Tough Love: Confessions from Senior Living Marketing Leaders

by | Mar 11, 2015

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By Tom Mann, Principal, Executive Vice President, Strategic Marketing & Sales Services

Have you ever had a teacher who made you feel like the only thing they noticed was your mistakes? Mine was Mr. Nell. He always seemed so harsh…until I found myself in his position later in life (immediately making me empathize with his thankless efforts to help me grow). Turns out, he was actually on my side. He saw potential in me. The more mistakes he pointed out, the fewer mistakes I tried to yield – making my output stronger. In other words, I was better for it.

How many times have you felt that sales and marketing consultants do the same thing? That they only point out what you’re doing wrong. If that’s the case, we apologize. It’s not personal. We’re on your side.

We realize that senior living is no cakewalk. (And to some degree we’re glad because if it were, we’d probably be out of a job.) Many times senior living organizations manage their own marketing and come to us in search of complementary support for sales and marketing. This is ideal except in the instances where, after a thorough assessment, we find that it’s not supplemental support they need so much as a reworking of elements within their sales and marketing processes.

We’re hired specifically to advise what enhancements can be made and identify opportunities for growth. Our goal is to help communities operate at their highest levels of service and efficiency. Still, it’s never easy offering critical feedback. We get it. It’s difficult hearing that you’re doing something wrong. But it does make us wonder, aside from what we know, what candid feedback would inside senior living sales and marketing professionals tell us if they could do so anonymously?

To find out, we recently sent marketing and sales staff from senior living organizations across the country a “Confessions of a Senior Living Marketing Leader” questionnaire asking about internal processes and their overall insights on their community’s performance. Here are some of the highlights that they would share with their Executive Director or CEO:

  • The community is NOT show ready
  • The sales team ISN’T doing what they should be
  • The pricing and product are NOT in alignment
  • The organization is 100 years behind with your approach to digital marketing
  • The team needs to practice EXTREME hospitality, culture paramount
  • Chair aerobics is NOT a wellness program

It’s no shock that we are hardest on ourselves and [internally] each other. Hurt feelings aside, though, the above feedback is genuine. It directly speaks to issues that need to be addressed. Issues that can act as a guide on how to improve a community for its residents and prospects. Issues that no one is proud of and that most can relate to – making them worth resolving. Ask yourself, how would your community be able to answer to these accusations?

So as it turns out, harsh feedback is not always bad feedback. Sometimes it’s just tough love meant to make you better, and fast.

A bit overdue, but thanks Mr. Nell.

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