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The Cascades at Verdae

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The Client

The Cascades at Verdae is an upscale, $100 million continuing care retirement community in Greenville, S.C. The community opened in November 2008 and provides independent living and care to more than 100 seniors. Once full, the community will offer 321 apartments, cottages and health care residences.

The Challenge

In 2007, Walker Marketing was tasked with generating qualified leads to support a goal of pre-selling half of all independent living units in 12 months while launching a brand image that positioned the community as the most luxurious retirement living option in the area.

However, The Cascades was introducing a higher price point in the market despite direct competition from a community with a similar model and timeframe. Given these dynamics, speed to market and building perceived value into the marketing were essential to success.

The Strategy

Walker Marketing introduced The Cascades to the Greenville market with public relations in order to establish widespread awareness and credibility. To achieve sales goals, an integrated marketing campaign was developed to generate leads for the sales team, followed by an extensive lead conversion and retention program designed to build relationships and camaraderie among future residents.

Research indicated the target demographic perceived themselves as younger than their actual age, unwilling to submit to the traditional retirement “home.” Armed with this knowledge, Walker Marketing set out to connect with the audience and tap their emotional motivations with a creative strategy that utilized active lifestyle imagery and messaging that communicated a love for healthy living.

The creative strategy was reflected in direct mail, advertising, digital marketing, event marketing and public relations—a promotional mix that ensured maximum reach and impact among seniors in the Greenville market.

Tactics

Public Relations

Media outreach and featured editorial about active retirement living at The Cascades resulted in national and regional print and television coverage.

Advertising

Print advertising featured various lifestyle activities such as dining and dancing, and incorporated a call-to-action to generate response. In total, print advertising accounted for nearly a third of all qualified leads.

Interactive

A website and DVD featured a life-like, 3D animated tour of the clubhouse and residential options prior to completion of construction so that prospects could visualize the architecture and beauty of the future community.

Special Events

Event marketing moved active leads along the sales continuum and helped reduce attrition. Luncheons, seminars and social receptions enhanced word-of-mouth marketing among priority members and created a sense of community among future residents.

Direct Mail

Nearly half of all leads generated can be attributed to various direct mail campaigns, which used specific age, income and geographic qualifiers to identify prospects with a high propensity to purchase. Once obtained, new leads became part of an ongoing lead nurturing program in order to convert to a deposit and subsequent resident.

The Result

The Cascades broke ground approximately 60 days ahead of schedule as a result of lead generation and conversion efforts. In fact, at the end of year one, marketing efforts generated more than 1,000 qualified leads and 150 priority depositors. Subsequent years produced comparable levels which kept the sales pipeline full of qualified prospects.

In total, advertising and direct mail accounted for approximately 60 percent of all leads generated and ranked second only to the website and PR on a cost-per-lead basis. Overall, the integrated approach ensured high awareness levels, impact and reach among key prospects of The Cascades. In addition, The Cascades was recognized as the nation’s best proposed active adult retirement community by the National Active Retirement Association.