Monday, March 30, 2009

Baby Boomers Bask in Reflected Images of Positive Aging

You can’t successfully market to Baby Boomers until you understand, embrace and communicate Positive Aging in a creative and deeply respectful way. To do that, you have to change the way you think about and relate to Boomers. It begins with banishing ageism and disregarding stereotypes, but that’s not enough. Your writing and visual executions have to energize Boomers with messages that reflect the hallmarks of Positive Aging, like vitality, independence and commitment. Understand and appreciate the Boomer mindset, and you can develop new markets, expanding your business’ profit-making potential.

To accomplish this, though, you can’t just focus on market segments. Instead, you must focus on individuals, because when you’re talking to Boomers, you have to do it person-to-person, or you can ring up No Sale. Don’t be tempted to clump Boomers together. Instead, seek to understand, embrace and celebrate each person’s uniqueness, because that’s the key to reaching Boomers where they make their buying decisions.

Of course, speaking to Boomers with authentic, value-based communications is just part of what it takes to reflect the various aspects of Positive Aging that resonate. These people are highly individualistic, so you will have to take a Boomer-Centered Approach that will allow you to address each and every prospect in your target market in a genuinely personal way.

And if you think your products and services can’t be profitably repositioned against the Baby Boomer market, you haven’t effectively searched for the opportunities that are right under your nose. If that’s the case, you need to do a brand audit, carefully looking at what you have to offer until you create a position that strikes the mother lode with Boomers. Think of it as panning for gold—a way to help you discover the hidden profit potential that can help grow your bottom line in any economic climate.

To do this, of course, you’ll need the help of that unique someone who has decades of advertising and marketing communications experience, as well as professional training in gerontology counseling, and a little gray hair, too. Find that someone, and you’ll begin to prosper in ways you’ve never imagined possible.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

How to Reach those Affluent Baby Boomers.

If you’re in marketing or advertising, the key to reaching the Baby Boomers lies in knowing how to talk to them with insight and sensitivity. The most affluent Boomers are Positive Agers who are worldly, well-educated and discerning. They’re also self-centered, self-directed and more than a little vain. That’s why effectively communicating with them often requires intelligent, plausible reframing of issues that sometimes have negative connotations, and that can be very tricky.

Research can help in understanding the Boomers, but in their hearts and souls they defy categorization, so it’s best to consider them a Group Of One. A glance at their history shows that they’re diehard individualists who make buying decisions on their own terms not someone else’s—least of all some faceless corporation that’s urging them to buy, buy, buy!

If you’re a marketer and you understand that, then you’ll act accordingly and prosper. Chances are, though, you’re going to need wise counsel to motivate the Boomers to buy, because when it comes to advertising and marcom, they’ve seen and heard it all.

So, if you’d like to get a piece of the Boomer market, you’re going to need the help of someone with decades of experience and expertise in advertising and marketing communications. And that someone must also have professional training in gerontology counseling, because that’s the best preparation for knowing how to talk about the issues of aging, realistically and with a positive tone. And it helps if that someone is also a Boomer, because living the life is completely different than just studying it.

Finding and working with a resource like that will help you to not only understand Boomers but communicate with them in meaningful ways that resonate on levels where emotional decisions are made and motivation is born. Reach Boomers where they live, and it’s highly likely that they’ll carefully consider what you have to say and what you’re selling. And, if you’re really skillful, you might even motivate them to buy.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Most Self-Hating Form of Prejudice

If you’re black, you’ll never be white.

If you’re male, you’ll never be female.

But no matter what your age, some day you’ll be old.

That’s why you should start purging yourself of the most pervasive, pernicious prejudice of all: Ageism.

This isn’t to imply that other forms of prejudice aren’t destructive; it’s simply the recognition that ageism is unique because it can victimize every living person. The undeniable fact that each person must grow old is what makes ageism the most self-destructive, self-hating form of prejudice that’s ever existed. Ageism is diametrically opposed to Positive Aging, because it’s impossible to live constructively while courting what is essentially self-loathing. If you hate aging, on some level you hate yourself. That’s a fact.

Fear and ignorance form the foundation of all prejudice, and ageism is no exception, because people who indulge in ageism project their fears of aging on older adults. They’re afraid of growing old, because it seems to be filled with land mines. Positive Agers understand that although they will certainly face countless challenges, the life skills they’ve developed give them the ability to live a fulfilling life under any circumstances. Because they’ve acquired the resources to cope, they have the courage to live life to the fullest. To them, age becomes just another number that they seldom even think about.

So, if you want to be a Positive Ager, you must take an honest look within yourself and root out ageism in all its manifestations. And, if you’re not sure exactly what ageism is, learn about it, because your future well-being is on the line. Unlike other things you fear, you can’t segregate yourself from aging. You have to deal with it, because it will most certainly deal with you. (Of course, if you don’t age, you won’t have problems, because you won’t be around.)

The Baby Boomers have lived through the volatile, turbulent ’60s, when the struggle for racial equality was at its most passionate. They know the destructive power of prejudice, and they’re showing signs that they simply won’t tolerate ageism. In fact, the next Civil Rights movement may well address ageism in all its forms, and Boomers will lead the way, because they are, after all, revolutionaries at heart.

What Positive Agers Know

Positive Agers know the difference between growing as you become older and simply growing older.

They know that successful Positive Aging isn’t about adding years to your life; it’s about personal growth and making the most of what life offers under any and all circumstances.

Positive Agers also know that it’s not about dodging every bullet; it’s about avoiding frailty by cultivating a healthful lifestyle that enhances physical, mental, social and spiritual well-being.

Cultivating various aspects of Positive Aging prepares them to meet the inevitable challenges that come with everyday life— challenges that seem to increase over time.

They know that wear and tear can’t be completely defeated, but becoming worn and torn can be. Positive Agers know how to face infirmity with flexibility. They know that the facts of physical aging dictate that their sense of well-being must lie beyond the limits of their bodies, even as they struggle to live in them.

“Old age ain’t no place for sissies,” according to a quote from Bette Davis.

It’s an adage that rings true, because there’s simply no substitute for courage in creating a positive lifestyle. But you need more than that. To be a Positive Ager, you need a sensible strategy and effective tactics to develop and maintain optimism, hope and perseverance. In the final analysis, Positive Agers know that growing as they become older is vastly preferable to simply growing older.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Why Positive Aging Resonates with Baby Boomers

Boomers embrace Positive Aging because the idea that all good things are possible—indeed, inevitable—for them has been virtually programmed into their psychosocial DNA. People who don’t understand Boomers see them as extremely self-centered, but they also tend to be much more altruistic than previous generations. That has important implications for marketers who target them.

For insight into why Boomers seem so self-centered, google psychologist Carl Rogers & unconditional positive regard. Humanist psychologists like Rogers believed that unconditional positive regard and acceptance would provide optimal conditions for personal growth. During the Boomers’ formative years, the concept of unconditional positive regard was promoted in education and child-rearing, becoming a guiding light for their teachers and parents.

Unconditional positive regard holds that everyone has the innate ability to improve without changing who they actually are. Although it’s true that unconditional positive regard and acceptance can lead to unadulterated selfishness, simply being self-centered isn’t as negative as it sounds. In fact, it can be quite beneficial when it empowers a person to nurture self-esteem and optimism. That alone can be a driving force that energizes focused actions which enhance the individual’s well-being. And that’s one of the reasons why so many Boomers have a distinct preference for
Positive Aging.

Monday, March 23, 2009

What You Think About Aging is Crucial

Fact is, what you think about anything is of great importance, because to a significant degree, what you think largely determines your life experience. The idea that you are what you think has been around for millennia. Almost two thousand years ago, Marcus Aurelius wrote, “A man’s life is what his thoughts make of it.” Much more recently, Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “A man is what he thinks about all day long.” Seems obvious, yet how often do you really think about what you think?

It’s an important question, because the difference between seeing various aspects of aging in a positive versus a negative light can be like the difference between heaven and hell. Of course, there are certainly lots of very potentially troubling things that can come with aging, from physical to psychosocial challenges. That’s why reframing negative perceptions in a constructive way is a key ingredient in
Positive Aging. Reframing teaches you that you can control how you think about reality—that you can see negatives more positively or eliminate them altogether.

Of course, reframing doesn’t happen by accident. It takes consistent effort, but it’s worth it when you consider the enhanced quality of life it can bring. If you’re unconvinced, compare your models for positive and negative aging. Do they seem happy and fulfilled or cranky and frustrated? What is it about their lives that makes them that way? Does it have anything to do with the way they perceive reality?

The bottom line question is: What will you choose for yourself? Will you actively embrace the ways of
Positive Aging or drift into a negative way of life? One thing is certain: The choices you make about what you think will color your days, no matter what your age.

How Do You Define Positive Aging?

The way you define Positive Aging becomes crucial as you grow older, because if you don’t think for yourself, you’ll end up accepting stereotypes that will erode your sense of well-being. To begin to define Positive Aging for yourself, you must clearly identify and then stay in touch with how you feel about various aspects of aging.

Coming to terms with the way you think about aging will help you redefine and refine the way you age. So, start by making a written list of five negative beliefs you have about aging and five positive ones. How realistic are those beliefs? Which have the greatest influence on the quality of your life and the way you act? Which strengthen your sense of well-being? Which diminish it? Do your beliefs indicate that you buy into cultural stereotypes about aging, or do you clearly think things through for yourself? Do you feel your beliefs are set in stone, or can they be modified?

Finally, pick the single most important negative belief that you have about aging, and ask yourself how you can modify or eliminate it. Then pick the single most important positive belief, and ask yourself how you can use it as a building block for growth. This is the beginning of your Path to Positive Aging.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Staying in Touch with the Present Moment is Tough

Living in the present moment may seem more than tough; it may seem impossible, but before you give up on even trying, consider the alternatives. You can dwell in the past, reliving the “good” and brooding about the “bad,” but both of those outcomes are dead ends. Chronically living in the future is even worse, because it’s doomed to be a concoction of fantasies about “good” and “bad” things that might happen, but seldom do. Two more dead ends.

Being in the moment, on the other hand, allows you to partake of reality as it actually is. It may not always be pleasant, but it’s more rewarding than wasting the here and now on distorted thinking about what was or what might be.

Staying in touch with the moment is key to escaping the prison of letting life just “happen” to you. It helps you silence the incessant chatter of “thinking” and plumb the depths of what actually is. The more you can accurately perceive reality, the more you can maximize the possibility that you’ll make the most of your life at any given moment. And that’s what Positive Living is all about, no matter how you define it.

What's Reality Got To Do With Positive Aging?

It may seem odd to ask about the nature of reality in everyday life, but it’s worth contemplating, if only because we so infrequently attempt to tease out the genuine facts from the fictions created by our magpie minds. The best way to learn how to do this is to sit quietly and follow your breathing, gently bringing your attention back to it when your mind inevitably wanders. This practice has been around for millennia, and if you can work up to 20 or 30 minutes a day, you’ll discover the rewards are more than worth the time invested.

Mindful meditation is well-known as a stress management technique, but it’s so much more than that. It’s actually the simplest, surest way to get in touch with and stay in touch with objective reality, from moment to moment. What’s that got to do with
Positive Aging? Everything, because you can’t begin to wrap your mind and body around something as elusive as Positive Aging, unless and until you become adept at living in the present. Once you do that, you can begin to lead your life fully awake to the possibilities of the moment, and that’s the essence of Positive Aging.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

How To Recognize Reality

Living in the present moment requires that you experience the immediate reality that’s right under your nose.  Any striving to create that reality is vain and, ultimately, self-defeating.  The need to live in the present moment sounds obvious because it is, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. 

For a taste of living right here, right now, try this: Find a comfortable place where you can sit undisturbed for five full minutes.  Then, simply watch your breath going in and out.  Follow it as it gently flows in your nose and then out of your mouth.  When your mind wanders, gently bring your attention back to your breathing.  It sounds simple, but it can be devilishly difficult to do.  However, establishing this kind of practice is extremely valuable,  because it’s the best way to begin to recognize reality as it unfolds moment to moment, unencumbered by the noise of thinking.  Eventually, you’ll come to treasure each instant—that moment where we must all live, all the time.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

You Have Only A Moment To Live!

It’s a fact.  You have just a single moment to live…and then another…and then another.  That’s one of the keys to understanding Positive Aging.  True, pondering the past and future can sometimes bring pleasure (and pain), but the fact is that everything always happens right here, right now.  And the moment you recognize that fact, the moment is gone.  So if you want to be a Positive Ager, you have to learn the way of living in the moment.  Moment after moment after moment.

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Elusive Meaning Of Positive Aging

The precise meaning of Positive Aging is impossible to pin down because there are as many definitions as there are people.  Although it’s true that research can provide valuable insights into the meaning of the concept, current findings can’t be synthesized into a meaningful whole that truly gets to the heart of the matter. 

The reason is that, ultimately, the most important definition is the one that each individual believes on a gut level.  That definition, no matter how simple or complex, no matter how factually accurate or inaccurate, will form the foundation for the belief system that will be the guiding light of  each individual’s aging process.  If that belief system  holistically facilitates the physical, psychosocial and spiritual well-being of the individual, then it is the essence of Positive Aging, at least for that particular person.  

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Positive Aging: a new paradigm

In order to embrace the concept of Positive Aging, you have to change the the way you think about and relate to Baby Boomers. It begins with breaking stereotypes, but that's not enough. Your creative executions have to energize Boomers with messages that reflect vitality and independence. Understand and adapt to the Boomer mindset and you can develop new markets, expanding the profit making potential of your products and services.
Historically, aging is a time of increasing disability inexorably leading to death, but the Boomers are changing that point of view. That's why the new paradigm of Positive Aging positively resonates with them. That's also why advertising and marketing communications that mirror it's many facets can profoundly influence their buying decisions.