How to use content marketing to increase occupancy

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Isaac Szymanczyk
Isaac Szymanczyk

We all are familiar with the so-called silver tsunami that could see millions of Americans moving into senior living communities over the next 20 years. Will your community be able to reach this audience and their loved ones with messages that resonate? The time to sow the seeds is now, and your community can benefit immediately.

It's important to connect the sales and marketing teams in your organization, because the potential effect of marketing on sales is incredible. The diverse group of Silent Generation members and baby boomers, and/or their children and relatives, represent 4 million potential sales opportunities.

Whether your community offers independent living, assisted living, memory care or another level of service, content marketing can help generate leads and keep occupancy high. How? By improving brand awareness and inbound marketing. Content marketing is not the same thing as not sales messaging, but ultimately, when you do it properly, content marketing can create new fans of your company and then turn those fans into paying residents.

The first thing you'll beed to do is define your audience. The transition from single-family home to senior living is an emotional one, especially for those who need memory care. Older adults rely on their intimate relationships — their children, friends and caregivers — at this time. Your integrated marketing strategy, therefore, needs to target these key influencers and decision-makers. Be clear on who your messages are for and whether they will care about what you create.

Once your audience is defined, you'll need to build a content strategy that will set up your messages for success. A content strategy defines the planning, creation and management of content to achieve business goals. The strategy specifies why you are creating the content and why it is valuable to your target audience.

Thirdly, try to understand your audience's content wants and needs. Trying to match the comfort of home makes the job of creating a friendly, safe and caring environment for seniors both difficult and rewarding. A smart content strategy and storytelling plan can help engage prospective residents (and their families) and get them one step closer to visiting your community and becoming full-time residents. Once you understand your audience well, you will be able to identify the types of content they read and how they want to find it.

Speaking of finding it, it's important to create the best first impression possible with seniors and their children who are seeking information. A modern, mobile-friendly and tablet-friendly website with relevant content will help make a good first impression as well as establish the trust that your target audience needs to be able to make a commitment to your community. Once you have a content strategy in place, use smart copywriting and marketing tactics to convert your target audience into active customers. 

Content marketing topics can range widely — from articles about how to stay healthy as an older adult, to tutorials about technology, to video interviews with local personalities. Even publishing book reviews of the latest best-sellers can show site visitors that you're in touch with the topics that your residents and future residents care about.

You'll face competition for people's time, so you'll need a clear way for people to find you. Amplification can help. That means using approaches such as search engine marketing, social media, digital ads and paid search to inform people and prompt them to share your content.

And you'll want to measure whether your efforts are paying off. Software tools such as Google Analytics, marketing automation tools such as Act-On and HubSpot, customer relationship management systems such as Salesforce and Sharpspring, and analytics tools such as Open Site Explorer and Google Search Console all can help you continually measure your results and develop insights about your market.

As you develop insights into what is successful for your organization, you can use the data from your analytics tools to decide where to focus your resources. Search results and social shares can tell you much about what is working and what is not.

Most of all, you'll want to create a feeling of home through your content and ensure that that feeling remains long after the older adult has signed a lease and moved into your community. Your brand strategy depends on creating happy customers who want to recommend your brand to friends, family and other influencers. Building customer loyalty will help combat fierce competition and fluctuating market prices, ensuring you maintain a consistent customer base and high occupancy rate.

Isaac Szymanczyk is chief storyteller at Conveyor, a company that helps brands tell their stories.

McKnight's Senior Living welcomes marketplace columns on subjects of value to the industry. Please see our submission guidelines for more information.

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