Google "senior living marketing agencies", and over 90 million results pop up in less than half a second.
So how are you supposed to find the one that truly knows your target audience, specializes in the marketing services you need, and has the values and passion — and sense of humor — to be a strategic business partner?
Before You Google
Before you hop on Google and start trying to wade through the tens of thousands of digital marketing agencies in the U.S., you need to know what you are looking for. When it comes to business goals, most senior living organizations want to generate more leads and increase occupancy. But your marketing goals will often vary based on the type of senior living company you’re running.
“For example, if you run a family-owned and -operated senior living organization, your marketing goals might be focused on increasing your most valuable differentiating factor: the family-business brand people can trust,” says Michelle Nessman, who combined her sales training and marketing backgrounds to open Elite Business Systems in 2014. “On the other hand, if you’re a senior living provider with 10-20 locations who is struggling with high attrition rates, your marketing goals might be laser focused on generating high quality sales leads that close quickly. If you don't know what your goals are, your strategic marketing partner should be able to help you identify them with a thorough discovery process.”
Once you have a clearer picture of what type of services you need — content marketing, email marketing, marketing automation, local SEO marketing, social media marketing, sales training — then you’ll have an easier time choosing the best marketing agency for your senior living organization.
4 Things to Look For WHen researching senior living marketing agencies
With so many options online, you might be wondering where to start. You've likely sought advice from some of your closest colleagues, and have a few options in mind. So what next?
1. Seek Strategic Partners who Invest in Thought Leadership
Marketing is constantly evolving, and the agency you choose as a strategic partner should be, too. Consider reading blogs of agencies you are considering.
Does their content offer a unique perspective? Does it offer tangible solutions to the challenges you are faced with?
Be cautious about "turn-key" programs. If you work with an agency with a turn-key process, you are likely to tap into unique campaigns that will truly set you and your organization apart.
2. Partner with agencies who understand how to measure success
Unfortunately, the number of providers we have worked with in years past that were never told what their ROI for various marketing spends has been frequent. Whether you are investing in SEO strategies, content marketing, advertising or some other form of marketing literally everything is track-able in today's digital world. Call tracking numbers can be added to billboards, designated landing pages can be set up for direct mail pieces, long gone are the days of throwing marketing campaigns at the wall and hoping something generates you results.
3. Choose an agency who will answer your questions-Clearly
Recently in a review call with a client they said, "Thank you. I feel like I actually understand the different parts of each marketing campaign." Baffled, I asked them to elaborate for me. "The last agency we worked with talked over our heads and used all these fancy words. I'm not a marketer. I need things to be broken down simply for me. You did that."
In cases where you are working with an experienced marketing team, by all means, use those big words! But if you aren't a marketer and are seeking agency support to fill the gap you have internally, make sure the agency does their due diligence to convey information in a user-friendly way. After all, collaboration can't exist if mutual understanding doesn't.
4. Don't choose an agency just because they're geographically close to you
I'm all about supporting local businesses. I'm also supportive of ensuring that money you invest in marketing generates you a return.
Face-to-face meetings are great, but ROI is end-goal. PLUS, face-to-face meetings should be built right into the proposal an agency delivers you if they aren't local to your home office. Not all marketing agencies were created equal, and with ease and accessibility of virtual and remote workers, many agencies now have a team that is also spread across the US in order to hire and retain top talent.
Choosing the best marketing agency is a process, not an event. Take your time and do your research, and you’ll find the right agency to take your senior living company to the next level.