We’re often asked, “what’s the benefit of partnering with an agency with senior living expertise rather than a local agency that is familiar with the area?”
A brief look back at the creation of Angell Marketing illustrates an overarching answer to this question. In fact, Angell Marketing began out of frustration at the ground level and was developed to benefit and cater to what communities truly need on-site.
Working in the senior living industry for over 30 years gave Wynne Angell, president and founder of Angell Marketing, a unique insight into the kind of agency partnership that’s needed at the local community level. For Wynne, there was a clear disparity between what marketing agencies thought she needed versus what she and her marketing and sales team actually needed to generate sales. What resulted was an agency with true senior living experience ready to partner with communities for a unique approach to the agency/community partnership.
Senior Living Expertise
Fortunately, senior living expertise is of no shortage at Angell Marketing. So, to tackle this question, we turn to the Angell Marketing staff, several of whom have on-site experience at the community level and have worked with non-senior living-specific agencies.
Dawn Sigmen, VP, director of client strategy at Angell Marketing, has worked in senior living for over 30 years, with much of that time as a marketing and sales director at the community level and as a regional marketing and sales director for a leading management and development company.
Another team member, Brittany Riggs, senior account executive, previously worked as a sales director at a local community. During this time, she directly worked with seniors, their families, and a local marketing agency, giving her practical knowledge of the inner workings of an on-site sales team.
With insight from Dawn and Brittany, we break down the distinctive benefits of working with an agency with senior living expertise.
1. The Focus Is On Educating Leads—Not The Agency
A large portion of marketing to older adults is educating the audience on the different offerings and services available at a community. For many, the distinctions between independent living, assisted living, healthcare services, or Life Plan community terms are difficult to understand in the initial stage of a buyer’s journey. So, the community has its hands full with educating its leads and prospects. Add in an agency without senior living experience to educate as well, and you’ve got more than you’ve bargained for.
Working with a senior living-focused agency means there’s little lead time. The community and agency are able to hit the ground running without the need to start from scratch with basic industry-related terms, definitions, or processes. This allows a senior living agency to focus on learning the unique selling point of a community and the local area, rather than learning the industry.
“I think understanding the different types of communities, the vocabulary, policies, and residency agreements mean we jump right in and start right away,” Brittany said. “We already know what we’re marketing and understand the process. Plus, after working directly with seniors and their family members during the decision-making process, we have insight into the emotions and the reasons behind why our audience is making a move and know how to reach them with our message.”
Without this basic understanding of the intricacies, the responsibility is placed on the community to educate the agency about how senior living works, its community, and the audience.
“The biggest challenge I think that senior living communities face is that they all get lumped into the same type of community,” Dawn said. “When you talk about senior living, most people think it’s like a nursing home in that you only move there when you can no longer live by yourself, which couldn’t be further from the truth. Having an agency that doesn’t understand the different senior living options out there means the community then has to spend a lot of time educating them. And the agency then has to spend time understanding seniors and the process they go through when starting their search for a community.”
2. The Effect Of Terminology
Senior living education goes beyond processes and types of communities and extends to the terminology and imagery as well. Those knowledgeable in the field of senior living understand the blacklisted words to avoid when marketing to seniors and the why behind it. A local agency may include words such as nursing home, facility, or unit or even confuse the different services while executing different marketing tactics.
This illustrates the agency’s lack of understanding of the product offering as a whole. “They ultimately don’t understand the picture you’re trying to paint,” Brittany said. “You’re not trying to paint the picture of a facility. You’re trying to paint the picture of a lifestyle, of a community.
“I don’t think a non-senior living agency would have the knowledge to understand the difference between marketing the services then. Assisted Living is needs-based, whereas independent living is not. So you can’t market to them the same way because what’s important to them is going to be different.”
Understanding the connotations behind the terminology used is essential in painting the ideal picture of a community’s lifestyle and branding. You can read more in our previous blog about the power of words in marketing to older adults.
3. The Community Is A Partner—Not A Client
Having an agency that understands what it’s like in the trenches at the community level creates a partnership that is unmatched with a local or non-senior living agency. Senior living agencies have a true understanding of the day-to-day operations and the challenges that communities face. This helps with communication between the two teams and allows the agency team to offer recommendations that directly help with sales on-site rather than a formulaic solution.
“I think it’s the personalization that you get,” Dawn said. “With Angell Marketing, you have access to people who have done the job at a community level—on multiple levels. So we get it. We understand what those communities are going through and how best to offer solutions to help a community achieve their specific on-site objectives.”
The agency is able to act as a teammate with valuable insights, leading you towards success. And since they’ve walked in your shoes, they’re invested on a deeper level and celebrate each success with you.
“I feel more personally invested because I’ve been there. I totally understand what it’s like when you’re really successful, and it’s super exciting,” Brittany said. “And I also understand how stressful it is when you’re not. I think it just makes us more invested in a community’s successes and their marketing strategies than a local agency would be.”
4. Tailored Strategy For The Senior Living Industry
With hands-on experience, an agency becomes a community’s fresh set of eyes to look at a problem in a new light. This can mean locating potential areas of improvement throughout all areas of a community—even beyond strictly marketing solutions. This includes budget development, marketing audits, or even sales training.
“An agency looks at things a little bit differently,” Dawn said. “If you allow an agency to provide input into new directions that maybe the community hasn’t done in the past or is questioning why they should do something, you can potentially make great strides. And an agency with on-site experience can share insights beyond just marketing tools—real solutions that have been proven successful in the industry.”
It’s an opportunity to bridge the gap between marketing tactics and solutions that work in the field.
“We’re able to provide and educate our clients on different aspects of the marketing process and how it applies to senior living specifically,” Brittany said.
A client services team that understands how to read and interpret sales reports and work within a CRM allows for additional insight and consulting and identifies areas of improvement with on-site processes.
For example, providing the on-site team with useful ways to accurately track inquiries. The agency team also is able to distinguish quality leads over quantity, keeping the sales team focused only on leads that are likely to convert. This also contributes to creating a more accurate strategy by understanding the community’s current sales situation.
This empowers a holistic strategy across tactics rather than a one-off project or disconnected tactics that don’t reinforce the overall messaging. Plus, specific on-site knowledge helps the team apply a realistic strategy that will benefit the on-site team. This practical experience facilitates applicable solutions to their distinct challenges.
5. Utilizing The Senior Living Timeline
Not every community is at the same stage of development. The needs of a new development community versus the needs of a 25-year-old community with an independent living waitlist are very different. Knowing the different community stages and the unique needs that come with it is necessary for any agency.
“A local agency may not realize that you always have to be reaching out to leads because it’s a long process,” Brittany said. “You need to have consistent touches and can’t lower your momentum. And I think in a senior living-focused agency like ours, we understand more than anybody that you have to continue having those touches and build the pipeline, knowing that a sale can take two years. If you have a waitlist because you’re full, and you don’t market for two years, then you have nobody to call in two years. Even if you’re 100% occupied, you still have to market.”
This could mean building a priority list for a community still under construction, creating momentum around a new service offering, or continuing to generate qualified leads. Building the appropriate strategy that will reap the most benefits in the long term comes with knowing the industry inside and out. An agency like Angell Marketing understands the why behind different tactics and how the marketing process integrates with the senior living timeline.
6. Up To Date On Industry Changes & Developments
Platforms and search engines like Facebook and Google continuously update their policies or make changes to their platforms to better serve their audiences. Because a senior living agency only works in senior living, they’re experts on all of the changes within the space. From updated Google Ads policies to EHO and ADA guidelines, the community is covered and can confidently focus on on-site operations, rather than policy specifics.
Without working in a senior living bubble, it’s easy to miss policy changes or digital updates that can greatly affect a client down the line.
“Using a senior living agency that understands the changes that can be made, for instance with Google, and how it impacts a community is vitally important,” Dawn said. “It’ll save the community money because the agency can quickly let a community know when changes need to be made and can be made rapidly so that they don’t miss inquiries coming in when no change would result in inquiry disruption. In an instance like Google’s housing policy change, being unaware of changes can directly impact if leads are being generated. And just understanding how new rule changes can be implemented to the advantage of the community because they understand that community.”
Plus, only working within the industry provides the agency team with knowledge of the most effective campaigns and tactics. Because the agency is able to test and analyze different strategies within the market, the community is assured it’s implementing strategies that are optimal for its target audience.
7. Creative Designed For Seniors—And Only Seniors
When a team works on senior living across the board, the messaging, positioning, and visuals are all appropriately aimed at the target audience.
With industry experts working on a collateral piece, a print ad, or website design, etc., a community is assured the entire team, from copywriters and designers to digital and account executives, is focused on senior living and knows the target audience completely. Additionally, knowledge of specific aspects like text size and the optimal color shades for wise eyes come with a seasoned team.
“There’s such value in working with a senior living-only agency because we know the ins and outs,” Brittany said. “All of our team is only working on senior living. We spend 100% of our day focused on senior living, and there’s no crossover with other markets. It’s all we do every day. From digital to print, and even our creative team, they understand senior living and have been on-site at communities. Plus, we can deliver a product quicker because our copywriters and designers understand the target market.”
At Angell Marketing, our knowledgeable copywriting team has over 50 years of experience writing for the senior living market—experience a local agency can’t provide. With this background and expertise, their words reassure seniors about their reservations and fears and expertly educate them on complicated topics, helping them feel confident and ready to explore or choose a community lifestyle.
What Sets Angell Marketing Apart
As a senior living-focused agency, we know the industry inside and out and put our senior living strategy to work with 100% of our clients. With our team’s experience in various levels of the senior living industry, we know the market and help communities apply best practices that apply specifically to senior living. Our expertise allows us to offer unique solutions to fit your community and challenge the generic cookie-cutter marketing approach.
Contact us today to see how Angell Marketing can provide a solution for your community. We encourage you to take a look at our previous work and connect with us on LinkedIn for agency updates and senior living insights.