Everyone makes mistakes, especially marketers. The best marketers are always trying out new ideas, figuring out which ones don’t work, and running with the ones that stick and drive results.
Mistakes can drive innovation — but they can also cost your senior living organization both in dollars spent and lost revenue. And some common marketing mistakes are better learned by watching someone else make them.
Common Marketing Mistakes
1. Not investing enough resources
Budgets are tight, and if you’re like most marketers, you’re being tasked with doing more work on the same — if not smaller — budget.
But the senior living industry isn’t the same as it was even just a few years ago. With nearly 30,000 assisted living communities and more than 2,000 continuing care retirement communities across the U.S., seniors have more options — and higher expectations — than ever before.
And the market is just going to keep growing. By 2030, 1 in 5 Americans will be retirement age. Not only will the demand for senior living increase, but there will also be an increase in businesses that allow seniors to live at home or with loved ones longer.
That’s why you must invest in your marketing strategy now. To get buy-in from your organization, show them how the investment will be allocated into marketing channels where the ROI can be closely tracked and monitored, such as content marketing, email marketing, and online advertising.
2. Messaging that is too broad
Who are you targeting with your marketing messages? The senior who is ready to move? The one who is simply curious and is early in their research process? The adult child who can’t care for his parent’s increasing care needs and feels guilty about it?
If you’re trying to reach all three, your message will fall on deaf ears two-thirds of the time. Which means you’re not using the marketing budget that you do have effectively.
Instead, you need to target a specific customer group or niche in your marketing. Buyer personas — research-based fictional representations of your target audience broken down based on their common search motivators, fears, concerns, and research patterns — allow you to tailor your marketing efforts to “Needs Care Nathan” or “Caregiver Cathy,” meet their specific needs, and solve their unique problems.
Once you create buyer personas and develop marketing materials that speak to each persona’s unique needs, then you’ll get more relevant leads, save money on directionless marketing efforts, and have more success with your digital marketing campaigns.
3. Not understanding the buyer’s journey
Another common marketing mistake is thinking that buyer personas are simply subsections of your target audience who all drink green tea and read the same newspaper. However, they’re actually those who fit into the same category when it comes to their buyer’s journey.
The buyer's journey has five stages:
1. Awareness: The buyer realizes they have a problem.
2. Consideration: The buyer researches options to solve it.
3. Evaluation: The buyer compares options.
4. Intent: The buyer is ready to speak with a salesperson.
5. Decision: The buyer chooses a solution.
To gain traction and enhance your marketing results, you need to understand the questions buyers have at each stage of the buyer's journey and generate content those prospective buyers will want to read.
Understanding milestones that indicate moving from one stage of the buyer's journey to another allows you to identify when marketing has the most opportunity to support the buyer's journey, as well as identifying when and how sales can support the buyer's journey as well.
4. Focusing on efforts that don’t generate leads
Sponsoring golf tournaments and putting ads in a local newspaper are a good ways to generate brand awareness in your local market. But these events don’t typically result in people scheduling a tour of your senior living community.
If you want to make the most of your marketing budget, you need to focus your efforts on marketing channels that generate leads.
5. Not knowing enough about your competitors
If you don’t know enough about the other communities in your market — how their pricing is structured, what their tours are like — then how are you supposed to differentiate yourself from the competition? Failing to call attention to what sets you apart is a common marketing mistake you don’t want to make.
Now, you don’t need to call out what is or is not available at other communities. But once you have a better idea of what your competitors are offering, then you can create marketing materials that highlight what makes your community unique.
6. Not tracking your leads
You might be creating valuable content that is generating website traffic, but if you don’t have a process to capture and follow up with those leads, then you’re not able to nurture those leads and convert them into customers.
If you’re not tracking your leads, it’s time to invest in a CRM. A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system is designed to track the interactions and income-producing activity of your sales team, such as inquiries, follow-up calls, tours, and sometimes external business development activities (depending on the system you use).
When integrated with a Marketing Automation Platform (MAP), a sales rep can see what content the person they’re talking to has touched and more effectively and efficiently nurture them through the sales cycle.
Using a CRM in your marketing and sales means that leads no longer will fall through the cracks.
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