As 75.4 million baby boomers enter retirement over the next decade, their spending power and buying habits will evolve to match a new post-career lifestyle. Adjusting marketing tactics to meet the needs of seniors is not a practice reserved solely for senior-centric industries. Whether it’s getting back-to-basics or hiring a team tailored to meet senior needs, nearly every company should be considering new ways to reach this massive market of consumers.
1. Don’t fall for the trends.
Avoid the lure of the latest and greatest marketing trends when targeting seniors. Many senior-focused campaigns make the mistake of narrowing in on caregivers under the assumption they are the decision makers for their boomer parents. It is far more effective to target seniors, the true end users, with messages that resonate with their evolving needs.
Direct mail campaigns and videos done at a slower pace with text overlay may be an archaic practice to the millennial generation, but these tactics hold up to an audience that grew up before the era of 140 characters.
2. Don’t be afraid of copy.
Shorthand text and trendy acronyms don’t apply here. Reading is something retired boomers enjoy. Don’t stray from old school advertising methods that were more text-heavy than the minimalist trends of today. Seniors want to see everything spelled out in print. It’s far more important to use the right language than catchy copy, so spend the time normally dedicated to developing a creative message to thinking straightforward instead.
Address every potential question a user may have. Include the answers in printed brochures, direct mail materials, and make the information easily available on the website. In printed and online materials, keep copy clean and clear, using simplistic design elements. Testimonials and editorial advertising are effective ways to spark a personal connection between a customer and the product or service.
Seniors don’t respond to abbreviated language such as “GPS” or “24/7/365.” Think literally when creating user guides and fact sheets. When in doubt, err on the side of over-explaining to mitigate the risk of frustrating a boomer interested in learning more.
3. Be prepared to put in the time.
While boomers are more responsive to traditional marketing methods, they do not take decision making lightly. Unlike the on-demand millennial generation, baby boomers view each purchase as a commitment. Static budgets require boomers entering retirement to become wary of spending outside of their strict limits. Short-selling a product or service will not work with this audience.
Seniors need to build trust with the brand. That stems from relating to other users, identifying with the product and developing rapport with the sales people they interact with when deciding to make the purchase. While a typical sales process may take one to two calls to close, expect to spend at least double the amount of time with dealing with baby boomers.
4. Get personal.
As baby boomers enter retirement, they’re faced with more free time than they’ve had in decades. Day-to-day social interactions may be reduce to just pleasantries with the mailman or brief check-in phone calls from their adult children. This presents a unique opportunity for sales teams to develop sincere relationships with customers.
The customer on the other end of the line has the time to pick up the phone, listen without a sense of urgency and really absorb the value of the product. They’re also likely to share personal stories and experiences which aids in building the rapport needed to make the sale. It is important to be prepared for a drawn out turnaround time as you focus on understanding the life of the boomer over the phone.
5. Hire the right people for the job.
After laying out a marketing plan that will attract a senior audience and fill the sales pipeline, it’s crucial to build the right team. The remaining boomers in the workforce will begin entering retirement over the next few years, meaning millennials now account for the largest portion of the workforce. While gen Y didn’t have much exposure to working beneath and alongside the baby boomer generation, they usually feel a kinship thanks to deep personal connections to parents and grandparents.
When interviewing a candidate, it’s helpful to inquire about relationships with former mentors, family members and other relationships to gauge their understanding and temperament for communicating with an older generation. Individuals with strong relationships to family and mentors tend to have more patience and respect for the boomer customer, which then leads to a more successful sales process.