Nearly every senior housing community has the same challenge: staying ahead of the competition.
The good news is that you can overcome this challenge. With solid planning and ongoing analysis, you’ll have an edge over your competition, and you will maximize your marketing budget at the same time.
Over many years working through changing markets in this industry, I’ve found that clients who have an edge over their competition all have certain things in common.
Here’s how to keep (or gain) a competitive edge.
1. Be Curious, Insatiably curious
Continually challenge your systems and business models. Read, listen, and learn about cutting edge strategies both within and outside of the industry.
Follow thought leaders, meet with centers of influence, and do work outside of the industry to understand where the world is going before your competitors even notice.
2. Be Connected: Stay affiliated with industry groups and associations.
I know — it often feels that there isn’t enough time to attend all the events and conferences that the industry offers. Make time anyway! It may be difficult, but the results are worth it: you may discover new ideas and practices that will propel your community forward.
Talk to others. Network. Learn about what is working for your colleagues, what they are planning, and what their frustrations are.
Listen and share. You’ll often find new ideas, reminders of previous ideas that have worked well, and/or confirm that you’re on the right track. In any instance, you should come away invigorated and inspired by your colleagues. (Albeit a little exhausted!)
Here are some groups that have inspired me. A great thank you to:
- American Senior Housing Association (ASHA), for the amazing meetings each year, and the ongoing publications that keep us informed and on the cutting edge. Thanks to David Schless and his leadership team.
- International Council on Active Aging (ICAA), for hosting Forums each year. The think tanks are remarkable, and generate a trove of valuable information that is published for attendees. Special thanks to Colin Milner.
- National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), especially the MidAtlantic 55+ Housing Council programs. The leadership, staff and members freely share their experiences.
3. Be Balanced: Balance facts, figures, and feelings.
When it comes to evaluating progress or making judgments about business decisions, many leaders either rely solely on gut feelings or go just by the numbers. Truly forward-thinking leaders balance both approaches.
When you rely only on your gut feelings, you are susceptible to false positives and confirmation bias that can lead you in the wrong direction. At the same time, if you are robotic and analytic, you will miss emotional cues that feed powerful connections with your market.
People buy on emotion and justify the purchase with facts. Likewise, successful marketing programs tap the souls of the consumer to inform their marketing, then use data and analytics to measure success.
Qualitative information gained through focus groups and face-to-face contact reveals the deepest and most powerful motivators for consumers ready to make a move.
This information is the foundation for emotionally engaging campaigns that go beyond traditional marketing and create a bond between your prospects and your community. That bond begins with the content they engage with on your website or social media, and continues throughout the sales process.
Learn your prospects’ stories, and you’ll be able to reflect it back to them in your marketing materials and sales process. They’ll feel heard, understood, and be irresistibly drawn to your community.
Analytics confirm what’s working. You’ll see what gets the most interest and engagement online in real time, and which marketing tactics give you the biggest return so that you can maximize your budget. The process is cyclical and ongoing: test, analyze, refine, and test again.
4. Be Fun, Sell fun!
The older we get, the more wonderful life experiences impact us. A lively gathering of residents and prospects for wine and cheese will persuade far more than any two-dimensional advertisement.
At every opportunity, allow your prospects to experience your community’s lifestyle for themselves, meet real residents, and have FUN.
And….tell your sales associates to put a contract in their back pocket because closing happens anywhere and anytime!
This tip contributed by Deborah Blake, The Ipsum Group.
5. Be Young: Stay in touch with the younger generation.
Who would have thought that one of my passions, my grandchildren, would keep me on the competitive edge? Yes, being in touch with the younger generation lets us hear, learn, and practice new techniques and especially new technology.
Listen, learn, and challenge. The younger generation are digital natives. They have been “wired” since birth. Be competitive yourself; it’s essential that we strive to keep up, and maybe ahead of, this younger generation!
Always keep a few steps ahead of the crowd, otherwise you risk getting old, fast.