First Up: Baby Boomers
4. Go easy on the eyes
For many aging prospects, eyesight and perception are changing, and direct mail designers need to make layouts legible. “You have to have larger type, but not such large type that it looks insulting, and the single biggest graphic mistake that’s made is putting text over an illustration which is very difficult, especially for an older person, to read,” says Kurt Medina, president of Rose Valley, Pa.–based Medina Associates, which specializes in boomer direct marketing.
5. Personalize the effort
“The older group looks to the letter as a personal communication … as opposed to the COMPANY writing,” Medina shares. To make the letter more personal, he suggests indenting paragraphs, moving the signature block and date to the right, and using a less promotional voice. Medina adds that lift notes and testimonials also help create a more one-to-one message.
6. Incorporate new media
It is a myth that because boomers are older, they are less literate to new media. “The current breakpoint for use and acceptance of computers is about 70 years old,” Medina says. With computers on their desktops since the ’80s, boomers are responsive to online channels. “People will use the print direct mail to get into the idea of the product or service, but then they’ll go online to look at it from a more detailed point of view and order,” Green explains.
7. Don’t rely on hype
Boomers who have “been there and done that” won’t believe marketing hype or follow a herd mentality. “Big starbursts saying ‘Only available next week,’ or ‘The first 40 people in will win,’ those techniques are fine for younger folks, but the older people know that frankly, if they miss Macy’s one-day sale, there’s going to be another one next week,” Medina asserts.
8. Help start a legacy
“Another area of development is a desire for relevance and legacy,” says Green. If you are marketing a diamond-encrusted watch, it may have appealed to a boomer’s sense of status and luxury several years ago. Now, he suggests the best approach for a luxury product is to position it as an heirloom—for example, “Something beautiful to leave your granddaughter”—to renew the item’s value in the boomer’s eyes.