In senior living, most selling happens within the confines of communities. The traditional approach aims various marketing channels toward persuading prospective residents to tour your campus in person.
If you can convince a prospect to visit, seeing often is believing. Your website, print ads and social media posts can engage your prospects and get them interested, but it’s often the in-person visit that seals the deal in prospects’ minds.
That’s why the idea of conducting off-site events strikes fear in the heart of so many marketing representatives. Without your beautiful campus as a backdrop, how will they generate interest?
Planned and executed correctly, off-site events can play an impressive role in your marketing program. What makes off-site events effective, and how can you put together a road show that garners results?
Reaching People Who Won’t Visit You
If your community is in a competitive or highly saturated market, you may face challenges reaching enough prospects to keep your occupancy at a healthy level. One way to connect with new people is by targeting areas outside your primary market, but many people may not be willing to travel for a tour without knowing more about your community.
By staging an off-site event, you reach out to people who live in areas outside your primary market area. Instead of waiting for people to decide on their own that they can move an hour or two away, you take control of the narrative and get your community into prospects’ minds as a viable alternative to their local senior living options.
Becoming Versed in a New Environment
Your marketing team members have a home-court advantage when prospective residents visit your community. Your representatives likely know the area well, and they have an innate sense of the likes, dislikes and preferences of the local senior population.
By spending some time visiting an adjacent market area, team members begin to gain expertise in that area as well. When they head back to your community, they take that new knowledge with them and can incorporate it into marketing messaging, phone sales and later visits from the remotely located prospects.
Spotlighting Your Expertise
Without the valuable backdrop of your community and all its amenities to help make the case to prospects, your marketing team is forced to get creative. In a remote venue, a presentation will by necessity focus more on the telling than the showing — and your representatives will need to paint a compelling picture.
What makes your community special? Why do your residents choose to live there? In what areas do your staff members have special expertise? What’s fascinating about your local area?
At an off-site event, your team members may find it tempting to rely on a PowerPoint presentation filled with dozens of photos of your community, but they should resist the urge. Seeing photos is not the same as visiting the community, and architectural details won’t be enough to engage the audience.
Gaining the interest of people who do not live close to your community will require a memorable presentation that makes an emotional impression. Photos of your community certainly can be part of the presentation, but your speakers must go deeper to differentiate your community.
Memorable presentations include relatable stories that elicit emotion. Spend some time with your team thinking about how you can best tell a story about your community that engages your listeners.
Planning Your Off-Site Events
As you begin the planning process, carefully review possible venues in your target area for central locations with the amenities you’ll need. Consider meeting rooms in nice hotels, convention centers, or restaurants with large, private rooms for events. You also can approach churches, hospitals, senior centers and other organizations with senior clientele to ask about making a presentation.
Once you know your venue, create a presentation that’s tailored to the location and the audience. If you’re presenting in a hospital, for instance, you may want to offer a workshop on care options for aging parents. A restaurant, on the other hand, may be better suited for a mostly social event with a short presentation about the community.
Don’t forget the logistics; make sure you know the dimensions of your presentation space along with availability of tables, presentation equipment and Wi-Fi. Understand how many people can fit comfortably in the room and how you’ll set up seating. Consider visiting in advance, and take pictures for later reference.
With a little planning, you can put together an off-site event that generates significant buzz about your community and add to your list of qualified leads.