It isn’t clear why the millennials are the focus of most advertising and marketing campaigns. Maybe it’s because marketers have bought into their own stories about ‘youth is beautiful’ line hook line and sinker and have now become blinkered to other age groups. Perhaps it’s something else. Whatever the truth, too much marketing budget is directed at millennials.
This matters for you for four important reasons.
- They control only a fraction of the US wealth, with baby boomers alone controlling 70%.
- They are far less materialistic than previous generations.
- The more dollars are directed at millennials the less of an impression each dollar will make.
- The more the rest of the market focuses on millennials, the easier it will be for you to make money in other market segments.
The question is, how do you do it?
Let go of the stereotype
A lot of younger marketers hold a harmful stereotype of baby boomers. They believe they’re old, don’t understand technology and don’t like it much either. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, baby boomers use the internet a lot.
What’s more, they’re not in any way the same. There are as many different types of baby boomers as there are millennials. Perhaps more different kinds, seeing as there are far more baby boomers. This means that you can’t just target ‘baby boomers’. Instead, you need to do your market research just like in any other area.
- Do they live in the suburbs or the city?
- Do they have children, grandchildren, or are they planning to spend all their disposable income on themselves?
- Are they in their fifties and still working (as those born in 1964 will be) or are they retired (as the ones born near the other boundary of 1946 will be)?
- What are their hobbies?
Make it relatable
We all know similarity attracts. For that reason, if you want to market to older generations, stop using pictures of 20 somethings. This simple change will make a huge difference, particularly because young people are massively over-represented on television, as well as in most advertising and marketing campaigns.
Again, this offers an opportunity as it means that if you do use older models and pictures of baby boomers, it will immediately get noticed. And it will get appreciated.
Also, many older generations care a great deal about their community and being a part of it. Any attempt for you to reach and offer opportunities to improve the community (be it through personal projects or through the support of supporting non-profit organizations) is going to give you a leg up. So find out what community projects the people near your business support and then show how you are supporting those initiatives as well.
Don’t hard sell
The older generations have been around the block. They know when you’re trying to pressure them into something, so it’s not going to work. Even worse is if you’re patronizing. There is no better way to have people close your appeal then if you belittle them, accidentally or otherwise.
Instead, realize that they’re still people and they’re still on the ball. This means the same strategies that work on millennials will often work on them as well, as long as they are subtly altered to appeal to this new market. The trick is to aim the content at what matters to them.
This can be to impress their kids or their grandkids with their know-how of modern technology. It can be to learn new tools to make life easier or it could be to learn new skills, so they can embrace new hobbies.
All you need to do is create opportunities for other generations to embrace these ideas, without using all the jargon that gets flung around, and you’re in a good position to draw the other generations in.
Offer up information
As we get a little bit older as a general trend, we go from being impulsive to often being more thoughtful. This trend is further amplified by the fact that those gen xers and baby boomers that do have money probably have better self-control and are less impulsive. This means that if you want to get them to spend money, they are going to want information – more so than most millennials.
So offer it to them.
Tell them of the features that your products offer, but don’t stop there. Also, discuss the benefits, show case studies of how people have used the products and what they think of them and so on. Make certain that they can do the research they want to do before they make their purchasing decisions.
Yes, that’s right, in some ways the older generations are better suited for content marketing than the younger, more impulsive, buyers. So make use of that! Write catchy titles and content to bring the other generations to your website and draw them into your sales funnels.
Make it easy for them to reach out and ask you questions if the information you’ve provided them with isn’t enough. Note that non-millennials do not use that same social media tools as the millennials do. So, don’t tell them to get in touch with you on Twitter, as 12% of those over 50 use that platform.
Instead, tell them to use Facebook, for example, where more than 50% of those over 50 have a profile there.
And don’t forget to offer the opportunity for people to get in touch with you over email, because that is still the internet communication tool of choice for most people over the age of 35.
Make it very clear payment is secure
Older generations are still on average less comfortable with making online purchases, as they’re afraid that their information is going to get stolen, or that the company they’re trying to buy from is not actually going to send them the product they purchased.
For this reason, if you want older generations to buy goods from you online you have to go out of your way to waylay that fear. The best way to do so is to get certified by a proper agency that inspires trust and is widely recognized. Also, make it clear that you have been certified by this group right from the beginning – perhaps already on your Facebook page.
This will make them feel far more confident about your brand right from the get-go. In effect, they’ll broadcast their confidence in the company that certified you onto your company (this is true not just of the older generation, but of other generations as well). And that, in turn, will make it far more likely that they’ll engage with you and end up buying your product.
Build a referral program
Even more so than millennials, baby boomers, and gen xers care about word of mouth and what their friends say. For this reason, consider building a referral program. Really go out of your way to creating a great experience for your clients, let them get some experience with your product and then reach out to them afterward to ask if they would like to suggest any friends that they would like to refer you to.
You can even offer them discounts or additional perks for doing so. This can work particularly well with many slightly older people as many have become wealthy through searching for bargains and reducing costs. And thus, they will appreciate a good deal when they see one.
The small cost of the discount or the perks will be offset easily by the foot-in-the-door that their referral gives you.
Don’t just rely on social media
As already said, the older generations prefer email to social media. The older baby boomers even quite often still look at snail mail as well. You can use these tools to reach out to them and then pull them into your social media conversation or draw them to your website.
Yes, in the past these technologies were no longer useful, but now that they are no longer used very much anymore, that’s changing back. It is now perhaps the online dollar which doesn’t have the same reach anymore, while the offline dollar can go a much longer distance than it used to be able to.
Respect their privacy
Millennials are far quicker to give away information online than other generations. Remember this when you approach them. Don’t ask them to give you lots of information, as they might not be willing to do so.
And when you do have information don’t feel you can just use it without asking permission. For example, just because you have their first names, doesn’t mean you should just use them. And just because you have their email address doesn’t mean you should start emailing them. Ask permission, as a few complaints, can derail your best marketing efforts.
To reach out to other groups except for millennials on social media isn’t actually that hard. It doesn’t require a full-fledged overhaul of your campaign. All it requires is tweaks to your existing framework. Use images that appeal to them. Give them security, information and make it easy to reach out to you. Don’t stereotype and make them feel included and engaged.
If you can do all that, which really isn’t that hard, you can open up an entire market segment that till now you’ve left lying by the sidelines – a market segment which, as I already mentioned, has three times as much money as the millennials everybody keeps focusing on. Really the question you should be asking yourself shouldn’t be, ‘is it worth it?’ but ‘What am I waiting for?’