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Don’t Make Assisted Living Like Vanilla Ice Cream

By July 16, 2013April 24th, 2023

assisted-living-vanilla-ice-creamSteve Moran, at Senior Housing Forum, wrote an article last week about the growth in assisted living beds across the country in the coming 12 months. Some of his points which stood out for me are

  • NIC reports a pretty consistent occupancy rate of just under 90%.
  • Assisted living operators’ number one concern seems to be filling and keeping their units full.
  • There is so much uniformity in the assisted living marketplace that only those local executive directors and marketing directors who are clever and smart will consistently beat the market.

The sameness among assisted living companies and also in-home care companies reminds me of vanilla ice cream. Yes, I know there is soft-serve vanilla, French vanilla, “plain” vanilla, natural vanilla, organic vanilla, fat-free vanilla, and homemade vanilla. But isn’t it all just vanilla?

You can dress it up with some berries or a little chocolate sauce and make it taste different. But it’s never going to be like pistachio ice cream or triple brownie chocolate fudge ice cream or espresso mocha ice cream!

There is so much alikeness in the assisted living industry that only local marketers who are clever and smart will consistently beat the market.

Ben & Jerry’s delicious ice cream is made by blending fresh Vermont milk, cream and generous portions of their signature add-ins known as “chunks” and “swirls.” What are the “chunks and swirls” that you can add in your own company?

You may not need to invent anything new (although there is huge potential value in doing so), but in a very planned and thoughtful way, you can present your chunks and swirls, your points-of-difference to your target audience and draw them in to your “not-so-vanilla-any-more” services.

How to stand out in the assisted living or in-home care market

Give ’em what they want. When talking about caregiving or assisted living, people want to hear stories. They want to hear how others have used your services. They want to hear about the unique and special things that you do. They want to understand how they or their parent(s) will be taken care of.

The very best way to do this is with stories about what you do, and who you do it with. I’ve led enough on-site seminars to know that every single person in your organization has a story (or 5!) to share. Stories about the resident who didn’t like the food. Stories about the special party you threw for Halloween. Stories from your staff about how they helped overcome a client or patient’s loneliness.

These stories become the content for your regular blogging, and they attract new visitors to your website. Want some ideas of what kind of stories to write? Check out our 107 Ideas for Content Marketing.

Reach ’em where they are. Where can you reach your target market? Certainly on your website and blog, but also on social media. Experienced marketers are finding that there are four social media platforms to consider: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest. If you’re not using any of these actively, pick one and get started — don’t try to do all four platforms at once. Here are the Rules of Engagement for Social Media Strategies that Work.

What do you share on these social platforms? Share the content you just blogged! Be sure to add a link to the whole article and use a picture to capture attention (except on Twitter). People that are following you will be interested to learn more about your company and to read your stories. For Pinterest, use a photo or other image and link it to an appropriate blog post.

Invite them in. How do you invite people to engage further with you? By offering them something of value, something interesting, something useful. For example, if you are a home care agency, you might offer a Checklist to Prevent Falls in the Home. If my mother had a tendency to fall, this would be of great value to me. Of course, the savvy marketer in you would make sure you got my name and email address before you let me download this great checklist!

Where should you put this invitation to get the checklist? Put it on your website and at the bottom of your blog posts. Send it out on social media, and link it to a photo on Pinterest. Get solid how-to advice in inviting people to take action with the Essential Guide to Lead Nurturing for Senior Living.

Vanilla or chocolate. . . or peach ice cream?

Dare to venture into inbound marketing with the above strategies, and you’ll soon be producing quality leads for your company right on your own website.

Why stick with plain vanilla marketing, when you could have chocolate or peach? Content marketing is fun! You can be creative. You can involve non-writers in your company to participate — they’ll have lots of ideas and might be willing to do a video for you.

Tell stories about your company and the great services you offer. Get these stories out to your audience with your blog and social media, and invite people to take the next action to become more engaged with you. Your sales team will thank you!

internet marketing for senior living

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Photo courtesy of stu_spivack.

Don’t Make Assisted Living Like Vanilla Ice Cream, Alaniz Marketing

Larry Levenson

Larry is passionate about inbound marketing and is a HubSpot Certified Trainer. He's learned the "secrets" of leveraging HubSpot to make marketing hyper-effective and customizes that information to help our clients meet their goals. Larry lives in Prescott, AZ, and when not at work, he is hiking or hanging out with teenagers as a volunteer with Boys to Men USA.