How to Make the Most of Your Senior Living Testimonials

The goal of a senior living marketing team is, ultimately, to drive move-ins. Some communities are on the right track when they use positive testimonials from residents’ family members to appeal to future residents—but there’s a right and a wrong way to go about doing that, according to experts.

And it comes down to knowing the difference between a compliment and a quote.

“Anytime you are connecting with a current or prospective resident, use a quote,” says Teresa Clark, managing partner and chief marketing officer at OnFire Reviews & Content.

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Quotes about a senior living community differ from compliments about one, Clark explained during a March 17 webinar hosted by Senior Living SMART, a solutions network aiming to curate resources to help operators improve occupancy, revenue and service delivery. Compliments say a community is “awesome,” while quotes are sound bites and one-liners that explain why.

For example, “this community is great” is a compliment. “This community really responds to my mom’s needs, and the staff is so caring,” is a more worthwhile quote.

From a marketing perspective, quotes are anecdotes that describe a particular community’s selling points—which staff members at that community should brainstorm to figure out before reaching out to residents’ family members for telephone or video interviews, Clark said. This brainstorming should involve determining what a perfect review of the community would say, and what makes the community different from other communities.

“You should know your better and different story,” SeniorLivingSmart CEO Debbie Howard said during the webinar. The trick, once that is known, is to get family members and residents to share the community’s strengths in their own words.

This can be accomplished by asking open-ended questions during telephone or video interviews, according to Clark. “Let your families talk without interruption,” she said.

Although this strategy is effective, it may take some time for family members to say what a community specifically wants to hear. That’s perfectly fine, Clark said.

“They may tell you a story, but the more you let them talk, the more you can get those quotes,” she explained. “You may have a conversation for 5 to 10 minutes, and have 1 to 2 minutes of ‘amazing.’”

A tactic that comes in handy when interviewing family members is “leading the witness,” which involves using a third-party interviewer to gently guide the family members to tell the community’s story, but in their own words, Clark said.

The interviewer—whoever it may be—should always ask for permission for a call to be recorded, Clark added. During the phone conversation, the interviewer should mention that the community is going to be excited to use some of the interviewee’s comments in their marketing, and then get the interviewee’s approval to do so. OnFire Reviews & Content actually does that twice in the conversation, Clark said.

These interviews with residents’ family members can also be done on video. If, after several interviews, a community ends up with 10 to 20 minutes of quality video, it should divide the video up into several that are between 1 and 2 minutes long, Clark advised. 

These clips can be used to create short, bite-size “topic videos.” Each topic video should only be about one topic in particular, like a community’s great food, diverse activities, or caring staff, Clark said.

“These topic videos are wonderful because people don’t feel full,” Clark said. “It’s a way of getting them that information in snackable points.”

Topic videos also help keep prospective residents and their family members engaged throughout the sales and move-in process, Howard explained. Communities can send a certain topic video to these people before their tour, and then follow up with more videos afterward. 

Written by Mary Kate Nelson

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