This isn’t your Grandpa’s marketing strategy.

By Laura Ross

Talking to grandma and grandpa has never been easier. Today’s senior adult population is one of the most coveted and profitable arenas for marketing efforts. But, in this linked in, tuned up and online society, how do you reach an older audience? You go to the Web.

silver-surfers-infographic-sizedAccording to a recent 2014 Pew Research Center internet project survey, 90 percent of American adults have a cell phone (58 percent have a smartphone), 42 percent own a tablet and even more have a computer and internet access at home or work.

Masonic Homes o f Kentucky may be headquartered on a campus filled with century old buildings and trees, but it is anything but old fashioned. It recently launched a new web site to educate and promote its spectrum of care available, from day care to rehabilitation and nursing services, to an active senior lifestyle community.

Nine to One
Masonic Homes of Kentucky partnered with Louisville’s Power Creative to create a comprehensive overview of the many care options and opportunities on their three campuses. “We talked about the real anecdotal themes that we kept hearing from our residents and families,” said Kristy Huber, marketing director at Masonic Homes of Louisville.

“Themes emerged of telling a lifetime story. We looked at where they are in this crucial time in their lives. What are the key things they worry about? What do they need for peace of mind and independence?”

It wasn’t easy. “We needed to incorporate nine individual  communities and multiple brands onto one web site,” said Nicole Candler, corporate communications director for Masonic Homes of Kentucky. “That’s an enormous amount of information to include for an audience with limited time who are typically in a decision making mode.”

The main audience included older adults and their adult children, who might be searching on behalf of their parents. A secondary, but important, audience was physicians, social workers and case managers who refer care options to patients and families.

“We focused on the service aspect and knew we must answer the questions in a person’s mind quickly,” added Candler. “It was a challenge to create the family of brands” said Power Creative associate creative director Glenn Goodman. “We identified growth strategies and what their most identifiable brands are. From there, we streamlined the content and created a genuine, approachable tone that speaks to the hearts of the audience.”

Make it Easy to Get Around
“A strong web presence communicates the lifestyle better, in a more visual manner,”said Goodman. When developing a site, he recommends keeping the following elements in mind:

• Keep it highly visual
• Make it easy to navigate
• Engage the user
• Focus on services
• Provide instant response capabilities
• Make it mobile friendly

Even though technology adoption rates are climbing for older adults, common sense design is imperative. “We wanted to make sure the sites could be easily viewed on tablets and phones,” said Goodman. “It drills down to larger copy, concise messages and strong visuals.”

“When you are marketing anything having to do with older adult communities, one of the most important aspects is the need for a personal relationship,” said Hubert. “The web site is the first line. The key to our site’s success is the simplicity of appealing, touchable images along with concise information.” It was important to jump on mobile adaptability. “From the initial design, we were insistent on making sure the sites were responsive to mobile devices.” said Goodman.

The web site draws an average of 4,000 visitors each month, 35 percent of which are mobile users,” said Candler.
“Our users are engaged and click through to read more about the services in which they are interested.”

Making Friends
Social media presence is important also. At first glance, a senior living community might not be the first idea to friend on Facebook, but Candler sees a much broader use. “We have amped up our social media presence,” she said.

“It is quickly becoming an important engagement technology for us and allows us to communicate with photos, videos and stories of things happening on our campuses.”

“Families – especially adult children and grandchildren who live outside of Louisville – love the social media presence,” said Candler. “What better way to keep up with mom or dad’s daily life in their new home?”

“It’s all about knowing and understanding our audience,” said Candler. “At the end of the day, that is what successful marketing is all about.”

Laura Ross is director of public relations at Power Creative.