On Dec. 5, 2013, Mark Bradbury wrote Still Relevant: Top 5 Predictions For 2014 in this space. His points were well made. However, you won’t find the driver of improved sales to Baby Boomers (born before 1964) in a company’s planning department, or marketing/advertisement departments.
You’ll find the origins of the problem of a distorted vision of the value of Baby Boomers at the company leadership level. When large and small company leadership understand better the significantly shifting global demographics and communicate the potential danger of inaction then the functional components of the company (people) will support the vision, goals and strategies established by leadership.
Through a process to change your company’s frame of reference (paradigm shift) about the value of Baby Boomers, and the frame of reference of your employees, you can make significant progress and improve the market position of your company, now and into the future. To begin the process, we suggest that small business entrepreneurs and the leadership of larger companies:
1. Become familiar with the physiological, psychological and emotional changes related to the aging process/ Baby Boomer population (education and knowledge). Understanding customer behavior in the fall and winter stage of life is one of the most significant keys to success in this market.
2. Based upon your learning, be willing to change your frame of reference (paradigm shift). Don’t let “Baby Boomer Market Myopia” interfere with an intelligent approach to securing and keeping Baby Boomers.
3. Critically think through your vision, goals, strategies and service priorities to establish a “common construct” which sets direction and sense of purpose. Planning and prioritizing are major components of increasing market share in Baby Boomer populations.
4. Shape your culture (attitudes, behaviors and beliefs) to support the value of Baby Boomers to become as natural as thinking. In larger organizations, surface a “champion”, and empower and enable her/him to take the action necessary to assure the vision, goals and strategies of a Baby Boomer market improvement initiatives are actualized. In smaller companies, the entrepreneur is the “champion.”
5. Manage the changes necessary to support the belief that the sales and services professionals/employees are the most important people in the organization. They are the ones serving the customer. The environment you create for employees is the world they will create for the Baby Boomer.
6. Know your internal capabilities, and declare war on bureaucracy. Don’t allow individual program agenda’s to control your approach to these lucrative populations. Begin the process of analyzing your organizations service, product delivery and distribution system with the goal of responding to later life stage satisfactions needs of these populations.
7. Identify the service gaps. Qualitative and quantitative research is the second most significant key to a workable product or service improvement strategy to the Baby Boomer market. Apply the findings of current research findings on aging, to your traditional and online communications efforts.
8. Apply your acquired knowledge to operations management, product and service planning and decision-making. Avoid using the age of the target market as the determining factor for product/service development or marketing and sales. Use your knowledge of Life Stage behavior to determine your approach to service and product improvement. Include members of the Baby Boomer population in your design, delivery and communications development process.
9. Question your approach to communicating with the Baby Boomer. Consider perception, values and physical changes of the target market in your deliberations. Consider the age of those in your organization responsible for communications to Baby Boomers. Typically, younger employees have difficulty empathizing with aging adult populations.
10. Educate and train employees to sensitize them to the physiological, psychological and emotional changes brought about by aging. Your training should translate knowledge gained into product and service development, marketing and sales and service improvement techniques. Training/education should be constant, intense, lavish and universal.
11. Consider physical facility improvement programs to accommodate aging customers. Tactical actions are relatively simple to implement to create a friendly and appealing environment.
Multi-dimensional and complex, the solution to improving traditional and online marketing, increasing sales and improving service to Baby Boomers should begin with acquiring knowledge, providing education, increasing understanding and commitment to goal achievement. Action on the first six points is a prerequisite to undertaking the last five.
Few groups today offer as much potential as Baby Boomers. What you do to improve your company’s position in the minds of them will be appreciated by younger markets as well. Your success is directly tied to your frame of reference and the strategic approach you take. You can view Baby Boomers as an opportunity or a distraction – the choice is yours.