You and your team work hard every single day to provide a valuable service to your residents and their loved ones. Whether that means investing in updating your property, hiring the best activity leaders the market has to offer or partnering with local culinary experts to make your dining experience second to none, it all requires a considerable effort, not only in money but in time and energy and brainpower.
Many communities however, despite having an amazing product that prospects would love, face a dry pipeline of prospective customers and a constant struggle to fill vacancies. The reason is often a lack of attention to (or even awareness of) your key demographic audience.
“Doing the hard work to provide an invaluable service to your clients is just one part of the success equation,” says Malissa Illiano, Senior Consultant & Director of Market Research at Sage Age Strategies. “We must also pay close attention to how we strategically position ourselves in the market to ensure we are reaching our key audience. You can be the best out there, but if your key prospects don’t know it, it won’t matter in the least.”
That’s where market research comes into play. It may be pretty simple to develop broad, generalized messaging and advertising for the general population, but laser targeting your focus on your key demographic through thoughtful market research can provide a much more robust return on investment (ROI).
Why do market research in the first place?
If you’re not convinced as to why you should be doing market research in the first place, let’s go over the reasons why it’s not just smart but necessary.
Market research lets you identify your target consumer, yes, but it also informs you as to what that audience feels about your product and brand, which allows you to shift your tactics accordingly. Market research is an important part of your business strategy that should be done on a regular, ongoing basis because both your product and your market are evolving constantly.
When it comes to launching a new product or service, market research is especially invaluable because it shows you if your audience is open and interested in what you have to offer as well as how large that audience is, who your competition is and how you compare to others in the existing market.
A common complaint about market research is that it is expensive, but if you consider the expense of developing and launching a new or updated product or service only to have it fail, market research emerges as a smart investment for the lifetime of your business.
The key steps to targeted market research
If you’re convinced – and you should be! – that market research is a smart move that will give you deeper insight into your target audience, let’s take a look at the steps to doing that research.
First, determine the need your offering fills. Get specific about it. Once you’re clear about what need your product fills, consider next who is most likely to use your product. Not just a general “older individuals” but really hone in on specific ages, their buying power, where they are geographically located, their marital status, their education level, their extended family situation and more.
Get analytical. Metrics are your best bet for pinpointing a demographic group that fits your criteria. This can include a lot of different tactics, from surveys via email, formal research on the part of a marketing research firm, direct mail and more – even social media! The important thing to do here is to collect demographic data, which can give you the ability to correlate a specific demographic group with the responses you get to your service or new offering.
Look to your existing customers for insight. They’re your best lens into the individuals who will show an interest in your product. You may think you know your customers well, but chances are you can dive even deeper and uncover more insight into what drives their buying decision making.
Do your homework – aggressively! Now that you have a better picture of who your target audience is, you should look to your competition for even further insight. Examine what other demographic groups are buying similar services, which you can do through anonymously mystery shopping your competition or, again, working with a professional firm that specializes in such research. Doing so may illuminate areas where you are missing something or open your eyes to an opportunity you may have overlooked. Perhaps you’ll discover a key missing service in the community that you can offer to your audience.
Check yourself! Chances are you are pretty enmeshed in your community and the services you offer, as well as the customers and clients you serve. You probably have a very strong idea already of who your target audience is, but the key thing with market research is to check your biases at the door. You must assume you know nothing and start from there in order to eliminate any potential assumptions that may worm their way into your final findings.
Once you have a better picture of who your true target audience is, you can tailor your marketing efforts to really drive home the value of your offering. Remember, you can have the very best community around but if you’re not honing in on your target audience with laser-like focus, you’re risking missing out on a huge opportunity!