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I’ve just returned from an annual senior living conference sponsored by VANHA (Virginia Association of Nonprofit Homes for the Aging). The conference focused on mature marketing and aging well and there were many points that stood out.  Here are just a few of my key take-aways that you can leverage to market to seniors.

1.    Changing the image of aging: Larry Minnix, President of LeadingAge, gave the keynote presentation and spoke of the importance of changing the image of aging.  He shared a number of videos demonstrating just how far we have come from the early ‘60s, yet noted that we must continue to share the many positive actions being taken every day that makes aging a positive experience.North Hill PurposeFull Living

Insight to action: North Hill’s (a Needham, MA Continuing Care Retirement Community) approach to wellness through its PurposeFULL Living program has been a huge success not only by its scope, but also by its strong community outreach. It changes the image of aging through involvement by local retailers, regional education and cultural institutions.

Related: Case study – North Hill partnership marketing

2.    Social Media’s role in marketing: Social media was a very popular area of interest among conference attendees (and not just because Creating Results presented a sneak peak of the 2013 Social, Silver Surfer research on Friday morning).

During the conference I asked a number of people what they wanted to take back with them. The number one answer I heard was “learn about social media.” All of these communities have a Facebook page but Executive Directors and Directors of Marketing alike knew they weren’t taking full advantage of it or other social media opportunities to reach Baby Boomers and Seniors.

Insight to action: Your social media program should be part of an integrated marketing campaign. In our previous post “War of the Worlds: Email vs Social for Targeting Older People,  you can discover many tips for optimization of your channels.

3.    “Put the Drugs Down & Turn the Music Up! This was a must-see presentation by Jack York, Co-Founder of It’s Never 2 Late. He demonstrated how interactive technologies—some incredibly affordable and readily available at your local Walmart—improved the quality of life of residents with dementia and reduced the need for some medications.  Videos of residents grooving to music or engaged with a flight simulator who previously stayed in their beds were impactful. He showed multiple ways that technology is improving rehab programs, calming anxious or distressed residents and helping staff members connect with residents.

Insight to Action:  The more personal an experience your community can provide the better.  Several of our clients are already using consumer technology as part of person-centered care. I expect many communities will be incorporating a number of the ideas he shared.

4. Getting ahead of the curve:  A number of communities are expanding and/or remodeling to stay competitive. One of my take-aways: if you wait until you need to expand or remodel you’re too late.

Related feature: How do you know if your campus is no longer competitive? Take Todd Harff’s spring cleaning advice.

5. Social Silver Surfers: Creating Results presented our latest and greatest research to a full house.  During the presentation, Todd Harff asked how many attendees liked social media and how many thought their customers liked social media. More thought their customers liked social networking better than they themselves do!

Insight to Action: Time to get comfortable with this dynamic channel. Creating Results’ 2013 Social, Silver Surfer ebook will be published this summer and will help you learn what is important to mature consumers and how best to develop and manage your social media plan.

Did you attend this year’s VANHA conference? Please share your take-aways — or comments on this post — below.

About The Author

Kathy East

Kathy East serves as Vice President of Client Services at Creating Results, directing a talented staff and overseeing the strategic direction of all 50+ marketing programs.