7 Tips for Marketing Effectively to Seniors

Larry Alton

May 12, 20174 min read
7 Tips for Marketing Effectively to Seniors

When you think of marketing to seniors, you might believe it’s all about increasing the size of fonts and displaying images of older people in your advertising. Although this is a common practice among many businesses, those elements alone are not going to capture the attention of this market.

The baby boomer generation isn’t necessarily all that different from other markets, and contrary to popular belief, many seniors spend a good amount of time online. There are, however, some important distinctions to remember when marketing to an older demographic.

Here are some tips you can integrate into your marketing strategy to reach a senior demographic:

1. Use Relatable Language

If you want to market your product to someone, you have to speak their language. If you’re going to market to seniors, you need to avoid using teenage jargon, trendy language, and internet slang.

Unlike millennials who thrive on a heightened sense of drama, baby boomers just want to know how your product or service is going to improve the quality of their life. That might be old school, but it’s what they want.

That does not mean you can’t be clever. It just means you need to avoid using a language they didn’t grow up with. This means avoiding terms like “ROFLCOPTER” and “AIIGHT.” Even if you are making a joke using internet slang, they won’t know what you’re talking about, your joke (and sales) will be totally lost on them.

2. Don’t Assume Other People Make Their Buying Decisions

Seniors are not helpless people who can’t make their own decisions. They are often strong, healthy adults who like to make their own choices. Don’t assume that you need to speak to a caregiving audience or their children in order to sell your product.

3. Understand Their Criteria is Different Than Younger Generations

When you are selling a product or service to someone, it’s basic marketing knowledge that you are not selling them "the product", but rather what the product will do for them. For example, if your product is a drill, you are really selling the hole it can create. And, the company that can convince people their drill creates a superior hole wins.

When it comes to seniors, they don’t necessarily want the same things a teenager wants, but that doesn’t mean they don’t want the same product. You can sell the same product to anybody as long as you can discover why they would want it.

4. Make Things Easy for Them

Baby boomers didn’t grow up with an iPhone in their hand, so requiring certain actions on a web page or in an app won’t necessarily be second nature for them. For example, they may not know what a hamburger menu is, or if it is even something to click on.

If part of your marketing strategy requires people to click on symbols or read the fine print, you may lose a large portion of your potential senior customers. Don’t make these choices just for seniors; everyone can benefit from an easy, clear sales process.

5. Use Multi-Channel Marketing (like catalogs)

According to the Pew Research Center, in 2015 only 27% of adults 65 and over owned smartphones. While this number may be gradually increasing, it is a good indication that seniors live more of their lives in the offline world. This means you are going to have a hard time selling to seniors if you are relying only on mobile and internet marketing to reach them.

If you want to reach the majority of your senior market, you have to use multi-channel marketing by targeting them on and offline. This doesn’t mean you can’t use online marketing, but the majority of your efforts should be concentrated where the majority of your market can be found.

6. Give Them Something Familiar

People are naturally drawn to what is familiar. Since seniors grew up receiving advertisements and physical catalogs in the mail, it makes sense to market to them through this channel.

The older generation prefers something tangible they can hold in their hands, like a catalog. And if you don’t already have one, the internet makes it easy for you to print your catalogs without going anywhere

Despite any rumors you may have heard, catalog marketing isn’t dead. In fact, even digital retailers like Birchbox and Bonobos are starting to mail catalogs to their subscribers.

7. Personalize Their Experience

When the older crowd was growing up, good quality customer service was always personal, and automated or self-service was almost unheard of. There was always a live person on the other end of the phone to talk to in the customer service department.

When you personalize an experience for someone, they remember it for a long time. Since baby boomers are used to that personal touch, make sure you incorporate some personalization into your efforts. This can be as simple as having a live person respond to customer service inquiries with a simple phone call.

Make Sure Your Message is Received

Seniors want products and services they know are going to make their life easier in some way. And it’s your job to make sure they know how your product will do that.

If you follow these helpful tips, you will find it easier to not only reach your senior demographic but also retain them as long-term customers.

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Larry Alton is an independent business consultant specializing in social media trends, business and entrepreneurship. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.