Retirement Community Marketing: “Give the Lady What She Wants!”

marketing your retirement communityDepartment store magnate and pioneer Marshall Field knew how to take care of customers. And when he uttered his now-famous quote, he set a timeless standard for customer service. “Give the lady what she wants!” seems so simple and so obvious. Unfortunately, many retailers never learned that—and few ever achieved the success that Marshall Field did.

But Field’s advice goes beyond retail sales. Even those who are marketing retirement communities would do well to heed his words. We need to give people what they want. And what is it that people want when they are beginning to look at a retirement community?


Not all information, however, is created equal. As marketers, we need to “give the lady what she wants.” That means we need to give people the information they want—not necessarily the information we think they want.

That seems so simple and so obvious. Unfortunately, many marketers in the retirement community industry (and elsewhere) never seem to learn that. Too often we are under the impression that our job is to sell the services, and the features of our facility. It’s not that those things aren’t important—they are. But what people really want initially is information. They have a problem or a need and they want to know if we’re going to be able to meet that need or solve that problem.

How do you know what information people want? You have to listen to them. What questions are they asking? Make a list of the 10 or 15 most frequently asked questions potential customers ask. Then whenever you have conversations with your customers (whether it’s on your website, in your blog, through your tweets, in your collateral material, etc.) make sure that you’re addressing these issues.  Don’t just use FAQs on your website as an excuse to sell. Make sure you answer the questions.

And don’t forget to think about the questions behind the questions. For example, when someone (invariably) asks what it’s going to cost to move into your community, they’re probably not just asking a dollars and cents question. They’re probably voicing a concern about what might happen if they ever run out of money. That’s the question they really need help with.

Give people what they want and they’ll give you what you want: their trust and their business.

What helps you figure out what your customers really want?