Events – What we’ve learned

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Events are a fundamental marketing strategy for senior living. As the more traditional methods of lead generation fade, such as newspaper advertising, events remain key to generating new leads and converting existing prospects. Events offer a way for customers to experience your community in a non-threatening manner and a fun or engaging way.

Over nearly a year and a half, Solutions Advisors has measured and tallied results for 136 events for clients all across the country. Some of these events were “lead generators” designed to pull in as many new leads as possible. Others are purposefully designed to be smaller, more intimate events to advance prospects to a heightened stage of readiness, or to convert existing leads to sales. Using data collected after each event, the information was “sliced and diced” in order to gather as much evidence as possible about the effectiveness of various types of events, the target audience, themes, and even the best days of the week to hold an event.

Here’s what we learned: the most successful events are tailor-made to your community, your market and your specific goals. Maybe instead of a generic “Dine and Discover” event, hold a “farm to table” event featuring local foods or even home grown vegetables from your residents’ garden. If you have a robust wellness program you might want to hold an event on health and fitness featuring a local expert on the subject. Or combine a food event with wellness and feature “power foods”. Downsizing events work well to generate new leads, but if your goal is lead conversion, a resident panel can be very effective, enabling prospects to gain a more intimate appreciation of your community by hearing testimonials from your residents.

While it’s difficult to provide hard and fast statistics from the information gathered, here’s what we’ve discovered:

  • Twenty percent of events held were food-related events intended to attract as many new prospects as possible
  • Topics that drew the most RSVPs were “dine and discover;” “downsizing” (or right-sizing) events; educational or learning events featuring outside speakers; and open house events, particularly those focused on a certain theme, community amenity or type of accommodation
  • The number of mailed invitations varied from fewer than 250 to over 50,000; a typical mailing was between 5,000 and 10,000 with an average response rate of 2-3%
  • The most common and cost-efficient direct mail format was a single fold mailer while the most effective (although more costly) pieces were multi-panel formats or “mini” brochures
  • Ninety-eight percent of invitations were sent via the USPS; newspaper advertisements were used less than 10% of the time, primarily to reinforce a mailing when the goal is purely lead generation
  • The most productive days to hold events are Thursdays and Wednesdays, followed by Tuesdays and Fridays
  • Sundays can be good days to hold open house events, especially if your community is located in a high traffic area. Sunday open house events are also a way to encourage adult children to visit your community.
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