6 Things Your Marketing Language Tells You (Since Boomers Won't)
Boomers don’t have much in common, but if there’s one thing most can agree on, it’s this: They aren’t going to do things the way their parents did. Especially when it comes to dealing with the realities of getting older.
This isn’t exactly news. What appealed a generation ago just doesn’t resonate today. But all too often marketers seem to be the only ones who’ve gotten the memo. While they’re out doing their homework on what speaks to Boomers, the products they’re responsible for marketing are lagging behind. This presents a common scenario, one that’s especially prevalent when it comes to speaking to this particular demographic: the language used to reach audiences is up to date, but the products and services it’s describing are not. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
Here are a six different ways the language you use offers deep insight into
your products or offerings and can pave the path to making them even better.
1. You know what your language is telling your audience, but what’s it telling you?
A good copywriter can make anything sound good, but the language used in marketing should be driven by the reality of the product, not a tool used to compensate for its shortcomings.
If you’re on the brand side, and, after reading your marketing copy, you’re left thinking, “Hey, we don’t sound half as bad as we actually
are!,” chances are it’s because your language is better than your actual offering. This is the pivotal moment when you need to commit to getting that offering up to speed with the
language. Start by giving marketers a seat at the table, and translating their understanding of how to talk to Boomers into tangible, quality-of-life-focused products that facilitate their active
lifestyles while helping them solve the occasional side effect of getting older.
2. Fooling consumers is not a long-term strategy. Creating partnerships is.
The retirement industry of yesteryear set the bar low—possibly because its audience tolerated it—but Boomers won’t allow any such thing. What may have been good enough for past generations simply won’t fly. Boomers are the most savvy and tuned-in audience the retirement industry has ever seen. And as a result, they’re not easy to fool—at least not in the long term.
Clever marketing copy may get them to buy your product once—not because it’s good, but because it sounds like the best of the bad choices. But if it
doesn’t live up to the myth you’ve created, they’ll get the real message loud and clear: here’s our tired, old product for tired, old you. It’s hardly the
foundation on which to build a positive, engaged relationship with your customers.
3. Don’t just talk about the “next generation,” embrace it.
Marketers that cater to emerging markets love phrases like “2.0” and “state-of the-art”, but these are too often the tell-tale signs of an empty promise by a product that doesn’t have what it takes to really show its value.
Instead of piggybacking on throwaway clichés, consider what would it really mean for you to make your
product relevant to the next generation. This means investing money and time in things like product and audience research, social media listening, focus groups, and customer feedback. The insight you
need to get your product up to date is right there if you want it.
4. Rely on language to eliminate taboos and stigmas.
If there’s one place where language can—and must—do most of the heavy lifting, it’s making consumers feel comfortable using a product they’ve only previously encountered as the punch line of a joke.
Consider Kimberley-Clark’s Depend products: originally called “adult undergarments”,,they got dubbed in the mainstream as “adult diapers.”
Knowing that this taboo made its consumers uncomfortable (although they were still likely to buy their product), Depend recently began calling its products “underwear.” Kimberley-Clark
didn’t have to set its standards higher to maintain sales, but in doing so, it showed its commitment to helping customers lead their normal lives.
5. Emphasize continuity rather than disruption
With this audience more than any other, fear marketing is the biggest taboo of all. Marketers simply won’t win consumers by showing how getting older is
going to derail their lives, interrupt favorites activities and routines, and take them out of their communities. Boomers want to know how a product is going to empower them to continue to live their
lives and be themselves. Your product needs to help them do this; your language needs to tell them how.
6. Changing how you talk about things can change how you do them.
Whereas the first point discusses how disproportionately good marketing language can alert you to a need to update your product, it’s important to let good language direct your strategy for doing so.
When we started thinking beyond delivering healthcare services in our rehabilitative care centers to what would make a stay pleasurable and something to look forward to, we realized that our model lay in hospitality. Internally, we started using the mantra “less hospital, more hospitality,” and it began to inform all of our decisions. As we moved toward seeing our facilities as hotels and our patients as guests, we stopped thinking about “skilled nursing” and starting thinking about changing the entire model for our industry.
By creating products worthy of their marketing language, companies send a clear message to consumers that they’re in this for the long haul, that they believe in their products and their customers, and that they’re going to do everything in their power to ensure they truly connect with their Boomer audience. Of course, if they decide against making great products, rest assured, boomers will create their own. After all, according to Millennial Branding, they’re more entrepreneurial than any other age group out there.