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Shhh! Don’t say aging!
6 years, 11 months, 3 days, 20 hours, 13 minutes

Helping Marketers Tap into the P.O.W.E.R.™ of Storytelling
6 years, 11 months, 2 weeks, 2 days, 21 hours, 50 minutes

Shhh! Don’t say aging!

Hear No Evil,Speak No Evil, See No EvilBaby boomers don't really like to think about aging. Oops I said the word! Please forgive me, if you're a Boomer. According to the book Generations at Work*, the mindset of the Boomer is, “They'll never, never grow up, grow old, or die.” We're the generation that started “coolness” and still think we're pretty cool. Therefore when there's an ad for a cosmetic product, Boomer women don't like hearing "anti-aging" or "age-defying”. As I chatted with a Boomer friend, we were discussing how frequently the models used in those ads look like they're in their 20's or 30's at best. No way we can relate to them. Frankly, I think those products may, in fact, be targeted to the 30-somethings who are more "worried" about aging. A friend of mine in her mid 30's recently discovered her facial skin was sagging in a way she hadn't noticed before. She told me she’d be open to a nip-tuck down the road. Being 51 myself, I have to admit that I sometimes look in the mirror and do the little pull back on my cheeks to see how much younger I could look. And I try to eat healthy and exercise in hopes that I'll stay younger longer, but I really don't obsess about it. Marti Barletta author of PrimeTime Women™ says, "Boomer women are not "in denial" about how old they are or what they look like. They accept their age, actually relish it, and can't wait to see what the second half of life brings them."

That said, if someone is marketing to Boomer women, you need to get into the mindset that, while we may accept our age, we don’t want anyone, especially marketers calling us "old".

focalyst chartStatistics from a Focalyst study say that Boomers in general are offended by much of the advertising out there today. Since Boomers are the largest spending segment of our population, advertisers ignore this at their peril. We showed an ad for a denture cream at a Gen-Sights presentation back in January. Those boomers in the audience who hadn't seen it on TV were horrified. It was like a bunch of 20-somethings sat around thinking of a way to make fun of those "old folks" who need this product. Well, they succeeded. Not sure how much denture cream they're selling. Thankfully, I don't need the stuff yet, but probably wouldn't buy that brand if I could help it.

It can be challenging to create a successful cross-generational campaign. One exception is Mutual of Omaha’s "Aha Moment" campaign, featuring real people's stories, from all generations. Very moving and something we can all relate to. You can learn a lot about the Boomer mindset from this campaign. Job well done.

On a more serious note, I think that Boomers also don't like to think about their parents aging. I've had conversations with many friends and colleagues who have taken on the role of primary "concerned adult child" in their families. All too often, they see their parents begin to struggle a bit, maybe to the point where they need care, while the rest of their siblings are in complete denial. Perhaps it's because if they admit their parents are getting old and needy, they can’t deny that they are next in line. They think their parents will always be parents and able to take care of themselves. I know I thought that way until the role reversal happened in taking care of first my Mom and now my Dad.

There is a government statistic that states Boomers will be taking care of their parents longer than their children. Because Boomers are often unaware of the many services that are available these days to help with eldercare, they are often struggling to care for their loved ones alone, or are thrown into a situation in an emergency when one has a catastrophic incident. When I attended a Senior Service Network meeting for the first time, and saw what’s available, I nearly cried to think about how much easier things could have been for my family, if only we’d known. Somehow, many of these services are missing the mark in reaching the Boomer children who need their help. This is no easy task, since Boomers don't really want to think about it. But there ARE ways to communicate with Boomers that resonate with them. Here are just a few suggestions.

• Provide good clear information on how you can help them
• Don’t use imagery or content that is rude, crude, and insulting
• Be the brand that is relevant, passionate, and committed
• Fulfill their needs and make their lives easier

There is still an us-them mentality when it comes to Boomers and "seniors", particularly for trailing-edge boomers (those 46 to 56). Since they and their parents are still on the younger side, aging is not something that has even remotely entered their minds. I myself shudder when I hear on the news that someone that had a car accident at the age of 60 is described as “an elderly driver”. I don't think so! The leading edge Boomers will be hitting 65 next year, but don't you dare call them "seniors".

*Generations at Work, Ron Zemke, Claire Raines, Bob Filipczak

-posted by Laura Willis

Labels: Baby Boomers and Aging, age-defying, aging parents, anti-aging, don't call Boomers "seniors", advertising offensive to Boomers

Helping Marketers Tap into the P.O.W.E.R.™ of Storytelling

Apple ipadI was sitting on our deck reading the Sunday papers, when my sister cleared her voice to get my attention. As I looked up, she was holding the back page of the first section of the New York Times for me to see.

There was a beautiful full-page, full-color ad for the new Apple iPad. Even though I was sitting on the opposite side of the deck, one glance told the entire story. You got the sense of an adult, cuddling a child on her lap; together they were reading Winnie the Pooh on what appeared to be an actual-size iPad.

The real beauty was that the center of focus was the storybook on the iPad screen, complete with illustrations of Pooh. All you saw of the people were their hands and feet. If you’d ever read to a child, or been read to as a child yourself, you could picture yourself there. “Wow,” I thought to myself. “There’s an ad that truly demonstrates storytelling P.O.W.E.R.™!”

At Gen-Sights, we work with marketers who are interested in connecting with the Boomer market and tapping into that generation’s $2 trillion in buying power. (“Who wouldn’t want to target an audience with that much potential,” you might ask?). One thing we stress with clients is that if you want to really connect with Boomers, you better tell them a story—the authentic, powerful story of your brand.

See, while it’s true that almost everyone loves a good story, thanks to changes in the way the mind works as people age, Boomer brains have become particularly receptive to information presented in an emotional, narrative style. To help companies understand how to translate this into their marketing communications, we’ve developed some tips for creating stories with P.O.W.E.R.

P. for Perceptive: Become a perceptive marketer. Start by taking the time to truly understand the needs, wants, values, and concerns of your particular slice of the Boomer audience. TIP: Not all Boomers think alike! Then look at the ways your product or service might align what you uncover. The insights you gain through this process can then be used to create a story that will resonate on a deep level with your target audience.

For instance, one perceived barrier to an electronic reader like the iPad is how it might affect the reading experience. In the Apple ad, you not only see that the book’s page, including type and illustration, is authentically reproduced, but the child’s hand is reaching out to turn that page. It’s a real ah-ha moment that demonstrates one can still enjoy the pleasurable elements of the traditional reading experience.

O. for Ownable: Whether you’re marketing a product or a service, the story you create has to represent your brand truth. Everyone from the CEO to the customer service rep to the guy driving the delivery truck has to feel like they own that story and equally important, are living it. The most valuable information you can give your customers are stories that demonstrate your real passion for what you do and the way you really do it.

With this iPad ad, Apple is hinting at the ways it might transform reading, much the way the company’s previous “i-”devices changed computing, listening to music, and using the phone.

W. for Win: Obviously, when the consumer buys your product, your business will win. But your brand story has to contain a win for the customer as well. Will your product make life better? Easier? More fulfilling? The story has to tell of the win that the consumer will enjoy, courtesy of your product.

To continue with the iPad analogy, the ad shows how the device, with its big screen, creates opportunities for sharing, just like a real book.

E. for Emotional: Sure, the features and benefits of your product or service are important, but can you describe them in a way that touches your target in an emotional fashion? Forget the fact sheet; talk instead about the compelling idea behind your business.

Apple could have run an ad that explained how many books the iPad holds, but instead they showed only a picture of a mother and child reading together. That says it all.

little girl on ipadR. for Real: Forget fluff and hype. People today, especially Boomers, are hungering for real, authentic experiences that are relevant to their lives or the lives of the people they care about—and buy things for.

So does this mean the iPad is targeted to Boomers?
Well, I for one could imagine a Boomer loading one up with beloved children’s books as a gift to a grandchild. (Maybe that’s how the mother in the ad got her iPad!) Or maybe Boomers buy one for their parents, so Mom or Dad can read books, watch movies (again that big screen), and surf the web without dealing with the complexity of a computer. Of course, when it comes to themselves, Boomers are surprisingly technologically savvy, love new things, especially if there is demonstrable value, so we’ll see how all those apps turn out. But one thing is for sure, at least with their iPad print ads, Apple seems to be telling Boomers a story with P.O.W.E.R.

– posted by Lynn Schweikart

Photos captured from http://www.apple.com/ipad

-posted by Laura Willis

Labels: Baby Boomer marketing, brand story, storytelling, Baby Boomers and Technology