Thursday, April 9, 2009

Think Like a Counselor, Sell Like an Ad Exec.

When marketing to Baby Boomers you need to know how to reach each person as a unique individual. In a very real sense, you have to have the depth and breadth of understanding and empathy that a counselor has.

Of course, there are many gerontology counselors who know how to communicate quite effectively with Boomers, but they don’t know a thing about advertising or marketing communications. Use one of them as a consultant, and you’re likely to get lots of statistics and some psychobabble, but very little practical advice you can use in selling to Boomers.

Likewise, there are lots of great ad execs, including very talented writers and art directors, who can sell anything you can name, but they don’t know a thing about how to communicate effectively with Boomers. To make matters worse, the vast majority of them have no desire to even try. Instead they go for what they believe to be the easy money, focusing on over-leveraged impulse buyers like trendy teens and post-adolescent consumers.

In order to penetrate the Boomer market, you need the help of professionals who are as adept at gerontology counseling as they are at advertising and marcom. Of course, in the business world, that combination of experience and expertise is rare, indeed, but it’s out there.

For instance, in the fall of 1994, an advertising Creative Director who shall go unnamed, wrote about what he then called GeroMarketing. Pretty uninspired name for an ad guy, but better than Industrial Gerontology, which was suggested by one of his professors. As he developed the concept, he renamed it Creative GeroMarketing because it married key principles of creative advertising and marcom with those of gerontology counseling. Fifteen years later, the concepts he refined as a result of this synthesis have helped him and his agency devise unique ways of reaching, speaking to and motivating Boomers in authentic, effective ways.

Taking his pioneering effort to the next level has proven to be very exciting. Frustrating, too. But it’s worth the effort, because as he’s learned, thinking like a counselor and selling like an ad exec can be very rewarding in more ways than one.

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