What makes your senior living community special? If your answer is “everything,” you may have some work to do in the branding arena.
Multitasking is a myth and so is being exceptional at everything. Consumers understand that no one — and no organization — can be all things to all people. Even massive corporations stumble when they try to do too much; consider the failed foray of online shopping behemoth Amazon into the mobile phone space.
Of course, senior living communities must be good at all the services and amenities that allow their residents to thrive. No marketing expert would suggest that you simply abandon health care to focus on dining, for instance.
But to differentiate your community from the competition, choosing an area for focus is paramount. What is the most important thing that makes your community stand out? Here’s how to find out and make the most of it.
Let Go of ‘Owning’ Everything
If you don’t know what differentiates your community from others, you can implement a process to uncover relevant information. Letting go of the idea that your community can outshine all others in every aspect is key. It’s also important to understand that by highlighting one thing you’re in no way implying that you neglect the others.
Assuming that your community generally meets or exceeds the expectations of residents and their families, you are starting from a baseline of overall assumed competence or even excellence.
When seniors in your area mention the “nice” senior living communities, is yours included? If so, it’s unlikely that highlighting one aspect of your community will raise any suspicions that the other aspects may not be as pleasant.
Choosing Your Differentiating Feature
Begin your process of uncovering your differentiating feature with thorough research. A number of methods can work for gathering the information, but the end result should be a clear picture of the primary aspect of your community you wish to highlight.
How can you gather information?
- Send out a survey to residents, family members, staff and board members. Ask multiple-choice questions to determine how people rank each area of your community. If you already have an idea of the areas with the best reputation, you can limit your survey accordingly. As you create the survey, consider general service areas like wellness, dining, activities and health care, along with amenities such as your dining venues, fitness center and individual residences.
- Hold formal focus groups with different constituencies within your community, such as residents and board members. Your marketing agency can assist you with facilitating focus groups and interpreting the results.
- Conduct informal interviews with a variety of different people in your community. You can choose a handful of residents, staff members, board members, senior leaders and others to gain a broad picture of the community’s reputation and areas of excellence.
As you go about uncovering your differentiating feature, consider your community’s history. What do people in your area say about the community? Do they rave about your dining? Do they tell stories about your fantastic rehabilitation services?
Making Your ‘One Thing’ Shine
After you’ve conducted your research and come up with some areas to highlight, you are well on your way to nailing down your “one thing” – otherwise known as your unique selling proposition.
The concept of a unique selling proposition is based on the idea that most businesses are not completely different from competitors in every way. To effectively target prospective residents, differentiation from your competitors is vital. By discovering your unique selling proposition, you can stake your claim to your “one thing” that really makes your community stand out. How do you begin to do that?
It’s important to do everything possible to stay at the top of your game in your key area of focus. Maintaining excellence may mean studying best practices, investing in continuing education and ongoing training for your team members, and keeping abreast of the latest relevant trends and technological advances.
In addition, it’s a good idea to regularly survey your audiences – especially your residents and prospective residents – to gauge how you’re doing. Whether your “one thing” is dining, beautifully landscaped grounds, the best swimming pool, or highly trained staff members, you’ll need to take immediate corrective action if your reputation starts to slip.
Getting the Word Out
Part of staking your claim to your unique selling proposition is getting the word out effectively. To firmly establish your brand, it’s critical to develop consistent messaging across all your collateral, including print materials, website, social media presence and advertising.