13 Oct Generational Marketing Part 1: Baby Boomers
A business without market awareness is like a ship without a rudder. If the wind happens to blow in the right direction, success is possible. The chances of that happening, however, are almost none. In order to succeed in business, we must know our markets.
Multiple Generations/Multiple Strategies
One of the most important ways to analyze our markets is in terms of demographics. Right now, perhaps more than ever, marketers need to consider three distinct generations in our culture. Those generations are usually known as Baby Boomer, Generation X, and Millenials.
These three groups are dramatically different in terms of how they buy, how much they buy, how they view money and business, and how they communicate. Therefore, we must market to them with these distinctions in mind. We need multiple strategies for multiple generations.
This is the first in a series of blogs on how to market to these three generations. We’ll briefly identify each generational group, and give some insight on how to tailor your marketing strategies for each. Of course, these are not hard lines or hard and fast rules, but benchmarks to help give direction.
Marketing to Baby Boomers
Who are Baby Boomers? Baby Boomers are the ones who still listen to and leave voicemails. They were born between 1946 and 1964, so they grew up in the idealistic post-WWII era. In general, theirs is a rather “white-picket-fence” view of the world.
Though their kids say they are technologically challenged, they are not averse to it. Researchers say that by 2014, over 65% of people ages 50-64 were using social networking sites. In addition, Boomers spend more on technology than any other generation.
Most importantly, this generation is a huge and often untapped market. Though the over-50 crowd accounts for over 50% of all expenditures, we marketers currently only spend 10% of our budgets going after them. Oops! Let’s see how we can correct that. Here are some tips on marketing to Baby Boomers.
1. Don’t Low-Ball
According to the AARP, US adults over 50 spend $3.2 trillion annually and have accumulated $15 trillion in financial assets! This means that they’re not afraid to spend. They spend more per purchase, more per shopping trip, and more per year than any other group.
Baby-boomers not only aren’t afraid to spend, but they may, in fact, be suspicious of prices that are too low. Their years have taught them that quality matters, and they believe they deserve it. So market premium, full-priced products to Boomers. Just make sure your products are worth the price.
2. Win Their Loyalty
This brings us to the next tip. Baby Boomers tend to be very brand loyal. Once they’re convinced a product is great and they like it, they’re committed. My mother is on her “umpteenth” (that’s the word she would use) new Buick, and she’ll keep buying them because that’s what she buys.
The trick with boomers is often to become “what they buy,” “what they use,” or “who they go to.” If you can become their brand, you can build serious consistency. The key is to make sure your products and services are really great and do a great job convincing them of that fact.
3. Reward Their Loyalty
Consistency and longevity are important to Boomers. One way to communicate that you’ll be around is to set up programs that reward their longevity as a customer. Cash-back programs or loyalty discounts are excellent ways to make these customers stick. To most of them, front-end discounts often mean something is wrong. Loyalty programs do the opposite, adding value instead of taking it away.
4. Go Old-School
Facebook ads just annoy most Boomers. According to research, they use social media to revive old friendships and not much else. Therefore, they will most likely tag your FB ads as spam.
The most effective way to market to this generation is through direct contact. These big-spenders are more likely to buy from a real person than any other way. Call them on the phone (by the way, many of them still have landlines), but just make sure it isn’t during dinner!
If personal sales contacts are not practical for your business, the next best thing is email marketing. Boomers are more likely to read an email than a blog or pop-up ad, especially if it’s brief and professional. Particularly if you’ve already won them as a customer, used wisely, email can be a powerful tool for keeping yourself in front of this generation.
Speaking of blogs, don’t count them out. Boomers do read blogs as long as they are brief. Researchers have found that most people 50 years and up will read a blog if it’s about 300 words or less. The long-form blog that takes forever to get to the point won’t work. However, if you can write concisely and get your message across quickly, Boomers will get it.
5. Always Tell the Truth
This is just good business, and we assume the vast majority of our readers know and practice that. However, if you’re tempted to fudge occasionally, don’t. If you read about the next two generations, you’ll find that this is one of the tips for all three generations. However, the reasons differ slightly for each one.
For Boomers, it’s about trust. Many of them feel that the moral fiber of our culture is eroding. They have been burned by slick salesmen and misleading ads, especially on the internet. In order to gain and keep these loyal customers, you’ll have to prove yourself. You’ll need to establish integrity.
Speaking of integrity, there’s a fact we all need to remember while we’re working to get ahead in business. Author and researcher Tom Stanley surveyed vendors, friends, and family of self-made deca-millionaires (people who had achieved a net worth of $10 million or more) and found they had 38 things in common. The number one thing they all shared was fanatical integrity.
Maybe you’re already marketing to this generation. Perhaps you see this as uncharted waters. Either way, remember that these guidelines are intended to shed light and open doors, not to draw hard lines.
Every customer will differ slightly, but research shows that in general, these three groups have distinct market personalities. Learning how to approach them can greatly increase your ability to win and keep them as customers. Watch for our next entry in this series, “Generational Marketing Part 2: Generation X.”
Digital Marketing Strategies
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