Senior living marketers are zeroing in on prospects’ children as a strategy to counteract delayed transitions into senior housing communities, noting a correlation between adult child involvement and quicker move-ins.
“Adult children getting more and more involved than they ever have at the residential level,” said Krista DiGeorge, regional marketing director at Asbury, a not-for-profit senior living organization, during a session at the 2013 LeadingAge Annual Meeting and Expo. “They’re realizing the impact on them to have Mom and Dad at home.”
With many seniors delaying a move, more adult children are serving as caregivers, Cathy Ritter, vice president of Marketing and Communications at Asbury, said during the session. But many of those adult children are in the “sandwich generation”—caring for elderly parents while still raising their own family—and they’re concerned about their parents’ safety.
Most visitors to senior care referral site Caring.com are adult children, according to co-founder and CEO Andy Cohen. However, many senior living providers persist in marketing to seniors and referral sources rather than targeting what could be a gold mine.
Going forward, Cohen believes the majority of searches for senior living will be conducted by the adult children—and they’re almost all doing it online. But a lot of the things they’re looking for differ from what a senior might want to know.
“A lot of them don’t want to talk to someone [on the phone]. They just want to get data on pricing. It’s a very different sales process for them,” Cohen says.
A Summer 2013 Caring.com survey revealed that for caregivers, the three most important factors in the search for senior services are location, cost, and customer reviews. Most providers, however, still market services and amenities.
“The home care [industry] is way ahead of senior living [in that regard],” says Cohen. Home Instead Senior Care, for example, aims messaging at adult daughters. However, Brookdale’s current ad campaign targets the adult child as well, Cohen adds, while Emeritus’ website has some content geared toward prospects’ children.
“Surprisingly few websites are doing this,” he says. “Most websites are targeting the senior, the food, and amenities, versus what the adult child is looking for.”
When a sales team needs to fill up vacancies fast, Ritter said, some of her favorite prospects are adult children. One incentive program at an Asbury community secured 80 sales, a third of which deposited within 30 days of their first contact with Asbury. A large portion of those fast sales were brought to Asbury by their adult child.
“When that child leads the charge, things happen—fast,” said Ritter. “Why target them? Because as we know, those frailer and more needs-based prospects are more likely to involve their children. It’s gotten to the point where they need to do something.”
Boosting consumer awareness and education about the product can also help encourage earlier move-in decisions. Usually the adult child’s first point of contact with Asbury is through the organization’s website, Ritter said, and the organization has started a new blog—”Asbury Perspectives”—geared toward potential prospects to help pump up web traffic.
The blog offers content in three different categories, including financial and legal information, aging well, and helping parents or spouses, and Asbury promotes it through the organization’s e-newsletter. The newsletter typically contains an item that links back to Asbury’s blog, along with some sort of promotional content, a resident profile, and news items.
So far, Asbury has around 1,300 email addresses in its database with potential plans to introduce incentives to sales counselors to capture more addresses, Ritter said, citing a “really high” open rate of about 30% and click-through rate of around 12%, well above e-campaign averages.
“It’s been a win-win,” she said.
Written by Alyssa Gerace