While your sales and marketing team spends time and budget exploring better ways to market your senior living community, the best, cheapest and most powerful marketing tool of all is right in front of you.
It’s your residents. Their stories create powerful testimonials that are invaluable in promoting senior living communities and bringing in new residents.
Testimonials not only help you, but also the consumer. Accurate and valuable information better equips them to make decisions about their future and feel positively about the authenticity of your brand.
It’s All About Word of Mouth
Resident testimonials are a type of word-of-mouth marketing, one of the most effective marketing tactics available. Consider these stats:
- Ninety-five percent say positive and negative reviews influence purchasing decisions (wyzowl).
- Word-of-mouth is five times more effective in generating sales than paid ads (SEM Rush).
- Generation X—which is where you’ll find your adult children audience members—is the largest age group to find products via word-of-mouth regularly, at eighteen percent of members (SEM Rush).
Seniors researching where to live when they retire want to see themselves in a community to determine which one best suits their lifestyle. To help those prospective residents picture themselves in your community, show like-minded people with similar interests, from television to travel and activities to attitudes.
You can also use resident testimonials in your senior living marketing to overcome some perceptions about senior living. For instance, many seniors don’t think they are “old enough” to move to a senior living community. However, in continuing care retirement communities, residents must be in good health to take advantage of certain healthcare contracts. So, marketers need to capture prospects’ attention in their 60s and 70s, before many seniors have considered retirement communities.
Testimonials from active, engaged residents can make those reluctant prospects feel more comfortable with a senior living community because they can see and hear people like them who actually live there—and enjoy it. In addition, residents can explain in a testimonial why they chose the community to help address some prospects’ concerns and barriers to entry.
Your Residents as Influencers
Social media has brought us many mega- and macro-influencers: well-known people who leverage their huge social media followings to help market brands—even if they don’t use the products.
There are also micro-influencers. They have a smaller follower count (up to about 10,000) but target a more niche audience.
Then there are nano-influencers, those with a following of about 1,000. While nano-influencers don’t have the polish of the mega- and macro-influencers, they tend to appear more authentic and relatable.
Finally, and perhaps most common in senior living communities, there are peer-to-peer (P2P) influencers. These are customers who give recommendations to other customers. They can be effective because they are ordinary people—and people want to hear from people whose lives are like theirs.
Your residents can be very effective P2P influencers; after all, they are already sold on your community. Their recommendations can be more compelling than even your best sales materials because consumers will trust them.
Telling Their Stories
Residents can showcase the benefits of living in your community by talking about amenities, programs and the emotional benefits that come with being part of a vibrant senior living community.
When creating testimonials, never script it or tell residents exactly what to say—authenticity is paramount. Consumers today are savvier than ever. If the praise seems over the top, almost half of consumers will suspect it’s fake, and the testimonial may have the opposite effect of what you intended.
Authentic testimonials can:
- Make your brand appear reliable and trustworthy.
- Help consumers relate to your residents and community.
- Highlight your community’s benefits so people understand and remember them.
- Make seniors and their adult children feel more comfortable with your community.
So, letting residents tell their stories in their own words is important. Rather than simply extolling the virtues of the community, they can:
- Give some background about themselves.
- Share an anecdote.
- Describe how they came to live in the community.
- Highlight what they love about the community.
- Explain some of their original misgivings and how they overcame them.
- Explain why they recommend the community.
Moving to a senior community is a major milestone for your resident prospects and is one of the biggest decisions they will make. It’s critical that the testimonial is empathetic, addresses prospect concerns and, most importantly, is true.
How to Find P2P Influencers in Your Community
There are a few different ways to find P2P influencers to provide testimonials. In smaller communities, it’s easy to identify the people active in community affairs. You can also look at:
- Resident committee members.
- Activists in the community.
- Residents who refer new residents.
- Prominent residents known outside the community.
These are all strong influencer prospects, and they can be effective ambassadors for your community.
Other ways to get P2P influencers:
- Ask for customer reviews and recommendations on social media, Google and your website. On those platforms, you may also find adult children of senior residents who can provide testimonials.
- Conduct a resident satisfaction survey. Highly satisfied residents (and their children) may be amenable to creating a testimonial.
- Consider hosting an on-campus event to gather these testimonials from residents and their families and celebrate the wonderful sense of pride reverberating throughout your community.
Once you find suitable influencers who are true cheerleaders for your community, offer them a fee credit on their monthly bill or charitable donation to a favorite charity for their testimonials.
Outside of your resident population, you may also be able to find influencers among professionals who interact with your community and its residents as part of their business (e.g., doctors, realtors, financial advisors and accountants). When they do testimonials for you, they also spread awareness of their businesses, so it’s a win-win situation.
Include these people in special events, virtual sessions and VIP galas, where they can extend their circle of influence by talking up the community to prospective residents and other professionals.
Testimonials Are a Low-Cost, High-Reward Tactic
Testimonials are an effective, low-cost and authentic way to highlight your community and increase your resident population in marketing for senior living communities. Using real people and stories, you can give prospects an inside look at your community and all the benefits it offers.
Be sure to use the testimonials in all your senior living marketing materials, including your website, digital ads, print ads and social media, to increase your reach, raise awareness of your brand and, ultimately, make more sales.