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Creating Results

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Spring 2013 - Does Your Marketing Program Need Some Spring Cleaning?

Why Senior Living and Real Estate Marketing Programs Need Frequent Evaluations

BY: Todd Harff

Does your marketing program need a spring cleaning? My guess is “Yes!” I know this because we always, always find value and save our clients money when we conduct mid-year assessments and evaluations.

In spite of the best research and strategic approach, nothing works exactly as planned. If you don’t measure, learn from experience and make adjustments, you are wasting money and time.

When Should You Start?

I started thinking about this last weekend when I was in my garage, looking at an oar for a boat that I sold 24 years ago. Why is it still there? Yes it helped propel me forward in the past, but now it is mostly useless and occasionally it hurts my head. What do you have in your marketing program that fits this description?

Janna Bradley, Director of Marketing for The Summit in Lynchburg, VA values frequent assessments of her senior living marketing program. I was talking with her at this week’s VANHA conference and she said how important, spring, summer, fall and winter cleaning is: “You have to be looking at where you’ve been, where you are going, and what you need to change.”  Amen!

So what keeps people from assessing their performance?  Well for one, it means admitting that we aren’t perfect. That what we recommended, and what we invested precious resources in, wasn’t the best idea. This requires having an honest, trusting and open relationship across the entire marketing team. It requires that everyone be more focused on the goal of achieving success for the organization than covering their ass.

Spring cleaning is hard work. It’s dirty. It takes time. And we’re going to throw stuff out that somebody liked and maybe still likes.

So what do we look at? 

Here are Creating Results’ recommendations for a thorough spring cleaning:

1. Conduct a cost per QUALITY lead analysis.  Use multiple tracking devices: unique phone numbers, Unique URL’s, PURL’s, cookies, vendor reports and prospect self-reporting. Cross-check the reported sources and then rank based on a methodology that tracks quality over time.

We want to invest money in quality sources and eliminate any sources that producing low quality leads. These sources, cost money AND waste precious time your sales team could be spending with more qualified leads.

2. Review the metrics of A/B testing you conducted during the proceeding period to determine which messages, creative, headlines, subject lines, calls to action and placements yield the best results with QUALITY leads. Determine new items to test going forward.

3. Review email metrics to evaluate the most popular content, day, time, and calls to action. (Visit our blog to see what my colleague and email maven, Beth Rand, recommends for taking a feather duster to your email marketing program.)

4. Do a deep dive on your website metrics. Sure it’s good to measure unique visitors, time on site and other general performance measures, but for spring cleaning, you need to dust behind the couch. What are the most popular paths through the site? What content are people searching for?  What calls to action are creating quality leads? What real estate is under-utilized? Deep dives into your analytics help you make the most of your website.

5. Lead analysis. Who are they? Are they changing? How do they match up with your offerings? Or do you have an oar for a boat you don’t own?

Most of our clients conduct some “lost lead” assessments, which we highly recommend. This could be as simple as sending out first class mailings offering a choice to re-engage or unsubscribe forever. Or using a telemarketing firm to call people to update their status. Occasionally we do a more detailed survey to gather insights on inactive/lost prospects’ experiences and perceptions. This invariably yields some re-engagement, sales, a smaller and more valuable list that reduces mailing costs, and insights that enhance performance.

6. Need assessment. In my garage I discovered that somehow we had accumulated a surplus of boxes. Unless I wanted to open a UPS Store, we wouldn’t use them in a lifetime. Most of our clients also have accumulated surplus product or inventory, but it’s not across the board.

If you only have low priced product, focus your marketing on moving it. If a particular product is selling well, the market is telling you to raise your pricing. Every time we stop and revisit the actual needs, we make changes to what, how, where and when we promote. We become more targeted in to whom we promote. And we become more effective at communicating why they should care.

7. Get outside and look at the competition. Most organizations are customer and internally focused, but customers, are focusing on the best value. We need to know what is going on in the marketplace.

Have your competitive advantages changed? Do you still “own” our unique selling propositions? Are you priced appropriately given the supply and demand in the marketplace? Most organizations wait too long to adjust and either leave money on the table or price themselves out of the market.

What Are You Waiting For?

Just like my garage, many of these items can and should be monitored more regularly. Don’t leave it to spring!

I leave you with three questions:

1.      What do you see as the biggest challenge to doing spring cleaning on your marketing program?

2.      How often do you do it?

3.      Does anyone need an oar?


As we all know, Mature Marketing Matters! That's why we've focused our efforts on reaching this large, diverse and very entertaining cohort as the muse for our blog.



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