Senior Living Marketing During the Pandemic:
Is Direct Mail Going to the Dogs?
Every afternoon around 1:30, Ellie Ruiz’s dogs start barking. As soon as they hear the mail truck slowing to a stop in front of her house, they bark, knowing that two biscuits will be waiting for them with the mail.
“Our mail carrier is amazing,” says Ellie. “He leaves treats for the dogs every single day. He puts our packages right by the front door. And he always has a smile and a wave, no matter how busy he is—and he seems to be working all the time these days. He’s the best!”
Ellie is not alone in adoring her mail carrier. The results of a study by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center released in April of this year show a whopping 91% of respondents hold favorable views of the U.S. Postal Service. The USPS is by far Americans’ favorite federal agency. And Ellie is absolutely right: her mail carrier has been very busy these past four months.
Direct Mail: Pandemic-Proof and More Relevant Than Ever
In fact, nearly 17% of respondents to an April US Postal Service marketing study say they have been sending more mail. Fully 42% say they are “more reliant” on mail because of distancing measures resulting from COVID-19.
Consumers also say they trust mail—physical mail. Unlike email, consumers don’t associate physical mail with scams, and physical mail creates a sense of personal connection. Also, physical mail is something consumers—particularly older adults—don’t need a computer to read.
Wait it Out?
Sue Watson, CEO of the senior living community where Ellie works as a sales manager, put a hold on the community’s direct mail campaign being finalized in the spring. With so much uncertainty and so many other demands, how can we put resources into direct mail right now, reasoned Sue. We need to hunker down and wait this out.
Ellie spoke up. We should move forward with our campaign, she explained. A pandemic is not like a hurricane or a blizzard. We can’t wait this out. We need to stay top-of-mind with our prospects, now more than ever. And direct mail is a great way to do it.
Marketing Never Stops
Ellie is right. Coping with the pandemic is a long-term proposition. Business and marketing models must reflect the long-term thinking that mirrors the potential duration of the crisis and respond to it accordingly. Business continuity and consistency are paramount, and the research is clear: those who continue to market emerge stronger and better-positioned than their “wait-it-out” competitors.
Additionally, prospects are still in need of senior living services. Adult children and other caregivers are just as concerned about their parents’ wellbeing and finding the best care possible as they ever were. Maintaining a direct mail connection with them nurtures the prospect relationship, laying the all-important groundwork for making the move to a senior living community when the time is right.
Why Direct Mail?
Postcards and small brochures have long been the bread and butter of senior living direct mail marketing because of their high ROI. And this is still the case. But the pandemic means making direct mail marketing COVID-smart and better coordinated:
- Keep direct mail updated and connected to an overarching plan that includes digital marketing
- Link direct mail to digital events targeted at adult daughters
- Appeal to emotion by basing content on lifestyle and testimonials from current residents
- Include collateral, such as fridge magnets and calendars
- Make your call to action time constrained, enticing, and COVID-safe
Thinking Long Term
Direct mail continues to provide an opportunity to market with a personalization and intimacy that can have your community’s contact information hanging on a prospect’s bulletin board. It creates marketing materials with the potential to counteract the sense of isolation 67% of consumers are now feeling as a result of the pandemic.
Yes, direct mail is still effective during COVID. In fact, it’s more important and potentially more effective than ever.