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Marketing to Baby Boomers - It's HOW They Think That's Important

Marketing to Baby Boomers: It’s HOW They Think That’s Important

In marketing and sales focused on 50+ audiences, it’s not what they think that’s important – it’s HOW Baby Boomers think that’s important!

The whole business of marketing and sales is about getting information into people’s brains and persuading their minds to buy or do something.  The older we become, the more emotional reactions determine if we should think about a matter. Emotional triggers in the brain activate memories, and the stronger the memory – the stronger the emotional response. Marketing and sales must integrate both empathy and vulnerability into marketing messages. These two attributes are necessary to build trust, and are essential to optimal results in marketing and sales communications.

How Baby Boomers Process Information

An understanding of the above characteristics and applying that knowledge to marketing messages and sales approaches will help to avoid wasted money and time. The adult median age is continuing to rise, and company marketing and sales need to challenge current communications and sales protocols. Progress in this direction must be founded in the recognition that young, middle-aged and older brains and minds all work differently.

David B. Wolfe, noted author, lecturer and expert in marketing to older consumers, developed an approach to marketing he called “Developmental Relationship Marketing”. His approach to communications has as its foundation in the writings of behaviorists Abraham Maslow, Eric Erikson and current noted authors. The concepts that follow are taken from several of David’s unpublished papers.

Eight Progressive Changes in How Aging Minds Process Information

1) Less reliance on reason to determine what is of interest, and more on intuition (which is cued by emotional responses). 

Implications: Identify and employ images that promote strong positive emotional responses; relationship building must precede presentation of company and product; relationship potentialities are primarily emotionally inferred (“gut feelings”) — rather than rationally deduced.

2) First impressions (which are always emotionally based) are more durable and more difficult to reverse than for younger adults. 

Implications: Be sensitive to images that can stimulate negative first impressions. It is probable that the strongest sources of negative impressions are images that conflict with idealized image of self, especially with respect to autonomy and sense of personal validity.

3) After a matter qualifies for interest and further attention, older consumers tend to want more information than younger consumers. 

Implications: Manage the transaction continuum so that emotional cues are present when most advantageous, then shift to “hard” or objective information when most beneficial; information content must be no greater than what the person wants at a given point in time.

4) Decreasing speed in rational processing of objective information. 

Implications: Deliver objective information (e.g., company product, benefits and features, technical information, etc.) at a slow to moderate pace.  Avoid “jump cuts” and incomplete sentences.

5) More resistant to absolute propositions. 

Implications: Present information on company and company products in a qualified, even deferential manner.  Older minds resist hyperbole.

6) More sensitive to metaphorical meanings, nuances and subtleties.

Implications: Take advantage of greater sensitivity to subtlety to expand the content of the message, especially in terms of metavalues – values that transcend the generic value of the product and expand its perceived attractiveness.  Nonverbal symbols are effective in accomplishing this.

7) More receptive to narrative-styled presentations of information, and less responsive to information presented in expository style. 

Implications: Make greater use of story-telling techniques to get information across.

8) Perceptions are more holistic. 

Implications: Project an interest in the “whole” person, not just the facet that might need a particular company product; also, avoid depicting representatives of your target market in flat, single dimension contexts (e.g., simply showing consumers using or talking about the facility without reference to a larger context).

The primary purpose of sales is to close by solving the customer’s problems.  Without a clear understanding of the customer’s motivators, sales suffers from a handicap. The above characteristics should be seriously considered when developing communication and sales approaches for the 50+ audiences.

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