Warmth, hospitality, and friendliness are all crucial for senior living communities. In fact, your success as a business depends on it. These qualities are all easy to communicate with face-to-face interactions, so make sure you're taking advantage of one of the most effective ways to get them: events.
Events are an excellent way to get people talking about your senior living community, and that's good news for you. Why? Word-of-mouth recommendations make Americans 83% more likely to choose a business or a service. And this is even more true for senior living communities. In fact, one of our clients gets 34% of their sales qualified leads from word of mouth:
What better way to build trust and positive word of mouth with your future residents than with events? Events, when done right, are a memorable way to convey the essence of what your community is about. But what does it mean to do it right? We’re giving you a quick guide on planning and executing noteworthy events for your senior living community’s marketing.
1: What’s your “why”?
Every good event has a clear “why.” It won’t always be about finding new residents. Not right away, at least. Your “why” might be deepening your relationship with your local neighborhood community. You might be collecting donations if you run a non-profit senior living community. You might be running a seminar on financial planning for retirement. You might want to engage with local seniors and their families to help them know about what you do before it’s time to make a decision on choosing senior living. No matter what you do, the “why” must be the first thing you establish before planning your event.
2: Establish your budget
Your event doesn’t have to be a black-tie affair. However, it’s essential to know your budget first in order to maximize quality. After all, your event will impact your attendees' impression of your community. Tighter budget? No worries. Invite vendors to collaborate in an artist’s market. There are plenty of budget-friendly activities you can organize. Higher budget? Great! Use your additional resources to plan an unforgettable event.
3: Brainstorm for ideas
You have your purpose, your audience, and your budget. Now, what can you do to give your attendees something incredible? Get the greatest minds you have together and start to brainstorm the details. First, decide on the audience based on your “why” that you identified before. If your why is “to raise funds for our non-profit community,” then you’ll likely want to include your sponsors, residents, and their families. If it’s “to celebrate an upcoming holiday,” focus on your residents and their loved ones. If you want to show prospective residents what they can expect from your community, extend the invite to anyone interested in coming and make sure there are activities for people of all ages.
Here are a couple of ideas to consider:
- A safe driving course for seniors with a door prize
- A free financial planning consultation for seniors
- A golf tournament for your sponsors
- An artist market with plenty of activities for kids and adults
- An outdoor movie night, complete with a snack bar
- A holiday-themed fundraising event for your community
- An outdoor concert with food and dancing
The brainstorming process should involve the person primarily responsible for planning the event. Make sure this is the most qualified person for the job. Often, your activities coordinator will be an invaluable resource for your community’s events. No one else is more in tune with your residents’ interests and what it takes to put together a successful event.
4: Ace the execution
The success of your event is as good as its execution. From start to finish, make sure you’re giving your attendees the best possible experience. First, make sure that your event is advertised on your website. Consider printing flyers to display in your community if the event includes current residents. And, even if your event is free and it’s not necessary to RSVP, it’s still important to set up a form on your website for attendees to register. This will help you estimate the turnout and follow up with people after the event. Ask for simple info like a name and an email address and set up an automatic email to confirm you've received their reservation.
Remember that the most crucial part of your event is quality. It’s better to host an incredible event for ten people than a lackluster gathering for a hundred. Work closely with your activities director to understand what should be included in your event and what you can omit. Prioritize the things that are most important to your attendees, and you’ll have a solid chance of success.
5: Don't forget the follow-up
Your event went off without a hitch. Congrats! Now what?
A warm follow-up with your attendees is the detail that makes your event a masterpiece. Think of it like receiving a genuine thank-you card after giving a heartfelt gift. Remember those emails you collected in your RSVP form for the event? It's time to use them! If you've collected photos from the event, send them in a sincere thank-you email and invite them to join you in future events. Take a look here for more event follow-up email tips.
The material from your latest event can help you bring more people to the next one. Share photos, thank you’s, and shoutouts to your sponsors and donors on your social media accounts. Write a blog article about your event and share it in your email newsletter. Make sure that you communicate your thanks for their participation in your event.
When done well, events are one of the most effective marketing tools your senior living community has. A well-executed event can show prospective residents what it's like to live in your community, allow them to meet people involved with the community, and the inclusion of family from the start can make them much more likely to give you a "yes." It can reinforce the bond you have with the sponsors and donors that support your community. It can create new memories for your residents and the important people in their life. What's not to love about that?
Remember, with a clear goal, a stellar execution, and a warm follow-up, you can help grow your senior living community in a way that people won't soon forget.