This article was first published in the March 2012 issue of The Business Scene magazine.
“When I get older, losing my hair, many years from now … Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I’m 64?” One can only imagine if the lyrics to this epic song would include, “will you still tweet me, w” if Paul McCartney had written these lyrics today.
If you are planning your annual marketing strategy and think that the Baby Boomer(those of us born between 1946 – 1964) market is anywhere that does not include the Internet -then think again!
Boomers in the U.S. are technologically savvy enough to comprise 1/3 of all TV viewers, online users, social media users and twitter users. You can’t afford to overlook them! Despite the misconception that since Baby Boomers didn’t grow up with the Internet, they don’t use it -Baby Boomers are fast becoming “Dot Boomers” and are including online activity as part of their daily routines.
While this demographic may have been a bit slow to embrace these new technologies, they are the fastest growing segment on the Internet; using Search and Social Media to stay connected (or reconnect) to family and friends, to make purchasing decisions, conduct banking, research a topic, purchase online, or plan a trip or the weekend’s activities. Leaving this group out of your online marketing strategy is short sighted and a missed opportunity.
It is important for you to understand that Baby Boomers are willing (and do) spend their money and make up the lion’s share of the spending power in the United States. Baby Boomers are using the Internet to research and make both online and offline purchasing decisions. Over $7 billion dollars is spent online by a generation that has embraced the Internet as a cyber super mall. Boomers aren’t just buying online, they now consider the Internet to be the most important source of information for their purchasing decisions. Older adults are finding that the Internet provides a safe and convenient alternative to brick and mortar retail stores that have low lighting, loud music, and young employees. Small businesses have a huge opportunity to meet Boomer needs online, but most businesses haven’t tried to tap into this opportunity –but now is the perfect time to start!
Understanding Baby Boomers’ purchasing patterns and making small changes to your online marketing strategies can make a big difference. While younger Americans tend to make decisions based on the “cool” or “wow” factor, Baby Boomers rarely do. Studies show that Baby Boomers are drawn to a business that garners trust and promotes relationship building. Your online presence should include the right balance of images and wording. While a younger consumer will make a decision to stay on a site in approximately 7 seconds, older consumers stay on a site for much longer. They want to know how many years a company has been in business, they want to know that they are reputable and promote a feeling of trust and well-being.
Another small change that is easy to make is to include more age appropriate images in your online presence. Even changing your wording in small ways can make a difference; Baby Boomers have changed the face of “old Americans”, but they are looking for businesses that engender trust and reliability, not flash and pizzazz. While Americans are working later in life, they often have more flexible schedules; encouraging Baby Boomers to take advantage of off hour specials can fill your restaurant, winery or retail store when the younger crowd is busy with their work or family life.
Going to “grandma’s house” to connect with older relatives may be a thing of the past. Boomers are using titter, Facebook, LinkedIn and social networking sites in increasing numbers. Boomers in general have more time to engage in Social Media activities and are doing so. They are participating in growing numbers in posting original content, writing blogs and reviews. Like your online marketing strategy, your Social Marketing strategy should take into consideration that Boomers are using Social Media and that they are looking for businesses that solicit trust and loyalty..
The Internet has changed the way we live, play, shop and connect with others. Savvy business owners who understand their total target audience and who consider Baby Boomers in their online strategies will be able to harness the buying power of a generation soon to make up over 45% of the American population.
About the Author – Carol Lee Collins is the Vice President of MyLocally, an online directory that showcases local businesses and encourages them to interact with the customers through seamlessly integrated Social Media tools. She has worked in the advertising, marketing and internet/SEO space for over 20 years.