How can direct marketing help you attract an older audience?

On May 2, 2017

Australia's population is ageing. As the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare points out, we have one of the highest life expectancies in the world, and our community of old people is growing both in number and as a proportion of the population. As the median age keeps climbing, older people are becoming an increasingly appealing market to corner. Every demographic requires a unique marketing strategy to reach them successfully, and older people are no different. So how can we connect with them most effectively? The answer may well be direct marketing. 

Baby boomers and older customers are resistant to taking their shopping habits into an online space.

Traditional methods are still effective

Market research company Epsilon this year found that those over 50 were highly receptive to direct mail, and that this was a productive marketing approach. Target Marketing Magazine agrees, saying that although their preferences are shifting gradually, baby boomers and older customers are resistant to taking their shopping habits into an online space. Traditional, physical mailers are still a reliable way to get their attention and their purchases.

How to speak to a mature audience

So direct mail seems to be a better avenue to older customers than online channels. But how should you go about it to have the best chance of success? Direct marketing consultant George Duncan suggests several ways to tailor your direct marketing to a mature audience in The Journal on Active Aging:

  • Don't push too hard: Older audiences don't react positively to a hard sell – a lighter touch will have a better chance at convincing them of your message.
  • Keep it simple: Don't dress your mailer up with complicated devices and features. Keep your design clean and your message clear.
  • Focus on the offer, not the product: Older buyers will be won over less by superior products and more by the sweet deal they can get on them.
When addressing an older audience, speak to them the way they'd speak to you.
When addressing an older audience, speak to them the way they'd speak to you.

Writing for Entrepreneur Magazine, marketing experts Dan S. Kennedy and Chip Kessler recommend using a technique called 'resonant communication'. Rather than using the authoritative voice of the expert, this involves using the language your prospective customers would use. Describing your product or service in their terms is an effective way to grab their attention. To do this right, you need to know how this demographic is talking about your service, and the sort of questions they're asking. Survey your audience, and conduct your research – this technique only works if you do it properly.

Age isn't the only factor that defines a demographic, of course. Treating people over a certain age like one homogenous group is a mistake. The Prospect Shop's curated mailing lists allow you to tailor your direct marketing not only by age but by a range of factors including interests and income. Get in touch to discuss how we can help your business connect with an older audience.

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