Marketing to Seniors: 38 Special Advertising Insights

Marketing to Seniors: 38 Special Advertising Insights

The mature or senior market, which I define as people over the age of 50, is an enormous group with incredible buying power.

In marketing to a mature market, too many marketers underperform, because they violate some key direct response rules and use image advertising.

I’ve tested over 20,000 variables in marketing to the mature market.

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From this experience, here are 38 special insights and rules that will help you market and advertise more successfully to this powerful segment of the population.

Insight #1: Seniors spend close to 50% of all purchasing dollars

Many products and services find a majority of their constituency to be seniors. In fact, seniors spend close to 50% of all purchasing dollars, and yet less than 5% of advertising is geared towards them. For example, they constitute the majority of mail order buyers, contributors, and subscribers.

Insight #2: Seniors have purchasing power

Seniors are the most affluent segment of our society. Fifty-five percent of all depositors in financial institutions, and 77% of all assets in the United States are owned by individuals over 55. Seniors have five times the net worth of the average American.

 

Insight #3: The senior market varies by age

The senior market is composed of many subgroups. They are identifiable by three main groups: pre-retirees (people between 50 and 62), active retirees (63 to 74) and seniors (75 and over). Your marketing should differ accordingly for each group.

 

Insight #4: Direct response advertising produces superior results

Direct response marketing targets seniors with a powerful and personal message specifically designed to bring in the maximum response possible. No money is wasted advertising to non-prospects or to vague and unquantifiable “brand building.”

It is absolutely accountable, and its success is measured scientifically, by cost per lead or cost per sale. Direct response marketing makes use of all media, and routinely uses banner ads and remarketing, direct mail, Facebook, paid search, radio ads, TV ads and infomercials, and email.

While direct response marketing is effective across all markets and demographics, it does particularly well when targeted toward seniors.

 

Insight #5: Seniors care about themselves

Seniors are savvy consumers, and they are just like every other human being. They care about three things: Me, Myself, and I.

 

Insight #6: Seniors respond well to nostalgia

For example, advertising must relate to the experiential background of the mature market. A senior’s lifetime of experiences is an important element in designing your offer. These experiences should be acknowledged if you hope to motivate the mature consumer to buy.

Nostalgia and clichés can be utilized profitably. Instead of modern jargon and images, use language and references to fond memories with which the seniors can identify. Why do car commercials play songs from the 1960s/1970s? Immediate, positive interest and identification.

 

Insight #7: It’s easy to target seniors

The senior market is easily identified for marketing purposes. Marketers can target the mature audience in a variety of mediums. Direct mail, email, Facebook, pre-rolls and more make it easy to target this group and not waste money on other segments.

 

Insight #8: Seniors respond to different mediums

Seniors respond to different mediums of marketing:

  • A certain percentage of the mature market are highly direct mail responsive. They love getting mail and reading and responding to it (see Insight #10).
  • A certain percentage are great responders to radio and television commercials (see Insight #11).
  • A certain percentage of seniors respond to banner ads, paid search and retargeting campaigns (see Insight #14).
  • A certain percentage respond well to Facebook (see Insight #12).

That’s why testing media and an integrated and multichannel campaign are optimal to dominating this market for your product or service.

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Insight #9: Seniors respond by phone, online ordering, mail, or text

The mature market has one thing in common, they will either respond by (1) phone, (2) online ordering, (3) mail, or (4) text.

Most seniors prefer responding by phone or mail, and online and text ordering follows.

Expect as much as 50-60% of your orders by phone.

Use a Basic Reply Envelope (BRE) for mail; it still works well. For a mail campaign, it can be 30%-40% of all orders.

 

 

Insight #10: Seniors like to receive mail

One of the major blunders marketers make is thinking that members of the mature market aren’t willing to read, or are unable to understand or comprehend copy intense or detailed direct mail. In fact, they are one of the most responsive groups to this marketing medium. They look forward to receiving mail and read it carefully.

Seniors are willing to read longer letters and longer copy. They are the best mail-order buyers in terms of frequency, multiple purchases and higher dollar amounts. That’s why an informational approach can be so successful with seniors.

Direct mail is used heavily by those marketing to seniors… because it usually works better than other media.

With today’s modern data modeling and available postal mailing lists of hundreds of psychographic profiled seniors, precise targeting combined with great creative can produce better ROI than other mediums.

Infomat is our 30-plus-year list broker company that specializes in senior names. The #1 lesson in 30 years? Only use direct mail response names! These are seniors who are proven by their actions to respond to direct mail offers.

 

 

Insight #11: Seniors love direct response television and radio

This is exemplified in the success being enjoyed by insurance companies, reverse mortgage, gold and silver, and those companies marketing “oldies but goodies” music.

One reason infomercials are effective when aimed at this group is that the format is more leisurely and more step-by-step.  This ties in with Insight #21, reinforcing the fact that seniors want to feel that they are making the decision to buy gradually and without coercion. Direct response radio – primarily in the talk news and Christian genres – also produces good results.

 

Insight #12: Seniors respond to Facebook

Seniors, especially in the 50-70 range, are very responsive to Facebook advertising- 15.5% of people in this age range who have a Facebook account spend 11+ hours per week on the site. Facebook retargeting allows you to advertise on Facebook to prospects who have shown previous interest in your product or service. Facebook lead ads can be used to gather email and postal addresses from prospects, and Facebook video ads are also a powerful way to get more leads and sales from senior audiences.

 

Insight #13: Look-a-like audiences can expand your senior prospects

In order to reach more valuable senior audiences and grow new leads, use a look-a-like audience. Look-a-like audiences are one of the best ways to increase sales, by reaching prospects with similar qualities to your existing customers such as age, demographic and personal interests.

Look-a-like audiences can be built through direct mail transactional data, Facebook behavior algorithms, traffic on Google search, AdRoll, Bing, and more.

Using this strategy, you will be able to target and dramatically expand your reach to the perfect senior prospects with banner ads, Facebook ads, pre-roll and more.

 

Insight #14: Retargeting is a great response booster

Seniors respond well to the powerful marketing strategy of retargeting. Retargeting allows you to market specifically to seniors who have visited your landing page, placed items in your shopping cart, or shown interest in your product or service, but may not have followed through with a purchase.

Retargeting allows you to follow those prospects with specific banner ads on Google, Bing, and other platforms. In doing so, you’ll receive a high response rate and turn prospects into customers and clients.

 

Insight #15: Seniors watch videos

The use of videos has been a real boon in marketing to seniors. If an email, Facebook ad, or banner ad has a video image, it will create greater response than without.

 

Insight #16: Use pre-roll advertising to target senior prospects

Pre-roll advertising, which displays a video ad before a video that the user has selected, targets senior prospects and helps you grow new leads.

 

Insight #17: The mature market is mobile-friendly

Seniors will use their mobile devices to search, respond, and order. Contrary to what you may think, the mature market will use their mobile devices as much as they will use their desktop or laptop computers. It’s wise to market accordingly by developing emails and landing pages that will be clear and easy-to-use for mobile senior prospects.

 

Insight #18: Seniors order products and services online

The 50-67 age group are using online ordering or responding with greater confidence than older seniors. On average, people age 50+ spend more than $7 billion a year on online purchases. If you are marketing your product or service to the mature market, do not assume you will not attract a massive response online. Seniors are very likely to purchase products on websites.

 

Insight #19: Use an integrated and multichannel approach to boost response

Use an integrated and multichannel approach to boost response. Your ultimate marketing approach to seniors is an integrated campaign. Your prospect receives an email showing the direct mail about ready to come and asking them to look for it. The direct mail arrives, followed by an email showing again the mailer. Then the Facebook newsfeed also shows your offer. They see the video on your landing page that tracks with the direct mail, and a pre-roll video ad on YouTube. The banner ad retargeting goes on. Radio and TV simultaneously hitting an audience will increase your overall response as well.

 

Insight #20: Use “reasons why” copy to get a response

Since their buying habits are conservative, and they want to be in control of the buying decision process, the mature market is more likely to buy if you use powerful, specific “reasons why” copy. Copy that helps them make a decision will do better than copy that tries to hype itself or push the mature consumer into buying.

That’s why value added copy will see an increase in response (See V.I.V.A. – Valuable Information, Value Added).

 

Insight #21: The mature market is cautious

Members of the mature market are extremely cautious about the buying process. As major targets of rip-off artists, seniors tend to be more distrustful than other segments of the market. Many don’t like to give out their credit card number. Many refuse to order via Toll-Free numbers or online and they are on the lookout for anything that seems like a rip-off.

Stress security in your copy.

Stress credibility in your copy.

And offer ordering options.

 

Insight #22: Help your prospects make a decision

Address your prospects in a straightforward manner about their concern for making a good decision – or in the case of lead generation, no special commitment yet. Talking down to them or in a condescending way will be an immediate turn-off.

Include several mentions of your attention to customer service. Mature buyers like feeling reassured when they make a purchase. Also, including an easy money-back guarantee for a purchase will be a sure response booster.

 

Insight #23: Prove your claim

Seniors have had years and years to acquire a high level of skepticism. Prove your claim with endorsements and testimonials of celebrities/experts. Use reviews, a “star” system, and quotes from magazines and from real people. Seniors love and know them. They believe them.
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Insight #24: Avoid confusing copy

The wording of your advertisement must be clear and straightforward. Confusion kills response from seniors.

 

Insight #25: Use personal examples instead of statistics

Seniors are unimpressed with numbers, but love testimonials. They are impressed with examples of an individual with whom they can identify, who uses a certain product or service. An example might be a client in the same age range who shares that: “I use it,” or “I wear it,” or “I drive it,” or “I drink it.”

Testimonials that work for this group can be written, or on video. You’ll improve credibility to a skeptical audience with a picture, name and state.

 

Insight #26: Use charts to boost credibility and response

Seniors will respond well to charts. Researchers have found that 31% more people will believe in a drug advertisement if they see a chart, rather than only a description.

Charts will help persuade an otherwise skeptical senior prospect into becoming a customer or client.

 

Insight #27: Avoid the suggestion of change

Resistance to change and dedication to tradition are important characteristics of the mature market. Avoid the suggestion of change and newness as much as possible. For example, market your products as simple to use, non-disruptive to one’s lifestyle and something that makes life more comfortable.

 

Insight #28: Personalization wins

Personalize the selling/buying process as much as possible and build rapport. Be aware of the senior ideal, as opposed to the mass-market ideal. Seniors prefer to be regarded as individuals. Their buying history began at a time when merchants knew them personally. This is the last group of people in our society to enjoy personalized relationships with the people who provided them with goods and services. Unlike the generations that have followed, the mature market is not a product of an impersonal, mass-produced world.

Personalized direct mail, email, thank-you notes, confirmations, reminders… personalization wins friends, orders, and loyalty.

 

Insight #29: Seniors respond to exclusivity

The idea of exclusivity works well with seniors. Members of the mature market are especially prone to buying products and services that aren’t necessarily available to everyone.

Often in creating a marketing approach to seniors, I’ll create a special “senior club.” The response spikes up.

 

Insight #30: The mature marketplace prizes value

Remember even retirees with a comfortable nest egg are still on fixed incomes. The mature market seeks to get the most for every dollar and make their money last. For this reason, mature consumers prize value and look for it in every buying situation.

Use premiums in your advertising. Seniors appreciate added value, special offers, coupons, free gifts, samples, and, of course, discounts.

I have found offering a special “senior discount” will increase response. (Ask me at craig@cdmginc.com for special wording).

As in any direct response campaign, the premium should be related to the primary product being sold.

And don’t forget the magic response-boosting words: free shipping.

 

Insight #31: Seniors love value-added pieces

A value added piece will build trust and develop relationship with prospective buyers, especially in the mature market. When you provide prospects with an added piece that is free, useful, and valuable, you will boost response from seniors. When you offer something free and without obligation, the entire tone of your marketing campaign changes to warm and personable.

A value added piece can be an objective, informational piece, a small gift, or something useful like a checklist or a calendar. Value added pieces can be offered in direct mail pieces or online.

 

Insight #32: Don’t dwell on the aging process

Some seniors feel that their age gives them status, while others feel crushed by the aging process. Be aware of those dichotomous perceptions as you create your advertising. Also, be aware that even though 70% of people over 70 have some sort of chronic health condition, they tend not to dwell on it, and neither should marketers.

 

Insight #33: Make it easy to respond for those with physical limitations

Seniors have problems with physical limitations to varying degrees. For example, many have trouble with eyesight.

But, the answer isn’t to avoid marketing to them. The answer is to adjust the marketing piece by avoiding small type, crammed type and crowded copy. You’ll increase your response if you use 12-14 point type or larger in all communications. Even in your web shopping cart, make fill-in areas large and easy to navigate. Use large copy and reinforcing graphics.

I once tested 10 point vs. 14 point in a direct mail piece… the 14 point (with identical copy) boosted response by over 18%.

Here are a few additional hints. When designing printed material for the mature market, make the act of responding easy. For example, in direct mail you do this by simplifying the response device and providing ample room to write their name and address, as many still respond by mail.

Another important rule for both print and online is to avoid reverse type. Reverse type can cut your readership by a whopping 75%.

 

 

Insight #34: Connect to senior audiences with graphics

In your layout, use graphics that emotionally connect with your mature prospects. Avoid stereotypical pictures that have older Americans in rocking chairs and at golf courses. Use active pictures that suggest a vibrant life after 55. Pictures that include grandchildren, sporting events and travel are other response-boosting images.

It’s a good rule of thumb to use pictures of people 10-15 years younger than your target audience.

 

Insight #35: Services for seniors are a valuable market

The hot markets for the next 10 to 15 years for this segment of the population are service-oriented. They consist of travel, health and fitness, household services, family fun, convenience, information services, investment and financial services, safety and security.
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Insight #36: Grandparenting is an enormous marketing opportunity

Grandparents love to buy products and services for their grandkids. Many products and services that would never be purchased by the parents will be purchased by the grandparents. For example, when I helped my client Hooked on Phonics market, most of our customers were grandparents. Parents do not always have the disposable income to buy extra products for their children, but in many cases, grandparents do.

 

Insight #37: Seniors want to leave an inheritance

Seniors may be thinking of others. A large number of seniors are committed – many passionately so – to leaving wealth, property and investments to their kids and/or grandkids. They want to be good stewards of their money. They may sacrifice, endure inconveniences, or forego desires to leave something to loved ones.

To be proactive in your copy, let them know it’s OK for them to consider your product or service first, especially if it can help their heirs.

 

Insight #38: Seniors are great gift givers

Think in terms of doing seasonally targeted advertisement campaigns. Know birthdays and anniversaries, even of kids or grandkids for targeted database marketing.

 

Would you like more information about reaching the senior market through direct response advertising?

I’ll be glad to talk to you about these powerful marketing tools. One of them could provide you with the breakthrough you’ve been looking for. Please call me at (310) 212-5727 or email me at craig@cdmginc.com

Craig Huey is America’s #1 marketing authority in marketing to seniors. Using direct mail, TV, infomercials, radio and Facebook, email, banner ads, and other digital marketing, he has generated more sales and leads for seniors than any other marketer or ad agency. Winner of 86 industry awards, he has tested over 10,000 variables to the senior market. His ad agency CDMG has clients internationally, helping launch companies into multimillion dollar corporations and making large companies larger and more profitable.

 

 

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