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TGIF: Speaking to Seniors

By guest blogger Bobbie Federman Horne

In recognition of Grandparent’s Day this Sunday, we asked the owner of Hearing Tech, a business with a decidedly senior customer base, to give us some basics for marketing to this audience.

Older Americans have unique buying power, as well as very specific habits. Yet their needs relative to financial and employment status, health, and social and family environment, are different from those of younger segments.

Although 40% of older consumers are shopping and communicating online, traditional media – radio, TV and print – still rule. Unfortunately, advertising on these media can have limited results, helping to brand a product or business, but not usually leading to sales.

Here are some methods that do.

The way to a senior’s heart
..is sometimes through her stomach. Though they may be overwhelmed with direct mail, invitations to an educational or social event involving a meal can maximize results. By the same token, well-publicized attendance at community health fairs and other consumer-facing events also provides great exposure.

Bundle your offering
Although many mature consumers cherish newspapers, advertising here is a mixed bag. Paid media that works best includes bundling offers to familiarize potential customers with a business rather than simply focusing on a price or a product.

“Let’s bring in Mom”
The “secret weapon” to reaching seniors is often through their children! Baby boomers and younger people who are just starting to notice that they have hearing problems (thanks to years of concerts and in-ear buds) often respond to ads for custom ear plugs or custom ear buds for electronics. This visit can trigger a “let’s bring in mom” response which exposes the whole family to a range of product and service offerings.

Get the fix in first
Advertising our repair capabilities for hearing aids and other devices is another successful “soft” approach that works with older consumers. They do not necessarily want “new” but once they have encountered good customer service they will begin to trust the professional. And interestingly enough, they do not depend on age and experience. They know that younger people have experience with newer technology and fresh knowledge.

Grandparents and Google
Seniors are online. They google often, and they may respond to search ads without the skepticism typical of a younger consumer. Digital brands that can afford the “top spot” on Google have made a wise investment with this group.

Referrals are powerful
When marketing to seniors, referrals are still the best. Our referral program has increased business by 25%. Seniors love to tell their friends about a very good or very bad experience, particularly when it involves service and money. A friendly, service-oriented environment produces customers much more likely to refer their friends and family.

As in most marketing, knowing your target well and experimenting with different attention-getting opportunities is the best way to reach the mature market.

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