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7 Tips for Marketing to Older Audiences

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In their book No B.S. Guide to Marketing to Leading-Edge Boomers and Seniors, marketing experts Dan S. Kennedy and Chip Kessler offer small-business owners a handy guide to targeting the leading-edge boomer and senior market. In this edited excerpt, the authors describe seven ways you can differentiate yourself from the competition.

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Most small businesses are missing an opportunity to become the only or preferred source of their offering to leading-edge boomers and seniors (LEB/S) simply because they've assumed that differentiation can't be done. The reality is that virtually all offerings can be made different in a way that matters to LEB/S.

So what should your messaging to LEB/S do to differentiate you from every other perceived competitor? Here's a list of seven differentiators to apply to your marketing.

Related: 5 Tips for Boomer-Friendly Retail Design

1. Authorship: This is the open secret that so many miss yet is used by the most famous of people. There's a reason that political candidates write books, why already famous people write books, and why those who aspire to be famous should write books. Books are part of our cultural DNA that says authors are experts, should be treated differently and deserve our respect.

At one time, getting a book published was quite difficult. And with that difficulty, when overcome, came a special status of author. Authors are given respect in our society. It is this special status that makes writing a book so powerful in your marketing. And it's one of the reasons I have written five and have another two coming.

Moreover, writing a book conveys expert status and a bit of celebrity. Even if the book you write is read only by your prospective clients, patients or customers, a book can make you famous right where you live. Who else has written a book in your marketplace in your locale? Probably no one. And if there should be someone, what better way to fight fire with fire than getting your own book published? 

2. Public speaking, like authorship, carries a cultural imprimatur of specialness. Teaching does as well. If you speak or teach, you should let others know to increase others' respect for you as an individual and an expert in your field. Providing depth of content in articles and blogs and an online presence also builds on your status as an authority.

Related: An Unconventional Guide to Public Speaking

3. Resonant communication: Communication is the key to gaining attention and generating interest. The error that most make is speaking in the vernacular of the knowing. Your patients, clients and customers don't know. The words they use to describe what they want and what attracts them are keys in grabbing their attention. Using the words they use that relate to your niche allows your messages to resonate in agreement with what they know. That permits attention to be gained in the first place! 

How do you find the words? Survey your users and prospects, and use the results to craft your messages and edit your existing messages. The difference between the right and wrong words is like the difference between a lightning bug and a lightning bolt! 

4. Niche(s) where others aren't. The great advantage of being in a niche where others are not is that you become impossible to compare. When you can get this, seize the moment to be the first, as the position will help you from here on out. Typically, others will follow you into the niche, jockeying for some of that success you have acquired by being the first one. There is a downside: You'll have to make the market, meaning you'll have to explain and market the concept of your offering first before you can market exactly what you do. 

5. Sophistication and diversity of marketing: Most people want to simplify and reduce the various ways they can get their message across. Big mistake. Embrace diversity and complexity and sophistication because others will not want to follow, and you'll have a built-in advantage. Differentiation can come from marketing diversity itself.

6. Celebrity: becoming famous right where you live. Becoming a celebrity right where you live is the result of your book, promotion, publicity and public presence. Done well, celebrity enhances every part of your marketing, making it more memorable and effective. Moreover, few of your competitors understand the power of celebrity and its uses. For LEB/S, celebrity attracts their attention and makes your messages get through more easily.

7. Doing what you do so well: Being good at what you do and giving proof of your results in the forms of photos, statistics, awards, recognitions, certifications, testimonials and endorsements from your clients, patients or customers are the best marketing and promotion. Results are, after all, what people want from you. Promoting these results helps set you apart from the rest.

The more you can stack these and other differentiators one on top of the other, the more differentiation occurs. The better differentiated you are, the less price sensitivity you face and the more attractive you become to your targeted marketplace. What virtually every person wants is outstanding value. Differentiation builds that value. 

Related: How Apple, Samsung and Google Take Different Approaches to Innovation