20 Marketing Tips To Consider When Selling To Seniors

By Barbara Risto, INSPIRED Senior Living Publisher

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  1. Rather than sell your product or service based on the price point being lower than your competition, or based on budget, fashion your marketing message to highlight how your solution can meet a need in their life. Focus on lifestyle, not finances.

    Price can't be totally discounted, but purchases, especially important ones, are usually made based on what the product or service can do for them. When they can see clearly HOW it meets their need, price becomes less of an issue.

  2. Seniors want easy solutions. The more complicated the product, the harder it is to use, assemble, install, understand, transport or manage, the less likely they are to buy. This can also apply to your marketing message. Keep it simple and straightforward. Don't try to communicate too many things. Focus on one or two main thoughts.

  3. Seniors want to understand things, not rely on someone else to do things for them. The harder something is to read, to understand, or to access when needed, the more it will emphasize the loss of independence seniors often incur as they age.

    Your marketing message should never make your client feel inadequate, incapable, stupid or "old". Make sure your employees carry this concept through their dealings with senior clients. Teach them how to not be patronizing or condescending when the client asks for help. Needing to ask for help from service people or store staff can often be a roadblock to buying. If your employees are not appropriate in their approach to the senior client you can lose the sale.

  4. Proper images, font size, colors, etc are very important to your marketing messaging, whether it is in your print ad materials, website, your in-store displays or your product packaging and instructions. Make things clear, not confusing. Use images that invoke feelings of comfort. Use images that are age-appropriate. Don't stereotype seniors as old, infirm people. On the other hand, don't use images of people that are too youthful either. Most people view themselves as about 10-15 years younger than their actual age, so use images that they will find attractive, not outrageously skewed toward the young or the old.

  5. Seniors are more concerned than the average consumer about security, independence, lifestyle, and family relationships. You will find more response if you can tailor your marketing message so they can see how your product or service will provide or increase security, enhance their independence, contribute toward a healthy and enjoyable lifestyle, or enhance their family relationships.

  6. Seniors often will want to protect what they have before they'll consider investing in something new. This can be just as true when buying an appliance or roofing for their home, as it is for making a financial investment in the money market. Need alone doesn't always trigger buying. So take time to show them how the new product is better, how it will bring more safety or comfort, or less complication to their life.

  7. Seniors want to know that their needs are being considered on an individual basis rather than being thrown a one-size-fits-all solution. Personalized service and respectfully listening to their particular situation with concern and interest will go a long way toward securing a sale.

  8. Many seniors have been taught that they should provide for the generations coming after them – in other words, leave something for their kids or grandkids. The desire to be a good steward of their money can interfere with their need to take care of themselves – they will often endure suffering and inconvenience, and forego an enjoyable lifestyle, so that their beneficiaries will be left something. Assure them that it is okay to consider their own needs first; that living a better life themselves can, in turn, often benefit those they love.

  9. Purchases can often be emotionally charged. Finding out what emotional concerns your client has about your product or service, or around their needs, will give you an opportunity to address those concerns. You can explain, in person or through your ad, how your product or service can alleviate their concerns. Marketers sometimes avoid mentioning anything negative in their advertising message to avoid getting the client thinking in that direction. But if you know there could be some negative feeling around your product or service, it's often better to address it head on and show how your solution addresses those feelings in a positive way.

  10. Change needs to be viewed as something positive, not something to fear. Realize that some seniors thrive on being trend setters among their peers. Try to tap into this positive energy. Empower them with knowledge and confidence as you show them how your product or service can lighten their load and provide benefits that can lead to an enhanced and more meaningful lifestyle.

  11. Stay with print, but add web. Research shows that the combination of the two provides more return on investment than the sum of each separately. Elderly clients are being increasingly drawn to internet and e-mail campaigns, it’s true. Seniors are the fastest growing demographic when it comes to using the Internet, so branching into web will cover all your bases, but seniors are still a rather small percentage of the overall Internet users. A printed advertisement can reach older clients who may not have Internet access, or who choose to not use it for researching or finding a product or service. As the baby boomer generation enters its senior years (the first one turned 65 in January 2011), you will find more and more seniors turning to the internet for information, while magazines will still remain their first choice for casual, enjoyable reading. If, however, your customer is the adult child of a senior (a daughter looking for housing or medical assistance for her aging parent, for example), adjusting your marketing campaign to include a higher percentage of online marketing would be prudent. (50+ women are, in fact, the fastest growing social media demographic.)

  12. TV is a media format that has a high senior viewership. Print still leads all media formats in perceived trustworthiness, and the fact that it can be touched, read and re-read, and kept for future use, makes it a format that seniors favour. But there’s no doubt that the senior demographic makes up one of the highest viewing audiences, so adding television advertising to your marketing mix is a good strategy, if it is within your budget to do so.

  13. Don't clutter your print ad with tons of stuff. Use more "white space" – believe it or not, that can be a very effective way to direct the reader's eye to your message. The harder a reader has to work to understand your ad, the more apt they are to lose interest and move on to something else. To ensure your marketing message is easily read and understood, make sure your ad designer puts practicality before design. An ad may look beautiful, but if the message isn’t quickly read and understood, your marketing will be in vain. Some say if the most important message of your ad can’t be determined in less than 3 seconds, you’ve missed the mark and it’s likely the reader will move on to something else.

  14. Run seasonal targeted advertising campaigns. For example, if you are a retailer or have a product or service that can be offered as a gift, the holiday season is a perfect time to market to seniors, as well as their adult children looking for presents for their parents. Remember, a senior can have a pretty long list of people to buy for including their spouse, friends, children, grandchildren and even great grandchildren.

  15. Look for editorial themes that are popular with seniors and that harmonize with your industry. For example, if you are ahealth food store, make sure you know when there’s a special health and wellness feature being run. If you are a charity looking for donors, make sure you place your ad whenever a planned giving or estate planning feature is being run. If you are in the travel industry, run your ad near travel articles, or in special travel editions.

  16. Create specific sales and offers, such as two-for-one services, senior sale days, free delivery, etc. Help your senior customers spread the good word about you. Send them home with literature that they can pass out to friends. Offer a two-for-one special if they bring a friend with them on their next visit. Their testimonial is golden, and they will often enjoy being an ambassador for a business they like to patronize.

  17. Emphasize good service. Senior consumers look for value, but are often willing to pay more if they know they will get good service. Many still remember when service was part of the shopping experience. They appreciate companies that make a point of looking after their customers. Free delivery or home visits have value in and of themselves.

  18. Give seniors a reason to trust you. Can you offer a money back guarantee? Do you have testimonials from other pleased customers? Do you show up for appointments at their home on time? Do you protect their identity by offering credit card processing terminals that are secure from prying eyes?

  19. Network with other businesses that provide a complementary service to yours. For example, if you own a pedicure business, work with a podiatrist to whom you can send referral business when you notice conditions requiring their specialized services and who will refer you to their clients between treatments. 

  20. Remember word of mouth can be powerful. This can be especially true in retirement communities where residents come into contact with their neighbours on a daily basis — much more than in communities where members are working 8-10 hours a day. If a resident of a retirement home goes to the salon, or buys a new piece of clothing or pair of shoes, chances are her neighbours will know about it that evening. If you provide a quality product or service, word will get around.

This article has been viewed 61964 times.


Showing 1 to 6 of 6 comments.

I agree that seniors truly want to understand things so it's really important to take the time to make sure they are clear with all that you offer and are not feeling pressured. Patience is key. Thanks for the tips! http://graceseniorcommunity.com/facilities/twin-falls-assisted-living/

Posted by Jay Jorgenson | September 27, 2017 Report Violation

Hey Ken Wesman, Could you give me details of your game? I am looking for ways to engage the silver generation. Info about your game could be a step to that.

Posted by sahil | August 21, 2017 Report Violation

There are a lot of responsibilities that come with living in your own home. Assisted living facilities can provide a home-like atmosphere, without the work of cooking, cleaning, shopping for groceries, and doing laundry.

Posted by Pneumatic Filters | October 7, 2012 Report Violation

Having an active social life is vital to your health and happiness. Being alone much of the time is a recipe for depression.

Posted by Compact Cylinder | October 7, 2012 Report Violation

Making the decision to leave your home can be difficult for you and your family, but you can make the transition easier by taking time to find the right fit and being honest about your needs and concerns.

Posted by Air Filter Regulator Lubricator | October 7, 2012 Report Violation

I've created a game, and already have prototypes, that will encourage seniors to play, especially with their grand children, which is apparantley a great way for the kids to also practice adding and subtracting integers numbers. Actually, it's a good/great fun and exciting game for total families, expressed by a senior math teacher.

Posted by ken wesman | September 10, 2012 Report Violation

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