How To Develop A Marketing Strategy for Senior Living and Care

This blog focuses on how to develop a marketing strategy for Senior Living & Care providers including Active Adult, CCRC, Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care, or Skilled Nursing businesses.

Are you placing the consumer first in your strategy? Is your brand unique and aligned to your specific audience?

With decades of marketing expertise, coupled with years in the Healthcare and Senior Living & Care sectors, I frequently encounter two things:

-A “sea of sameness”, and

-Branding, positioning, and messaging that sound and look the same. Yet, they are used to market to different audiences- each having different needs, motivations, and drivers.

Put yourself in the consumers’ shoes, how can they possibly differentiate your brand and offerings from competitors or alternatives? How can they distinguish the unique value you provide? In most cases, it is nearly impossible.

How To Develop a Marketing Strategy for Active Adult, CCRC, Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care, or Skilled Nursing businesses. A Close Look at “Sea of Sameness”

Rather than pointing out the “sea of sameness” among specific brands in the Senior Living & Care market, please look for yourself.  Select 3-5 competitors or alternatives that first come to your mind.  Then, visit each of their websites and social media pages.  While there, please pay close attention to not only what you see, but also what you read.  Look at the photos, the overall brand look, feel, positioning, messaging. What is presented online is often replicated offline too.

What do you see?  Do you see many similarities among the 3-5 brands?  If yes, you can relate to exactly what I mean by the “sea of sameness” and the lack of differentiation.

A recent whitepaper written on this subject in its effect in the telecommunications industry.  Although a different industry, several of the takeaways transfer to the Healthcare and Senior Living & Care industries.

Developing a Marketing Strategy: Differentiating Your Brand from the Sea.

Distinguishing your brand and offerings in the “sea of sameness” is a key opportunity for Senior Living & Care providers.  With the pandemic more under control, consumers are willing to again consider congregate living & care solutions. Now more than ever differentiating your brand is imperative! Your brand must be distinctive from other alternatives. Time is of the essence!

The goal in asking you to visit the website and socials of 3-5 other providers is to have you see for yourself this “sea of sameness” in the industry. Moreover, to understand the challenge it presents for consumers.  As marketers, we are leaving it up to our target audiences to decipher how each of our brand is unique from the others. We must take it upon ourselves to do this distinction for them by providing clear differentiation.

Developing a Marketing Strategy: Implications of Marketing the Same.

Let’s take this a bit further. If you take a second look at the same 3-5 brands.  This time paying close attention to each brand’s value statement, positioning, and messaging.  Do you see anything that appears truly unique among the 3-5 brands?  How do they compare to your own brand?

“Kudos” to your brand or a competitive brand where a clear distinction is readily apparent.

Developing a Marketing Strategy: Aligning with Audience Needs & Motivations.

Onto the next observation. This time focusing on the consumers that your brand and others are attempting to generate interest. Before proceeding, I’d like to first share another recent article published in McKnights Senior Living. It shared the importance of Senior Living & Care providers having a consumer approach to stay relevant today.

To adopt a consumer approach, we’ll need to peel this topic back even further. Let’s consider each audience and their respective key drivers, motivations, needs and interests.  It is often easier to view this visually, so consider using a table format.  In a vertical column list your audience by type.  This will include the potential resident, or the spouse/partner, child/ren, sibling, or another loved one of the potential resident, and others you attempt to reach and engage.

When doing this, please keep in mind that each audience type likely shares some common denominators with the others. Yet, each also has its own drivers, motivations, needs and interests.  Therefore, as marketers, we cannot assume that the same value proposition, positioning, and messaging will resonate equally and be compelling to each of these audiences. We must recognize that each is viewing our brand, value, and offerings from their own vantage point.

Developing a Marketing Strategy: A Closer Look at Audiences and Messages.

Now let’s create a second column or in this case, a row, that lists each living and care service offering applicable to your business.

For each audience listed in the vertical column, move across to your applicable categories of senior living & care by filling each box with the following information:

– What is the value proposition and most important consideration for each specific audience and at each specific living & care option?  While doing this ask yourself, “How do I know this is true for each audience?”

Next, review your current brand positioning. Does it uniquely address each audience? And the living & care option that each is most interested in? If yes, how?  If no, this becomes a ‘need to fix’ area.

Now please look at your primary, secondary and tertiary brand messages. Are they identical for each of these audiences? Are the messages also the same for each living & care level? Please keep asking yourself “Am I certain that these messages are the most important to each audience and by living & care service?” If not, this may also become a ‘need to fix’ area.

Developing A Marketing Strategy: The Challenge of Being Everything to Everybody.

A key takeaway many find from going through this process is that it’s impossible to be “everything to everybody”.  Trying to brand and market the same thing in the same way to everybody, when your everybody is not the same just doesn’t work. Your branding value statement, positioning, and messages require alignment to each audience and according to the service offering to resonate and be compelling.  Attempting to say the same thing in the same way to everyone is contrary to a winning branding and marketing strategy and approach. You just can’t be everything to everybody when it comes to branding!

Marketing Strategy: Additional Challenge Unique to Senior Living & Care

While businesses across market sectors also face this challenge, the Senior Living & Care market has an even larger challenge based on the business, or should I say businesses you are in.  Why?  To start, you are in the housing business. You are also responsible for preparing and serving meals. By providing the daily essentials of housing and meals for your residents, by default, you are in both the housing and ‘restaurant’ businesses.

Now, you are equally in the hospitality business providing social and wellness activities for your residents.  And of course, you are in the housekeeping, laundry, and transportation business.  Wow, and to think these are just the non-medical aspects of the services you are marketing!

Developing A Marketing Strategy: Exacerbating the Marketing Challenge

Regardless of what level of senior living and care your residents need, in today’s times, you must also market the in-place operations and protocols you have for keeping all your residents safe and healthy.  Speaking of health, your active adult and independent living residents may be in good health, yet many of your other residents have compromised health.  They require diverse daily care and support catered to their specific needs.

So, in addition to being in the housing, restaurant, hospitality, social and wellness businesses, and the other areas mentioned above, you are certainly in the health care business. Marketing your ability to provide excellent health care and services to match each level of residents’ needs is yet another aspect entwined in your branding and marketing, creating a further challenge.

Developing A Marketing Strategy: Focus on The Most Important.

How do you balance the marketing of the ‘many hats you wear’ each day?  What takes priority?

Balancing the marketing of residential life (housing and meals), social and wellness activities, housekeeping, laundry, transportation, with non-medical activities of daily living support and healthcare is no small task.  Where does the focus belong? It depends. It varies.

This is how and when referring to the previous table serves an important role.  At the intersection of each audience type and living & care column lies what is most important to your marketing to that specific audience.  Identifying what is most important at each intersection, and then developing the strategy and approach for branding, marketing, and communicating each is the unique challenge specific to the multi-dimensional role of Senior Living & Care providers.

Marketing Strategy: Addressing the Challenge Head-On.

After dedicating time and careful thinking to each of the areas covered here, your marketing and communications team may be well positioned (no pun intended) to address the challenges related to separating your business from the others in the “sea of sameness”.  The team may also now be ready to develop or refresh your strategy and approach to branding, positioning, and messaging. A consumer-centric approach that resonates and is compelling to each audience type and tailored to each living & care service offering is necessary to standout in today’s Senior Living & Care market.  Time is of essence now that the market is turning!

Need some help?
Some businesses need a bit of extra help and objectivity.  If you find this to be true, we’re here for you.  Just let us know .

Marketing Matters based in Stamford, CT in Fairfield County serves diverse businesses and organizations including healthcare and senior living & care providers in CT, NY, NJ and throughout the US. We help clients with their marketing strategy and across the entire marketing spectrum from gaining research and insights, developing strategy and plans, branding, traditional and digital marketing and communications, and enabling sales to drive growth and achieve results in today’s evolving market.  For questions or to learn more, contact us by phone at 203.329.7773 or online.