By Steve Moran
Senior living is like a lush garden of freshly blooming stories. Each day we touch the lives of millions of older people, family members, team members, and the marketplace community. And yet we are dreadful when it comes to telling these stories.
To this end, I have put together a breakout session on how to find and tell stories that will be presented at the California and Washington State LeadingAge conferences this spring and summer. The reason I am so passionate about storytelling is that stories bring to life the very best of what we do.
Telling the right stories in the right way will increase the perceived value of your senior living community in the eyes of the marketplace and in the eyes of the consumer. This means a prospect will be more likely to move into your community and a referral source will be more likely to refer to your community than the one down the street. It also means you will be able to charge higher rates and people will be delighted to pay those rates.
Being able to tell great stories about your community and your organization may very well be the single biggest market differentiator you have. More important than your life enrichment program, the care you provide, the amenities you offer, and even your price.
You should see storytelling as a competitive advantage. While I have never seen a senior living organization do this, I am convinced that part of their sales and leadership training should include storytelling. Imagine spending a day telling each other stories that can be refined and used by the organization.
The Stories You Need
Here are the stories you need:
- Your Company Story – Your founders, your mission, your beginnings story, and/or your passion story. This story should be about what makes you different from the competition; the number of lives you have impacted or will impact; how you are changing the world for older people.
- Your Story – You should be talking about your own passion for older people and for senior living. It should include a specific story about how you helped a resident have a better life.
- Social Proof Stories – You need 3-5 of these stories about lives that have been transformed by moving into your community or one of your organization’s communities. The specific story you tell will depend on the specific audience you are talking to and what their needs and interests are.
- Aspirational Stories – These might also be part of your social proof story arsenal but they should be very specific stories that talk about life transformation as the result of moving into your community. These stories should contrast what is with what could be for the person you are talking to or their loved one.
This does not automatically mean they will be long-term stories, they might even be “living their last few weeks with amazing love stories.”
A Final Story
It turns out that in blind taste testing of wine, most people, maybe all people, can’t actually tell the difference between a $6.00 and a $45.00 wine. So making these blind tastings a bit more fun, researchers have taken the same wine from the same bottle and spun two different stories about them. Talking about how one is a common everyday table wine priced at $6 a bottle and that the other wine is a very special exclusive wine.
The tasters are then asked to talk about which one is better. Consistently they rate the $45 wine as better, even though both are the same. It is all about the story.
Get your stories right and your job of filling units will be much easier.