First, some good news! We can all use a little more positive pandemic-related-news, and there is some — hooray for scientists, research, and vaccines! Healthcare workers and vulnerable populations are leading the way through the first vaccination-stage, which will carry us to our next normal. This is as close as we will get to a magic wand that turns the pandemic “off.” If we had to pick one word to describe senior living in 2020, it would be “resilient’. All of this is to say, we don’t know exactly how the rest of this will unfold. But, we can share the biggest marketing trend in 2021: being human. 

The Human Element of Marketing

As consumers, we all navigated a cascade of uncertain scenarios in 2020 and we began to expect a little more from brands than we had in the past. We asked brands and companies to look inside their company culture and examine if they were living up to their own values. We needed them to be empathetic to the insecurity we felt as our world, and lives, as we knew them transformed in a matter of days. Your residents and their families are no different. 

So far, this pandemic has lasted for almost a year, and because of its length, some of these shifts in the behaviors and expectations of seniors and their families will stick around even in a post-pandemic world. 

At the end of the day, as marketers, we are humans, communicating with other humans. While we love data-driven marketing, we need to be mindful that the number on our screen or on our dashboard, is a person with needs. Your residents and their loved ones are looking for communities they can trust to meet their care needs and to provide a safe home. If we treat residents like people, with respect for their needs and empathy for their current situations, we can make the world just a little bit kinder through our individual interactions. Perhaps this sounds a little too altruistic, but let’s dive into what we’re talking about, and how to make your marketing more empathetic, and human. 

What Do We Mean by “Be Human”?

Take a minute to put yourself in your residents, future residents, and their families’ shoes. First, that’s a lot of shoes! And second, as senior living is well aware, it’s been a challenging year. Through this, we’ve learned how adaptable and resilient we are collectively. Moreover, our empathy muscles got a little stronger. 

Sometimes we think of finding a senior living community for a loved one to be a linear process. First, you research, then you visit, then you make a decision and move-in. When in reality, finding a senior living community and moving can be an emotional experience for the entire family, sometimes precipitated by a stressful medical event. This is on top of everything else folks are navigating right now. So, now is the time to be human and turn our empathy dials up to create genuine, authentic customer service experiences for residents and their families. 

What does that mean in Senior Living Marketing?

Empathetic marketing can sound touchy-feely, and perhaps even vague. So for the skeptics and believers alike, let’s break down how to make it actionable. Empathetic marketing means feeling with your renters or residents, and creating solutions or sharing content to address their pain points, answer their questions, and create a frictionless experience.

Last March, communities intuitively took actions like this. When residents and their families wanted to know how communities would keep seniors safe, you came up with safety protocols and communication strategies to share information with concerned loved ones. That’s action-backed empathy that builds trust with your residents. 

Human-centric and empathetic marketing is at the heart of senior living sales and marketing. You and your team know that a senior or their loved one are one click away from thinking, “that looks like home,” or “I trust them.” You know that leads need to be worked in an intentional manner specific to the needs of the senior and their family. Happy seniors and their families share their experiences and provide recommendations and reviews virtually and to their friends and family. For businesses like senior living, that are centered in a physical community, this network of goodwill within your neighborhood or city is a sometimes undervalued form of “free” marketing. In fact, 92% of people trust recommendations from friends and family over other types of advertising. According to Chatmeter, 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. 

Five Ways to Humanize Senior Living Marketing 

1. Help > Sell

Focus on delivering content and helpful information that empowers seniors and their families to make the best decision for them. By making sure your messaging is helpful, you build trust with future residents and their families. 

2. Research, Research, Research

Best in class MarTech providers know your customers’ journeys and can prove it with data. Work with your MarTech provider to understand how your customers’ motivations, needs, and subsequently the buyers’ journey may have changed over the past year. Examine any metrics you have to understand their needs and then think of ways you’re able to answer questions and help. 

3. How Can You Make Their Life Easier?

Thoughtful gestures that make your residents’ lives simpler or more joyful go a long way. Ask yourself, how can you continue to help your residents after they’ve moved in? Perhaps it’s adding a little levity to their days through social media or sharing activities between the residents such as board games, a puzzle library, or iPads to video chat with family members. 

4. Remember “Clear is Kind”

If something is changing in your community, clearly communicate it. Your residents aren’t mind readers, and they need to understand how changes will impact their lives. Communicating in a clear, thoughtful manner ensures everyone feels included and up-to-date about ongoing changes. 

5. Listen + Adapt

We know how important reviews are in building and retaining customer trust. Respond to every online review — good, bad, or rating only. In addition to responding, listen to what your customers are saying, and adapt in order to better meet their needs. 

Get Ready to Empower the People Side of Marketing

Are you ready to take your marketing to the next level this year? Over the coming months, we’ll share chapters from our new G5 MarTech Series. We’ll show you how to bridge the seemingly disparate gap between intuitive, frictionless customer experiences and cutting-edge MarTech. Here’s what you can expect in the coming months. 

February: Be Authentic: The Online Experience

March: Be Agile: Digital Trends

April: Be Savvy: Technology

May: Be Grounded: Data + CDP

June: Be Creative: Brand + User Experience

You can start now by outlining the goals you’d like to achieve in 2021 with our Goal and Intention Setting Journal