Friday, April 24, 2009

Who's Your Ideal Boomer?

The best way to create effective advertising and marcom for the Baby Boomer market is to imagine that you’re speaking person-to-person with each individual. To do that, it helps to have a sense of whom the Ideal Boomer for your product or service might be. After all, the best way to appeal to the needs and desires that drive Boomer buying behavior is to see things through their eyes.

The first step in characterizing your Ideal Boomer is to focus on key facts drawn from reliable research. Of course, facts and figures aren’t flesh and bone, so you’ll need to make a leap of faith if you’re going to understand and reach that Market Of One known as the Baby Boomer. In short, you need an instinctive knowledge of human nature and lots of energetic creativity to get Boomers as excited about whatever you’re selling as you are.

If you’re not comfortable taking leaps of faith and trusting creativity, keep in mind that the world’s most innovative business leaders do exactly that, especially when the stakes are sky high. You’ll find a good example in a recent BusinessWeek article about PepsiCo America’s CEO, Massimo d’Amore. (Blowing Up Pepsi, April 27, 2009; ).

Before Pepsi began redesigning the packaging for its flagship brand, one of the company’s top branding guys, Frank Cooper III stated, “We’re done being all things to all people. We are going to reach out to one very special demographic, the real you. The demographic of people who march to the beat of their own drum…” Hm-m-m, sounds like he could be talking about the Boomers.

The article doesn’t explain how Pepsi is going to figure out exactly who “the real you” is. They’ll probably use some research to validate their creative hunches after they’ve executed the new packaging. That’s often the way it happens, although few care to bluntly admit it. But the fact is that every marketer who aspires to do breakthrough communications has to depend on creativity to cut through the swamp of tiresome executions that pollute the media.

And that creativity has to be meaningful, too. That’s why key facts from research make a good starting pointing, but if those facts aren’t brought to life with an inspired creative touch, they’ll be like millstones around the necks of the “creative” executions. And executions that don’t sink in, quickly sink to the bottom of the turbulent sea of media that permeates our world.

So, do your best to tightly define and characterize your Ideal Boomer, but keep in mind that your rough caricature is only a launching pad for the creative process. Your success will depend on how effectively and creatively you can convince Boomers that your products and services will help them validate and celebrate their individuality. Do that, and your advertising and marcom will resonate like the real thing, reaching what Pepsi might call “the real you” inside each Boomer.


Chuck Nyren said...

I agree.

In the old days of television advertising, it was assumed that the family was all together sitting and watching - so commercials were aimed at 'the family' or a group of people. Print ads were still one-to-one. Nowadays, we know people watch television alone - or maybe with one other person. The only time groups of people watch TV are for major sporting events. That's why the Superbowl spots are for an audience, not an individual.

The problem today when it comes to reaching Boomers is that young creatives simply think of us as a big, amorphous group - so they advertise to many instead of one.

Vince Vassolo said...

The problem is today's creatives are just too young, which seems odd for a business in which youth is worshipped. Fact is, though, that gray hair is almost a prerequisite for understanding how to communicate effectively with the Boomers.

Also, I've always believed that each of us lives in a "pod" of self-interest that is largely sealed off from the rest of the world, so even in a group, we are, in a sense, alone. That's another reason to communicate one-to-one.