Inbound Marketing is a patient endeavor, even in the digital age of instant gratification. Storytelling is as important as finding an audience, especially when your marketing budget is limited.


Bryan Reynolds and Keith Reynolds

In Photo: Bryan (L) and Keith (R)

To be sure, companies with large budgets can create an instant return on strategy with a healthy advertising investment because sometimes more is more. Smaller companies and nonprofits with limited budgets must take a longer view with their inbound marketing and storytelling strategy. One thing is for sure, Google likes it when you do.

“Our sales cycle can be as short as a few months, or as long as 10 years,” said Bryan Reynolds, vice president of Marketing and Public Relations for Episcopal Retirement Services (ERS) in Cincinnati, Ohio. ERS serves older adults through senior living communities, as well as in-home and community-based services.

The range of the sales cycle depends on the persona. For adult children who need to find safe housing for their older parents, the sales cycle can range from two to six months, Reynolds explained in the Publio Podcast. For older adults who are designing a just in case scenario, the sales cycle can be five or 10 years.

“We publish content that appeals to their needs and advises families,” Reynolds explained. “Our content provides help for their journey.” 


Content Strategy’s Long Game

Reynolds traces ERS’ content strategy to Linkage, a quarterly magazine that was launched about 30 years ago. “We developed this brand over time,” Reynolds recalled. The brand has been applied ERS’ Linkage blog and the Linkage podcast, and the magazine is now published twice a year. Audience growth is taking off.

Reynolds said that blog traffic is up 50 percent from the previous year, which was up 50 percent from the year before that. Content is easy and fast. Turning content into leads requires patience. It’s a long game. 

“When we started the blog nine years ago, only a few people a month downloaded content or filled out online lead forms,” Reynolds said. “Now the leads number in the hundreds per month. We keep the dialogue going with automated email marketing in addition to RSS feeds and subscriptions that push the blogs. 

The senior living industry is not known for new technology and sophisticated sales and marketing processes. However, Reyolds and his team added automation to their inbound marketing tool box early on. The success is measured in the lead generation that grew from a few per month to hundreds every month. Their database has thousands of contacts with whom ERS cultivates an ongoing relationship that provides the information their audience requires. It’s the reward for taking the long view with their storytelling.

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