With Active Living communities proliferating and the next generation of seniors entering retirement age, a new era of senior housing marketing is well underway. But old beliefs about seniors and their housing needs still impact how communities are developed and marketed. After all, it wasn’t long ago that “retirement homes” and “nursing homes” were considered the primary choices for seniors looking for apartment-style living options.
The misconceptions still lingering about the senior housing market don’t just influence how people outside the industry think about senior living, they also impact what senior housing developers, owners, and management firms believe about senior housing marketing best practices. That’s why we wanted to take the opportunity to explore some of the most common senior housing marketing misconceptions today. We’ll interrogate some commonly held assumptions and deconstruct them to arrive at the truth about marketing housing to seniors.
Misconception #1: All Senior Living Communities Have The Same Marketing Needs
Senior living is not a monolith, but marketing practices are still working to catch up with its modern evolutions. Today, there are many different types of senior housing communities, each with its own unique marketing needs and best practices. Active Living communities have very different marketing needs compared to Assisted Living, and Assisted Living has different needs than Memory Care. A hybrid community has different challenges still. A good senior apartment marketing plan takes the community’s unique offerings into account. This applies to strategies around branding, digital ad tactics, website design, SEO strategies, and lots more.
Some senior apartment marketing strategies (like SEO and ad targeting tactics n particular) will also differ between urban vs. suburban vs. rural communities. Further, each unique local market carries its own culture of expectations, trends, and competition. Gone are the days when seemingly all senior housing communities were out in the suburbs, away from the hubbub of city life.
These different needs also arise from different audiences across different community types. Adult children of the senior prospect often have a primary role in selecting Memory Care, for example, while the senior and other decision makers may divide responsibility for the housing decision more evenly for Assisted Living. When it comes to Active Living, adult children may assist in the housing choice, but often the senior prospect will make their decision independently. Messaging, brand voice, ad targeting, and other marketing factors should take these differences into account.
Misconception #2: Senior Apartment Marketing Needs to Be “Safe” or “Conservative”
Today’s generation of seniors (and their adult children) are just as fun-loving, bold, and free-spirited as anyone else. Marketing for seniors tends to be safe and conservative, but these tactics often verge on boring and unimaginative, which isn’t winning anyone over. In fact, avoiding the safe and conservative option in favor of the bold, out-of-the-box option can be a huge breath of fresh air for seniors who are bored of the same old, same old and looking for brands that truly resonate with their inner spirit.
Keep age in mind, but don’t be ageist when you do so. That means taking the time to think critically about what you think will resonate with your target audience and why. Take care to eschew assumptions that may stereotype seniors in condescending and inaccurate ways. Push yourself to be bold and engaging without necessarily being youthful; after all, no generation has a monopoly on fun, audacity, or spirit.
Misconception #3: Senior Housing Marketing Relies on Traditional/Print Tactics
The old practice of ignoring the digital sphere in favorite of traditional print marketing tactics no longer works for today’s senior apartment marketing audience. While this audience continues to find traditional marketing persuasive, that doesn’t mean you can neglect digital tactics entirely.
Contrary to common assumption, cutting-edge digital marketing campaigns will reach today’s generation of tech-savvy seniors and their adult children. It’s becoming essential for senior housing communities to think about SEO, website UX, virtual leasing, digital ad campaigns, and more.
Misconception #4: Senior Housing Is Only For Seniors
With age-restricted communities, it’s easy to focus on just the members of your marketing audience that fall into your resident age range. But while seniors are your residents, many seniors want to live in a community that welcomes their entire family and provides a place to share during visits. That’s why some senior housing communities feature amenities like children’s playgrounds. Keep in mind that the adult children of seniors will be a large part of your audience too, and this community will be a place they come when they visit their parent(s).
In other words, your marketing should invite your audience to imagine your community not just as an ideal place for seniors, but also for the whole family. That means family-friendly amenities, proximity to city centers and major highways, and spacious interiors with room to entertain can be well worth a shout-out on your digital ads, website design, and more.