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The Average Customer Doesn’t Exist Online

You’ve heard of the Age of Aquarius, well, welcome to the “Golden Age of Aquarius”.  Somewhere in America, a boomer will turn 50 every seven to ten seconds, that’s more than 12,000 each day and over four million each year for the next decade.  Your most important customers are the boomers.”  Baby boomer and senior customers are the single largest economic group in America.

However, be careful what you call them.  Euphemisms like “elder”, “of a certain age” or “senior” might turn them off rather than make them feel like you’re treating them with respect.  Many may become more than a little upset with being labeled.  Although some online marketers may consider aging boomers as “mature”, the boomers don’t.  They aren’t simply writing a new chapter of their lives, they’re writing a brand new book – and each book is different!

The Average Customer Doesn’t Exist

Unfortunately, few online marketers have figured out how to best target the boomer and senior customer.  “I’m different”, teens like to say, and so does everyone else for that matter.  But how deeply do online marketers really want to believe that?  How many online marketers want to deal with customers under the rule that every customer is unique?

Online marketers Have to Stop Net Fishing and Start Fly Fishing

Behaviorists have discovered that no two people see anything exactly the same way.  Many online marketers still have to learn that basic truth.  No view we have of anything can be fully congruent with anyone else’s view of the same thing because, like fingerprints, every brain is unique as are the five senses that connect us to the world outside our minds.

Not only do we each see the physical world at least slightly differently from everyone else, we don’t precisely match anyone else in anything we believe.  There will always be some aspect of a belief that bears the imprint of our distinct identity.  No one else has that to mark a belief.  So, at best, we can only achieve an approximate matching of our beliefs with anyone else’s belief.

Rely on Emotional Reactions

Boomers and senior customers 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 banks to see if what we are currently experiencing are like anything we have experienced before.  A positive finding may mean the matter doesn’t 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 senior customers 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.

A Long term Love Affair

There is no doubt that boomers, senior customers 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’ll do the same in this new phase.  Smart online marketers can bet on one ubiquitous theme: Now that the kids are away, the boomers are going to play.  However, the key to the boomer and senior customer’s pocketbook is in a better understanding of their minds.

You need to adjust your marketing to the facts that no two people perceive anything exactly the same way, and that genetic inheritance, experience and processes of maturation contribute to the differing perceptions that exist between people.  At a time when such terms as “permission marketing”,“one-to-one marketing”, “customer relationship management,” and “online personalization” are widely bandied about, more serious thought needs be given the uniqueness of each of us, and why we are so unique.



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