turn your website into a lead generation machine. We’re big believers in content marketing. A lot of people come to your website, and a lot of people see their website as sort of like this brochure, just an online brochure, and they’re going to use it to answer all of the questions that a prospect might have. The problem with that is once you answer all their questions, other than maybe to sign up for a tour, there’s no other reason for them to contact you.
The truth is this target audience is also looking for answers. As we age, we get older, and we want to engage with those things like maybe how to right-size my life, or how to get rid of clutter if I’m going to move to a smaller spot, or maybe it’s how can I be a good friend to my friend who has dementia, or what is the financial considerations for a life plan community?
There are lots of different topics out there that you can create this content for. The idea is that they need to give you their email address or maybe even their phone number to get this content. People are willing to do that if it’s something that really speaks to them.
Cynthia, do you have anything to add on that?
Cynthia: Yeah. 3rdThird offers, actually, licensed content that’s really high quality. The books are about 60 pages. We offer matching PowerPoint presentations, and we can train you on how to give them.
This is something that you don’t have to pay an arm and a leg for. We license it. Check it out if you’re interested. It’s proven to convert leads. We watch it every day.
Number three: Stop using media that doesn’t work. Invest in media that does.
We see this quite a bit. Sometimes communities will run in their local little community publications, and that’s fine if, just as a brand, you want to support those communications. But if you’re not measuring it, it’s possible you’re not getting leads on it.
A little hint: If it’s a newspaper pub – and, yes, people do read the Sunday newspaper – it’s really the major paper in your market. Then if you’re going to use some other pubs, just be sure to test them. Track your phone numbers. Put unique URLs on those, and track results.
Derek: Great. I have nothing more to add to that. I agree with you 100%. Stop using media that doesn’t work and invest in what does.
Number four is put forth a positive aging mindset. Really what we’re talking about here is your community needs to stand for something. It has to be a beacon that basically attracts people to a way of life or to something that speaks to them.
So much of moving to a senior community is really about what I don’t want. I don’t want this. I don’t want this. But I have to have it.
It’s the one product that nobody really wants to buy. That’s just because of the way it’s been sold all these years.
We really believe that if you do a good job of selling your community as something that is going to fulfill a need or a wish or be something that’s going to be beneficial to their life, improving their ability to be more well or untap an artistic side or something like that, something that speaks to themselves aspirationally, then you’ve gone a long way to reposition your community versus something that I have to do and it’s something that I really don’t want to do.
Cynthia: I know. I completely agree. Move people towards something. Get them excited. Make them feel inspired and their life is going to be different, better, more fun, more interesting. They’re going to live longer, which is truly a fact. If you live in a community, you do live longer. There are so many ways to do that.
Derek: And you live better, and you eat well, and you’ve got friends, and it’s social. I mean there are lots of good reasons to do it. It’s just that people focus too much on the 90% of it, which is, “Oh, my goodness. We’re talking about taking care of people.” Well, that’s a baseline.
That might be the main reason they’re going there, but it’s not the reason they want to be there. Right? That doesn’t light them up.
That’s just kind of like wheels on a car. It’s not the sporty model that makes you want to go for a drive.
Now we are on to number five.
Cynthia: Yeah. Test out webinars again. Webinars, we were early adopters of webinars (as soon as the pandemic hit), and we used them successfully. In fact, we had grand openings on webinars. It totally worked.
Then it seemed like maybe the interest in attending webinars dropped off a bit because people got tired of it. There were just too many going on.
But we’ve recently dusted them off, and we’re having amazing results in an urban market. We recently had 156 RSVPs for a webinar, and 82 engaged and interested attendees. That turned into one hold and six follow-up appointments.
You just can’t get better than that. It costs you nothing to do it. Just the marketing to get the RSVPs. We think that now people are so used to Zoom, and they’re not sick of it anymore because they had to do it for everything, so it’s worth trying again.
Derek: That’s cool. I like that. I love that that’s working so well.
Number six: Commit to identifying and eliminating unintentional ageism in your marketing.
We are big proponents of this thing called internalized ageism, and it doesn’t seem like very many marketing companies are really paying attention to this and how much internalized ageism (as a self-fulfilling set of beliefs) are really pushing and driving the bus for a lot of these prospects. Because we don’t understand these triggers and these nuances of images, they run things that actually trigger people’s internalized ageism.
We’ve all heard about the 92-year-old that walks into a community. They look around. They say, “I can’t live with all these old people.” That’s internalized ageism.
What we are saying is you’ve got to look at your marketing and see how triggering it is. It’s not like you don’t show seniors or elders, but you want to show people that are healthy and engaged and living life and doing things that are productive versus the old photo of the young nurse with her hand on the shoulder of somebody in a wheelchair.
Those type of images actually speak to them, and they say, “Nursing home,” and that’s the number one thing the baby boomers have said they don’t want is they do not want to end up in a nursing home. In fact, everything they do is to keep themselves from ending up in a nursing home, so that’s just something to consider, especially if you’re selling independent living.
Cynthia: Yeah. That goes with terms, too, words. You can use so many really good words to educate the market about the whole idea of aging and what it means to age and give your prospect market a completely different perspective on it. It’s not the dead end that so much of society has cracked it up to be. It’s actually one of the most happy, satisfying parts of our entire lives. There’s a lot to be said for that.
Derek: It goes back to the whole moving toward something, not away from it. A positive aging mindset. That’s what we’ll call back there.
Cynthia: Yes. Number seven: Unify your digital marketing efforts with your offline marketing. In other words, don’t silo your offline and creative from your digital. It should be running on the same track.
When I speak of digital, of course, we also mean social. Derek is going to talk about that.
Let’s just say that there is a very large agency, and there have been a couple of large agencies that were gobbled up by investors. They work in digital marketing.
What you don’t want is a bunch of digital bros – no offense. That’s not a sexist statement – digital bros who think in ones and zeros. They’re not thinking in the nuances, the words, the creative. If left to their own devices, you’re going to have a really vanilla, bland digital program.
We watch our digital every day. We watch leads coming in. We strategize creative. We strategize terms. We’re optimizing it every single month. It’s not set it and forget it.
I think, with a lot of these mergers that have recently happened in the last year or so that what we find with new clients is that they have been getting set-it-and-forget-it digital marketing even though they’ve been dazzled by all of these dashboards and reports and all that stuff. Does it really work? You have to watch that.
Derek: Yeah. I’d say poor digital can not only not be as effective; it can actually turn off your target audience because a 22-year-old doesn’t really have a feeling of nuanced appreciation of what internalized ageism is, so they may show a picture of somebody wearing a crazy hat or skateboarding, and it’s not relevant and it’s so not appropriate that it just doesn’t work.
They think it’s cool, but they’re not really doing it well. Definitely, your target audience isn’t appreciating it.
Moving on to the next one, speaking of social, social is something that the receptionist shouldn’t be doing.
Derek: This is something that we seem to see a lot where people say, “Well, okay. We don’t really have a social media person, so, hey, Janelle is 22 years old. She uses Facebook and TikTok. Let’s have her run our social media program.”
The problem with that is we believe that social media is actually another form of marketing. There are ways that we do it that makes it much better.
We teach our people who are onsite. We call them our social media mavens and masters.
What they do is, once they take a photo, we tell them which angle to use and what types of content is really appreciative, what type of things are empowering versus disempowering in how you shoot somebody. And then we also take those photos and, of course, touch them up and reframe them in such a way to make them work.
It is something that’s an art form, and it’s not something, just because you have a camera, you should go out and do. Again, social media, when not used well, can actually put a negative face on your community and you might not even know it.
Cynthia, do you want to add anything to that?
Cynthia: No, I think you covered it. It’s essentially like having a television channel that thousands and thousands of people can see. Put some effort behind it. It’s not something just to give to somebody who is young who knows Facebook. In fact, that’s probably one of the worst things that you can do.
Number nine – we’re almost done, everybody. I hope you got your filing done while we were talking. This one is zig when your competitors zag.
What we mean by this is, are your competitors using played-out stock photos, the same ones that everybody else is using? If you’ve used one of those very large agencies that I was recently talking about that has been merged and bought and sold, chances are, yes, the answer is yes.
What you want to do is put forth your unique personality. Believe me, your community has a personality. It has people in it. It’s in a local geography. It has culture around it. Let’s represent that in your marketing.
Going back to number one, build a custom photo library or ask your agency to spend more time and effort on sourcing stock that not hundreds of other communities are using in the United States. Your brand should be completely unique to your organization.
Derek: Yeah, and a nice way to do this is to go ahead and just clip all of your competitors’ ads for a month or a three-month period. Then hold them up. Then if you wanted, just for fun, take the logos off one ad and put them on another ad. Just cut and paste them on the clippings that you’ve done and see if you can really tell a difference. Most of these ads that you see out there, anybody in senior living could write on them and nobody – unless they’re really, really paying careful attention – would notice the difference.
I would say that the smaller the ad, the bigger the idea. You want to think about possibly doing more conceptual work and not just the old stock senior living photo.
Then the other way is look at what events they’re doing. Maybe everybody is talking about one aspect, doing webinars. Well, then you do some live events. Or maybe nobody is doing webinars. You should do webinars instead of live events. So, just seeing what they’re offering and just doing something that’s different.
Cynthia: Grand finale, number ten. Da-da-dah! Derek…
Derek: Everything is marketing. Everything is marketing when you step into a community.
So many people think marketing just lives on this 8.5×11 brochure or on this little website or it’s maybe a TV ad or a radio ad. They go, “That’s our marketing. That’s our brand.”
Uh-uh. Your brand is a living, breathing beast that comes through when people step into your community. It lives in your people. It lives in your operations. It lives in your food.
The thing is, we get blinders on. Have you ever walked into a house, and you go, “How can you not smell that?” Right?
You walk into your own house after you’ve been gone for a while, and you go, “Oh, my gosh. I’ve been nose blind to whatever that thing is in the garbage can,” but I’ve been putting up with it for a couple of days and didn’t realize it.
It’s the same thing with a community, and we’re not just talking about how things smell, but how things look, how things feel. So much of it is looking at every aspect of it and then putting your own spin on it.
A lot of times, it’s a great idea to bring in an outside third party to evaluate that. Just say, “Hey, this is how we see things, and this is how we think it might be affecting your sales and closing things out.”
Of course, that’s a great way of surveys after a tour. Ask people honestly to tell you what they thought of your community and see if they spotlight a few things that they didn’t like.
Cynthia: Yeah, I think that’s perfect. It is like you’re living room. How many times do you walk through your living room; you don’t notice anything?
If you’ve ever sold a house, that’s when you realize, “Oh, my God. Look at all this stuff I didn’t even pay attention to or notice,” because, when you sell your house, we’ve all detailed one or hired somebody to do it, and you get a punch list a mile long. You need a punch list for your community so that it looks fresh, always ready to go, and put its best foot forward.
Cynthia: There we have it. There are our top ten ways for making marketing magic in 2023. Of course, 3rdPlus and 3rdThird, we are your magic unicorns of senior living marketing and branding and advertising. We would love to help you.
If you have any needs, please fill out the form or give us a call. We would love to talk.
Derek: Yep. Have a great 2023, everyone, and have a great, healthy holiday and new year.