Ten Low- to No-Cost Things to Consider When Building Your 2024 Marketing Budget

These tools and strategies can significantly enhance a Life Plan Community’s sales and marketing performance.

Your 2024 marketing budget will likely include a lot of typical things you do year after year, from direct mail to digital advertising to updated collateral materials. But what about allocating a portion of your budget towards tools that will help your teams work smarter, not harder? Here are ten relatively low- or no-cost things you can do to enhance your ability to convert leads into sales.

1) FaceTime or Zoom

Face-to-face connections are essential to developing strong relationships with prospects. And prospects are far more comfortable with using technology to communicate than they were before the pandemic. So leave the phone handset in the cradle and use FaceTime or Zoom. You’ll develop far better rapport!

2) Video Messaging

Video messaging is a better way to connect with someone than typing words in an email. It allows a more personal connection, especially for people who haven’t visited the community. They can see your expression and your excitement when you’re talking to them, like if you are thanking them for inquiring about your community or inviting them to an event. We’ve heard multiple stories about prospects giving sales counselors a big hug when they meet, saying, “I feel like I know you from your videos!”

Video messaging can be run from a laptop with a camera or a cell phone. A good example of this tool is SalesMail.

3) Website Chats

Integrating chats into your website can enhance lead engagement, and thus provide prospects with enough information that they will complete a form fill request on your site. Chats can either be live, provided by a company like SiteStaff, or done through an AI-based automated chat bot.

SiteStaff also sends detailed information on the prospects that they speak with, particularly if they are considered qualified to move forward in the process. This information enables a sales team to be more productive and efficient, as they already know more about a prospect’s interests and concerns.

4) MoneyGauge

MoneyGauge can help to quickly and efficiently determine whether a prospect is age- and income-qualified. Research has shown that 81% of prospective residents cite affordability as the reason for not moving ahead with choosing a Life Plan Community. In many cases this tool can help mitigate that problem by letting prospects know that yes, they can afford your community. It also helps prospects qualify themselves, reducing the number of unqualified leads that comes through your website.

5) Content Marketing

Communities today receive a large number of leads from digital marketing, and many times have nothing more than an email address for a prospect. How do you communicate effectively with this type of lead? Through content marketing!

A strong content marketing program provides a steady stream of new, relevant content to prospects throughout their journey into senior living. It can include a variety of content, from blogs to emails to social posts and more. You can engage and retain leads by sharing articles, videos, podcasts and other media. It also promotes brand awareness and—used well—can position your community as a thought leader in the field.

6) Personalization

Today’s digital marketing techniques have lots of opportunities for personalization. Your emails can begin with, “Hi, Joe!” instead of “Dear prospects.” Your videos, of course, can easily be personalized. Doing this well just takes a little bit of programming and really good recordkeeping in your CRM, to be sure you have captured people’s preferred names correctly.

7) Headsets

We continue to be amazed at how many sales team members don’t wear a headset or use a hands-free mic when talking with prospects on the phone or in Zoom. It’s far more efficient to take notes directly in your CRM while talking with a prospect than to have to transcribe handwritten notes after a call.

8) Sales Training

Best practices in sales techniques have evolved significantly since the start of the pandemic. An investment in sales training can ensure that your team is up to speed on current techniques and approaches. By maximizing your team’s ability to convert leads into sales, you can get more out of your investment in lead generation—or even reduce it.

9) Analysis: What’s Working?

Perhaps most importantly, be sure to do a deep dive on your results for the past few years. What is working best, not just in terms of generating leads but qualified leads that convert to appointments and sales? What is not working? What changes in performance are you seeing over time? Don’t just keep doing the same things year after year. A deep dive into your results will enable you to reallocate your budget, moving dollars from less effective tactics into more effective ones, and thus improving your year-end results.

10) Create a Contingency Fund

Building on our last point, looking at what’s working best should not just be an annual exercise. It should be continuous. Particularly in today’s rapidly changing digital world, what worked six months ago may be replaced by something new today. Be flexible! Be willing to move dollars around during the year as well.

Budgeting for a contingency fund can mean that, if something is working well, you might put even more into it. It can also help you address surprises along the way, such as a greater level of turnover of existing residents than you were expecting, which requires stepping up the overall marketing and sales program to achieve a higher-than-expected sales goal.

Not sure what will work best for your team?

Love & Company’s experienced team has helped dozens of communities reach their sale goals and improve census, and we can help you determine which of the tools presented here may work best for you. We welcome the opportunity to start a conversation.

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