“For Marketing Our Aging In Place Services To Older Age Groups, We Need To Appeal To How They Shop”

Our most senior aging in place clients – those born prior to the end of World War II – have experienced a completely different world history than most of us. In addition to the War, many remember experiencing the Great Depression, Prohibition, and the introduction of many modern conveniences we take for granted today.

Everyone in this age group grew up without computers, the internet, wi-fi, cell phones, and other devices. Conversely, those in Generation Z (people born this century) have only known the digital age. This older population grew up listening to the radio (before television came along) and likely still uses it – an advertising and marketing opportunity for us to reach this population. They remember trains as normal travel and airplanes as something quite new and revolutionary. Some have yet to take their first trip.

Since the generations of people born in the early 1940s and before grew up before computers and many other modern appliances and devices came into prominence, most of them have been slow to adopt this new technology. Many have no computers or cell phones. They don’t have access to email or even have an email address. Those who use the computer primarily do so to play games such as solitaire or word puzzles or to view photos of their family although there is strong usage of Facebook for communicating with family and friends and the use of sites like Pinterest to check on home decor items and their hobbies.

This is the age group that still uses the yellow pages to look for repairs and to shop for products and services. They still have a landline and a traditional telephone although they may have opted for a cordless version of their telephone for convenience. While most of us use the internet to shop for most everything and to research and compare products before we make a purchasing decision (checking on specifications and details, evaluating performance, and reading online product reviews and experiences), this age cohort relies on what they have always known – the yellow pages.

This is important for us as advertisers. Anytime we want to reach this market with our products or services, we should not ignore the power of the yellow pages. While their children and grandchildren are going to use websites, apps, and social media to learn about products and services, the older generations are going to rely on what they have used their entire lives. This means that we can choose to be in the yellow pages to reach this elderly market directly, or we can choose to have an online presence to reach their younger family members to advise them about a purchase – or we can split our advertising commitment and do both.

This older audience also responds well to direct mail. While most of are electronic mail users (texting and emails), the older market still likes, favors, and depends on traditional mail service (what some call “snail mail”). Online marketing is not going to reach them directly or open any doors for contact, but direct mail will. It’s paying attention to the traditional way this older population has received their news and appealing to that. They still watch network news programs and subscribe to a daily newspaper. While younger audiences are getting their news online, we can reach the older population with classified and display advertising in their local daily or weekly newspaper.

With respect to telephone usage, most everyone younger than 75 has a cell phone. As such, there is no need for us to have a toll-free number (800, 888, 877, 866, and the like) because there no longer is a charge for calling long distance. This is true even on some traditional calling planes for landline phones or third-party packages that can be purchased. Therefore, except for having and publishing (on our business cards, websites, or print ads) an 800 number to create a little credibility with an older audience that may view this as a sign of a business’ strength, there is no need to have a toll-free number. All calls are toll-free.

Similarly, many businesses omit an area code from their business cards or websites. If we are just local, are not likely to engage any other professionals or suppliers from outside our area, or expect that everyone knows our area code should they ever need it, we can continue to leave it off our cards. Otherwise, this is an important piece of information that needs to be included. We can never tell when we might be in another county in the same state or at a trade show, conference, or training session out of our home market, and the area code cannot be inferred or determined by those receiving our card. We must give people every opportunity to reach out to us, including a complete phone number, even if we don’t have or don’t put our email address on our cards.

Share with your friend and colleagues!