A new marketing campaign is bringing together unaffiliated senior living communities and sponsors to communicate the benefits of senior living to prospective residents and their families in the era of COVID-19, with the effort ultimately expected to reach a majority of states.
Seattle, WA-based Seniors Better Together, a cooperative providing financial and in-kind support, will include digital and television advertising, social media marketing, an online pop-up store with branded merchandise, and an interactive website where seniors, family members and providers can share positive stories about their communities.
“Many seniors are delaying a much-needed move to community living due to fears around the coronavirus,” Managing Director DeAnne Clune said. “We created this campaign specifically to address those immediate concerns by shining a light onto the many positives of choosing a senior community right now.”
Clune, a senior living marketing strategist and consultant with Seattle-based Zola Consulting, believes the co-op aspect of the campaign makes it the first of its kind. The effort began, she said, when a group of senior living marketing professionals came together in early July to discuss common challenges experienced during the pandemic.
“We put our heads together to try to find a solution to decreasing occupancy, decreasing marketing budgets and the expectations that, despite the circumstances, we need to find a way to address the sales, marketing and occupancy challenges in an affordable, collective way,” Clune told McKnight’s Senior Living.
Many residents have left their communities to live with family members during the pandemic, and some prospective residents are opting to remain home until the pandemic is over. For senior living providers, operation costs are increasing as they implement additional infection control procedures to keep residents safe.
“After six months of decreased sales and declining census, it has become apparent to everyone that now is the time to put competition aside and pool our resources for the benefit of the industry as a whole,” Clune said.
The original vision for the co-op was to start with senior living communities in Washington state and expand to communities throughout the Pacific Northwest and beyond. But news spread fast and the campaign is in discussions with several multi-state senior living providers and 30 state affiliates of LeadingAge, Clune said.
“Fortunately, there is no limitation on the number of communities that can join the co-op,” she said. “The need is industry-wide. I can envision thousands of communities across the country seeing the benefit of a consolidated, feel-good message about community living that will help alleviate the concerns of senior consumers about making a move right now.”
LeadingAge Washington is a founding sponsor of the cooperative. Clune said the cooperative is in discussions with other industry players who are working out ways to support the cause.