5 tips for marketing to people 45 and up

Research shows that adults 45 and up are a little more skeptical about what they see in the press than younger folks. What does that mean for marketers?

Studies indicate that the older people get, the less likely they are to believe what they see or hear in the media. But does that mean adults over a certain age are harder to reach?

Only one in four 45- to 54-year-olds and one in five 55- to 64-year-olds believe what they see or read in the media, according to research commissioned by my firm, Smarts Illuminate. Compare that to consumers between the ages of 18 and 35, who are twice as likely as the people 45 and older to believe what they see or hear in the media. That’s what marketers are up against. Could the research be telling us that older adults are more skeptical, or dare I say, more cynical?

This is a problem for marketers. People over 45 are a primary target group for many consumer brands, because of the growth of the demographic and the increased spending power they have compared to young singles and cash-strapped families with young children.

With that in mind, here are some tips for developing campaigns that will engage people 45 and up:

1. Understand who you’re speaking to. Marketers who don’t take the time and effort to get inside the minds of their target audiences are destined to develop campaigns that fail. Instead of grouping people 45 and older together, it is important to define the audience more closely. This will help you to find real insights that can be applied in a creative and memorable way.

2. Avoid stereotypes. Stereotypes about the likes and dislikes of people above a certain age can be misleading and should be treated with care. Far from being luddites, there has been a sharp rise in the number of adults in their 50s and 60s using the internet over the past year, and this is being driven by the upturn in the use of tablet computers.

3. Mix it up. Convincing any age group of anything requires an integrated communications approach that works across a variety of channels, so mixing it up is essential. Since older adults are more likely to be media skeptics, it is even more important to reach out to them using social media channels and direct-to-audience tactics, too.

4. Use media relations, but in the right places. Getting your message into articles published at the most credible media outlets is always going to be influential, even among people 45 and up, so don’t leave it out of the mix. Select your media outlets with care. In the case of online media, use domain authority as your guide. Make sure the articles or blogs published at these sites are quality content that address the real interests or concerns of your target audience.

5. Killer content will open doors. As with any age group, the role of well-pitched content is critical when reaching out to older consumers and, for the marketer, it can make the difference between success and failure. Using marketing or communications material that the target audience simply can’t resist reading or viewing, because it speaks to them directly or provides a solution to a real issue they might have, is vital. Of course, it’s not just about the channel you use. Everything you produce must be pitch-perfect, too. Content that promises to help an older woman “dress to impress” will be received more favorably than content offering “style tips for seniors.”

Rebecca Scully is managing director at Smarts Illuminate, an integrated communications and digital services agency.


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