Why Senior Living Should Care about Empathetic Marketing

Marketing in senior living is tough. Let’s be real, you’re trying to sell something that no one truly wants. According to the AARP, nearly 90 percent of Americans prefer to age at home for as long as possible. But, as we know, there are many reasons that’s not ideal and so many benefits to senior living. But, that change in mindset is a complex and emotional journey for your prospects. So how do you help them relate to those benefits and then want to enjoy them in your community? Empathetic marketing of course! Empathy is the key to great marketing, but it’s not as easy as you may think. Here’s how to do it right.

Empathetic Marketing Defined

In short, Merriam-Webster defines empathy as the action of understanding and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts and experience of another. Essentially putting yourself in the shoes of your prospect. Thus, empathetic marketing channels that to connect with your prospects in a meaningful and impactful way.

Empathetic Marketing Fails

Unfortunately, we don’t have to look far to see marketing in our industry that’s intended to be empathetic but feels hollow instead. We certainly know the challenges and fears of our prospects, but do we feel them? Do we truly put ourselves in their shoes? Not so much.

Common fails include:

  • The Old Standby - More often, we fall back on old standbys of experience and credibility, and tout endless community features hoping something sticks, or at least is better than our competitors. Standard marketing collateral often reads, “We have [enter number of years] experience in senior living with [enter number] of communities and offer [feature 1], [feature 2], [feature 3], etc.”
  • Half-Hearted Empathy - Even upon realizing our past marketing has been more about us than our prospects, the fix may only be half-hearted; consisting primarily of using more ‘you’ versus ‘we’ in our content. It’s okay, you don’t have to admit it!
  • Hail Mary Approach - Worse, resorting to preaching about what could happen without the security of senior living because ‘we know best’ as the experts here. This may be an easy approach that speaks directly to our prospects, but fear isn’t really the connection we want at all.

How To Do Empathetic Marketing

Let’s go back to putting yourself in your prospects’ shoes. This goes beyond the market research that helps you identify their challenges and aspirations, it’s about ‘vicariously experiencing’ them as the definition above suggests. 

Great examples outside of senior living include:

Dove Real Beauty Sketches Campaign – The brand understands women are often anxious about their looks, but shows through renderings by a sketch artist that you are actually more beautiful than you think to help women have a more positive self image.

JetBlue Flight Etiquette Campaign – Shows empathy in that the company knows flying can be a headache, but encourages flight etiquette with a series of “How not to” videos on common issues like people getting too comfortable, overzealous flight boarding and oversharing seatmates.

Extra Gum Give Extra, Get Extra Campaign – One example of how the brand relates by showing gum as an everyday part of life, which makes it a part of all of life’s little moments. The brand then shows how benefits such as making your breath fresh can create more closeness and confidence.

Empathy In Action in Senior Living

Empathetic marketing can be done in the same way for senior living, through listening, showing you understand and proposing solutions. One marketing channel in which to do this is by offering live chat on your website. It’s an ideal way to engage with your prospect at the moment they are searching for how senior living can help them or their loved one. 

Here’s an example from an actual SiteStaff senior living chat:

09-18-19 12:40:36 Kelley: I'm glad you decided to reach out to us! How soon are you wanting to make a transition?

09-18-19 12:42:05 Visitor: November or December. I’m not on a time constraint so later than that would be ok.

09-18-19 12:43:33 Kelley: I am glad to hear this is not urgent. What is most important to you when choosing the right community?

09-18-19 12:46:24 Visitor: I like the idea of paying one amount each month to include utilities. I’m careful about money so I would like to have a regular amount to pay. I know some communities provide transportation which I like that idea.

09-18-19 12:48:11 Kelley: It sounds like you have put a lot of thought into this. That is wonderful. I think we would be a great fit for you. I would like to introduce you to one of our Admissions Counselors who can discuss all of our options with you further. I can request them to contact you directly. With that in mind, may I have your name and best contact number, please?

By creating this human connection your prospects feel more comfortable and confident in taking that next step to schedule a community tour and ultimately boost your occupancy.


See the results of our live chat service for a brand like yours. Download this SiteStaff case study today!

live chat senior living case study