By Joanne Kaldy
Standing out from your competitors has never been more challenging. It can be hard to get noticed when bigger companies have more resources and bigger budgets for bells and whistles. But your residential board & care homes can stand out in the crowd. With the right tools, resources, and support, you can be the shiny new car on the lot that everyone wants to drive.
Marketing a Board & Care Home: How to Compete with Larger Communities Online, a recent webinar from Caring.com, a Senior Living Foresight partner, has the how-to tips to raise you up and help you shine. “There is a major shift in how people shop,” says webinar speaker Peter Droubay, Director of Business Development, Sales, and Training at Caring.com. “The business used to count 100% on referral-based marketing. We are seeing a shift – a tremendous amount of people are searching online for senior care options, and this trend is accelerating.”
Every month, Peter noted, “Thousands of people are looking online for senior living options in your area. The question is, ‘Are they seeing you?’”
Seem daunting? Well, Peter broke it down into easy steps. And it all starts with Mary.
Mary, Mary, Always Preparing
Most inquiries come from a potential resident’s adult child, most often a woman, who is looking for senior care options for her parent. Let’s call her Mary, a popular name for women in her generation.
Make no mistake, Peter cautioned, Mary is different than the adult daughter a generation ago. She is “extremely busy.” She likely works full time, has children, and is juggling a lot of responsibilities. The urgency to look for senior care most likely has arisen, Peter said, because of a recent medical situation – such as a fall-related injury or evidence of growing dementia. “She realizes that she is overwhelmed and needs help,” he said.
But don’t expect Mary to pick up the phone or even check your website right away, said Peter. She will do her research – mostly via the internet – before making any calls. She is a skeptic and prefers to learn from impartial, third-party authorities like Caring.com. She also relies heavily on consumer reviews and other information.
How do you reach and attract Mary? The solution, said Peter, is to build an online marketing channel. He explained that online marketing is fast and inexpensive to generate leads. However, because the conversion is lower, he added, “You must have a great marketing and sales system. And you need to be prepared to provide more education.”
The Five Maxims of Online Marketing
Online marketing requires a different strategy than relying on referrals. Peter offered five steps to make online marketing work for you:
- Build listings in online directories. Remember that Mary prides herself on being a sharp, informed consumer. She’ll conduct Google searches, read articles, and spend time poring over consumer reviews. She will see your listing on Caring.com before she ever sees you or goes to your website. Caring.com offers both basic and enhanced listings. Basic listings rank lower and are surrounded by ads, while the enhanced listings are customized and show you in the best light.
- Add customer reviews and manage your reputation. Remember that consumers like Mary put tremendous stock in online reviews and, even more so, responses to reviews. In fact, 8 in 10 consumers trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation. Managing your reputation, including responding to negative comments, can be time-consuming and challenging. But Caring.com can help by curating reviews—they can collect and build reviews. Caring.com Partners get tools and support such as new review alerts, a portal review generator, reviews collected via phone, a postcard program, and highest-priority response processing.
- Receive and track leads. In addition to those who call you directly, thousands of consumers speak to Caring.com Family Advisors each month. You need to be getting and tracking those leads. Again, Caring can help.
- Build a great sales system. You need a multifaceted approach that includes phone, email, and texts to turn leads into tours. Establish a specific contact cadence to work on leads, then set a follow-up schedule. Again, Caring.com can help by setting up tours for you. Remember, said Peter, that the impact of tours on move-in rates is significant. Even if people don’t show up for tours, the conversion rate is more than four times higher for the tours that are set. Don’t wait for vacancies, Peter stressed, noting, “Always keep a sales and marketing system going. Don’t ever stop the process.”
- Get training and support. “This is a big key. Get a lot of people to help you,” Peter says. “Don’t go it alone.” Caring.com provides much support for partners, including webinars, access to Family Advisors, and a Partner blog.
Pumped-Up Partners Program
Caring has a program that offers tools to help you win over Mary and others. These include:
- Help building an enhanced listing in the Caring.com directory.
- Resources and support to increase the number of online reviews and manage them effectively.
- Additional screened leads that come from the thousands of people who contact their Family Advisors for help.
- Education and support for converting online leads into clients, those that call you directly, and those that come from Caring’s Family Advisors.
Peter announced that Caring.com has introduced a new enhanced Partner Program for resident board and care homes. Among the great new features:
- Listings will now be included on more sites.
- Listings can include your contact information.
- Partners will receive more reporting about leads, traffic, reviews, etc.
- Caring.com can set up tours for care home partners.
- High move-in fees are eliminated through a care home annual subscription.
- Lower subscription rates with higher accountability are available.
This is a one-stop-shop that simplifies your ability to attract and follow-up on leads, manage your reputation, book tours, and increase your move-ins. Mary wants to hear from you. Are you ready to reach her?