Developing Effective Marketing Plans and Budgets

Pieces of a puzzle

There’s an old Yiddish saying that goes “We make plans and God laughs.” While that may seem a bit of a heavy way to start out a blog post about marketing, we think it’s pretty appropriate when you’re talking about the senior living space – specifically, when it comes to developing an effective marketing plan that also aligns with a marketing budget. 

“Most of us in the senior living space are being asked to take on more and more responsibility,” says Melinda Schmitz, President of Sage Age Strategies. “Oftentimes, leaders and sales professionals end up wearing a bunch of different hats in order to get everything done. You may be leading special events to draw in new residents, update and monitor your website, put together digital strategies, respond to inbound leads at whatever stage they may be ... it’s exhausting, and there simply aren’t enough hours in a day.”

In today’s busy and competitive business environment, we’re all expected to do more with less. We’re guessing that, over the years, you’ve seen your marketing budgets flatline or even drop. At the same time, your occupancy rates and business objectives are expected to grow. So what’s a senior living marketer to do?

“It’s more important than ever to be strategic and deliberate when it comes to using your marketing dollars,” says Melinda. “That’s why developing an integrated marketing plan can help you maximize your budget without adding additional work. Doing all the leg work up front will give you the best bang for your buck and help you grow your business without growing your stress.”

The Importance of a Marketing Plan

Think of the marketing plan as a road map or a blueprint for your success. It’s a resource you can share with your stakeholders, partners and vendors so that everyone is on the same page and is working towards a shared goal. By providing a unified vision, you’ll have a clearer view of where you need to go, plus reduce the stress of trying to do things piecemeal.

It aligns your visions and goals. 

By marking out exactly where you want to go, you can figure out how and where to focus your dollars and resources. 

It ensures everyone is on the same page.

By streamlining the process and clearly stating what’s expected, everyone ends up working together towards a common goal, reducing confusion and unifying efforts.

It helps you be proactive rather than reactive.

Knowing your goals up front allows you to make smarter decisions about next steps and new opportunities. 

It provides measurable goals and outcomes. 

A good marketing plan gives you the framework to measure your progress, as well as the opportunity to re-evaluate and refine your plan based on real-time information. 

Having a plan in place gives the on-site Sales/Marketing the ability to focus the leads and future residents walking in the door. 

How to Maximize Your Marketing Budgets

Melinda says that the first step in creating a successful marketing plan – and budget – is ensuring that it is as simple as possible. “In my opinion, marketing plans should not be complicated,” she says. “Instead, they should be a focused blueprint, clearly outlining each step toward achieving a goal.”

In order to maximize your budget and minimize your efforts, here are four things to consider when planning and implementing your community’s marketing budget.

1. Start with Strategy
What are your community’s goals and vision for growth in 2020 (or whatever year we happen to be in)? If your goal is to grow by 20%, but only are budgeting enough to do a few billboard campaigns, you’re probably going to be underwhelmed by your ROI. Instead of developing your goals and budget separately, you’ll want to create a marketing strategy that everyone from your executive team to your marketing team and sales team agree on. By getting consensus on strategy up front, you’ll better be able to steer your car (i.e. your marketing plan) along the appropriate path. 

2. Set Your Budget
Once everyone is on board with your marketing goals, it’s time to develop your budget. We aren’t here to tell you how to spend your money, but you can be safe, moderately safe or risky when it comes to attracting new customers. Your tolerance level will depend on a lot of factors – and we trust that you and your accountants will come to an appropriate number.

3. Allocate Your Dollars Appropriately 

Once you have your goals and your budget set, it’s time to make things happen. It’s time to figure out where your dollars should be spent to maximize your reach. Sage Age suggests an integrated marketing approach using tactics such as:

  • SEO and PPC pages
  • Social media content
  • Content offers, email marketing and blogs
  • Lead nurturing and conversion 
  • Traditional advertising such as direct mail

4. Implement Your Plan
Once you’ve figured out where your dollars will go, it’s time to spend it. But how do you ensure that you’re spending your money wisely? One way is to hire an experienced partner such as Sage Age who understand the ins and outs of marketing to seniors. 

“We get that you only have limited resources, and that there are only so many hours in a day,” says Melinda. “Sage Age Strategies has been helping communities just like yours develop, budget and implement marketing plans to help maximize their budgeting dollars and increase their ROI. Since marketing for senior living is all we do, we have the ability to stay on top of trends and industry best practices that you may not always be aware of (since, you know, you have so much else to do...like taking care of your residents, for example). 

Make Plans Sans Laughter with Sage Age Strategies

Sage Age Strategies is a full-service agency dedicated to helping senior living communities just like yours maximize their budgeting dollars to increase residency rate and branding reach through a variety of tactical tools. 

If you need assistance in any areas of senior living development to improve your business results, we invite you to contact us today to learn more about our proven strategies that have transformed other senior living communities like yours. 

Sage Age Strategies is a multiple, award-winning, strategic growth, marketing and consulting organization that operates exclusively in the unique senior living marketplace. For more information, please call or email Jason McCloud at 614.795.7373 / jason@sageagestrategies.com. You can also visit us on our website at www.sageagestrategies.com/.

Contact Us Today!