Some ideas on what to do and what not to do as you take a barn building approach to marketing your senior living community.
In part one I propositioned that senior housing communities would do well to take a “Barn Raising” approach to marketing their community in the local marketplace. Here are some specific ideas on how to make this happen: 1. Pay it Forward – Who didn’t love the “Pay it Forward” movie and concept? Most of us could, in a very romantic way, imagine ourselves paying it forward after someone had first been generous toward us. The rub is that, someone has to start the chain reaction. That person has to do an act of generosity with zero expectation of a payback. It is tough to give up referrals or something else and get nothing back. . . . and yet, to be successful at “Barn Raising” marketing you must adopt this mentality. 2. Lots of People – The second biggest and toughest challenge is finding people to “Barn Raise” with. There is only one way to do this and that is to meet and interact with lots of people. This means getting out in the community, which is easier for some than others, but is necessary. It also means being willing to talk to anyone and everyone, because you just never can tell . . . 3. More Listening – Everyone who goes into a networking opportunity has something they want to get out of it, which usually starts with pitching whatever it is they do. As they wander around meeting victims (people) they have an overwhelming amount of internal and often external, pressure to tell their story.
IT IS THE WRONG APPROACH!
It is so much better to just wait and let others tell you their story. Here is how it looks for me: “Hi my name is Steve Moran, what’s yours?’ Their Response Then . . . “What do you do?” After that we are off to the races. Most of the time they will get around to asking what I do and if they do, I tell them, and if they don’t, I don’t sweat it, my time will come. Most important of all, you need to be really paying attention to what they are saying even asking follow-up questions. Don’t just go into mental idle until it is your turn. 4. Stay Connected – This means figuring out what works best for each connection and how much value that connection has to you. For some it might mean lunch or breakfast once or twice a month. For others it might be an occasional email and a short meeting at the next networking event. For many of them an occasional personal email will be all it takes. 5. Introduce Generously – This means that whenever if you find two people who have a mutual passion introduce them to each other. Be generous about this. Don’t do it with conditions, don’t get mad when it doesn’t don’t show immediate pay off, because most won’t and when they do, it will take time. I have a business acquaintance who once or twice a year reaches out to me with some great business introduction he wants to make for me, that connection always come with a condition. “If I introduce you to ________.” “Then I want ____________.” For this person it is usually cash. It always devalues the connection and I don’t think anything has ever come from any of those offers. This is a personal challenge for me. I frequently make introductions between people who have capital and people who have projects they are trying to get built. Sometimes it pains me to think that I am potentially facilitating a deal that could make both parties hundreds of thousands of dollars and me nothing. But ultimately it is still the right thing to do. 6. Don’t Be Stupid – You only have so much time, energy and your relations are trust relations and you need to honor those relations. If you make an introduction and it goes badly cross the cause of the person who behaved badly off you list. If over time it is clearly a one way street it, meaning that it is clear that the other person has the opportunity to give back and just doesn’t or even worse gives to someone else, cut your losses. I have a couple of these and no regrets about pulling the plug on them. Mostly though don’t look back and don’t be resentful just move on. Finally, this all takes a tremendous amount of time and energy so you need to be patient. I have been publishing Senior Housing Forum for just over two years and I owe so much of my success to people like Larry Minnix and Tiffany Tomasso who consented to doing interviews with me, when Senior Housing Forum was hardly being read by anyone. Today I am seeing serious fruits. And as the blog traffic continues to explode, managing my time and energy is more difficult, but I continue to be committed to Barn Raising. It is why when you first connect with me on LinkedIn you will get an email that includes this sentence:
“ If there is anything I can do to be of assistance please don’t hesitate to ask.”
In keeping with that offer. I try to respond to every single email or phone request I receive and try to say yes whenever I can. What amazing networking . . . “Barn Raising” stories do you have? Steve Moran