Is it Time to Develop Industry-Wide Senior Living Marketing Benchmarks?

Rob Love, President and CEO

Rob Love, President and CEO


We’ve always said that the senior living field is a small one, where everyone tends to know everyone, and most of us are friendly with our competitors. But they are our competitors, so we do tend to keep our “trade secrets” to ourselves.

Until now.

At the recent LeadingAge National Meeting & Expo, five market research competitors came together to share updates on market study benchmarks and best practices. Research principals from Brecht Associates, Retirement Dynamics, DHG Healthcare (Dixon Hughes), PMD Advisory Services, and SB & A/Brooks Adams Research shared insights on how they do market studies and market analysis.

Members of the panel (which actually started working together to establish standards a few years ago) acknowledged that, at first, they were understandably hesitant to join the group and share secrets. After going through the process, however, they felt that they had gained more than they given up, and that the overall process was one from which everyone benefited.

Which made me wonder: Can we do the same for senior living marketing?

Several years ago, senior living sage Kathryn Brod, then with Ziegler, posed that question to me: Could we get the leading senior living marketing firms to work together to establish a common set of benchmark metrics? What are the important metrics to measure, how do you measure them, and what are appropriate benchmarks? If these could be established, community leadership could take a more objective look at their community’s performance.

Perhaps the first step toward this is already in motion. Four senior living marketing firms—SB&A, GlynnDevins, Varsity and Love & Company—are now working together with LeadingAge and Mather LifeWays to develop and promote a new name for “continuing care retirement communities” as part of the NameStorm project. Team members are evaluating potential replacement names, conducting market research to test them, determining the best choice, and developing plans to roll the selected name out to communities and to the public.

Maybe we can build on that camaraderie. Maybe it’s time for us to take the same steps the marketing feasibility folks have done, and work together to define and standardize marketing metrics. What should be considered in calculating cost per lead and cost per sale? (I know several different approaches to each.) What are appropriate sales conversion ratios and productivity standards?

Can we do it? Stay tuned…

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