You can’t, and shouldn’t be all things to all people: 3 tips so Senior Living Communities can differentiate like pros

Biggest burger. World’s best cup of coffee. New & Improved! Do these claims mean anything anymore?

According to the latest data from the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care (NIC), senior living occupancy was 88.8% for the fourth quarter of 2017.

Overall, 2017 was a year of declining occupancy in the senior living industry, with Q2 of 2017 serving as an especially low point – tying the lowest occupancy levels ever in 2009. These lower occupancy rates create competition between senior living communities. To stay competitive, your senior living community must launch more aggressive marketing campaigns, but be cautious to not rely on tired clichés in the effort to differentiate.

Unless your community markets its amenities and levels of care to the ‘Buddy the Elf’s’ of the world, fresh off the iceberg and sold on the differentiation talk-track of, “We have the best care, our staff sets us apart…”, then our advice from LeadingAge 2017 still holds true. Your community will have to challenge itself to be different to appeal to your potential resident or ACI.

The good news: Differentiation will boost your senior living occupancy and doesn’t necessarily require a big investment. Below are 3 differentiation tips to help senior living communities achieve occupancy goals in 2018.

Differentiation Tip #1: ONLY USE Original, Up-To-Date Photos/Video

Picture this: Your community does its job of enticing a potential resident enough to take part in a tour of your community; only to have them arrive and notice an outdated logo or unkempt grounds. Awkward, right?

A picture still expresses more than 1,000 words, and if you leave your prospective resident or ACI with a bad taste in their mouth upon arrival, you stand a snowball’s chance in well, you know where, in earning their trust. No one opts-in for a bait and switch scenario. Instead, be cognizant of your senior living community’s outward perception. Control that perception with up-to-date photos that highlight your community’s lavish campus, amenities, staff, and residents.

You don’t have to hire a professional photographer, either. Most phones have high enough resolution to safely upload pictures to your website or social channels without looking grainy or amateurish. Use your best judgement here, but understand the importance of unique, original photos that captures the spirit of your community.

Differentiation Tip #2: Focus on Hyper-Local and Very Specific Content Creation

With over 3 million blog posts written today alone, you might feel as if content creation is a waste of time. While there’s a lot of competition out there, NO ONE is writing about your senior living community specifically. With that in mind, heed these two ProTips to ensure your content strategy finds its way to the residents your senior living community wants to attract.

  1. Go Hyper-Local: While other publications may cover the gamut on everything senior living specific, there’s an opportunity to create content that serves your local community. Granted, these hyper-local pieces won’t rank above say, the latest USA Today article regarding senior living. Don’t be that resource for your resident. That resource already exists. Instead, leverage your local advantage to address issues that matter to the senior or ACI who lives nearby. Your team can also re-purpose that content into other forms like a newsletter or social media post to save on time and resources.
  2. Answer Questions No Other Community is Asking: We aren’t necessarily referring to a robust FAQ section (though that isn’t a bad idea to have featured on your community’s website). Like the hyper-local content focus above, this requires that your community understands what matters to the potential resident and ACI who lives nearby. You could even have an entire series of blog posts dedicated to “Questions from the Community”. The possibilities are endless. Point is: the closer these concerns reflect the actual concerns of the resident, the better your content will help your community meet its occupancy goals.

Differentiation Tip #3: Tell Your Residents Stories to Enhance Your Own

Senior living communities with a rich history have more resident stories than they know what to do with. So, leverage them! A Place for Mom cites a shift away from the “one size fits all” approach as a senior living trend in 2018. So not only will your community differentiate itself by telling stories exclusive to your community, it will also be on top of today’s trends.

By shifting focus away from your community and making it resident-centric, it’s more likely to resonate with your prospective resident and their families. These stories will weave your senior living community into their narrative, thereby making them unique.

Don’t just interview residents who are veterans for a special veteran’s day social media post. Look for the everyday, “slice of life” elements that really do make your senior living community stand out.

Get Busy Differentiating, or Get Busy Struggling

Your senior living community doesn’t have to pray it fools the gullible ‘Buddy the Elf’s’ of the world to meet occupancy goals. Use the insight that no one knows your community better than you to unearth the elements that make it stand out from the crowd.

Of course, our team understands how difficult it is for senior living communities to successfully differentiate themselves. Differentiation isn’t easily established, whether it’s the new community to the space, or the legacy community with a rich history. So, contact us with questions. We’ll be happy to help. And may your community differentiate itself from amongst the pack. We’re rooting for you!

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