By Susan Saldibar

As communities come out from the dark cloud of the pandemic the focus is on one thing above all others: turning occupancy around.

The realization of just how important brand differentiation is to building occupancy has never been more acutely felt than it is today. And the process of honing in on what makes you “different” is not an exercise to be taken lightly. Those who do, end up marketing so-called “differentiators” that are, frankly, not very different at all.

So it’s great to see Charter Senior Living taking the time to get it right. They are working with SageAge Strategies (a Foresight partner) to identify the essence of “difference” in each of their properties and make them less nebulous and more tangible to prospects.

Turn a “Special Something” Into a Marketable “Difference”

I spoke about Charter’s Difference campaign with Tamara Sunderman, VP of Sales and Marketing at Charter. She tells me that the program works with their community leadership to define ways each property stands apart from other senior living communities.

Charter communities have that, to put it in their words, “special something, which is hard to put into words. It’s something you just feel as soon as you walk into a Charter community. It’s authenticity. It’s trust.” How do you do that?

One example is their “Meet the Difference”, where they introduce exceptional staff members who are truly making a difference in their communities. An example might be a groundskeeper who goes beyond the daily routine to engage with residents and add value to their day.

Another example is going beyond just saying a community has a great dining experience, to demonstrating it. Their “Taste the Difference” messaging gives shape to what a great dining experience is, drilling down to tangibles such as how a particular chef prepares meals and why they are special to residents.

“Here at Charter when we talk about making a difference it is on an emotional level and connection with our residents, families, and staff,” Tamara tells me. “We are passionate about making each day for our residents and staff something that is celebrated and will enhance their daily life.” Their life enrichment programs, great dining experience, and honoring residents’ life stories are what Tamara feels sets them apart.

They put a strong focus on the individual and making sure they thrive by experiencing each day with purpose and fun. “Our buildings are filled with passionate staff who serve our residents with heart and compassion,” Tamara says. “This is the difference you feel when you enter a Charter Senior Living community. I am excited every day that I get to visit with our residents and staff.  It is truly the best experience.”

Here are links to what Charter did in January, February, and March so you can see how the Difference program looks to the outside world as it rolls out.

What Makes Your Community “Different” May Make All the Difference

On its face, the program may appear simple, but Tamara tells me that it would be a mistake to make that assumption. Because once you dig deeper you can see the quality work that went into defining the various “differences” associated with each community.

Occupancy is at an all-time low. Even as COVID dissipates, it will take time and marketing savvy to fill rooms again. And new competitors with fresh new models are emerging. Clarifying what really separates your community from others is an exercise communities need to do now more than ever. If you’re still thinking it’s all about “we have a bigger selection of coffees,” or “our hair stylists are the best” you’re focusing within your own four walls and not outside those walls towards what people really care about. That won’t get you where you need to go. Digging deeper and finding that “something special” will.

Charter Senior Living community has worked hard with SageAge to identify and articulate their differences. And in this highly competitive post-COVID world, that may make all the difference. 

For more information about SageAge Strategies and how they can help you identify and market your own “difference”, you can visit their website.

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