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Online Marketing to the 50+

When designing your online marketing communications/advertising to entice 50+ consumers to your website, remember they rely more on emotional reactions than younger adults to determine if they should think about a matter. Emotional triggers in the brain activate memories. Experiences arm many of these triggers. Stronger original emotional responses to a type of situation generate a stronger memory.

When we experience something in the present, the brain scans its memory to see if what we are currently experiencing are like anything we have experienced before. A positive finding may mean the matter does not need to be thought through because the recipe for coping with the matter was written in the past. So instead of a rational response we might simply react reflexively. When asked why we acted as we did, we might respond “Just intuition” or “Just a gut feeling.” Boomers and older consumers generally can safely rely more on their emotions than younger adults can because they have a richer database of emotionally coded knowledge on how to manage situations.

Understanding How Older Minds Process Information

Older minds have less reliance on reason and more reliance on intuition. Therefore, any communications images should promote strong positive emotional responses. The online marketer’s objective should to begin the process of developing a relationship with the consumer and relationship building should precede presentation of products and services. Remember, relationship potential is emotionally inferred not rationally deduced. First impressions (emotionally based) are more durable and difficult to reverse in older minds so evaluate your message content to remove potential to stimulate a negative first impression. The strongest sources of negative impressions are those that conflict with a person’s idealized image of self, especially with respect to autonomy and sense of personal validity.

After a matter qualifies for interest and more attention, maturing consumers often want more information than younger consumers, so create opportunities in product messages to get further information. Manage the information flow so that emotional cues are present when most advantageous (early in process) then shift to objective information. Older minds are quicker in emotionally processing information but slower in generating rationally derived perceptions and are also more resistant to absolute propositions. Older minds tend to want to pull information to them not have it pushed at them. They also tend to resist efforts of others to press unasked for advice on them and that’s what advertising and many sales pitches are – unasked for advice.

Conditional Positioning

The young mind tends to see reality in simpler terms than older minds do, and they tend to see things in terms of absolute states or conditions: something either is or it is not. Nuance and subtlety often create more confusion in the younger mind about a matter than understanding of it. In contrast, boomers and older consumers tend to have greater appreciation for the finer definition that nuance and subtlety give a matter. This bias results from a combination of experience and age-related changes in how the brain processes information.

The predisposition of boomers and older consumers to reject absolutism means that marketing communications intended for them should generally reflect a conditional tone. Strongly worded and delivered claims about a product’s features and benefits usually work better with younger, more literal-minded adults. A softer, more deferential, conditional approach is better suited to the older adult mind that sees reality in shades of gray.

The Holy Grail of Online Web Marketers

One-to-one marketing and real time personalization is the Holy Grail of Internet marketers. Their objective is to create an experience where cross selling and up selling becomes a reality. The goal is to increases product sales, and the customer is led to additional services suited to their interest. However, everyone defines personalization differently and personalization is primarily defined from the company’s perspective. What’s wrong with this picture?

Increasing the Satisfaction Quotient and Decreasing the Frustration Quotient

Why do we have so many different views about anything? It’s because each of us is not quite like anyone else. Should the definition of personalization reflect the collective subjectivity of the company or the consumer? Does the consumer have the final word on what constitutes personalization? We think not. The objective of designing your website in looks and functionality is increasing the Satisfaction Quotient and decreasing the Frustration Quotient. Consumers will use and reuse a site that provides them a positive experience. Once you get them to visit your site (following the suggestions above) you need tools and tactics to assure a successful and satisfying experience.

What Constitutes Personalized Attention?

It’s not about being technological with customers; it’s about being more humanistic. Progress in ecommerce marketing is retarded by efforts to dress up old marketing ideas. Personalization rests upon “attitudinal” foundations. We are not seats, wallets, eyeballs, end-users, or other euphemisms. We are human beings – our reach exceeds the typical marketers grasp

Databases represent an ability to manipulate simulated reality much like a flight simulator. Don’t confuse simulated reality with the “real” reality – may stumble in the market. Don’t forget to reconvert consumers as abstract reality back into human beings. Most Internet visitors want to see greatest improvement in the quality of the Internet experience. Want responsiveness to their individual needs along with simplicity of interaction, efficiency, economy and convenience. And, they want it delivered with respect! These points demand that websites be authentic in dealing with consumers. People with power usually have a low tolerance for BS!

Putting It Together

There is no doubt that boomers, older consumers and online marketers are at the early stages of what promises to be a long-term and lucrative love affair. Just as boomers have transformed every other stage of their lives, they will do the same in this new phase. However, the key to the boomer and older consumers business is in a better understanding of their minds.

Online marketing to consumers is simply another distribution channel for your company’s services and products and an extension of your brand/image. Design your marketing communications to attract the consumer to your web site and your site design should be user friendly. Remember, the worst thing that can happen to a company that provides poor services and products is a great marketing communications campaign. Design your website to reduce frustration and increase satisfaction.

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