Last week, we had the opportunity to present at the Coordinated Services Management (CSM) 2023 Sales & Marketing Conference. During this session, we helped marketers and their leadership learn how to build and implement a strategic marketing plan based on their business goals and historical performance — a common goal for our senior living and 55+ partners. One of the keys: Start tracking key data well before the crunch of annual budget planning is underway.
Here are 3 of our top tips for developing a marketing budget and strategic plan that will enable your senior living or 55+ community to reach its business goals:
1. Evaluate your senior living or 55+ community’s lifecycle and market conditions
Your community’s current needs can help you determine your lead goals, which in turn helps guide your overall marketing budget as well as which tactics are most likely to be a good fit for your business needs. Are you launching a brand-new community with minimal brand recognition? You’ll need to spend time (and allocate budget) to build out the brand and gain awareness in the market. Maybe you’re struggling to sell specific residences or lots and have lost excitement in the market (or even had some reputation challenges). Here you’ll need to consider whether your database has enough viable leads to nurture or if lead generation should be a key focus. Have you increased prices? Changed your offerings? Identify any upcoming changes that will impact your community’s positioning.
Now is also a good time to consider the conditions outside your community. Do you have any new competitors who have entered the market or will be soon? Current competitors who have brought in new offerings or changed their pricing? Here, the key is not to react to what your competitor is doing, but to incorporate those changes into your planning so that you can continue to highlight the ways in which your community uniquely offers selling points that your market values. In other words, don’t slap up a billboard just because your competitor did — instead, evaluate if their offering has impacted your unique selling propositions and if your current marketing tactics are delivering the leads you need to achieve your goals.
2. Gather data on current performance toward your business goals
To determine whether your goals are achievable, you’ll need to know how you’re operating today. Now is the time to start digging into your database to determine:
- Historical sales pace: How many residences/lots/homes do you sell in a year? Does the pace tend to have a monthly seasonality? Are certain models or floor plans more or less popular? Break down sales by sales rep as well as care level (for senior living).
- Annual attrition: Specifically for senior living, how many move outs (for any reason) do you typically have per month? Per year? You’ll need your marketing goals to account for these vacancies.
- Lead-to-sale conversion rate: What percentage of leads are you able to convert to a sale in a given year? This rate will help you to determine how many leads you need. (Or, it may point to a need for sales training if your conversion rate is well below the benchmark.)
- Overall number of annual leads: How many new leads did you add to your database in the past 12 months? This number, combined with the total amount spent on marketing initiatives, will enable you to calculate your current cost per lead.
These metrics, combined with where you’d like the business to close at the end of next year, will help you determine the exact number of sales you’d need to close to achieve your goal as well as how many leads you’d need to meet that sales goal.
3. Set your senior living/55+ marketing budget
Marketing drives revenue for the organization. So, the budget needs to reflect your actual sales and revenue needs.
To determine the number of leads you need to achieve your goals, divide your sales needed (including attrition!) by your lead-to-sale conversion rate.
40 sales needed / 5% conversion rate = 800 leads needed
Then multiply the number of leads you need by your cost per lead. This will give you a rough idea of your annual marketing budget.
800 leads needed * $400 cost per lead = $320,000 marketing budget
You’ll also want to consider whether there are any corporate initiatives or foundational items that marketing needs to incorporate into the budget, such as a new website, refreshed branding, marketing automation software or a sales center/model home.
Want us to do the math for you?
Check out our free senior living marketing budget calculator to help you align your budget with your business goals. Or, connect with us directly to talk about your community’s specific needs or engage us to present at your community’s next marketing and sales meeting.