15 April 2007

Positioning Magazines for Baby Boomers

I’ve been doing a lot of consulting for magazines/magazine web sites lately. When I present at a public or private conference and the attendees are involved in print, included is a large chunk about positioning magazines for Baby Boomers. And I’m informally asked about this subject on a regular basis. Here’s a quick version of what I say:

Take a look at this classic commercial from the early 1980s ...

That was before desktop computers, cell phones, IM, BlackBerrys, Twitter, etc. If done today the spot might still be funny and persuasive, but would reflect a different ethos - because for many of us life is like that. I know a big chunk of mine is. (We have a new, cute term for it: multitasking.)

There are active and passive parts of our day. Without getting into too much psychobabble, as you get older the passive side needs more nourishment. It’s not really passive. It’s focused absorption. At some point you have to climb out of your frenetic digital nest and concentrate on one thing. It might be reading a book, watching a TV show or movie, listening to music, looking out the window.

Or immersing yourself in a magazine.

This isn’t ‘down time’ (that would be sleeping), but nourishing your psyche by absorbing and not actively being involved in what you’re doing.

When radios became must-haves in the late 1920s and early 1930s, the doomsayers said that this would be the end of magazines and newspapers. When television became popular in the late 1940s and early 1950s the doomsayers said that this would be the end of radio. When the WWW became popular in the late 1990s and early 2000s the doomsayers said that this would be the end of everything. They’re still saying it.

I think not. (Although I do wonder about the fate of daily newspapers.)

Magazines do not compete with the various offerings slithering and exploding in a digital nest. If you fashion a web site for your magazine it would be wise to make it a different experience – because it will be whether you like it or not. It’s a web site, not a magazine. Certainly a bit of cross-promotion, a bit of cross-branding should be a part of the experience. I might suggest the same logo but a different layout and color palette. Certainly different content.

To position the magazine in a promotional campaign place it far away from the interactive frenzy. It’s like a pleasant dinner, a walk, a good movie, a good book – to be singularly appreciated. Too often, I see magazines desperately trying to compete with and within the digital nest. This nest is here to stay – but for a big part of their day Baby Boomers are happy to fly far from all the chaos and into another nest – one that is warm and nourishing. That’s where they will find, among other delectable items, your magazine.

12 April 2007

Market To The Max in Seattle

Next month I’ll be speaking at the Seattle Direct Marketing Association’s event Market to The Max:
The marketing industry heats up more every day, with advanced technologies, privacy concerns, and an increasingly fickle audience. Never fear! With 16 sessions to choose from, you're sure to find the topics that concern you most in these turbulent times.
Lots of interesting folks are involved, including one of my favorite bloggers Robert Scoble. He blogs about blogging – also used to work for Microsoft and wrote a lot about it.

I’ll probably ruffle some feathers with my take on WOMM. We’ll see …

I love getting emails like this one from yesterday:
Dear Chuck Nyren,

I am a Portuguese sociologist that recently founded an event planning company to the 50+ market. Well, I always liked marketing and communications subjects, so now I feel I need to have deeper knowledge. I'm researching on the best way to communicate with the 50+ market in Portugal. I am reading Dick Stroud's book, and it as been very useful to me, as well as his blog. Then I found your blog too and it really has been very interesting. Let me congratulate you for your work and site! Thank you so much for all the help you are indirectly giving me in this very beginning of my business venture! Wish you all the best and hope to keep in touch with you!

Best regards,
It’s always a pleasurable shock when you find out that people around the world are reading your blog, your book – even if you haven’t a clue what they’re saying.

09 April 2007

Centrum Silver's Strip Poker Spot Not

Gill Walker of Evergreen Marketing in Australia sent a few of us agency and marketing folk an email. The subject line: We love strip poker. No comment in the message body, just a movie file attachment of a commercial.

When I watch commercials I try not to bring all my professional baggage along for the first visit. So … I mildly chuckled at this Centrum spot:

Kind of clever. A bit hokey. Actually, a Cocoon knock-off. But cute.

Of course, as a piece of persuasion - it fails. The spot is rife with ageism, and (even worse) portrays the target market as a bunch of delusional imbeciles.

I'm assuming that the target market is not Baby Boomers. These folks look to be in their seventies and eighties. As an exercise, let's refashion this ad for Boomers by making it appealing and persuasive:

Keep the first half of the spot, maybe shorten it a bit. We hear a door open. Pan. Barreling in are two twenty/thirty something adults (maybe with their young children). "Mom, Dad - we're dropping in because ..."

The pan back to the poker table reveals four people in their fifties/sixties, still looking pretty good - maybe with a few potbellies, a bald head, etc. They're healthy, animated, colorful. Both groups (at the door and at the table) are shocked, uncomfortable. The young adults at the door squirm, mumble something, look at each other. "Oh! Ummm …." And out the door they go, slinking away.

Back to the strip poker game. There is a wild mix of reactions (because, contrary to advertising/marketing conventional non-wisdom, people over fifty are not all the same). One is a bit sheepish, another finds the situation highly amusing, another is embarrassed, another sloughs it off and shrugs as if to say, 'Who cares, no big deal.' After a moment, they all smile, maybe giggle - and merrily continue with the game.

Watching the original commercial again - I didn't laugh at the old folks. I laughed at the agency that produced this sad, insipid spot.

Check out Ronni Bennett's Time Goes By for her take on the commercial.

Update 11 APR 2007: Interesting developments concerning the origin of this video. Read about it over at Time Goes By.

07 April 2007

Two New Appointees to GRAND Magazine's Advisory Board

I'm now on GRAND Magazine's Advisory Board. Another recent addition to the board is Marti Barletta.

This is a magazine that's heading in the right direction. Christine Crosby knows that Baby Boomers are enjoying being grandparents and are very concerned about passing on their legacies to the Millennial Generation.

01 April 2007

Calcified Advertising Agencies

Rance Crain sums it up. It's as if he's reading from my book. Although I'm sure he hasn't read it. Obviously, he doesn't have to:
Boomer Boon: 'Crazy Aunts and Uncles' Spend $1.7 Trillion
The ad business is woefully out of touch with baby-boomer buying power. Young ad people think older people are stuck in their ways, so it's a waste of money to try to get them to change brands … a prime-time TV show with most of its viewers in the 34-to-49 range can get 30% more per ad minute than one that caters to people 55 and older. Yet consumers age 50 and up already spend more than $1.7 trillion on goods and services a year …
And the best part:
Agencies like to think of themselves as the last bastion of creativity, but they're in many ways the most calcified part of the process. Enlightened clients are beginning to realize this resistance to change is holding them back; the next step is to bypass their agencies' counsel.
It's my book/blog/consulting/speaking/creative strategy in a nutshell.

May 9, 2007: A follow-up piece by Rance Crain, You Know Who's Boss -- Consumers