At one point in my career as a marketing consultant, I was responsible for developing, placing and tracking lead generation efforts for a company with 43 communities across the nation. Whew . . . that was a lot of work, but from actual results, we learned a tremendous amount about what worked and what didn’t. Now certainly some things have changed, but if I were your marketing consultant, I would recommend you try one or all of the following Lead Generating Tactics.

1. Initiate a Direct Mail campaign

Buy a mailing list of approximately 2,400 seniors who are living in zip codes closest to your community. Start mailing an oversized postcard (5” x 7” or 6” x 9”) to a minimum of 200 each week. Make sure that you:  

  • Include an intriguing headline on the picture side of the card
  • Use a picture featuring seniors enjoying themselves and connecting – either with each other or with the prospects by making eye contact with the camera.
  • Invite these prospects to a community event or offer them something they want (like a gourmet dinner for six, a chance to win a substantial raffle prize, a white paper on financing long-term care, etc.).
  • Incorporate a call to action; such as “Call today!,” “Register on our Website,” or “Follow us on Facebook.”

Change the postcards slightly each quarterly – with a different headline, photograph and colors – and mail to the same list, once you’ve deleted the bad addresses. You should see more responses each quarter as your prospects begin to view you as a friend, assuming, of course, your offer is genuinely of value.

2. Strengthen Your Web Presence

Enough cannot be said about the importance of your website – both as tool prospects use to find you and as a factor in what they think about you. Suffice it to say, your site should feature testimonials on every page; lots of engaging photos, artwork, and videos; and content that sends your prospects closer to move-in to your community. Each page, picture and article should be search engine optimized. Showing up in a positive light near the top of searches is vital.

If your website is more than 2 years old, it’s at least 5 in tech-years, and likely missing functions that would increase visitors and engagement; for example, a blog where you post new content weekly. Not only are you providing a forum for visitor to interact, you are also improves your ranking in search engines since the rate new content highly.

Finally, if you participate in no other social media, create a Facebook Fan Page and invite all of your current residents, family members, staff, as well as your prospects to “Like” it. Facebook is the perfect venue to tell – in words, pictures, and home movies – the story of life in your community. Showcase your staff and residents, the care you deliver, and all the activities occurring in your community. Not only will you promote your own community, you’ll help demystify senior living. 

3. Conduct Media-Worthy Marketing Events

If you’re like most communities, you’re inviting senior prospects to marketing events monthly – with varying degrees of success. To increase attendance at these events, you might ask yourself – during the planning stage – what could we do to make this event worthy of media attention? If the media is interested, local seniors are more likely to be as well. 

The media likes to cover things that:

  • Are new, original, fun, or funny
  • Gain a new audience
  • Appeal to a large or underserved group
  • Matter deeply to a segment of their audience
  • Have emotional appeal or universal drama (David vs. Goliath, lost puppy found, enduring love, etc.)
  • Serve some public good

I would recommend focusing on activities that are fun – entertainment of any and all types, especially if you can also serve refreshments and showcase your food. Then, I would look to events that could be distinctive. You could pick something – like diabetes or dementia care, brain gain activities, supportive health-related care, or alternative medical practices – and become known as the go-to senior community for local seniors and families who are fascinated by that. As an example, you could feature complimentary medicine topics and have an afternoon with a rieki master who offers complementary demonstrations. Then the next month, focus on acupressure, then aromatherapy, tai chi, feng shui, and so on.


In Part 2, we’ll look at two additional tactics.