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Event Marketing: Know Your Audience, Know Your Speaker

Senior living marketers use event marketing in much the same way as a major sporting event attracts fans ‒ by appealing to specific interests.

Fans want to be entertained not just by the product on the field, but by the entire experience at the venue.

Likewise, prospective residents are attracted to more than just a tour of an apartment or cottage. They want to get a sense of what you’re all about.

How can you appeal to their interests?

Guest speakers are often used as a means of attracting prospective residents with specific interests, and those communities who know their audience often see better results than those who don’t.

For example, if your prospective residents are intellectuals and lifelong learners, a speaker from a college or university speaking on an engaging topic will likely pique their interests.

One of the most important considerations when selecting a speaker is how that person will help you achieve your goals. What added value can they bring to your event?

To answer that question, here are some helpful tips:

  • Ask in advance if the speaker is willing to spend time chatting and mingling with guests either before or after the event. This adds a personal touch that goes beyond the content of the presentation. If your guests are interested in the subject matter, they’ll come away with a great impression of your community if they also have a chance to meet, greet and talk with the guest speaker.
  • When possible, look for speakers who’ve worked in a senior living environment in the past. Prospective residents will have certain expectations, and those should be factored into the choice of a speaker. Finding the correct subject matter is great, but be sure the person presenting that subject matter will do so in a way that connects with the audience.
  • High-priced doesn’t always mean best choice. Much more important than cost is finding someone who will engage and entertain your audience, and is knowledgeable about the subject matter they plan to present. Speakers charge various prices. While it’s sometimes a good idea to budget a bit more for the right one, other times, a less costly option might also better meet the needs and expectations of your guests.
  • Typically, any experienced guest speaker is going to have a portfolio of some sort. If it’s possible to watch a video of that person in action before making a selection, do so. Try to watch through the eyes of a prospective resident, and if the material is senior living-related, be sure it’s in sync with the message and experience you want to portray about your community.
  • Consider the travel factor. Even if they’re local, most speakers will want to be compensated for fuel and mileage used getting to your event. If airfare is involved, the cost goes up.
  • Don’t wait until the last minute. This might seem like common sense, but many speakers have engagements booked months in advance. Plan ahead and have a backup plan in place in case your first choice isn’t available when you need them.
  • Factor in the speaker’s audio-visual needs, and plan for them in advance. Audio-visual that isn’t working correctly can lead to a negative first impression of your community.

As you begin the process of selecting a speaker for your next event, weigh each option carefully. The speaker you select could play a role in your next resident selecting your community.

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