Most marketers, including those in senior care marketing, have three questions they’d like answered shortly after a public relations tactic has been started: How can we tell if our efforts are working; how long before we see results; and, what’s our ROI?
In lieu of upfront research to measure a senior living community’s position in a key audience’s mindset, here are six good methods that can be used to gauge impact:
- Articles and mentions: This is probably the most objective measure of performance. How many clips or mentions have been generated and where? The ‘where’ question is important — articles and mentions should be in media where your prospects and customers gather their information.
- Advertising comparison: If you generate a feature story in USA Today or coverage on ABC TV, how extensive was the coverage? Compare this against the cost of an ad for comparable space to see if the placement is worth the effort. It’s likely that the press coverage was a fraction of the cost of the ad space.
- Content analysis: Similar to the point above, you also should look at the quality of a placement. Measuring your placements against how often or where your competitors get placed can help distinguish how successful your coverage was. You can develop a scale – say 1 through 5 – to rate the coverage. How many key messages were included? Who is the audience of the media outlet? Were they part of your target market? These and other factors can be used to give the coverage a rating.
- Measuring traffic to website, other media: The beauty of the Web is that you can accurately measure traffic and activity online with tools like Google Analytics. If you had great coverage from your local news station, with a subsequent online article, did it influence traffic to your website? By analyzing spikes in activity, you can learn what coverage is prompting prospects to learn more about your senior living community.
- Sales results: In a perfect world, good PR work can be tied directly to sales generated. Because there are so many variables in play with a sales effort, it’s hard to pinpoint if press coverage moved a prospect or their family member to become a resident. The best way to narrow this gap between hunch and fact is by tracking leads. If you ask prospects where they heard about you, you’ll begin to learn if the PR effort is part of their awareness and decision-making process.
- Market surveys: Your goal in PR is to influence awareness, attitude, opinions and action (almost mirroring the AIDA scale of marketing — awareness, interest, desire and action). This is where research is key. As part of an outreach program, you can try to gauge your target audience’s knowledge of senior living with surveys. If that seems daunting, you could start by surveying current residents to determine how they found out about your community, which could help shape your PR approach.
While the answers you seek aren’t always cut and dry, and senior housing marketing and PR might require some testing and re-testing, the research and work will pay off in the end when you start to see the results you want.