Tuesday, May 26, 2009

GeroMarketing™ Basic #4: Communicate Meaningfully

There are as many definitions of what’s meaningful as there are people. In gerontology counseling, meaningful communication is crucial because it deepens the therapeutic relationship and helps people understand the roots of conflict, as well as ways to resolve it.

Meaningful communication is equally important when advertising to Baby Boomers. Perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind is that there can be no formula for meaningful communication, because each encounter that a marketer has with a Boomer is a unique experience for both. Often, you have to play it by ear—your third ear, that is. The one that’s so sensitive that it let’s you “hear” what the other two so often miss.

Of course, I have many thoughts on how to meaningfully communicate with Boomers, but I’ll offer just a handful. In no particular order then, here are twenty tidbits to consider.

1. If you don’t talk directly to the Boomers’ individualism, you’re talking to yourself.

2. Substance trumps style.

3. Authenticity puts trendiness to shame.

4. Self-awareness increases your ability to speak with conviction.

5. Humility is important because communication is a mysteriously complex process.

6. Your personal assumptions and interpretations have to take a backseat to what Boomers actually feel, believe and value.

7. Create a positive connection.

8. Find a deft way to combine emotional and intellectual appeals.

9. Don’t be afraid to challenge Boomers. They admire individualism.

10. Be creative. Offer fresh perspectives, innovative angles, new insights and provocative opinions.

11. Offer a Big Idea that Boomers can wrap their minds around and act on.

12. Be cogent. Make your message so compelling that Boomers will motivate themselves to listen to what you’re saying.

13. Be concise. Nobody likes a windbag, so don’t use two words when one will do.

14. Be clear. Revise your writing over and over and over again until your message is perfectly lucid.

15. Create a change, whether it’s in belief, attitude or emotion. Inform, inspire, enrage, educate, just don’t be namby pamby.

16. Since 1926, McCann Erickson’s motto has been “Truth Well Told.” Nothing resonates as convincingly as reality.

17. Strive to communicate in a way that makes Boomers think, “You took the words right out of my mouth.”

18. Don’t insult the Boomers’ intelligence by talking down to them.

19. Avoid stereotypes, especially about age, as if they were the Swine Flu.

20. Be true to yourself and what you have to offer.

I could go on, but it would be more productive if you made your own list to supplement the above. As you do, keep in mind that effective communication doesn’t happen by accident. Carefully assess every single thing you say and the way you say it in your advertising and marcom, and you should be able to communicate meaningfully with Boomers. And that can open the door to the Boomer Buying Center.


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