By Susan Saldibar

Are you getting the feeling that we’re going to be in this COVID-colored world a while? If so, you know that it’s no longer a question of “waiting it out”. This is the world we now live in. Valerie Whitman, VP of Senior Living for LeadingResponse (a Senior Living Foresight partner) has steadily been checking in with prospective residents and their adult children, as well as their own clients, and taking a lot of notes. They’re using those notes to help improve the marketing response of communities to better relate and connect with today’s prospective residents.

Valerie will be sharing the findings and tips in a webinar, scheduled for Thursday, October 1st, for which you can register here.

I spoke with Valerie about what she’s seeing in terms of new expectations of prospective residents and family members and how well communities are re-calibrating their marketing to mesh with those expectations. Unsurprisingly, much of it surrounds webinars and virtual meetings.

Why Webinars?

There is a lot to unpack here, but here are a few key points Valerie shared about webinars that stand out:

  • Prospects are drawn to the webinar format to be educated and get more insight from senior living communities. It’s easier on their schedules and they like to be able to download a webinar if they couldn’t make it online. They also feel it is the safer option given the hesitation to visit a senior living community, if even possible these days.
  • Webinar/seminar attendance is up. Valerie says that their webinar clients are seeing attendance rates of registered attendees average 41%. Those are higher than average webinar attendance rates, and Valerie believes much of it is due to the fact that people are home more and it’s easier to attend.
  • Webinars are drawing in “cold” leads that many communities had given up on. “They are just a little more comfortable with the relative ease of the webinar format,” Valerie says. And these cold leads can warm up after a well-conducted webinar.
  • Traditional pre-COVID topics are still important to cover, but . . . Prospects’ biggest question is how communities will keep their loved ones safe, not only during the pandemic but in regular flu seasons and in general, given our new normal. “This is a great opportunity for communities to demonstrate the positive points of having a loved one safe within a senior living community. As opposed to isolated and vulnerable living on their own,” Valerie says. “Share what you’re doing within your community. Educate them.”

Best Practices

Since webinars are becoming more popular, I asked Valerie to share with readers a few of the best practices tips she’ll be covering in the webinar:

  • Best days of the week: Tuesday & Wednesday.
  • Best time of day: 2 pm for IL, 6:30 pm for AL/MC. 
  • Provide downloads (give them access to what you would normally hand out at an event).
  • Offer incentives (i.e. nominal Starbuck’s gift card).
  • Include poll questions as well as click-to-schedule a call or virtual tour.
  • Use reminders. Incorporate a cadence of 3-4 reminders that include phone, email, and text.  

Other Tools

Of course, there’s more to this new virtual world than webinars, and Valerie will be covering other virtual marketing tools. She’ll also share tips on how to orchestrate an effective marketing program using channels that meet your prospects where they are and communicate in a way that is compatible with their preferences. 

I’ve only scratched the surface here. Valerie’s webinars are always packed with good, useful information. You can register for the October 1st webinar here.

Maybe this new world is just the beginning of a badly needed wake up call for an industry with a reputation for being behind the curve when it comes to embracing new ways of doing things. At any rate, it’s here and you just don’t have the luxury of waiting things out. 

“This virtual marketing environment is going to be around for a long time,” Valerie says. “Those communities who realize it and adjust their marketing strategies accordingly will be ahead of the game.”