In Part One that was published a couple of days ago I laid out the first three “must do” tactics. Here are the last two:
4. Inform the Media
As I’ve already noted, the media wants to know what’s new and significant to citizens in its coverage area. A mention in an article in your local newspaper boosts your community’s credibility and profile enormously. It’s an implied endorsement from a respected and reliable source. The Press Release is the tool used to inform the media of your new programs or services; corporate news; staff promotions or employment anniversaries; onsite events; involvement with charities; and other noteworthy activities. Business Wire’s “2014 Media Survey” found that reliance on press releases was heavy. It reported: “Almost 90 percent of respondents had referenced a release in the previous week, and 62 percent had used one in the last 24 hours.”
A Press Release simply answers who (would be interested in/affected by the news); what (is happening); when; where; why it matters; and how the public can participate or find out more. Few senior living communities have an ongoing Publicity program, which is a shame since the media would love to tell your feel-good stories.
5. Purchase advertising in the most-read newspaper in your city
This is one of those tactics about which I must warn: “Don’t try this at home” – unless you’ve had great success in the past or can easily access a trained advisor. There are just so many moving parts that can cause any ad to fall flat – from not getting the best deal on the price of the ad (you’d be amazed how much discounting an ad rep can give you), not selecting the most advantageous positioning or run schedule, to designing an ad with no headline or one that fails to a captivate, lack of a photo that tells a thousand words, compelling artwork, an offer seniors can refuse, no persuasive “Call to Action,” or incomplete contact information.
But if you can, spend from $500 to $2,000 a month on a good-sized ad (I’ve found three-columns wide by 5-inches deep ads work best). My rule of thumb is spend on advertising what you charge for rent for a single one-bedroom apartment – $3,500 a month is the national median. That will allow you to enhance your community’s image, remain on the top of the mind of potential residents, and drive traffic to your community.
The most effective campaign for generating traffic is one to promote an original, fun, distinctive upcoming marketing event. Buy the biggest, color ad you can afford. And run the ad, if your local paper publishes in the morning, five days before your event, again two days before, and finally on the morning of the event. (Add a day to the schedule, if your local news is an afternoon paper.) If you do this consistently, you’ll not only increase traffic, but build positive associations with your community and your prospects.
Bringing It Home
Any one of these strategies, done well, will generate leads for your community. But the beauty of these five tactics is that they can be integrated into a coordinated campaign for maximum, synergistic effect.
Start with a dynamite, media-worthy marketing event. Invite prospects through direct mail. Promote the event on your website and Facebook page. Distribute press releases four and three weeks in advance, and run ads the week of the event. Combining these methods into a cohesive marketing plan will maximize each and achieve results greater than the parts.
Of course, let us know what you did and how it worked for you!