Tips for Marketing to Seniors and Baby Boomers

Article by Caron Beesley

Brought to you from FindHelp4Seniors.ca

For many years, marketing to seniors has been regarded as a waste of time – that this demographic was set in its ways and closed to new ideas. But a few years ago, marketing expert Seth Godin published a blog post entitled “Marketing to Seniors (open and closed)”, that essentially turned this misconception on its head.

In fact, Godin insists that seniors are just as open to new experiences, products, and lifestyle choices as the hot and favored marketing demographic – 18-34 year olds.

Why? Two words: “baby boomers”.

As Godin explains, “Baby boomers have been open their whole lives. And now they are seniors. So all the conventional wisdom goes out the window. Senior travel, senior fashion, senior experiences… it’s all fair game, because there’s a different demographic inhabiting that age group now.”

This got me thinking. My parents are baby boomers. They grew up in the 60s, were entrepreneurs and self-employed for 45 years. Now retired, they are enjoying the fruits of their labors – dining out, going to the gym, travelling the world (seniors account for account for 80% of all luxury travel), upgrading their home, embracing technology (I bought my mother a new laptop for her 65th birthday), and so on.

In fact, seniors are the fastest growing user segment to embrace computer technology; they spend $7 billion online annually. And with an average income per capita that is 26 percent higher than the national average (according to Senior Magazine Online), “seniorizing” your business marketing might just be a wise move.

Tips for Marketing to Seniors and Baby Boomers

Seniors and baby boomers make up a whopping 23.4 percent of the population. As with any other demographic, there is no silver bullet for marketing to this group. But one thing’s for sure, it’s not just about senior discounts anymore. Here are some tips to consider.

1. Focus your Message on “Feel Age” not “Real Age”

The expression “you’re only as old as you feel” actually has some scientific truth, and brings with it a lesson for marketers. Southern Methodist University (SMU) Marketing Professor Tom Barry has been researching the senior market with a particular focus on “cognitive age”, otherwise described as “feel age”.

Barry’s findings indicate that those with a younger outlook than their actual age generally evidence better health, which, in turn, influences personal economics, life satisfaction, attitudes toward aging, and activities and level of participation in organizations.

So the message to marketers is to focus on “feel age” not real age. But how does this translate into your marketing habits?

Barry suggests “Use models that are cognitively younger; they don’t have to look younger, but have a persona that is psychologically younger. The content of advertising, sales, and marketing messages should be cognitively based. For example, we don’t use medicine to avoid osteoporosis because we are afraid our bones will break, but because we want to go to the museum and play golf.”

Read more in SMU’s news bulletin: “Marketing to Seniors: Age Really is a State of Mind”.

2. Building Trust

Seniors and baby boomers generally buy what everyone else buys. But they tend to take more time to research and plan what and how they spend their money.

As a business owner, this means earning their trust. And. one of the best tools in your marketing toolkit for achieving this is to perfect your customer service – satisfaction comes first, but loyalty is earned and in the long term counts for much more.

3. Which Marketing Vehicles Should you Use to Reach Seniors and Boomers?

If you are thinking of developing a specific marketing strategy to reach and engage seniors, start small, keep an eye on ROI and adjust your tactics as needed.

Small might mean running a series of ads in your local newspaper accompanied by a “sponsored editorial piece” that showcases your knowledge about the needs of your market and how your product can serve it.

As with all target markets, you need to reach your customers where they are – and for more and more seniors and baby boomers this means taking your marketing online.

According to Kinsesis, a Portland, Oregon, web design and branding firm, the number of seniors using the Internet grew by 55 percent between 2004 and 2009. The largest percentage increase in use of the Internet has actually been in the 70-75 age group. And it’s not just Internet that seniors are embracing, they are a big presence on social media sites too.

“The No. 1 online destination for people over 65 in November 2009 was Google Search, with 10.3 million unique visitors.” Facebook jumped to the number three slot from (it was number 45 in 2008, with Windows Media Player at number two).

Baby boomers, however, are the real online force, as the Kinesis article goes on to explain: “More than 60 percent of those in the Baby Boomer generational group actively consume socially created content like blogs, videos, podcasts, and forum.”

So if your target market is seniors and baby boomers, you clearly cannot ignore search engine optimization and social media marketing.

Read the original article for more data: “Marketing to Seniors and Baby Boomers? Use Internet Marketing and Social Media to Reach Them!” and for tips read this article from my fellow blogger Sean Gallagher: “Getting Started with Social Media Marketing”.

Email marketing also remains a powerful force in marketing to seniors – when used properly it still outranks all other forms of direct marketing in terms of ROI. Depending on your particular target you may need to pay attention to the visual preferences and needs of the senior market – are your fonts too small? Is your email too visually cluttered? Is your call to action clear and apparent?

For more tips on using email marketing read “Getting Started with Email Marketing: ‘The Most Powerful Tool in Your Relationship-Building Toolbox“.

What’s your experience of selling and marketing to seniors and baby boomers? Share your experiences and tips with other small business owners below.

Brought to you from FindHelp4Seniors.ca

For assistance with marketing to seniors, contact Saskia Wijngaard, founder of FindHelp4Seniors.ca – home to the most comprehensive online directory for senior-friendly services across Canada.

FindHelp4Seniors.ca is a meeting place for seniors across Canada as well as their families and caregivers, and provides Canadian seniors with access to the best senior-friendly community resources, services, agencies, and businesses.

For peace of mind for you and your loved ones, contact Saskia directly at 905.855.1558 or via email at Saskia@Everything4Seniors.ca

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8 comments so far

  1. Sales Tips on

    great information, thank you

  2. Imran Khan on

    We all have our own concept and time lines that connect us with the rest of the world.
    It is not simply the feel age factor or baby boomers it is about what makes the connection. An older person suffering with arthritis will certainly not like to use a cell phone with small keys and sensitive gadgets, as they will be difficult to use.
    On the other hand, a young 30 year old would like to keep-up with both early 20’s and late 30’s so they will set their styles to please all.
    Now to the first point of connection, memories and knowing has a lot of impact on peoples decisions, yes people like to explore and venture out to new horizons, however they will do it more willing if there were to be a connection between the product and their psychology.

  3. Lloyd Lindsay, CA, CMC on

    The article mentions some of my comments below. The most powerful tips for marketing to seniors and baby boomers are the following:

    1. Build up trust. Use honesty and integrity when you market to this group.

    2. Do not use superlatives. Members of the group will see right through you.

    3. Listen to them. They may have knowledge and wisdom far beyond yours. After all, they have had life experiences you have yet to experience. Years ago, my son told me that he had to learn a lot more in school than I did, because my life experiences are now history.

    3. Sell quality service and goods for a fair price. This group understands that you have to earn a living and that cheaper prices may imply poor service and quality.

    4. Know your group. Many people today precede the baby boomers, including myself. These people have or had parents who survived the Great Depression, and because of this, they learned the value of money, how to save, and not to squander it on frivolous products and services.

    5. Be aware that the pre baby boomers are more sophisticated than the baby boomers. The pre baby boomers have learned to live with their arthritis and other aches and pains. Baby boomers are just coming to grips with it now. Also, pre baby boomers know how to change their grandchildrens’ diapers and know how to treat their grandchildrens’ colds and injuries.

  4. Tracey Fieber, CTACC on

    Great article! Developing the relationship is key to attracting boomers to your business. The marketing vehicles that work for Boomers are a combination of online and offline.
    With the vast array of people and personalities in this group, the best marketing strategy is to target specifically and create marketing that appeals to them. Others may also be attracted to your message, but when it ‘speaks’ to the target audience that’s when you’ve created marketing that works.
    Your point on the font size is very true, especially online. The size of the font is indicative of the level of understanding you have of their preferences. My weekly newsletter uses a larger font since that’s what makes it easier to read.
    You’ll start to see more and more companies cater to this market, as people learn to understand what it is that truly appeals to the Boomers.

  5. George Laceby on

    Tips for Marketing to Seniors.

    The following is a three step process:
    1) Identify Senior Challenges
    2) Get the Seniors to recognize their challenges
    3) Provide Solutions for their challenges.

    Setting up a process to get Boomers and Seniors involved in dialogue will help to develop an understanding of their challenges and at the same time develop a sense of trust with you because you took an interest in their lives.

  6. Peter Wright on

    Good article and more good points in the comments.

    I would add that baby boomers and seniors (myself included) are naturally good networkers.

    Why? because we grew up before the proliferation of TV channels, social media, and all the other modern technology so we spent considerable time talking to people face-to-face.

    Secondly, a sizeable segment of todays urban seniors spent some of their early years in a rural environment where community meeting places were an important source of information. Word of mouth advertising was effective.

    I agree that building trust and avoiding hype are essential ingredients of a marketing strategy for this market. Effective marketing can convert older consumers into loyal customers and strong advocates for our brands.

  7. Jackie Hickey RN CCP on

    Thank you Everything 4 Seniors for this information and to all the commenters. I am a myNurse Health Advisor providing a new service that helps seniors stay healthy and safe in their homes, so this information was extremely valuable. My moto has always been ‘trust, like and believe’ will get you to the next step.
    Regards,
    Jackie Hickey RN CCP
    416-992-4280
    jhickey@bayshore.ca

  8. Jaime Fiolka on

    Do you find yourself sandwiched between caring for a parent as well as your own children while trying to live your life too? Or, are you a senior who wants to continue to feel connected to your community but whose family is stretched to the limit for time to be spent with you? There is help available. If you live in the Calgary area and have a senior loved one that you are concerned about and who you feel could benefit from regular attention and interaction, consider checking out http://www.cognitivecs.ca . Contact Jaime Fiolka for more information on her very specialized services that will enhance the day to day life of your loved one! You could make a huge difference in their life.


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