By Steve Moran

Senior Living has a huge marketing problem: What we are selling is not what people want.

You have probably heard someone say, “When someone buys a drill bit what they want is a hole”. But pretty much every company and every retail seller spends all their time talking about the bit and not the hole, with neither being very sexy or exciting.

But sometimes, talking about the bit instead of the hole is a huge mistake. Think about it, this problem is true with nearly everything that gets sold.

  • Plumbers install or repair pipes but what people want is fresh water to come into the house and dirty water to go out without any hassle.
  • When men and women go buy business clothing, they are not buying suits or outfits, they are buying how it makes them feel or how it makes them look.
  • Cars are just transportation, and some people do buy cheap utilitarian cars or trucks, but the upscale is about how it makes people feel about themselves and the driving experience itself.
  • Hotels, every single one of them provides the same thing. A place to sleep in a private room behind a locked door. People are buying a goodnight’s sleep and they are buying how it feels to stay in a particular hotel. For some, it is about finding a bargain, and for others, it’s about being pampered.

Senior Living

The question then is this: What is senior living really selling?

For sure we are selling a place to sleep, care, some number of meals every day, emergency call and response. It is really a bedroom and a bath, security, call systems, housekeeping, meals, activities. And in a very real sense that is what we are selling. But is that really what consumers are looking for or is that just the drill bit?


Families are mostly looking to solve a single problem: “What do I do about Mom or Dad, who can no longer live at home alone or with their spouse? It is really important to look at it this way. Because, if we don’t, they will figure out there are lots of options including homecare or even doing nothing except keeping their fingers crossed.

Prospective Residents

Some prospective residents will come into the process with a singular goal of finding all the reasons not to move in. But even these prospects have a real need they are looking to fill. It might be their stuff, freedom, and almost always a belief that their life will be less good in your community than at home.

Other residents have accepted the idea of moving into a senior living community. And they will be looking for a better, or at least “as good as” last chapters of their lives, as they were having in their home.

Approaching the sales process as selling a hole rather than a drill bit will transform your sales process.