Senior Care Marketing: In-House vs Agency

One of the things a senior living provider needs to balance is whether to perform marketing “in-house” with an internal marketing team or go through a marketing agency. For those in the senior care industry, the issue can be complicated by factors such as:

  • Marketing for multiple communities that each have their own unique branding
  • Different care options: Independent Living, Assisted Living, Continuing Care and Retirement, Memory Care, etc.

Each marketing option has its pros and cons and best applications.

Going Agency

Most small to medium-sized senior living providers may not do enough marketing to justify hiring in-house. Marketing agencies will have bigger teams ofuse an agency specialists who will build better-performing Google Ads campaigns, build websites, and handle more complex marketing tasks like analytics and senior living marketing automation deployment.

Marketing agencies not only take care of executing marketing tasks, but they also bring a wealth of industry knowledge and best practices, a wide range of skill sets, and fresh, creative ideas. The trade-off can sometimes be the loss of the shared knowledge an in-house team may have and a faster response time to any issues. Good communication, clear objectives, and detailed reporting from your agency are important to ensure success.

Going In-House

The largest senior living providers who take care of marketing for many facilities can afford to build complete in-house marketing teams. These teams will better know the needs of the business and will be cheaper per hour than work sourced through an agency.

In-house teams will typically have a deeper knowledge of their brand, unique community aspects, and full access to company data.  The downside is that in-house teams are constrained by staffing resources and typically don’t have the flexibility to scale teams the way an agency can. Also, most agencies will have dedicated specialists who will get better results because they ‘live and breathe’ their channel.

Why not both?

Many senior living providers opt for a mixed model of in-house and agency to serve marketing. Some options:

  • Have an in-house Marketing VP who manages agency work
  • Have in-house marketing leadership AND marketing coordinators to handle basic tasks and campaigns at low cost, but outsource high-impact work
  • Have a full in-house team, but still outsource intensive or specialty work like website development projects and social media strategy

Getting Marketing Impact in Senior Living

Before deciding which option is the best fit, it is helpful to consider what marketing for senior living you are currently doing and what changes may be needed in the future. The senior care industry is broad and projected to continue growing at a rapid pace.  Senior living providers need to be able to demonstrate why their community is the best fit for prospective residents. Here are some ways successful marketing teams might do that.

The centerpiece: a great website

websiteA big part of being able to make an impact is having a great website. Seniors or their adult children/advocates will have a checklist of requirements they are looking for in a community. A good website will make it easy for them to find those answers and provide a clear path towards the next step such as a facility tour or move-in requirements.

A few common questions your website should be able to answer include:

  • What care options and levels of care are available?
  • Can the provider accommodate residents if their level of care changes? What community is best suited for this case?
  • What does the community/accommodation/rooms look like? Are pictures, videos, and layout plans available?
  • What shared spaces, amenities or activities are available to residents?
  • What is the basic pricing?

Personal touch: data-driven, personalized marketing experience

No market relies more on a personal connection than the senior care industry. The business is all about real people, and being able to build relationships, demonstrate trust and provide assurances that your community is the right choice for an individual is paramount.

There are many benefits to offering prospective residents a more personalized experience. The more you know about each contact, the more you can tailor what you put in front of them. It is also important to understand who it is you are marketing to so you can build custom messages that take into account relationships with children, relatives, or other trusted people involved in the senior living home selection.

The core of good personalization is good data collection. Landing pages, surveys, social media engagement as well as phone calls, virtual appointments, and tours are all important marketing channels for outreach and information gathering.

Streamline tasks: make the most of automationmarketing automation

Most senior living providers are looking for move-ins and facility tours. Post-Covid, much of this effort is handled by digital marketing. CITIZEN, an ActiveDEMAND Certified Partner Agency that specializes in senior living, recently reported they’re seeing a 40% increase in digital marketing spend compared to pre-pandemic budgets.

With many providers moving their facility tours to virtual, they’re better able to handle more clients and they can rely on marketing automation to handle the logistics of the virtual tours from sending out reminders to booking the video call, posting notes to the CRM, and handling other administrative and data gathering tasks.

If you want an idea as to other ways marketing automation can be used in senior living, check out this post from CITIZEN.

What works best for you?

Marketing is a crucial part of any business and the senior care industry has additional requirements that need to be addressed. Focusing on marketing for senior living can be demanding, with the increasing dependency on data, most businesses are re-evaluating the model; partnering with an agency, in-house marketing, or a hybrid model, that works best for them.

Regardless which option you choose, a proper understanding of the pros and cons and efficient implementation is essential for your success.