As marketers in senior living, it’s easy for us to understand the importance of investing in branding and marketing, knowing what each vacancy costs the community as well as the annual and average lifetime value of each resident. A common roadblock our clients face is leadership not placing value in marketing, viewing it as an expensive and sometimes unnecessary line item.
Recently, a senior living client requested statistical data in an effort to build a marketing budget with their leadership team, and that got us thinking. What is the best way to change how marketing is viewed within an organization?
Here are 3 ways to positively position marketing.
As a rule of thumb, industry benchmarks for senior living state that in order to maintain current market awareness and brand recognition, multiply your current revenue by 5% and that number should be invested into marketing. But everyone wants to go above mediocre. To grow and gain market share, multiply your total revenue by 10%. Unless your community is at maximum occupancy and you have a long waiting list, you are going to want to improve brand awareness, recognition and the bottom line, as will leadership. Yes, move-ins lie in the hands of the Sales team, but Marketing gets prospects in the door. Without marketing, you don’t have sales.
Determining where to spend marketing dollars can be challenging so identifying which tools you have available vs what you don’t is key. Very few, if any senior living communities have unlimited marketing budgets so spending money on avenues you know will be successful is best. Focusing on the foundation of your marketing program such as the website, SEO and branded materials are big upfront investments but they continue to generate revenue for 3-5 years after conception. Lead generation is the first step, while converting prospects is the second level of investment. For example, spending $1,000 a month on an SEO campaign may seem excessive, but if the campaign brings in two new residents, the SEO has more than paid for itself. A branded brochure may prompt an inquiry for a tour, but a wonderful website with relevant, easily digestible content can turn that prospect into a resident, prime examples of marketing as an investment, not an expense.
Who doesn’t love creative TV spots, but at the end of the day, senior leadership wants to see the numbers. Painting a picture of increased inquiries, tours or move-ins and attributing those activities to a marketing effort emphasizes the importance of having and maintaining a marketing budget. Visual and easily digestible metrics that paint an accurate picture of how your campaigns and marketing efforts are working, shows that the investment in the piece of artwork (marketing tactics) is paying off. It doesn’t have to be a pretty picture, but a picture that shows value.
Simple tools such as Google Analytics show you trends in web traffic, time spent on-site, page visits, etc. making reporting easy. Establishing benchmarks at the start of any marketing push enables you to measure successes accurately.
As you prepare to discuss your marketing budget with the leadership team, keep these three things at the forefront of your conversation to prove that marketing is an investment and not optional.