5 things to remember when marketing to today’s seniors

By Bob Wilgus

RME360


Think of your marketing message like you do investments. The market changes every day. Trends can last days or weeks, but seldom do they last three, four or five years.

For more than 12 years, I've been working with financial professionals who target seniors as their ideal prospects. While realizing that the way we market to any demographic has dramatically changed, given the rapid expansion of the Internet and social media, adapting your message to the new breed of seniors is critical to your marketing success. Here are five key things to keep in mind when prospecting to the 10,000 (and counting) seniors turning 65 every day.

1. Words have power.

Don’t call them "seniors." That’s right. Remember, the 10,000 baby boomers turning 65 every day are not the same seniors of 10 years ago. Today’s 65-year-olds don’t see retirement as moving to Florida, playing golf and walking hand-in-hand on the beach. Instead, people at or near retirement see this time of their lives as an opportunity to expand their life experiences. From starting their dream business to staying healthy by getting involved in sports, today’s “seniors” won’t respond to the same marketing messages you were sending out in 2003.

Also, do not ever refer to a prospect 60 or 70 years old as a “senior.” You’re going to lose them before you get a chance to get your value proposition across. This applies to these words, too: senior citizen, retiree, aging, Golden Years, Silver Years or mature.

2. Separate yourself from the crowd.

It’s noisy out there! Ten years ago, just having your title and designations was sufficient to establish the minimum amount of credibility to get a senior prospect to read your ad, direct mail letter, Yellow Page ad (remember those?) or listen to your radio commercial. Given the eruption of Google searches and social media sites (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.), you now have to differentiate yourself from the hundreds (or in larger markets, thousands) of other financial professionals in your market. Oh, and just having a website with the standard “About Us” section is not enough. You need to quickly and clearly let the affluent senior prospects know what makes you different — your value proposition.

Remember, your value proposition is not that you offer investment advice, retirement planning and estate planning services; 90 percent of your competitors offer the same services. Your value proposition answers a prospect’s question: “Why should I call/respond to this advisor’s marketing?”

3. Ask senior prospects what motivates them to respond.

Large companies spend millions of dollars every year conducting focus group research. Don’t ignore your very own built-in focus group, your clients. (Keep in mind: It’s important to make sure that the clients you consult for feedback reflect the prospects you’re trying to reach.)

Every time you chat or meet with a client about his or her investments, retirement, financial or estate plans, start the conversation with some open-ended questions about the financial services-related marketing and advertising they find effective or ineffective. Most of your clients will be happy to share their thoughts and insights with you. Even better, if you’re working on a new brochure, ad or seminar invitation, let them read it and give you feedback.

See also: Ask these marketing questions: You'll be glad you did

4. Tailor your message to fit the marketing medium.

The marketing medium drives your message. Think about it. Twitter is a social media platform that limits a single message to just 140 characters. Most radio commercials are just 60 seconds long. Television ads are usually 30 seconds long. The most popular YouTube videos are three minutes or less! Do you really think that the copy from your company brochure or website will work in a radio or TV ad? Trust me, it won’t. Look at the ways you market and advertise your firm and then tailor your message to fit each type (digital, print, direct mail, radio, TV).

5. Remember that content is still king.

Content should still be high on your list of priorities, but it has to be timely and relevant. In today’s sound-bite society, you need to update your content frequently. This applies to more than just your social media sites. If I had a dime for every time I asked an advisor how long he’s been using the same seminar invitation and heard him or her say, “I’ve been using this for years.” Ironically, my conversation was initiated by the advisor because he or she was complaining about low response rates.

Conclusion

The old saying is still true — you never get a second change to make a first impression. Think of your marketing message like you do investments. The market changes every day. Trends can last days or weeks, but seldom do they last three, four or five years. So, block out at least one or two hours a month to review your marketing messages and update them based on the feedback you’re getting from prospects.