If you’ve been in the seniors living industry for any length of time, you know that marketing is getting talked about more and more these days. Sure, it’s always been discussed, but nothing like it is today. If you go to a trade show, there’s probably a dozen internet marketing companies and other types of marketing companies. On top of that, a lot of the breakout sessions are on marketing and so on.

Marketing is one of those things that has become a major topic in the senior living industry, and for good reason. There are more communities than ever, consumers have choices, and prospects are taking longer to make a decision. Just in my little small town in Connecticut, there are 15 or so senior living communities to choose from, and obviously the cities are even more competitive.

What I want to do with this article is, I want to go though two major marketing problems we see through our conversations with people around the country.

The biggest problem we hear is marketing is expensive.

It really can be, but the truth of the matter is, if marketing your senior living community is done properly, it should never be viewed as an expense in your mind. On your P and L sheet it will be an expense, but in your mind it should be seen as an investment. If you do marketing properly, let’s say you spend $5,000 on a marketing campaign and get a couple residents from it, those residents are going to be worth more than $2,500 dollars and that is a good return on your investment.

So that’s the number one marketing problem we hear.

Marketing problem two is that senior living marketing is extremely hard to track scientifically.

A lot of time you will see executives with these very fancy calculations drawn out and are trying to figure out what is working and what’s not.

I’d like to draw the parallel of tracking a financial investment. You may have investments such as stocks, mutual funds, maybe gold these days, and not being able to track how that investment is performing is very frustrating. Imagine having a brokerage account, you invest in a bunch of stocks and you can no way, shape, or form see how they’re doing.

That would be a major problem. If all you could do was one day sell that investment in order to find out if you made money, It would cause you to not invest through that medium.

So, the biggest problem with marketing is, it’s hard to track which creates the other belief I mentioned earlier that marketing is an expense and not an investment. If you can't track your return on your marketing investment, the natural response is to say this is an expense because I’m not getting anything back from it.

So to combat this you need to understand the lifeblood of smart marketing. Particularly, for senior living marketing. I will explain what the lifeblood of smart marketing is today, but go into detail on how to determine these numbers in a future article.

The lifeblood of smart marketing for senior living communities is, knowing your lifetime resident value, cost per resident acquisition, profit per resident per medium, and return on investment per medium.

Once you know these numbers, you will understand how much a resident is worth to your community, what it costs you to acquire a new resident, and how the different marketing mediums (internet marketing, direct mail, referrals, etc.) are performing. Once you have clarity into these numbers, you can then make smarter business decisions.

Like I said, I’d let you know what the lifeblood of smart senior living marketing is, but I’ll explain the importance and how to determine these numbers in a later post.

Kevin M. Williams is the President of SeniorMarketing.com.