About the COVID-19 Q&A Senior Living Expert Series:
While working with over 300 communities across the country, we’ve diligently been monitoring the changes that are happening rapidly — daily — during this quickly shifting marketplace. We’re all feeling the effects of the “new normal” on community operations, sales and marketing, but quick action is needed. Trust us when we say this is a marathon, not a sprint. We’ve been working around the clock to help our communities pivot to the right methods in order to sustain business, and this video series is a direct output of that thought leadership. Each week, we’ll be speaking with a new senior living marketing or sales expert as we explore ways in which you can steer your community’s occupancy efforts and facilitate change as we weather this storm. Together.
Expert: Lindsay Johnson, Director of Media
Q. We are now 46 days into this pandemic. Can you give us an idea of how you and your teams have been managing media campaigns to date?
A. We’re taking it one day at a time, as you know things are rapidly changing. We’ve been monitoring trends very closely and recommending updates and pivots to media plans, client by client, based on both the data we’re seeing and the unique situation of each community.
For some, we’ve pulled back on awareness tactics and put more of a focus on lead generation. For others, we’ve actually added tactics such as online display, where we know we’re seeing increased usage. And then there are some universal updates we’ve made for all. An example is adding COVID-19 negative keywords to paid search campaigns, to make sure we’re not spending dollars on users who are searching for information on the virus.
We’re fortunate to have strong relationships with our media vendors and partners at Google, where we have a team of 3 dedicated to our firm and our accounts. They’ve been great resources as we navigate this COVID-19 landscape together.
Q. How has COVID-19 affected media usage? Are seniors and adult children still active online?
A. In fact, media usage is up across all digital channels. As you can imagine, as seniors and adult children are staying at home, they’re spending more time on their computers, tablets and smartphones. Just two weeks into this pandemic, digital usage was up 22%, with video streams up 12%. Paid search has been a little more volatile for our industry – we initially saw a slight dip in users researching senior living and care options, but at this time it looks like things are leveling out, and we’re hopeful to see those numbers climb back up very soon.
Q. In looking at other industries and what they’re doing in terms of media and messaging, is there anything we can learn from them?
A. We’re seeing a lot of uplifting and hopeful messaging, and brands really leaning into what they’re doing to help. From Ford to Budweiser to Little Caesars pizza, brands are developing
ad campaigns focusing on what they’re doing to help their consumers, the medical community, and those really affected by this pandemic.
Kantar, one of our media research partners, recently released a study that found 77% of respondents expect brands to be helpful during this time. 75% believe brands should be informing the public about their efforts to combat the situation. Focusing messaging on the positive – how communities are keeping residents and staff safe and happy during these times – is important. The study also noted that only 8% feel brands should stop advertising altogether. This mirrors our philosophy that it’s important to keep presence and awareness up in the market, because once things get back to a more normal, it will be harder to ramp back up from nothing. We don’t have to go completely “dark” from a media perspective during these times. It’s just important to re-evaluate the message we’re putting out there.
Q. How do you see the media landscape changing as we look toward the end of Q2 and Q3? What can clients do now to get prepared?
A. From a media standpoint, I don’t really see channels or tactics changing dramatically. Communities need to continue to build and maintain full pipelines. So, from a lead generation standpoint, search will continue to be a key area to invest in. Additionally, we might see more competition from advertisers, who may have pulled back spend in the past few weeks or months, reentering the market and trying to make up for lost time. In addition to generating new leads, we also need to maintain focus on nurturing existing leads. And with communities being closed to the public for the foreseeable future, digital media is going to play a key role in pushing virtual event awareness and attendance. I know Lisa touched on this a bit last week as well, but it’s important that everyone prepare for and adapt to this shift in how sales and events are conducted in a virtual manner. At Attane, we’re preparing for our media strategy to shift to support these types of initiatives.