by Evan Franklin


Strategy for senior living marketing

“Focusing on the wildly important requires you to go against your basic wiring as a leader to do more, and instead, focus on less so that your team can achieve more.”
-Sean Covey, Co-author of the Four Disciplines of Execution

Ambition is an invaluable tool both in business and in life, and helps humanity accomplish unbelievable things. However, it can also cloud our vision if we seek to achieve too much at one time, spreading ourselves and our teams too thin, and making progress difficult if not impossible to measure. Focus is key, especially in the senior living industry; every division must be unified on both goals and vision at every level so organizations can provide the highest level of value and care to residents and families while remaining economically viable.
This clarity and singular vision can be achieved through the use of the Strategic Planning Model, a system designed to streamline both goals and workflow to unify entities both big and small and design the systems and processes that will help them achieve their grandest goals.

The Many Benefits of the Strategic Planning Model

  • Organizational Focus. According to Franklin Covey’s research, “only 15 percent of employees actually know their organization’s most important goals—either there are no goals or they have too many goals.” Both scenarios present their own sets of challenges. You may, and likely do, have one of the sharpest and most capable teams around. But without a focus on a singular goal, daily operations often suffer. With too many goals, bandwidth gets spread thin,”i”s are left undotted and “t”s left uncrossed. With no singular goal, team members at every level are, through no fault of their own, left to improvise results with little rhyme or reason. A singular goal, however, provides every member with confidence that they are taking the right action toward its most important achievements.
  • Improved Communication. When everyone is scrambling to do their own work, their own way, it can almost feel like every team or department is speaking their own language. This oftentimes leaves communication stunted and fractured. The Strategic Planning Model can serve as an organization Rosetta Stone, unifying communications into a singular language that everyone can understand and act upon.
  • One of the Strategic Planning Model’s core components is the allocation of roles and responsibilities to specific departments and individuals. It also helps define objective and measurable metrics and KPIs. This way, every member is clear on what they need to do and can easily answer yes or no about whether they have completed what they needed to. Teams can tell if they are on track to complete the goal, and breakdowns in the process are easily spotted and remedied.

The Strategic Planning Model in a Nutshell

The Strategic Planning Model is a living and breathing document that is meant to be reviewed, acted upon and edited regularly. Here is a breakdown of how to get started.

  1. A Vision Statement: This is your organization’s “Why,” – Why do we do what we do? How will our work change the world? For example, the Alzheimer’s Association’s vision: “A world without Alzheimer’s disease.”
  2. A Big Important Goal. The Big Important Goal (BIG) is typically the organization’s highest financial goal. It has a starting point, a measurable goal and a date by which it should be achieved. For example, “Increase annual revenues from $5 million to $6.5 million by 2023.”
  3. 1-3 objectives that funnel up to achieving the BIG. Objectives serve as the “destination” for the BIG and typically look 1-3 years forward.
  4. 3-5 goals for each objective that indicate that the objective has been achieved.
  5. 1-5 strategies for each objective that show what action is needed to achieve the goals of the objective. Strategies are the actions we take in order to achieve each objective. Use action words such as “grow,” “increase,” or “expand.”
  6. 1-2 measures for each strategy that show progress towards implementing the strategies. Measures are the most granular aspect of the Strategic Planning Model and outline specific action items and to-dos.

We have seen countless clients utilize this model to streamline their focus and achieve real, significant growth. Here are a few tools to get you started:
Strategic Planning Model Template
Vision Statement Guide

We realize this is a lot to take in and are always happy to provide further guidance and education. If you’d like to learn more or get a free, no-obligation assessment of your current marketing strategy and how to optimize it to drive occupancies today, email our CEO now at to get scheduled.

Big Buzz is an agency delivering focused marketing efforts for senior living executives and teams nationwide. CEO Wendy O’Donovan Phillips is the author of Flourish!: The Method Used by Aging Services Organizations for the Ultimate Marketing Results, has been published in McKnight’s Senior Living and Forbes, and has been quoted in The Washington Post, ABC News and Chicago Tribune. She regularly lectures for healthcare organizations and associations in front of audiences ranging from 25 to 5,000 attendees. Agency awards and accolades include recognition for excellence by the American Marketing Association, Best Advertising Agency and Best Web Developer in Denver by Expertise, and Top Advertising and Marketing Agency by Clutch.

by Evan Franklin



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