A Competitive analysis is a critical piece of any marketing plan. Anyone at your community can likely name your major competitors – the ones you lose move-ins to, or take them from. Perhaps you have a good relationship with these communities, but knowing all you can about the other options your prospects are considering allows you to focus on what you do best, and clearly communicate what makes you different.
Identify Your Competitors
Yes, your competitors are other senior living communities in your area, but they are also home care providers and home remodel companies. Any company that offers an alternative to what you provide is sometimes competing for the same prospective resident you are. Expanding your definition of a competitor helps you understand all of the alternatives families are considering.
Jason Childers, EVP of Strategy for Blue Harbor Senior Living notes, “A prospect’s current home is often our biggest competition. Selling against other senior housing communities is relatively easy. Selling against the current home, that is a challenge. How do we leverage the programs and services we offer while illustrating the cost comparison of staying at home to help prospects understand our value? That is the opportunity.”
Google your category. What comes up? Most people will find you through online search so thinking like a family starting their search will allow you to see the options that they see.
One of the most powerful tools for identifying and tracking your competitors is APFM’s lost move-in report. This will tell you exactly which APFM partner communities your leads are moving into when they don’t move in to your community. It is a very accurate way to track your competitiveness over time.
Finally, there are many tools like SEMrush that can provide insight into the strategy of your competitor. They allow you analyze what search terms competitors are bidding on, and how successful they are.
Get a consumer perspective
Your marketing team will likely have taken your competitors and analyzed their amenities, prices, marketing strategy and much more. All of this is valuable information to help you stay competitive, but don’t forget to continuously talk to your customers to see how you compare.
When a prospective resident’s family visits your community, it’s important to ask what they have liked about other places they have visited. Their answers can let you know more about the family’s desires, but can also often will give insight into how your competitors are positioning themselves. Just be sure not to defame your competition, but rather point out the positive attributes of your community. Speaking negatively about your competitors can be off-putting and put you in an unflattering light!
“Talking with prospects about their experiences shopping for senior housing is also helpful in understanding incentives being used at other communities in the market” says Jason. “It’s important to have this information not because we want to match incentives, but because we want to understand how we demonstrate the value we provide in our communities.”
Also, those families who do decide to move in with you are another great source of insight. They can help articulate why they chose you over others, giving you a clear picture of what makes you stand out. They may not have cared about your updated dining room, but rather were impressed by the warm interactions they saw between staff and residents.
When you receive this feedback, write it down and share with the team! Naturally, patterns will start to emerge and you will have gone a long way toward defining your target customer and your differentiation.
Use your analysis to determine your competitive advantage
Once you know more about your competition and what they are doing, you can determine what sets you apart – what you do better than anyone else. Just listing amenities and services isn’t enough. Is your staff exceptionally well trained? Do you have the best food around? Do you have a high number of friends and family referrals?
When marketing and selling your community, be sure to tell your prospects how you are better for them than any other option they may be considering, and be able to prove it!
After defining these competitive advantages, you can use them to define your target customer. This is the prospective resident and his/ her family who are most likely to value the unique service you provide. For instance, if you are the low cost leader in your market, you don’t want to waste marketing dollars trying to win over the wealthiest consumers as they will likely value higher priced luxury amenities that others may offer.
Knowing your competition and understanding your own competitive advantage helps you devise a clear and powerful message for consumers. The better you understand the market, the better you can make decisions about your own strategies.