Senior living prospects and their adult children have dozens of options to choose from, often right in their own backyard. The result? Sales and marketing departments at senior living communities are facing increasing competition, a trend that will continue to grow in the coming years. Now more than ever, it is critical for your senior living community to distinguish itself from the rest of the field to attract a steady stream of new residents.
- Ten thousand people turn 65 every day in the United States. That’s seven Baby Boomers reaching 65 every minute.
- It’s expected that the senior population will reach 88 million by 2050, when an estimated 20 percent of the population will comprise seniors, according to AARP.
- Currently, there are some 30,000 senior living facilities in the U.S., yet experts estimate an additional one million new senior living units will be needed by 2040.
So, how can your senior living community stand out against that kind of competition?
Start by taking stock of what makes your community unique and appealing to the people you want to attract. If you haven’t created buyer personas, this is the time to do so. Only by understanding who your ideal prospect is can you tailor your messaging to them. As a result, you will attract residents who will be the right fit for your community.
Your community’s value proposition clarifies the unique benefits and highlights why a consumer should choose you instead of one of the other 30,000 communities across the United States.
This doesn’t mean pitting yourself against the competition by focusing on their weaknesses. Instead, it’s about expressing your value proposition in a way that propels you forward as the best choice, regardless of the competition.
Here are a few ways to distinguish your senior community by focusing on its unique value proposition.
While some communities don’t like to post entrance and monthly fees on their website, giving prospects an idea of the overall cost will help you get more qualified leads. You’ll spend less time following up on leads that aren’t a good fit for your community, freeing up valuable time during which you can focus on the strongest prospects. You’ll also save prospects effort and time.
You might consider adding a downloadable pricing sheet to your website or including your prices on floor plans. Landing pages featuring recent pricing specials or move-in deals can also boost conversion rates.
The location of your retirement community can be a huge differentiator. Some people want city living; others want country living. Some love nature; others prefer nearby shopping. Here are a few location features that may appeal to your prospects:
- Woodlands around the community
- Nearby cities
- Proximity or access to the beach
- Mountains within walking distance
- Warm weather locations
- Local attractions
- Rural surroundings
Play up your location and make clear how your residents fit into it. For example, if you have a large contingent of opera lovers, a major metropolitan area may appeal to them. If your residents are nature lovers, they’ll be interested in woodlands, mountains and trails. Shore lovers will want to be near the ocean. Think about adding a downloadable map of area attractions to your website to highlight the nearby shopping, arts, culture and entertainment.
Consider; Lake Weir Preserve in Florida is near the beach, hills and a national forest, where residents can spend all the time they want with their “toys”: their Harleys, RVs, boats and old cars. Garages can be expanded to five bays to keep all their toys safe, and there are no HOA rules or regulations. Its unique location sets it apart.
Don’t overlook the importance of location; it’s a valuable differentiator.
There are amenities that a senior would expect and those that elevate your community to a new level. Among them:
- A lap pool and sauna
- A dog park
- A putting green or golf simulator room
- Recreational trails
- On-site cinema
- Salon and spa
- Beach access
Los Angeles, CA’s NoHo Senior Arts Colony is for seniors who want to pursue their creative passions. The community offers a performing arts theater, visual arts studio, artists’ lounge and literary studio.
Play up unexpected amenities to appeal to prospects looking for that something “extra” for their retirement years.
“Lifestyle” encompasses all the things your community offers that enhance your residents’ lives and define your brand. It’s your community’s personality personified by your residents. Sophisticated, laid-back, casual, elegant, fun-loving and adventurous can all describe the type of lifestyle in your community.
It is important to highlight the lifestyle people will find when they visit. For example, someone looking for an adventurous lifestyle with access to outdoor activities would not be a good fit for a sophisticated community marked by elegance and ease.
On the other hand, someone looking for a place with formal dinners and a focus on culture likely would not enjoy Latitude Margaritaville’s “no worries” atmosphere.
An important lifestyle feature is pet-friendliness. Baby Boomers and Gen X comprise more than 50% of all pet owners. By not highlighting that you’re a pet-friendly community, you’re missing out on an important—and highly desired—differentiator.
Senior communities today are a far cry from your grandparents’ retirement home. That’s because seniors today tend to be more affluent and discerning and expect much more from retirement living.
This is especially evident in food choices. Remember, some residents may expect a high-quality, fine-dining experience in retirement that includes some of these features:
- Culinary institute-trained kitchen staff
- Professional servers
- Gourmet menus that change daily
- Focus on farm-to-table cuisine
- Sustainable practices
- Elegant plating
- Quality wine selections
- Formal and casual dining options
All the other communities say they offer a great food experience; tell your prospects what makes yours better. The Clare in Chicago, for instance, sets itself apart with four different restaurants within the community that offer gourmet food rivaling the best area restaurants.
Many of your residents will want to continue their intellectual pursuits, enrichment programs and favorite cultural events, or they may desire new experiences, physical activity and fulfilling fitness challenges.
Consider your weekly schedule of programs and events and highlight the most popular with residents or those not found in other communities. Then, make them highly visible in your digital and print materials for your target audience.
An example is Lasell Village in Newton, MA, located on the Lasell University campus. The community’s focus on lifelong learning requires residents to “commit to a goal-oriented program of education.” It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it could be a deciding factor for those seeking that experience.
Once you identify your unique value proposition and everything that sets you apart, include that in your web copy, ads, social media and other digital materials. By doing this, you can improve your SEO, making your community more visible on digital platforms and making it easier for the best prospects to find you.
Your community is not like the others, but don’t just say it—show it to the best potential resident prospects for your retirement community to ensure a steady stream of leads into the future.