Digital Harmony: Aligning Senior Living Agency Partners with In-House Goals
Digital Harmony: Aligning Senior Living Agency Partners with In-House Goals
Senior living marketing teams are under constant pressure to deliver leads and results for the communities they serve. From juggling creative requests to maintaining brand standards to driving inquiries, your in-house marketing team is doing it all…and then some!
When it comes to delivering results, often marketing teams rely on outside partners with specific strategy and tactical knowledge for executing parts (or all) of your organization’s marketing strategy.
It is smart to partner with an agency to help you with your marketing …especially in the digital age of marketing where tactics are vast and require specific knowledge to do effectively. The top reasons to align your in-house marketing team with your senior living agency partner, includes:
- To create efficiency in the execution of digital tactics
- To save money by allocating responsibility of results to a specialized team
- To avoid duplication of work efforts
- To create an internal understanding of the data and digital workflows
- To establish scalable and repeatable processes
So…how do you align your in-house marketing team with your agency partner in a way that is productive, agile, and doesn’t increase your reliance on their existence for your marketing to run smoothly?
Having served on in-house senior living operator marketing teams, the Smart Girl Digital team understands (…and empathizes with) the demands senior living marketers have today.
Let’s look at a few ways you can start cultivating a partnership that makes your world streamlined and scalable.
Table of Contents:
- Gaining Clarity Before Working With A Senior Living Agency Partner
- Roles & Responsibilities for Effective In-House Teams
- Top Considerations When Choosing A Senior Living Agency Partner
- Tips for Aligning Your Senior Living Agency Partner with Your Company Goals
- Create Alignment Between Teams with Workflow Communication Tools
Gaining Clarity Before Working With A Senior Living Agency Partner
For most senior living marketing teams, the biggest challenge is getting it all done while staying up-to-date on the latest trends, strategies and tools. Since there is so much to do and so little time…this is why having the right digital partner is so important to hitting your occupancy goals this year!
When partnering with a digital agency for the first time (or switching from one agency partner to another), senior living marketing teams need to have some clarity on what they want from this partnership.
- Define your goals and strategy before setting out to find a new agency partner.
- What tactics are you currently using?
- What tactics do you want to be using?
- Know your numbers
- What are the results of the tactics you are currently using?
- What are your operational goals & benchmarks (…where do you need to be)?
- Engage your in-house team
- What is each team member’s current role in your marketing plan?
- What types of marketing do they have experience with?
- What types of marketing projects do they enjoy doing?
Now you can fill in the gaps with the right agency partner who is going to align with your team and connect the dots for a holistic and cohesive marketing strategy. Let’s take a look at each part of this initial analysis.
Roles & Responsibilities for Effective In-House Teams
Starting with your people, knowing your current team is key to getting the most out of your marketing. For in-house marketing teams, the roles, responsibilities and structure will be impacted by a number of factors.
- Your budget for internal hiring.
- The skills needed to serve the widest breadth of services for communities and strategy.
- Team dynamics and how everyone works together.
As you look at your current team, consider the following roles:
- Marketing Director or VP to lead the vision
- Marketing Manager to align the plans & projects
- Creative Manager to create brand consistency
At a minimum, these three roles can accomplish much of your marketing work while also remaining agile to meet community and occupancy needs throughout your year.
For more details about the 5 in-house marketing team roles every senior living operator needs, read our blog.
Top Considerations When Choosing A Senior Living Agency Partner
Once you have clarity on your in-house marketing team roles, then you can start to define which part (or parts) of your digital strategy may require an agency partner.
First, decide what size agency is going to be a good fit for your organization. Large agencies come with a plethora of tools and talent to serve clients with sophisticated full service strategies. While boutique agencies offer more personalized services that can easily adapt to your organization’s needs.
Next, understand what level of expertise your agency partner must bring to the table. Both large agencies and boutique agency models have top talent. The key is knowing if the skills and expertise are aligned with your industry.
Senior living is a unique and multi-layered industry where the sales cycle is long and the content can be sensitive. For senior living operators considering a new agency, industry knowledge and experience matters.
Finally, have a plan for how you want to talk with potential agencies. Know what you are looking for and have your questions planned in advance. This will make sure that any initial conversations you are having are getting you the answers you need to determine if that partner is the right fit for your organization.
Download our 22-Point Digital Agency Questionnaire for a list of questions you can ask your next agency before you hire them.
Tips for Aligning Your Senior Living Agency Partner with Your Company Goals
Whether you are hiring a new agency, switching agencies, or staying with your longtime agency partner, in-house senior living marketing teams should always be focused on creating positive partnership experiences with their digital agency.
Clear Communication. At the core of that experience is your communications. Create clear expectations around your needs for communication. Monthly calls, weekly updates, or full access to a project management tool are easy and reasonable ways senior living marketing teams can have clear communication with their partners.
Owning Your Assets. Building your digital foundation takes time and expertise. However, at no point should senior living operators relinquish the ownership of the assets for their digital foundation to an agency partner. It is critical that senior living operators own their website CMS platform, paid ads accounts (all platforms), automation platforms & tools, and reporting tools.
Ask the right questions about asset ownership before you get too involved with a partner. If the benefit of an agency partner is their speed to getting everything activated and generating results…that is a sign that they will own your assets and all parts of the strategy they set up. Create an in-house process for creating new accounts, managing access to those accounts, and removing access for those who no longer need it.
Smart digital agency partners only need to be added as users in your digital accounts…not be the owners of those accounts…to be effective.
Strategy Planning. Your agency partners may be a wealth of knowledge and support when it comes to your annual or quarterly strategy planning. Maintain regular roadmap documentation of the plans and expectations for your engagement with your agency partners. This will ensure everyone is on the same page, contracts are being fulfilled, and all efforts are moving you closer to your goals.
Reporting & KPIs. You should be receiving regular reports about your marketing strategies, campaigns, and projects. Agency partners have the ability to deliver reports with analysis of your campaigns and results. So, don’t be shy about asking for and expecting those reports on a regular and timely basis.
Trust, but verify. If you have a longtime agency partner, there is nothing wrong with getting a third party review of your data, digital set up, and overall strategy. Rising tides lift all ships. By conducting annual audits of your digital strategy with an outside expert, you can ensure your strategies aren’t falling stagnant or neglected by current agency partners.
There are a lot of really smart marketers out there. The landscape of digital marketing is rapidly changing. So is the pool of qualified agencies who are serving the industry. It is important for operators to invest in their in-house teams as well as the right digital partners. Every senior living marketing team looks a bit different, but we know that powerful partnerships happen when everyone is aligned for the goals and mission of an organization. Make sure your agency partners is also aligned.
For more tips to help senior living marketing teams, check out our recent article on Marketing Tools for In-House Team.
Create Alignment Between Teams with Workflow Communication Tools
The last piece of aligning your in-house marketing team with your senior living agency is to establish a solid line of communication. In today’s digital and remote world, the following workflow and communication tools can help your in-house team stay organized while working with your agency partner.
- Slack: a great tool for day-to-day communication. Create a channel for your team and your agency team. This will help you get back-and-forth communications out of your inbox.
- File Sharing: set up a Google Drive shared folder for sending and receiving files from your agency partner. Google Drive is free (with limited storage). You could also use a paid version or Dropbox. The key here is to stop emailing large files back and forth. Create a file sharing system that makes it easy for everyone to have your communities’ most current assets.
- Project Management: Asana was a life-saver when working as a Corporate Director of Marketing. Each community had their own project board. And, if necessary, adding our agency contact to the right community board helped streamline deadlines and project progress. Read more about Smart Girl’s recommendations around Project Management Tools for Senior Living Marketers.
There are a ton of other workflow communication tools on the market. Start by only adding 1 or 2 tools to streamline your in-house marketing operations. Ask your agency partner to join once your team has a handle on the platform.
If you aren’t ready to add these tools to your team’s toolbox, perhaps your agency partner is already using these tools. Find a way to streamline communications between teams.
Work with Smart Girl
If you are considering a digital agency partner, let’s chat! The Smart Girl Digital team has experienced senior living marketers who have led in-house teams on the operator side of the industry.
We are passionate about partnering with in-house teams for strategy consulting, marketing automation services, and smart traffic strategies. Schedule a call with a Lead Smart Girl today.