Marketing During COVID-19: Spring 2021 Update
By Lisa Pearre, Principal and Chief Client Services Officer, and Amy Brodie, Vice President of Client Services
After more than a year of locking down, masking up and hoping to navigate as few virus cases as possible, senior living providers are moving forward in 2021 with resiliency and resolve unlike anything we’ve seen before.
Seniors in Life Plan Communities were among the first to have access to vaccines, and in many communities, vaccination rates are very high, far outpacing regional and national averages. Those factors have been a big source of hope and optimism. We’ve also identified a couple of other opportunities that we think will drive momentum for the next few months, at least, so that communities can make strong progress toward their goals and continue to advance their missions.
Here’s what we’ve been keeping our eye on from a senior living marketing and sales perspective for the spring of 2021.
Campuses in bloom
Most communities are now enjoying the benefits of prioritized vaccine distribution that came at the tail end of 2020 and during the first quarter of 2021. Several have reported resident vaccination rates exceeding 90 percent for independent and assisted living.
This has allowed some Life Plan Communities to resume normal resident group activities, depending on local and state guidelines and what community leadership determines to be appropriate. Simply allowing community members to physically gather in the same place again has brought a palpable sense of euphoria and relief to everyone. This spring, perhaps more than any in recent memory, Life Plan Community campuses are in bloom.
From a sales and marketing perspective, communities can now gracefully balance virtual and in-person events, and can be more confident with a “look-what-we’re-doing” approach when showing prospects and families what daily life is like on campus. People can see that residents are out and about, enjoying time together and living the enriched lives that the community promised, which COVID-19 put on pause.
Beyond that, it’s obvious that virtual marketing efforts are here to stay. “The toothpaste is out of the tube,” we’ve told our clients, and now offering virtual events, web-based tours and video appointments is the expectation. The senior population has become vastly more technologically literate over the past year, out of necessity, so asking prospects to RSVP to online events or to meet with you using FaceTime or Zoom can be done with confidence.
Plus, virtual or remote marketing efforts can allow you to explore broader markets, too!
Optimal opportunity for home sales
Senior living providers have typically correlated a hot real estate market with strong move-in figures, and the next few months could be especially strong. Pent-up demand from people who researched senior living during quarantine is combining with sky-high home values and the typical spring/summer real estate rush.
This is a prime scenario to encourage prospects to capitalize on their peaking home equity and put it toward an investment in their future at your Life Plan Community. After spending last year cooped up in their houses, many of them are ready to move now!
We have seen the real estate trends develop over the past year, and this is something that we’re really excited to have our clients focus on this spring and summer. A couple of clients are already taking this approach and are seeing strong early returns in appointment and move-in numbers. Of course, a community needs the proper marketing approach and tools in place to realize success.
This goes back to our earlier advice on offering virtual marketing options, which is also bolstered by one of our common refrains: Meet prospects where they are. Many believe that seniors just “aren’t online” or “don’t consume digital media,” but we’ve found that to be untrue and the numbers support it. That is where today’s seniors are.
Did something here pique your curiosity? We’re always happy to discuss senior living trends and how we can help senior living providers advance their missions by reaching more older adults more effectively. Let’s talk.