Content marketing to seniors: 3 challenges and opportunities

Today's seniors are a savvy bunch, resistant to many forms of traditional marketing. To reach them, you need to be part of their research process.

BY Rebecca Rolfes
Executive Vice President

By all accounts, most companies do a terrible job of marketing to seniors. Regardless of the product or service, traditional approaches focus on demographics, geography, purchasing power, promotions—the stuff of push marketing. This omits several important things.

1. Today’s over-65s, not to mention the enormous baby boom generation, have been marketed to their entire lives.

They’ve heard it all. They are extremely savvy, almost cynical, consumers. They won’t fall for just anything.

2. Seniors—like all modern consumers—are very well informed.

Call them “activist consumers.” They do most of the work upfront, researching products and comparison shopping online. The evidence that they are in the market is buried in a few hits to your website. They’re ready to buy, or not, before you even know they’re there. The higher the ticket, the truer this becomes.

3. Your own data tells you whether traditional marketing is working.

Increasingly, companies are finding that the ROI on direct mail and space advertising just isn’t there. Companies that target mature consumers, especially those with complex products and services, can’t justify the expense of blanket sales and marketing tactics. Try explaining a fixed annuity to a fixed-income audience in a single-page ad.

"Try explaining a fixed annuity to a fixed-income audience in a single-page ad."

Rebecca Rolfes
Executive Vice President, Imagination

Fortuntately, content marketing is built for the senior market, and it can help you overcome the challenges above for several key reasons.

1. An audience that has been pounded with marketing messages its entire life is receptive to a more thoughtful, information-rich medium.

Content marketing talks to its audience like the adults they are instead of treating them like short-attention-span, instant gratification-motivated adolescents.

2. Even the best-prepared consumer is somewhat blindsided by the new demands that aging and retirement pose.

They are actively looking for information before they make decisions that will affect the rest of their lives. Finances, major purchases, housing, healthcare, lifestyle changes are all areas that should focus on consumer education in order to attract mature customers.

3. Word-of-mouth and referrals are what work for this market.

Increasingly, consumers talk to other consumers before they talk to you. Digital and social media provide easily half the leads companies receive these days. Data shows that the consumer is further along in the purchase decision process and is heavily swayed by the testimonials of their peers and friends of both the face-to-face and the screen-to-screen varieties.

All of that brings me to a question: Why are you still spending thousands, potentially millions on marketing that doesn’t work except with a tiny fraction of the potential audience? The senior market totals over 100 million people. Talking to them works; hucksterism doesn’t.

published: April 10, 2017