If you are in sales and marketing for a senior living community, such as a continuing care retirement community (CCRC) or a rental retirement community, you know that it can be tricky to get prospects on-site. Whether you are striving to get folks to take a tour, come for an event, or simply build awareness, you know that you must create visually appealing collateral with a compelling call-to-action (CTA). But is direct mail really the right channel to use for your senior living marketing campaign?
Depending on who you talk to, some will say that direct mail is a thing of the past — it’s been replaced by email or other digital media — but don’t be so quick to dismiss the effectiveness of direct mail when done well. Here are a few pointers on how to up your game when creating direct mail pieces to market a senior living community.
Perfect your call-to-action (CTA)
Arguably the biggest factor that determines the success of your direct mail piece is if you are offering something people want. When you develop intriguing events or enticing offers, and then create a clear, concise call-to-action, your direct mailer is much more likely to hit the mark.
Let’s face it: A lot of direct mail pieces end up in the recycling bin. Why? Because the recipient found no value in it. You can change that by thinking outside the box and getting creative with your call to action. Include a perforated coupon redeemable for X-amount off at your on-campus farmers’ market or for free admission to another on-campus event. The goal of course is to get people on-site to experience your campus first-hand.
Another great CTA is to include a QR code on your mailer, directing recipients to your website for more information or for a value-added offer of some sort. For instance, sending them to your community’s MoneyGauge lifetime affordability calculator on your website provides them with an answer to a common question: Can I afford this community? MoneyGauge even allows you to generate that custom QR code.
Make it “refrigerator-worthy”
When it comes to direct mail, looks matter. A good design is key to grabbing people’s attention and enticing them to read your message. You want appealing graphics and photos that will help the recipient see themselves in your images.
Oftentimes, less is more when it comes to direct mail text. You need clear, concise copy in an easy-to-read font. The reality is that people simply don’t read copious amounts of text. Give the recipient just enough copy to get your key point across and then provide them with an enticing CTA and a way to get more information.
A mailer combining an attractive design with strong copy and an alluring CTA is less likely to get tossed in the recycling bin and more likely to be saved and acted upon. This is what we like to call a “refrigerator-worthy” direct mail piece.
>> Related: Becoming an Educated Senior Living Consumer
Fine-tune your mailing list
A direct mail campaign is only going to be effective if you have a solid mailing list comprised of your target demographic. Data analytics can help you home in on that ideal prospect using historical data and competitor data.
Once you understand who your community’s audience is, you can then tailor both your direct mail messaging and your mailing list. Companies like SenioROI can help you define that audience and develop a targeted mailing list, which in turn helps you save money by focusing on fewer, but more qualified prospects.
And keep in mind: For many senior living communities, your target audience may not be retirees but rather their adult children. In fact, data from a 2012 NPR story found that the primary audience for most senior living communities is the children of seniors, usually between the ages of 30 and 40. This is particularly true for long-term care communities like assisted living and skilled nursing facilities (also called nursing homes) where loved ones often are thrust into the role of decision-maker.
Diversify your marketing campaign spend
So, while direct mail is far from dead, audience targeting and media diversity are the name of the game when it comes to your senior living marketing spend. To reach today’s CCRC prospect or senior living target market, you must include a variety of media, including, importantly, digital channels.
According to data from eMarketer, U.S. digital ad spending exceeded $210 billion for the first time in 2021. By 2025, digital ad spending is projected to reach $300 billion in the U.S., with nearly 77 cents out of every marketing dollar going toward digital ads (up from 69 cents in 2021).
A link to MoneyGauge is a high-impact CTA for digital campaigns, as well as print media, allowing prospects to get a true sense of their ability to afford your senior living community. MoneyGauge also helps your community build a better list of your best prospects: ones who are both interested in your community and who are financially qualified.
But digital advertising definitely is not the only show in town, particularly for prospects who are considering a planned move to a senior living community like a CCRC or rental retirement community (versus an unplanned move such as to an assisted living or skilled nursing care facility). So, while you absolutely should incorporate Google ads and email into your marketing campaign, more traditional media including TV, radio, print ads, and yes, direct mail, should continue to be included in your marketing strategy.
>> Related: Marketing CCRCs in the Digital Age
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