We’re not stupid! – Stop patronizing us!


Marketing to Seniors
There is a myth perpetrated about some seniors which holds that they are simply difficult old people… whereas in reality there is no such thing. We are simply difficult young persons who have grown older. So in the event that you may wish to market products or services to us, here are some tips which may assist you.

There is a difference between your world and our world… You rationalize – we consult memory banks (experience); you work things out – we remember; You are going there – we have been there (and already have the T shirt) … you rethink, whilst we recall!

The pet hates of many elderly people… Social media, and call-centres, as well as the increasing isolation of senior managers. In our day, management operated an open door policy, Today it is becoming almost impossible to speak directly to them. There is almost always a PA, or secretary in a suit of armour who asks you… “what is it about?”
And when seniors ask you why you for example didn’t phone them back – try to avoid the excuse… “Well I have been so busy!” There is an old adage which goes … if you can’t stand the heat – get out of the kitchen! Today increasingly secretaries are allocated the role of protecting their bosses; whereas in truth their function should be simply to assist them to serve their clients better!

We lived in a time when
as children, w had fun trying to trap birds in nearby fields … today you don’t normally have easily accessible fields, and your children are trapped by TV screens.
You think that 9/11 was a tragedy? … Yes it was, but 20 million people died in the 1st World War, and 60 million in the 2nd – Yet we survived!
So in your marketing ploys try to avoid transparent efforts to con us.

How can you maximize your marketing ability… Learn about retirement villages and gated communities, not just by reading about them, but by becoming more involved. That is where the majority of your senior market resides? That’s the Turf in which you will need to operate? Invest in valued added presentations at retirement villages. For example a piano recital in the village community hall after supper (And make sure that your marketing splurge is just a brief add-on comment after the main performance, as, I can assure you, the main enticement to attend was not your voice).

And most importantly – elderly people tend to purchase from friends… We, by preference , purchase from friends, or friendly organizations. For example my decision may be influenced by the fact that the organization, may have a receptionist who is user friendly and is prepared to go that extra mile. I always prefer to buy from friends – seldom from a sales person (The second hand car salesman stereo-typical image needs to be avoided). And if the product that you are marketing is for example a insurance policy… don’t just contact your client annually when it is due for renewal – make sure that you find some reason to phone, or speak to them… even if it is merely to find out how they are doing? Very few seniors will be taken in by a once-a-year email.
If you think that you can assess elderly people – forget it … you haven’t even scratched the surface! The person is not the body. See the soul not the shape! Each older adult is different, with diverse needs, cultural backgrounds and aspirations …but without understanding , and empathy, you will never ever truly understand us… nor will you succeed in selling us very much!
And whatever else you do – talk to us directly not through others (such as our families), and don’t patronize us! If you hope to earn the respect of seniors – learn to respect us, for you may never reach where we have already been?

Henry Spencer