A few weeks ago my boss asked me to attend the 2012 Direct Marketing Association (DMA) annual conference in Las Vegas. I haven’t been to Vegas in over 20 years…my wife and I could go early for some fun…I could bring my bike to ride a bit in the mountains … tough decision.
When all the fun and games ended and the conference began, I attended a number of seminars. As is often the case at these shows, the seminars themselves were hit and miss. Two of my favourite were Catalogue Marketing (future blog post) and 50+ Marketing Laws.
The session was lead by Kurt Medina who is the president of Medina Associates and is a Direct Marketing consultant in the US specializing in the 50+ market. He used his experience across a wide variety of clients both not for profit and for profit including some Fortune 100 companies. Not only did he know his stuff, he was quite funny and made the time spent worthwhile. I work with a number of business that market to people over 50 (in particular the not for profit vertical) and I thought this would be of interest to them.
Mr Medina started off by telling us how big this market is becoming (just think of the image on the Pig and the Python book) and that they have a disproportionate amount of discretionary income (house paid off, kids gone…). He split the 50+ marketing into three groups:
- Pre-Retirees/Boomers 50-63
- Active Seniors 64-74
- Seniors 75+
1. Boomers (50-63)
Not much new here really – they’ve had their way throughout their lifetime and that expectation will continue into their latter years. They work long hours and they are busy. They trust themselves (NOT marketers or institutions) and they expect to look after themselves.
To reach this group you need to ensure you ackowledge they are special and offer them something unique to them – insider tips, VIP access. They want customization not mass. And because they are independent, offer answers to their questions right up front.
2. Active Retirees (64-74)
In the US at least, this was a segment that had rising incomes during the most recent recession. The most exciting part of being a retiree according to Kurt is the possibility of new and expanding horizons with more independence, comfort and ease. Now that they are mostly retired, they are beginning to truly think about ‘me’ – what have I done…what haven’t I done…what can I now do.
3. Seniors (75+)
First off they don’t like being called senior so be wary of using that term in your messaging. Senior sounds too old even to this group. A neat statistic Kurt shared was how old we think ‘old’ is. The answer changes as you age. So if you’re 40 you might say 60+ is ‘old’ but when you’re 60 years of age 80 is the ‘new old’.
Whereas Boomers are still rushing around, the 65+ groups have more time on their hands. So don’t rush them. Why wait! or Call now! may do more harm than good.
Now that we have an idea of the segments, what do we need to keep in mind when sending a direct campaign? Here are 5 things to remember:
- Use contrasting colours which are easier to see with aging eyes
- Don’t put copy over top of images that makes reading difficult
- You must have some single women in your images – not just happy couples. There are many widows in this group (and other single women) who want to see more representations of their lifestyle
- And when you do feature the happy couple, make sure the woman is age appropriate – avoid the mature gentleman and the much younger wife (you can however probably get away with that couple if you are targeting products for men only)
- Use icons – they are better remembered than verbal (i.e. the dotted line coupon for scissor cutting)
- Use closed envelopes with letter inside – people writing people = humanity
BONUS! And for DRTV, here are 5 more To Do’s:
- First 2-4 second of message, keep clean and make it message free
- Use graphics
- No fast cuts – makes it too hard to follow
- Feature your 1- 800 # three times at least on screen in 120 second spot
- Follow-up all responses by mail
For more information on Kurt and how can help your marketing to the 50+ segment, you can find him here: