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3 Ways to Sell More Effectively to Baby Boomers

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By Greg Bayer

RISMedia, June 6, 2011— With 60 million baby boomers online, marketers need to pay attention to this generation. An estimated 78.2 percent of boomers are online, accounting for one-third of the internet population. As boomers control more than $2 trillion in annual spending, this demographic represents a sizeable opportunity for marketers who target them. Baby boomers spend more time (39.3 hours per month in 2010) and money ($650 per three-month period in 2010) online than any other demographic. Brand marketers looking to reach this segment should take these three tips into consideration:

1. Know your audience. While it may seem elementary, it’s worth reiterating the importance of understanding who you’re marketing to. What defines a baby boomer? Ranging in age from 46- to 65-years-old, baby boomers are a free spirited generation that values freedom of thought and self-expression. As a competitive, hardworking and driven generation, boomers lead active and fit lifestyles and hold social causes and individuality in high regard. They’re by no means “over the hill.” In fact, many boomers consider themselves to be in the prime of their lives.

2. Empathize with their concerns. According to The Pew Research Center’s Generations Online 2010 survey, looking up health information is the third most popular online activity for baby boomers, behind search and email. Approximately 84 percent of boomers access health information online, confirming that as they begin to reach the age for retirement and eligibility for Medicare, health becomes the topic at the forefront of their minds. Advertising offers related to healthcare and Medicare will naturally become more popular and benefit from increased advertiser concentration.

By appealing to boomers’ lifestyle characteristics and remaining sensitive to their fear of getting older, marketers can tap into a new source of revenue. It’s important though to avoid discussions of the negative aspects of old age and its associated issues. Focus on highlighting the benefits of products and services that promote healthy living and prolonging youthfulness.

3. Don’t box yourself in. While it’s important to target your audience with specifically tailored offers that will appeal to their interests and characteristics, it may be worthwhile to generalize efforts so as to draw in slightly younger consumers as well. Play into boomers’ lifestyle traits with offers for physical fitness, leisure, travel and adult education, as these may also prove enticing to a wider audience, which can earn you more bang for your buck. Find the balance between casting too wide or narrow a net to maximize your efforts and returns.

Since baby boomers represent a substantial and often untapped gold mine, make sure you lavish sufficient attention on this demographic. In order to succeed in reaching this audience, make boomers feel good about themselves by engaging their desire to maintain a youthful and active lifestyle while remaining financially independent. Do so and you may find yourself rewarded with boomers’ loyalty.

Greg Bayer is the general manager of the affiliate marketing division at Adknowledge , a performance-based advertising network. Reach Greg at marketing@adknowledge.com.

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