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When the late, great Johnny Carson was the host of The Tonight Show, a recurring character was Carnac the Magnificent.

The seemingly psychic Carnac would “divine” the answers to questions in “hermetically sealed” envelopes. Wordplay and one-liners would zing by as he made his predictions.

Kimberly_HulettThe one thing you could predict with certainty was roaring laughter every time the turbaned Carson hit the stage.*
I often think of Carnac whenever experts line up and make their predictions for the coming year — whether they be experts in marketing, policy, health, business … Like my New Year’s resolutions, the predictions are often founded on hopes and dreams and we can watch the year zing by without seeing the change realized.

I commend OurParents writer Robyn Tellefsen for trying to predict what would come next in the topsy turvy world of senior living. She reached out to a wide variety of people who work within the industry for an article published February 6, 2017, “What’s Ahead for Senior Care.”

Among those tapped for their insight was Creating Results’ own Kimberly Hulett, who said:

“In 2017, options for assisted living and memory care are going to explode. Each new entry brings opportunity, but can also bring confusion. Consumers need to be more deliberate in defining what will make their loved one happy, and the way adult children will do that is through digital ‘shopping.’”

Marketing’s Response to the Senior Care Boom

We asked Kimberly to expand a little on her prediction, and what it means for marketers. She said:

“Right now, assisted living and memory care are perceived as a better investment for those in the business than is commercial real estate. It’s not a new boom – it’s an ongoing boom.

But a boom like this is far more complex than having to choose from 57 different types of ketchup on the grocery store shelf. Senior living is a complex sale. It’s just going to get more complex.

Also, every senior living provider is chasing after the same adult child prospect. So competition becomes more fierce and overwhelming to the consumers. Prospects will consider more options and take more time. Online directories and search results are now that grocery store shelf.

So whether you’re a new senior living provider or one who’s been in the market for a while, you need to make the digital purchase journey easier on the adult child.

If a senior living community can help the caregivers, adult children and the assisted living prospects themselves understand all their options, those consumers will be more likely to choose them.”

An example Kimberly gave is the welcome message sent to prospects after they sign up for an email list.

Many providers treat this as one-and-done, said Kimberly. They acknowledge the sign-up. But the provider’s goal seems really to try to prevent a spam report.

The more successful providers treat these emails as the first of a series of welcome messages.

Yes, it starts with a “thank you for your inquiry.” Then, the provider’s goal is not just to be seen as “not spam.” The goal is to be seen as a resource, a guide, a barrier-breaker. Through the email series, prospects should learn enough about the provider to trust them and engage with the sales team.

Put a good amount of education into this series, said Kimberly. If someone later drops off your list, then your marketing team has done its job — it has helped the adult children better understand their options and what their parents need. They’ve self-disqualified. This frees up your sales team to work with leads better suited to your community and further along in their journey.


Click here to read the full list of predictions collected by OurParents.

Then, please tell us: What do YOU predict senior living marketing should / could be doing in 2017 and beyond?

We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. We don’t even require a turban …


* One of the best-loved and most-remembered Carnac sketches follows. If you can’t play it from your email, click here and be prepared to laugh.

About The Author

Erin Read

Erin Read spearheads integrated and digital marketing programs for organizations targeting mature consumers. She writes, researches and speaks about marketing to baby boomers and seniors. Erin has addressed local, regional, international conferences on generational marketing. She is the co-author of three national studies/eBooks (Photo Finish; Social, Silver Surfers 2010 & 2013) and the principal blogger for Mature Marketing Matters.

  • Larry Guengerich

    While I don’t have a turban, one technology that I think will come down in price and become more important is Geo-fencing for senior related organizations. Geo-fencing is “the use of GPS or RFID technology to create a virtual geographic boundary, enabling software to trigger a response when a mobile device enters or leaves a particular area.” In other words, if I am in a targeted group and drive past a billboard with an ad on it, that same information will then show up on my mobile device to reinforce the message.

  • CreatingResults

    Thanks, Larry! Amanda Combs, our Director of Marketing Strategies & Google Goddess (my label for her), agrees with you. She writes:

    “Geo-fencing has already started to come down in price, and we’ve seen success with several client campaigns! We like to use it in various ways similar to the approach you mentioned, but also in geo-fencing our clients’ physical communities with ad messaging that speaks to an upcoming event or reason to come back to the community again.”