No matter what stage of the buying process you’re in with a prospective resident and his or her family, taking the time to personalize your marketing message to support the potential resident’s needs always will be a worthy investment, speakers said Tuesday on a webinar hosted by OneDay.

Panelists discussed the five stages that a prospective resident and/or his or her family goes through in the senior living buying process — awareness, interest, consideration, decision and advocacy — and the digital marketing touchpoints that operators can use to help their message resonate and lead to happy and healthy residents.

“It’s about presenting the right marketing message to the right prospective resident at the right time,” said Craig Branstad, solutions architect at real estate marketing optimization firm G5. “Each digital touchpoint requires a different message depending on what they’re interested in and what stage they’re at in the buyer funnel.”

Christy Van Der Westhuizen, vice president of sales and marketing at Irvine, CA-based MBK Senior Living, agreed, noting that the firm takes great care in providing content designed to educate prospects and their families on their options when it comes to senior living but also makes a strong effort to connect with where families are in their search.

“Content — particularly provided through photos and videos — is really key because it sets us apart as experts in senior living, and I think a lot of people are just looking for someone who can educate them and hold their hand through this process,” Van Der Westhuizen said.

She added that personalization is extremely important, noting that anytime her company receives an inquiry, her sales team contacts the prospect with more questions than answers.

“Long gone are the cookie-cutter emails listing what the community has to offer,” she said. “Our goal at this stage is to find out what’s important to this person in their journey, and then tailor our response to their needs.”

MBK, which operates 33 communities in six states, does this through preparing personalized introductory videos from their sales force, touching on some things the prospect mentioned were important, and asking when might be a good time to speak or come in for a tour.

Since implementing this marketing tactic, Van Der Westhuizen said, the firm has seen a significant increase in responses and sales. 

“In March of 2021, we saw the most move-ins ever in the firm’s 30-year history,” she said. “We’re still finalizing our count for April, but it looks like another record-breaking month. These techniques we’re integrating are showing results because we’re taking the time to get to know these prospects, and that makes them feel wanted.”