Jackie Stone

Events are extremely important to the senior living sales process and should be a key component of every marketing plan. Seminars and special events create a forum for prospects to experience your community and receive information in a nonthreatening environment where they don’t feel pressured to buy. If a prospect objects to coming in for a personal presentation, have an event in your back pocket as an alternative.

Here are some key tips to ensure a successful and effective event:

  • Serve food. Food is very important to our prospects, so wine and dine them, and show off your culinary expertise. An event that includes a meal will also draw a higher response. Yes, we all have the “frequent flyers” that show up every time for the free food with no intention of ever moving in. But consider this: The cost of feeding these regulars is minimal in comparison to the positive PR that they provide by telling friends about your engaging programs and delicious food. And, if these people are qualified, they will choose your community when they are “ready” because they are already familiar and comfortable with it.
  • Designate resident ambassadors. Include hand-picked resident ambassadors at every event, and strategically place them at each table. They will tell prospects who “aren’t ready yet” how they once felt the same way and now wish they had moved in 10 years sooner. They are your best spokespeople and carry more credibility than a salesperson. Make sure to reward ambassadors for their time and effort with tokens of appreciation, such as the floral centerpiece from their table at the event or a gift card to a popular local spot.
  • Plan parking. One of the most common objections I hear about hosting events is that the community doesn’t have enough parking. Every problem has a solution: Ask staff to park off-site, shuttle attendees back and forth to their cars, and/or hire a valet company to park cars.
  • Follow up. Always follow up with all attendees after an event and ask 1) how they enjoyed it; 2) if there are other topics they might be interested in learning about in the future; and 3) if they would like to come in for a personal tour of the community to get their questions answered. You should always have a reason to call prospects, and this is the perfect opportunity to reach out.

Have event ideas and tips to share? Email them to jstone@varsitybranding.com.