PSM Guide: How to Market to Seniors
   

How To Market To Seniors: Start By Not Calling Them Seniors

 

 

 “ The Baby Boomers now have the highest percentage of spending power compared to any other generation to date. About 70% of disposable income will come from the Boomers and they are able to  spend more and more each year on hobbies and non-essentials. ” 

 

 

 

For starters, I will refer to the senior demographic as “Boomers”, "Greatest Generation" or "Post War Generation"(defined below) in order to distinguish between the groups. I will also refer to the entire demographic as "seniors" for simplicity sake.

 

Nevertheless, I would not recommend referring to individuals as seniors in person. Nobody wants to be considered a senior in today’s age. 

 

For many people the label still brings up an image of a frail elderly person yelling "I've fallen and I can't get up!", or a grumpy old man pointing and yelling "Get off my lawn!".

 

That’s simply not a factual reference for most seniors these days, and if you’re trying to make a positive connection with them, I would recommend avoiding it. (Although, I have to confess. I will be the old guy yelling "Get Off My Lawn!")

 

In order to learn if you need a different approach to selling to these generations, you need to know the seniors you’re selling to a little better. With that in mind, I think it’s appropriate to backtrack a little. 

 

Let’s do quick review of the culture the "senior" generations were brought up in. (Cue the wavy flashback visual). The back story here is important because it provides the knowledge you need to understand your potential client base better.

 Who Are The Greatest and Post War Generations?1930s-Collage                         (Image source)

These 2 groups will be combined for simplicities sake.

 

Those in the "Greatest Generation" were born between 1901-1925. Members of this generation lived through the Great Depression, fought and won World War II and many were children during World War I.

 

It is becoming harder to find updated statistics on this generation as their numbers are becoming fewer and fewer. The Pew Research Center, for example, no longer reports on this generation because they represent  such a small percentage of the population (roughly 2%). 

 

Those in the "Post War Generation" or "Silent Generation" were born between 1926-1945. They were the children of the great depression and World War II. They moved into adulthood during the relatively prosperous 1950s and early 1960s. 

 

The Post War Generation brought a strong work ethic into the industrialized work place of their era and consider work a privilege. They are a mostly a humble and traditional group that believe you earn your way in life through hard work and are usually civic-minded and loyal to their country.

 

Both generations are more likely to be conservative and generally don't like ruffling feathers or initiating conflict. They are prudent with their money, value old fashioned morals, security, and consistency, and are accustomed to eye to eye interaction when dealing with people.

 Who Are The Baby Boomers?                                                            (Image source)boomer wagon

The "Baby Boomer Generation" can be segmented into two broadly defined cohorts: "Early Boomers", and "Late Boomers"

 

Early Boomers are individuals born between 1946 and 1955. This group represents slightly more than half of the generation, or roughly 38 million people of all races.

 

The other half of the generation was born between 1956 and 1964. This second cohort is referred to as "Late Boomers". This group also includes about 38 million individuals.

 

Young families in this generation experienced a boom in population and production growth that would define their generation and solidify the country's position as an industrial and political superpower.

 

As children, many grew up in what we think of now as traditional family settings: suburban homes on neatly kept lots with stay-at-home mothers and fathers who commuted to work.

 

That’s a far cry from the experiences of the previous generations, who had to cope with financial insecurity and the specter of world war when they were young.

 

This generational difference in upbringing shaped the way the Boomers approached nearly every aspect of life. The Early Boomers tend to be more conservative than Late Boomers but not to the extent their parents were.

 

The Late Boomers are more likely to vary in their values and beliefs, many being considerably more liberal than the Early Boomers. 

The American Dream Was Born                                                         (Image source)

Family watching TV

Many people in the postwar era looked forward to having children and having a simple family life. The Post War generation worked hard to solidify a simple but secure lifestyle.

The Boomers would build on that and grow up feeling confident that the future they were creating was a secure and prosperous one.

Jobs were abundant, companies offered retirement plans and there was no sign of that slowing. They were confident that, if they saved enough money, they would be able to not just  support their family but to retire and enjoy their golden years.

 

It was a time for optimism, and with good reason. The Boomers were building one of the fastest and largest growing cultures in history. The name itself, "Baby Boomers", came about because of the explosion of births during the early years of the era.

 

They were on their way to a standard of living never seen before by any generation before them.

 

I encourage you to first watch this 4 minute video from the History Channel: "Growing Up In The 60’s" for a quick look at what it was like growing up as a Baby Boomer. It will really help set the mood for the subject. (And it is really entertaining)

 

The Baby Boomers today have the highest percentage of spending power compared to any other generation to date. About 70% of disposable income in the country will come from the Boomers and they are able to spend more and more each year on hobbies and non-essentials.

Baby-Boomer-spending-stats.jpg

 Best Practices For Marketing To Seniors

With such a wide range of experiences throughout their formative years, the seniors of today have a very wide experience base to pull from, much more so than other generations. It's important to keep in mind the generation they came out of to inform your approach to communicating and dealing with them.

 

So, back to the point of the article, how do you market and sell to this demographic? How do you sell to a person who, as a child, may have lived through the horrors of WWII, may have been taught to hide under their desk in case of nuclear war, or grew up possibly rebelling against that same overbearing authority they encountered as a child?

 

The short answer is, very carefully. They’ve seen enough promises, sales tactics, and creepy clown commercials in their lifetimes to make them skeptical by default, so put the traditional sales deck aside and be direct.

 

Gaining trust and acting as a trusted adviser is key to a a relationship selling approach. Try these following tips for starters:

 

1.  Simply get to the point while being genuine. Just show

     them their due respect and treat them like the highly 

     experienced intelligent people that they are.

 

2.  Be completely transparent. More than anything else, seniors today simply want to know

     that they are dealing with someone they can trust. A small note of insincerity or shady sales

     tactics and you’re finished. You may as well have kicked their dog. (Which is not an

     alternative tactic.)

 

3.  Show an understanding of their situation. Approach them with an honest intent to help them

     with a specific problem and when you feel you’ve done the best you can to establish trust,

     present your best solution to their problem. You’re not going to get through to most seniors

     with cheap tricks.   

 

4.  Seniors are becoming much more technically adept, so don’t assume they don’t answer their

     email or communicate on Facebook. Nevertheless, while younger generations see face to 

     face selling as intrusive, most seniors still value it 

         

5.  Talk to them about your communication plan. Simply ask them which forms of

     communication they would prefer, and make sure you get at least 2 different methods. Let

     your prospect know how often you plan to engage with them and that you intend

     to offer real solutions and information for the challenges they face.

 

6.  Be available when it’s convenient for them and let them know you are available for

     them when they need it. Give them a good phone number and email address and let them

     know how long it may take for you to respond. Set all the expectations up front.

 

7.  Have a presence in the senior community. If you're involved in the same communities that

     your potential clients are then this gives you a better chance of being known by them or

     someone they know and trust.

 

     This allows you to be found and to be seen as a part of their community rather than an

     outsider. Approach this with care and sincerity. If you aren't serious about being a part of

     any community they will sniff you out. This should only be done if you are genuine.

 

8.  Don't forget to ask for referrals. If your providing best in class service, referrals will come

     without even asking, but it doesn't hurt to be proactive. Referrals are your easiest sale to

     make and they cost you nothing.

 

     If you provided a positive experience for your client then they will normally be happy to refer

     you. Leave behind some business cards and let them know you welcome the chance to help

     others just as you helped them.

 

[ Recommended: Selling Medicare Supplements Online and Over The Phone ]

Baby-Boomers-Online-Stats.png

 It's All About Gaining Trust                                                                (Image source)  

DDT spray truckFor years people have experienced broken promises and lies others have made while attempting to make money off of them.

 

Those moments aren't easily forgotten, and most people have developed a pretty good BS detector because of it.

 

With this built in skepticism, you’re going to receive objections, no doubt about it. This is just a natural way for people to vet the information you’re giving them. Try to see these objections in a positive light. If they are objecting then they are still communicating which means they are still considering your offer.

 

So, if you are dealing with someone that has a number of objections or just doesn’t seem to be warming to you, how would you proceed?

 

Firstly, don’t keep pushing. Objections are just a way of telling you they need more information or more time. This is where most sales people go wrong. Never rush the sale with a senior. You will be seen as untrustworthy and take yourself out of the running.

 

Don’t even think about talking about a sale until you’ve established a rapport and honestly addressed objections while making a sincere connection with them.

 

Spend the time to educate them further on the unique nature of your product and the value you provide. Establish your own credibility and if possible use stories to enforce the message of your sales. The relationship you build is key to making the sale.

 

Dealing effectively with objections will help reduce the perceived risk in their eyes. Seniors have proven to be very frugal with their money so they will need to be very comfortable with a salesperson and a product before buying.

 

Seniors have long and varied memories. Sales and advertising has been a central part of their culture for a long time now. And they will never, ever forgive you for treating them poorly.

 

 

 

 “ Trust Is The Glue Of Life. It's The Foundation Principle That Holds All Relationships.. Stephen Covey ”

 

 Follow Up Without Being A Pest

Here are some tips on following up without annoying a potential client:

                                                                                                                         (Image source)

Door to Door Sales

1.  After your first visit, be sure to send a hand written

     thank you letter in addition to an email thank 

     you letter. 

 

     Email gets you the immediacy of

     thanking them within 24 hours after the meeting

     and the hand written card or thank you note gives a

     more personal touch that so many 

     sales people have abandoned. 

 

2.  Stick to the plan you created. If you've agreed 

     upon preferred methods of communication and the discussed the type of information they

     could expect from you, then your follow up should not be received as intrusive.

 

3.  Remind your client on your previous interaction and what you spoke about. Whether your

     writing an email or leaving a voice mail ensure to paint the picture of where you left off as a 

     reminder and a starting point to expand on the value you are trying to provide.

 

     Whatever you do, don't just say "Hi Mrs. Jones, it's Bill from Bill's Senior Insurance giving

     you call. Please call me back at....". This will likely never get you a response. You have to     

     provide value with every interaction. 

 

4.  Remember to follow up with 2 forms of communication. Phone and email make a great       

     combination, just make sure to let your client know on each respective message that you will

     be sending both messages. That way they aren't confused if they call you back but then

     notice your email.

 

5.  Engage with community based networks and know where your clients invest their time. Face

     to face follow ups are worth a hundred emails and phone calls, as long as it happens 

     naturally. If not, it's called stalking.

 

6.  Continue communicating with current and potential clients through a Blog, Newsletter, Email,

     whichever way is most appropriate for them. Concentrate on quality over quantity and stay

     focused on solving problems for your client base.

 

 Wrapping it up                                                                                                (Image source)The End image

Having a deep knowledge your client base is critical in deciding how to communicate with them. Old school sales tactics are largely useless today.

 

You must be able to create an emotional connection with your client and ensure them that you have their interest in mind.

 

In order to gain that kind of trust you are going to have to speak their language, Meet them where they're at and become a solution provider instead of a product salesperson.

 

Different generations have different values and a different perspective on the world. The senior market is not just one homogeneous group. Understanding and knowing how to effectively relate to the different demographics will stand as a foundation for the rest of your sales process.

 

More and more people will continue to turn 65, that's for certain. With the older generations living longer and longer, the need for Insurance Supplements will continue to grow.

 

Insurance Agents that understand the relationship selling approach will find a client base that is very receptive to their expertise and their offerings.

 

We wish you the best of luck in all your efforts.

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Precision Senior Marketing works with top Senior Insurance Agents around the country. We take pride in providing our agents with high quality senior insurance products that bring a sense of security and peace of mind to the nation's exploding senior population.