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Last week we had the privilege to speak at LeadingAge Pennsylvania’s annual conference on “The End of Advertising. The Advent of Engagement.” There was a lot of enthusiasm for Creating Results’ definition of engagement: “the act of turning people on to your brand in a way that improves business.”

Definition of marketing engagement - Creating Results

Many attendees asked for additional ideas and best practices, so we’re kicking off a new series of posts – the “Engagement Stories.”

Our co-presenter in Hershey was Larry Guengerich of Landis Communities. The perfect senior living provider to kick off this series! Here is their story of creative (and effective) marketing engagement.

Where would Landis recommend other senior living communities focus their initial marketing engagement efforts?

Who better to “turn people on to your brand” than your employees and others invested in your organization’s success?

Guengerich says that engagement goes beyond the responsibility of the marketing and communications department at Landis.  When you think about marketing engagement as “the act of turning people on to your brand in a way that improves business” … keeping employees, board members and the members of the Lancaster community engaged with the organization is key to meeting their business goals. In this case, Landis is better able to offer safe homes, good jobs, excellent care and ample opportunities for all to demonstrate joy, compassion, integrity, stewardship and community (Landis’ core values).

One of the best ways to be engaging in your marketing is through “experiences”. But Landis doesn’t limit “engaging experiences” to just selling to their prospects.

Larry Zook, President/CEO of Landis Communities routinely facilitates communication throughout the organization by hosting “conversations with the president” events. As he explained in a recent blog post, Landis Communities is very intentional about hiring employees who, as one employee’s put it wants “to see their job not as what they have to get done, but to be at Landis Homes to bless residents and co-workers.”

How can you emulate this in your organization?

Zook advises that servant leaders should listen intently to what team members are passionate about, and then be a conduit of vision and necessary resources to support the team as they carrying out their mission.

Source: Landis Communities
Source: Landis Communities

This is exactly what happened with Landis Communities “living green ” initiative. A humble recycling program has grown into a culture of “being good stewards of natural resources” for employees, current and future residents.

A recent Landis Homes Facebook post illustrates how this offline engagement translated into online, marketing engagement. The shareable content shows the passions of residents involved in the living green initiative and invites others to join them in eradicating invasive plant species from a small woods on the campus of Landis Homes.

Good for the environment and an illustration of how living at a Landis Community fosters a sense of purpose among residents, employees and others engaged with the organization.

What advice can you give for reaching people not yet involved with your organization?

Engage your greater community, says Zook.

When Landis Communities was planning to build Steeple View Lofts – urban loft-style 55+ apartments in walkable downtown Lancaster, Zook says they “connected with the local “village movement” group, the Lancaster Downtowners, and invited them to fill two of four focus groups.” The Lancaster Downtowners are persons age 62+ who live throughout Lancaster City. They engage with each other in social and educational activities, plus they have an on-call volunteer support coordinator to help each other as needs arise – the ideal folks to give Landis unique perspective on a new type of housing for their organization to sponsor.

The Downtowners shared insights that were ultimately incorporated into the design of Steeple View Lofts. One such suggestion was including community rooms, each with a unique purpose on every floor.

These rooms have been a significant contributor to the sense of community among the residents. For instance residents use them for pot lucks  they organize to get to know their neighbors from every floor. Those pot lucks demonstrate the vibrant community spirit, and have become a marketing point for Landis.

Please leave us a comment below with your creative marketing engagement stories! And subscribe to this blog for more inspiration on how to keep engaging ALL of your stakeholders.

About The Author

Beth Spohn

Beth launched her career as a marketing teacher and discovered one of her greatest joys - sharing marketing insights. At Creating Results, she shares her marketing knowledge with prospective clients to help tailor marketing solutions that will achieve their desired results. She continues to educate as a lecturer at DC area universities — including Georgetown and George Mason—as a speaker at LeadingAge conferences nationwide, and has contributed to ICAA’s Journal of Active Aging.

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