Do you need over 50s marketers to reach an over 50s audience?

This is a question that’s turned up in an excellent article in Marketing Week about marketing to the over 50s.

The piece covers much of the ground that I’ve discussed before.

  1. The over 50s is a massively broad general category that encompasses many tastes and often two generations in a single family
  2. Even if you narrow the age group, the interests of that group are still wide and various, and not tied to their age
  3. When people hit 50, some may be interested in ads for funeral plans and stair lifts, but most don’t see any relevance to their lives.

The extra question that Marketing Week poses is whether you need people with experience of being over 50 to understand the audience sufficiently to market successfully to them.

This is a really good question, but are we just going down the same path as those who lump all “older people” into one category?

The respondents in the article took the view that interests and experience are more important than age in marketing.

I think that’s true of marketers too. What we, the aforesaid over 50s need, is people with understanding and a positive attitude.

Let’s take understanding, and break down the market. If you take a group of people who, say, have no dependents, but are still gainfully employed, can a marketer predict what their spending priorities will be? Saving for retirement and care home fees? Conspicuous expenditure on quality living? And can you do that for multiple groups of people over 50? Surveys help, and some businesses have been at pains to research the market effectively.

Then there’s attitude, and this is where I think marketing can come undone. I remember, in my first major freelance copywriting gig, being asked to recruit a video expert, and my client expressing absolute horror that I had found someone with white hair. It’s a very unsubtle example of something that is pervasive in many organisations. Young is good, intelligent, adaptable etc etc. Older is dull, uninspiring, inflexible, unadmired. It’s not obvious everywhere, but it’s there enough for it to spill into marketing campaigns addressing those so uncool older people.

My view, then, is that you don’t need to be over 50 to market to the over 50s, any more than you need to be a small child to market to small children. But an open mind and a desire to understand without prejudice are vital.

Photo by ieva swanson on Unsplash

The grannies are grumbling – and who can blame them?

paper bags near wall

Photo by on

Gransnet has just produced a report citing what people over 50 know – but many marketers are still failing to grasp. “Mature” consumers are not one step from the grave and only thinking about recliner chairs, funeral plans and who’s going to get the money when they’re gone.

We over 50s don’t come as an homogenous lump. In reality we’re probably more varied as a generation as any other. We’re interested in what’s on offer, but we don’t blindly follow fashion trends to fit in. Many of us have more disposable income than at any other time in our lives.

And for many of us, we have dropped the responsibilities of caring first for children and then older relatives, and we are free to spend our time and our money where we want to.

All that begs the question, why do we feel so dismissed? According to some of the respondents of the Gransnet survey, it’s because the younger marketers simply don’t understand this market.

Does your marketing take account of the growing number of over 65s?

Customer service feedback

When I encourage businesses to take account of an ageing population to boost their success, I’m not talking about getting rich quick from a captive audience.

What I believe businesses in any area should be doing is understanding the changing marketplace and making adjustments accordingly.

Take going online. There are around 4.5 million over-65s in the UK who are not online. Why? They may not have the skills, they’re very rightly worried about security, or they may struggle with the dexterity, vision or memory that makes online shopping, banking or using any services difficult. Or, like my dad, they may simply refuse to go any further than an electric typewriter.

So financial institutions, retailers, utilities and more can go one of three ways. They can ignore the changes in the shape of their market. They can take an opportunity (as many are already doing) to make more money by charging more for offline transactions and argue that they are simply covering costs.

Or they can take a hard look at how they interact with their market and make adjustments to win more share through a better experience for all. It’s a losing strategy to assume that everyone of any importance has a mobile phone and a Facebook account, or is even internet-enabled. More worthwhile is to think about which channels work best for different segments of the population. Which messages are most relevant to this growing older audience? How can you demonstrate that you are a credible provider while protecting your customers from those who seek to steal and destroy?

We’re always talking about the customer experience and how customers expect the best. Older people deserve the best too, and that’s a long-term strategy for businesses who want to stay around and build their reputation wisely.



Getting blog contributions right for the mature market

blogTwo weeks ago a slightly strange thing happened to me while I was wearing my hat as editor of When They Get Older.

Someone contacted me on behalf of a bingo company with a suggestion for an article. It was to be based around an app they were offering to help youngsters get to grip with numbers.

I ignored it because I genuinely don’t have the time to deal with time wasters. He hadn’t looked at our site obviously. Just gone on the name. When They Get Older isn’t about children. It’s about ageing friends and relatives. The clue’s in the  couple of hundred articles we’ve already published.

The even stranger thing is that a week later he chased me up to find out if I was interested in his article. Fortunately I’m not an aggressive person. But he does now know what he was doing wrong.

Over the course of my editorship of print and digital magazines and blogs I’ve come across many would-be authors and content providers who are excellent at proposing articles.

And some that verge on the excruciatingly weird.

So if you want to get your articles around the ageing population published by high-quality sites, here are a few tips.

  1. Know the audience. See above
  2. Know what the site has already published and find something new
  3. If you can’t find a new topic, find a new angle
  4. Say something useful. If you’re representing a company that works in this market, tap into their internal knowledge to provide real insights
  5. Propose a few ideas to let the editor choose
  6. Give it a week before chasing
  7. Use a writer who can interview your experts and write well – and brief them about the audience and style of the blog
  8. Make it a really interesting article and don’t fill it with product puffs that the editor will just take out again
  9. Proofread before you send it to the editor – to show how much you care. Mostly people do. But I have also received cut and shunt articles that range from first person casual to third person formal without taking a breath and are full of typos and grammatical errors
  10. Offer some really good images. Don’t start me on the use of images of hands to illustrate articles about older people. Much better to find an original image about your particular subject

Really, it’s all about being exceedingly helpful to the editor by taking on the chores that they would otherwise have to do. That, and remembering the audience.

Good luck.