Marketing to Seniors in MyBlog
Published on: Monday, November 16th, 2015
The NEW Generation of Renters
Now that the baby boomer generation has begun entering retirement we are starting to see the impact on property behavior. This is the NEW generation of renters. This generation – those born between the end of World War 2 and the early years of the 1960s – are a very large group in our society; 76 million strong. This means that we are facing a large and growing demographic that is getting increasingly older with corresponding life needs.
While some may continue to live in the family home as they age, others will look for new housing, especially if it offers smaller, more manageable, more comfortable space. It is fairly common for older people to sell larger, family homes because the bigger space is no longer needed and the maintenance requirements have become inconvenient.
Growing customer base
According to the U.S. Census, there are 35 million seniors in the U. S. today—12.4% of the population. Over the next decade that percentage is projected to increase to 16.5% (53.7 million people). Considering this as a customer segment, it has the potential to become one of the best sales pipelines in the market today. So, how do we attract this population to our community?
Attitude is key. Remember to whom you are marketing. Yes, of course to the senior prospect – but also to their children and influencers. Don’t approach your customer as ‘old’ – studies show that we routinely think ‘old’ means ten years older than we currently are! If you are in your late 20s then you are old to teenagers. If you are in your 30s you are old to college students. How would you like someone thinking you were out of touch, were stupid or had nothing to offer? In the same way, treat your customers as people rather than demographics. Being condescending or patronizing towards your senior prospects will surely kill your sales. Try to avoid words like senior, old or elderly.
People today are living longer than they have ever done at any point in history. The life expectancy of men and women in the USA is 76.2 years for men and 81.1 years for women. In 1950 it was 65.4 years and 71 years. People are living longer and are in much better shape. Of course individuals may need to make some adjustments, but as a whole they are much healthier than their parents were at a similar age. Remember, today’s seniors do not let their capability to be decided by the number of candles on a cake.
Marketing to seniors
The Myth- It’s pointless!!! Why bother??? Somewhere… someone… decided that unless you were selling creams, ointments or burial insurance, there was no point in targeting the senior market.
After all (so the theory goes), all seniors live exclusively on their monthly social security check and they have no purchasing power whatsoever. As for being tech-savvy, seniors don’t own computers much less know how to navigate the Internet. Wrong… on all counts
Since the recession began households headed by people aged 65 and older saw their income rise by 7.1% compared to a fall in every other age group by 4% or more. Retirees are shielded from the labor market and unemployment is not a factor for retirees.
Seniors do use the Internet. As of April 2012, 53% of American adults aged 65 or more were using the Internet or email. And of these, 70% typically use the Internet every day. Furthermore 34% of Americans aged 65 or older use social networking sites including Facebook. Senior use is growing by leaps and bounds. However, they still heavily utilize print.
Depending on your marketing budget, you will probably utilize several marketing campaigns (Primary drive for your senior customers and secondary campaigns for influencers). Think of your target market and design your senior-focused print advertising to be easily read and understood. As we age the way we perceive color changes and larger print is appreciated. These are some tips that will increase the effectiveness of your marketing to seniors.
- Only use 11-point and higher
- Avoid serifs, italics and fancy fonts
- Color ads draw attention (to the exclusion of black–and-white)
- Avoid reverse copy and maintain good white space
- Keep your message on-point and clearly highlight the benefits
Building relationships with seniors
Business is all about relationships and as we age relationships become more and more important. Seniors often appreciate the personal touch and therefore actively engaging with them is often as important as what you are actually saying. Take the time your customer needs (and they will need a lot of it). Consciously relax your pace to match your prospect.
Your senior prospects have seen and done a lot in their lifetimes. They may be skeptical – life can do that to you and they have probably seen more of it than you have. If they have met their fair share of thieves, braggarts and empty promise merchants, they may need a little convincing before they put their trust in you. How do you do this?
Well, it helps to have ‘evidence’ of your character and professional integrity. A way you can do this is through the opinion of others, namely your customers. Compile testimonials that you can share. Better yet, ask residents to host social events, use a resident’s apartment as a model, or stop and chat with residents along your tour route. Create opportunities for your prospects to socialize with your current customers. Credible testimonials work. It always sounds much better when praise comes from someone else and if your customers speak up for you they will do your selling for you.
As we all know, trust is very important when selling any product or service. We also know that the decision to move from a single-family home to a multifamily property is not an easy one. When a senior decides to move from their family home into an apartment community, they want to be assured they will enjoy the amenities and social life they are lacking in their current living situation, as well as everything else they have been promised. Therefore only promise what you are confident in delivering. Under promise – over deliver!
Sell with sensitivity
Be real. Be direct. Always ask for the sale. However, do not use a hard close or scare tactics. Remember, this is a major move for them. In some cases they may have 30 or 40 years worth of possessions to sort through and dispose of before they can start a move. A key focus for us is to not ADD to the fear but to enforce the newfound independence they will have by moving in to your community. Your job is to solve their problem and present your offer.
Therefore, highlight why the move to your community will help them remain active and independent. One of the biggest fears often expressed is of having to rely on others for basic everyday life functions. What do you offer that will enhance their lives? Define what your customers need. Do you have it? The senior housing market is changing quickly. Baby boomers are demanding a level of quality and service that far exceeds their predecessors. In the past, buildings became ‘senior’ buildings because the population aged in place and never left. Today, your customers are expecting much more. (Expectations might include van service to doctors, shopping centers and events; library/business centers; hot meals; fitness centers; hair salons and even happy hours!). Be creative, identify what your customers want and then see how you can deliver it.
Another common fear among senior prospects is that of being taken advantage of. To assuage this fear try using guarantees to impart confidence. This might even be the time to employ fully refundable holds. And remember, don’t adopt a defensive attitude if your customer gives you a hard time – they may be testing you. Like most customer complaints what people remember is how the complaint was responded to – if you handle the situation with grace, your likelihood of eventually closing the sale is very strong.