May 14, 2020 | Published in Industry Voices

Few industries have been more impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic than seniors housing.

While active adult, independent living, assisted living, memory care and life plan communities may not have been as hard hit as some nursing homes, COVID-19 has led to policies and procedures currently restricting or affecting move-ins; meetings and tours with prospects in their buildings; and the hosting of on-site marketing events.

In light of these challenges, senior living communities need to adapt to the current times and be ready for the post-pandemic world. Unless you take action now to continue to generate and nurture qualified sales leads and prospects, your communities may face some especially challenging times in the coming months.

Attrition and turnover are a normal part of this business. Limitations in hosting on-site marketing events and tours currently make it even more challenging to continue to generate an ongoing stream of qualified leads and sales. The more strategic action you take now, and the more you prepare for the future, the better your revenue streams and occupancy rates will be in 2020 and beyond.

Don’t let a false sense of the world “being on hold” temporarily lull you into complacency. There is still so much that your marketing and sales team can do right now to generate more qualified leads, move prospects through the sales cycle, and to ultimately land more move-ins during the COVID-19 era.

Phase I: Develop & Promote Online Information Sessions
During the COVID-19 pandemic, when holding in-person marketing events at your communities is not possible, driving leads through effective event marketing does not have to come to a stop.

Virtual Events Can:

Include virtual online tours of your communities for new and current prospects.
Provide high-quality content and experiences that establish your company as a “thought leader” on matters pertaining to senior living, aging and senior care.
Consist of live, interactive webinars on topics that are of interest to prospects or potential referral sources. For example, consider hosting a webinar for adult children in your primary market area on the topic of caring for and communicating with elderly relatives in the COVID-19 era.
Feature in-demand keynote speakers on topics of interest to seniors, adult children responsible parties and referral sources.
Build awareness and recognition as the top choice for senior living in your primary market area.
Phase II: Off-Site Information Sessions

While guidelines and timelines may vary from state to state, many businesses will re-open this summer. Consider hosting information sessions about your communities in re-opened businesses, like area restaurants, country clubs, hotels, banquet facilities, churches, libraries or city hall.

While many, if not all, places of businesses will operate under new guidelines upon reopening, you should plan to limit event capacity, allow for guest seating with six feet of separation, provide face coverings and have hand sanitizer readily accessible to all guests.

Phase III: Plan Ahead for Future On-Site Events

At some point, restrictions will be lifted. Be ready to host some engaging, informative, educational and social events on site at your communities. For these to be successful, your marketing and sales team should prepare marketing strategies now.

Multi-channel marketing efforts create the most effective results. Your community’s marketing and sales team should market events via digital marketing, direct mail, email marketing and follow-up telephone campaigns aimed at prospects and referral sources.

Preparing now to host future marketing events on site, with effective strategies in place that you are ready to deploy, can help ensure that you navigate the post-pandemic world successfully.

Joe Roche is the founder & CEO of The Roche Associates Inc., a lead generation, marketing and sales company for the senior living industry founded in 1981.

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