There's a huge demographic bubble about to burst. About 12.4 percent of the U.S. population -- approximately 35 million people -- are now age 65 and older, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. By 2020, that population is projected to swell to 16.5 percent, or 53.7 million people. Two types of companies stand to benefit from the surging senior population: those selling products directly to older consumers, and those targeting caretakers and institutions that serve seniors. However, as an independent agent, here are 10 things to keep in mind when dealing with the senior market:
No. 1: Never think that the elderly market is "old." Surely they don't consider themselves old.
No. 2: Never attempt to scare them into buying. Fright tactics turn seniors off. Instead, do tell them about independence.
No. 3: Always treat seniors as equals. You value connectedness, independence, personal growth and revitalization. They do as well.
No. 4: Do not pander. Never talk down to them; they are smarter than you may think.
No. 5: Do not bamboozle. Know that seniors are skeptical.
No 6: Do not broad-stroke. Recognize that all seniors are not alike. Know whom you are talking to or you will be dismissed.
No. 7: Do not make guarantees. Seniors fear being taken advantage of. However, a simple "no ifs, ands or buts guarantee" pleases them immensely.
No. 8: Do not try any razzle-dazzle. Know that seniors are conservative about consuming. After all, many grew up during the Great Depression. But never make the mistake of thinking that they have no sense of humor.
No. 9: Do not use glitz. Know that ads should look like ads. Don't employ fancy fonts, and set the font size to no less than 12 points with lots of leading. Use reverse type sparingly. And use color -- lots of it. Four-color defines your message, while black and white often gets ignored.
No. 10: Thou shalt always treat seniors with respect.
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