One of the most prolific top thinkers and speakers on Baby Boomer marketing, an area that will drive American business for the next two decades, is Brent Green. He is a knowledgeable and dynamic speaker and expert in marketing to Boomers, and both his programs and his books are packed with relevant material. Brent and I go back about 20 years. We’ve had the opportunity to work together on client projects and, over the years, we learned at the feet of David B. Wolfe of Ageless Marketing fame.
Brent wrote an article, “The Motivating Power of Generational Marketing and Baby Boomers,” that I strongly recommend to you. Not only is the article insightful, but the comments from other noted experts in marketing will serve you well.
Brent is an unabashed proponent of Generational Marketing, but not to the exclusion of other approaches like Ageless Marketing and Life-stage marketing of which we are staunch proponents. He describes the three approaches as:
Ageless Marketing can inspire advertising messages that appeal across generational divides because of commonly shared values, such as the nearly universal desire for a cleaner environment. Boomers and their Generation Y children share passion almost equally for greener living and sustainability.
Life-stage Marketing can offer another path to success for those who connect a product or service with a stage need. Many Boomers today need help in understanding their caregiving challenges and responsibilities. This hallmark of their current life-stage predisposes them to offers of caregiving support and education.
And Generational Marketing can create powerful associations between a brand and a segment’s formative experiences. These nostalgic associations can become instant shorthand for positioning a contemporary brand constrained by cluttered media and product/service parity. Nostalgia is rich with opportunities for deeply personal brand interactions.
Although Brent defends very eloquently the value of Generational Marketing and its exclusionary characteristics (“Welcome to market segmentation”), he also defends the use of the other marketing approaches. He states, “Nevertheless, as a marketer, I’ve always maintained a full toolbox. The three Boomer marketing approaches discussed here can succeed when well executed. All three approaches can fail when creators have inadequate understanding of the market, message, methodology or meaning conveyed through their ads.” And, from our perspective, therein lies the crux of the message.
The business of marketing and sales is about getting information into people’s brains and persuading their minds to buy or do something. The older we become the more emotional reactions determine if we should think about a matter. Emotional triggers in the brain activate memories and the stronger the memory – the stronger the emotional response. Marketing and sales must integrate both empathy (not sympathy) and vulnerability into marketing messages. These two attributes are necessary to build trust, and are essential to optimal results in marketing and sales communications.
An understanding of the characteristics of the three marketing approaches and applying that knowledge to marketing and sales messages and approaches will create more efficient and effective traditional and online communications and help to avoid wasted money and time. The adult median age is in the mid-40s and continuing to rise and your marketing and sales efforts need to challenge current communications and sales protocols. Progress in this direction must be founded in the recognition that young, middle-aged and older brains and minds all work differently.
By Jim Gilmartin
Jim Gilmartin is president of Chicago based Coming of Age, Interactive Baby Boomer & Senior Marketing, www.comingofage.com”.
Courtesy of MediaPost