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: Sarah Dodge, VP of Sales Enablement
Q. While some ways are immediately evident, are there subtle ways that the pandemic has significantly altered the buyer’s journey?
A. It’s important to remember that the pandemic has altered everyone’s individual journey. The path you may be on today is likely very different than where you were two months ago. As marketers, it’s critical for us to acknowledge that.
We also believe the buyer’s journey is going to be longer. Think about today’s climate – leads are unable to go on-site to visit with a community and experience it through a tour. That greatly impacts the sales process itself.
As we get back to “normal,” people may be more hesitant to come on-site and engage in that traditional way as they always had in the past. We will continue to see shifts in the way people think about what used to be “normal.”
This pandemic has reaffirmed a belief that we’ve always had – we need to respect our consumers’ preferences and adapt to their behaviors, in regard to how you’re contacting them and when you’re contacting them. Some people are wanting more privacy during this time, and that’s alright as well. But something even more important is the message you’re bringing to them and the direction you take with the conversations you have with them. These are all things that have always been important, but they’re even more relevant today.
Q. I’ve heard you use the phrase “personalization at scale” when talking about marketing automation. Can you expand on that phrase for us?
A. In short, I’m talking about scaling personalized lead nurturing tactics across all aspects of your business, not just for one segment of your lead base.
You can start small, with the most pressing need, but really personalization like we’ve discussed can make a positive impact in a lot of places – like resident and employee retention, leads for all care levels, and all marketing and communication channels.
This is also relevant in how your sales team interacts and advances leads. You can create sales playbooks that suggest next steps in the sales process based on lead behaviors. There’s a lot baked into that scalable approach, but as long as you start small… it can become easier to approach.
The good news is that this is an area where you can let the technology do the heavy lifting. First, you identify and create segments based on the key behaviors of your lead base (MAP and analytics). Then, if you’ve got the right tech stack and integrations in place, you can create automation rules that actually do something with all of those behaviors, such as sending an email.
The cool thing is that the steps are agile in that they adjust as behaviors shift, so that a person on your team doesn’t have to spend their day making manual adjustments.
Q. Is there anything you’ve seen in other industries either during this time, or prior to, that we should try to learn or adopt in senior living? Especially as we look to deploy more creative and innovative solutions for clients.
A. If I’m looking outside of the senior living industry, I definitely follow a lot of retail accounts on social media, and I’ve read some reports that state they are relying heavily on influencers. We’ve seen a spike in influencer currency at this time, and that goes hand-in-hand with the fact that brands are at greater risk of being insensitive right now during marketing campaigns. In turn, they are working with influencers in order to continue communicating with customers, and this can be seen as a more authentic way of carrying on business at the moment. If you translate this to senior living, it boils down to storytelling.
That could take the form of residents at the community, or even staff. I think it’s really about leaning into those stories and building those human connections. I also believe that this type of content is something lead nurturing can certainly benefit from. We definitely see an increase in engagement when we are able to inject those types of stories into our campaigns.