Guest Columns

The marriage between life enrichment and marketing

Michael McCann
Michael McCann

There should be a distinct marriage between your organization's Marketing Department and its Life Enrichment Department. When working in unison, occupancy, referrals, branding and resident satisfaction can all be impacted in a positive way.

The basics of marketing are to create a promotional message to a target and communicate to a specific audience. While many larger communities or entities that serve older adults may rely upon electronic media (TV, radio and website), print ads, social media, direct mail, referral marketing or some combination thereof in order to accomplish this task, every community uses one form of marketing. Look closely at these messages and marketing materials to promote tasty dining options, beautiful curb appeal and partnerships that promote care.

While marketing may describe the product and promote the benefits of a senior living community (or your organization), it is the life enrichment team and the programming they offer, which create the culture and environment in which an older adult can thrive.

Life enrichment and programming can bring the community to life, define the culture of the community and most importantly, help the organization stand out from others down the street.

A strong Life Enrichment Department should develop and implement programming that provides the following:

  • Deliver social programs that are more than Bingo.
  • Implement fitness and wellness opportunities beyond chair aerobics.
  • Provide choices of how to live life.
  • Offer programs that take participants on a personal journey of growth and enrichment.
  • Impact not only the participant, but your family, neighbors, and surrounding community.
  • Provide the tools to help each individual grow, which then creates a culture dedicated to the pursuit of personal and community goals.

Why is this so critical? Not only will this programming offer a diverse choice to the residents you serve but it will also have the opportunity to enhance your marketing efforts. Public relations is “the activity or job of providing information about a particular person or organization to the public so that people will regard that person or organization in a favorable way," according to its dictionary definition. Certainly, the life enrichment team has the opportunity to do this on a daily basis. They can be differentiators for your organization.  

Therefore, it makes complete sense that marketing and life enrichment should work in tandem to help drive desired results for the community. Ongoing conversations must take place so that the two departments are on the same page with what is being offered, the best way to capture the programming being delivered and to provide the opportunity to invite prospects to personally witness or engage in such programming even before becoming a resident.

Start looking at the activities you provide in a different light. Be sure to seek and identify the various layers on how your programs can be promoted to help communicate the organization's brand and be in sync with the marketing message.

A coordinated approach can mean that your programs will get noticed in various media sources which will accentuate your marketing efforts. You may need to help facilitate this with your local media outlets and news editors by providing press releases to them about specific events happening within your community. In fact, in many cases media outlets allow for you to write the article regarding the event, much as McKnight's welcomes guest bloggers. 

This additional exposure created by these two departments working closely with one another provides the opportunity to drive census and revenue higher. The value of this will vary based upon the services your organization provides and specifically how your organization operates.

Who knew something as simple has this could present such a real opportunity to improve upon your results for your organization?

Michael McCann, MS, is the director of lifestyles for Friendship Senior Options. Dean Dellaria is the director of sales at Friendship Senior Options.

Guest Columns

Guest columns are written by long-term care industry experts, ranging from academics and thought leaders to administrators and CEOs.

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