Northwest Business Magazine

Small-Business Marketing: Reach Across Generations

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Senior citizens purchase plenty of products, services and facilities, so it’s important to communicate with them effectively. Susan Dobbe-Leahy, of Dobbe Marketing, discusses the best ways to engage with the senior population.

Vast products, services and facilities are sold to people over 55 years of age. To effectively reach this target requires knowledge of who is in your audience, as well as who is helping them to make decisions. Master these targets, and you’re on your way to successfully engaging with our senior population.

Did you know that senior citizens comprise the largest population in the nation? Because Americans are living longer than ever before, the senior population now spans three generations and roughly 107 million people, according to the U.S. Economy Data Brief by knoema.com. The spread looks like this:

•Greatest Generation (born 1916-1928), roughly 3.79 million people

•Silent Generation (born 1929-1945), roughly 28.32 million people
Baby Boomers (born 1947-1965), roughly 75.52 million.

•Marketing to the senior population requires careful attention to who is making decisions and how information is collected and shared.

Whenever you’re marketing to the senior audience, remember that they benefit from a broad mix of media and messages.

Social media is an important component, even though many seniors are not active on Facebook. It’s important to remember that many of them are receiving assistance from family members, especially children – and those family members who are researching and making decisions are active online.

Remember, too, that there are different personas among your senior audience, and among their family decision-makers. You can reach them effectively if you know where they stand.

Inactives are individuals who know they have difficulties but can’t find a solution.

Researchers explore options online, in print, at the library and through referrals.

Proactives aggressively investigate in person by visiting businesses, talking with influencers and evaluating the possibilities

Ready-yet-reticent types have concerns to resolve before making a commitment.

Pipeline personalities are typically waiting on the situation for various reasons.

Community connections are crucial for referrals, as this is how these generations did business in their younger years. Special events can engage local businesses with senior citizens in ways that build authentic references and meaningful connections to your business and its services.

You’ll see a major marketing push to seniors focused around how and where to live, because this can vary widely among seniors. While some may move to a senior living community, others may choose to age in place. Organizations like ElderWerks and Senior Care Volunteer Network can help them to make decisions and connect with relevant service providers.

Upon achieving the age of 50, most U.S. citizens are cordially invited to join AARP. Mailings, magazines, radio, television and more extoll the benefits of joining the American Association of Retired Persons. AARP is a tremendous influencer for seniors and their families, and it’s a bellwether of the changing lifestyles and expectations of one-third of the U.S. population.

Your effort to reach seniors must be well-planned and structured. Give them a reason to trust and connect, and they will remain loyal for life.

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