Giving that Lovin’ Feeling at Your Retirement Community

Valentine’s Day is just a few days away, and love is in the air. Are your prospects getting that lovin’ feeling about your community?

Senior Housing Marketing: A Love Story

We’ve all seen TV shows where the lovelorn star does everything he can to win over the girl of his dreams. And we smile along, knowing that there is no formula to make two people fall in love. However, there is plenty you can do to make people fall in love with your community.

Qualitative Expertise + Quantitative Research + Action = Love.

People buy on emotion, then justify the purchase with fact.

In a competitive market, success starts with “love at first sight.” Prospects will fall in love with the welcome they receive at your community. They’ll fall in love with smiling faces, warm greetings, and sales people who listen and care. They’ll fall in love with a community that reaches all of their senses: beautiful surroundings, delicious food and enticing aromas from the bistro, comfortable places to relax and connect, and the sounds of friendly hellos in the corridor.

No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.

Once you’ve won them over, they’ll look to the facts (many of which they’ve learned from the internet) to verify the decision: the price, terms, and amenities in comparison with your competition. That’s how they’ll know in their hearts that your community is right for them.

Now more than ever, qualitative expertise must be paired with valid quantitative market research to avoid product, pricing and marketing blunders.

Qualitative Expertise: All You Have To Do Is Ask

Focus groups provide invaluable information about how people feel about your community. Whether your community is established, in development, or planning a renovation, focus groups with a skilled facilitator provide you with what you need to know about gut-level reactions to amenities, pricing, and positioning.

Resident focus groups will tell you what made them fall in love with your community before moving and in and what they love about it now. They’ll also tell you what can make your community better. Listen and learn. They’ll know that you care.

Focus groups with the public will tell you how your future prospects view your community. And focus groups with area professionals will tell you what you need to know about your reputation.

And, perhaps most important, learning to listen to each prospect who comes through your doors will tell you how to best meet their needs, and ultimately make the sale.

Quantitative Research: It Adds Up

Qualitative expertise will tell you what makes people fall in your love with your community. Quantitative market research helps tell you where to find them and how to keep them once they’re hooked. It also offers insight into the depth of your market.

Targeted media – With the growth of social media, the availability of web analytics, and the ability to quickly and continually refine messaging, senior housing marketing is becoming more targeted. This helps you find exactly the right prospects for your community and tailor your message to them. But, it has also changed the expectation of consumers. With more advertising venues than ever, and more dynamic, personalized message development, incorporating what you’ve learned from your qualitative research is crucial. A message that doesn’t go right to the heart of your prospect will be lost.

Competitive analysis – Of course, your prospects are going to check out other communities before they commit to you. Know the facts about your competitors, and make sure that your community’s pricing is in line, and that your amenities (current and planned) are not only keeping up with your competition, but surpassing them.

These are the facts that your prospects will use to justify their emotional decision. Understand why you’re the best option for your prospects and they will, too.

“You can’t just ask customers what they want and then try to give it to them. By the time you get it built, they’ll want something new.” – Steve Jobs

Action: A Real Romance

Once you know how your prospects feel about your community and you know how to find them, it’s time to act.

This is where the magic happens! The most successful communities go beyond giving prospects exactly what they want now. They aim to sweep prospects off their feet by anticipating what they’ll desire next.

Then, they keep asking and listening throughout the year – and yes – even in exit interviews.

They look to emerging trends, whether in dining, programming, or in the creation of niche communities, and innovate to fill the future needs and desires of their prospects. And that’s how they create lasting relationships with their prospects.

Qualitative Expertise + Quantitative Research + Action = Love

Keep love in the air all year round. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Barbara Kleger is President of Kleger Associates, a consumer research and marketing firm.  She can be reached at