20 October 2011

Baby Boomers & Smartphones

It was way back in 2007 when I blogged a bit about smartphones vs. simple cell phones, listing “The Good” and “The Bad”:

The real issue:
Marketers assuming that if you're over fifty you're automatically a member of one and only one age demographic - all with the same needs and wants.

It’s not a question of dumbing down technology for Baby Boomers (we invented and were the first users of most of this stuff) – but more a question of universal design, easy-to-handle knobs and controls, bigger fonts and correct color contrasts…

A few experts on this subject:

Smartphones & Usability
Jakob Nielsen:
How do you design mobile applications for older people? With great care.


imageTech & Baby Boomers: Universal Design vs. Universally Dull
Dr. Joseph Coughlin
The convergence of technology and global ageing is driving new business opportunities, innovations in service delivery and the promise of a better life tomorrow for older adults …

Fat fingers are no barrier to using the iPhone
By Dick Stroud
The first video is from the Ellen DeGeneres show. It is an amusing parody of the Apple's iPhone 4 ad. I have to say I think it contains a smidgen of truth.

So four years later it’s nice to find another expert with a practical list of smartphone features he uses regularly:

imageSmartphone Features for Baby Boomers
by Robert Fowler
… I found my smartphone easy to use and now understand it’s features and how it will help me in my daily life. I think Boomers will continue to discover the benefits of smartphones  and find them useful like I did.  As we get older using technology will make life easier and more manageable.

For all smartphone designers to remember: an easy-to-grip handle on a utensil is not ‘dumbing down’.

15 October 2011

Understanding the Boomers and Beyond Market

imageCD Publications has a long history of excellent 50+ Marketing books, pamphlets and newsletters.  77 Truths About Marketing To The 50+ Consumer by Kurt Medina and John Migliaccio was published over a decade ago, and updated in 2009Selling To Seniors has been around for I don’t know how long, and yours truly has been featured in it I don’t know how many times.

Their latest offering: 

imageUnderstanding the Boomers and Beyond Market 
Publisher: Mike Gerecht Senior Editor:
Dr. Leslie M. Harris
This new Special Report, published by Selling to Seniors – the 50+ Marketing Report,  zeros in on the aging Baby Boomer market and how it differs significantly from both older and younger generations … The book includes essays from some of the world's leading experts on the 50+ market, including:  Adriane Berg, Brent Bouchez, Mark Gaylor, Gary Geyer, Steve Howard, Paul Johnson, Gerry Linda, Theodore Reed, Jerry Shereshewsky, Jane Singer and Dick Stroud, as well as Dr. Harris.

imageIn the first chapter by Gerry Linda, there is discussion about The Nyren Hypothesis – something I never knew existed. (Then again, hypotheses may not exist, since they are by definition hypothetical.)  If I told you what it was, I’d have to defend it with footnotes and citations and all sorts of academic rigamarole.  You’ll just have to read the book. 

And do.  Understanding the Boomers and Beyond Market is full of outstanding, easily digestible, practical marketing advice.

14 October 2011

Entrepreneurs & Baby Boomers III

imageimageWhen weather permits, I peddle up and down a popular bike trail here in The Great Northwest – on my big-seat, balloon-wheel cruiser.  Usually I pass by folks pushing, pulling, or tugging all sorts of wild contraptions.  Often they’re strapped to these medieval torture devices.

imageimageThose measly trike things unnerve me the most.  Put someone on one, and they remind me of cartoon velociraptors swerving and scurrying, looking for lunch.

Awhile back I received a phone call from a gentleman who’d designed a clever piece of exercise/sporting equipment for rollicking and rolling on trails. It was an adaptation of another clever, successful product, making a certain popular activity much safer – and more fun.  He told me the URL, I punched it up, and immediately knew his offering had potential.  Lots of potential.

I was preparing for an overseas gig, said I liked his product, and would contact him when I returned.

A week later I punched up the URL and took a look around.  I still loved the product, but there were major issues – both with the design and the positioning:

  • imageAlthough well-constructed, the product looked like an odd piece of medical equipment you’d find abandoned in a corner of a hospital.  It needed an industrial designer/artist to mold it into something exciting and engaging.  Colors, sleek lines, etc.  
  • And, of course, since it’s (mostly) for Baby Boomers, the offering was positioned as a medical device. Very silly.  It’s actually quite an exhilarating and fun piece of sporting equipment - although you’d never know that by looking at it.

I emailed the inventor/entrepreneur, telling him that in the next few days was going to put together a memo about his product, tell him what I think he needed to do and what I could do for him. 

He immediately replied:

I didn't request anything from you … I didn't hire you … I just finished professional videos which are now being edited.

Not sure how to respond (if at all), I thought about the fact that most entrepreneurs – at least ones with an idea for a product or service – might not be businesspeople, might be a bit na├»ve and paranoid.  As understanding as I could be, I explained my intentions:

Of course you didn’t hire me. I was going to ‘pitch’ you at no cost.

How about this – do what you’re doing and have fun and good luck.  But if it isn’t going as planned in a few months, contact me. I’ll put together the pitch then.

I never expected to hear from him again – and never did.  A month later I punched up his web site.  The ‘professional video’ was anything but.  Some lady quacked away about the product – and there was no wind shield for the microphone.  Just standing there, it sounded like she was reporting from the scene of a hurricane. 

And the rather dismal-looking picture of the product languishes on the web site.  Alexa global ranking: 16,104,259.  No U.S. ranking because when one or two or less people visit a site per month, Alexa ignores it.

Lessons for entrepreneurs?  Due Diligence, of course.  But not everybody is out to steal your your money with promises of fortunes with their marketing/advertising prowess.  I’m not the only one who could’ve helped this fellow, put him on the right track.

Entrepreneurs & Baby Boomers I

Entrepreneurs & Baby Boomers II

06 October 2011

Entrepreneurs & Baby Boomers: Part II

From my business web site:

I have an egalitarian bent and enjoy slinging sentences for small start-ups and entrepreneurs.

So I get a lot of email from entrepreneurs and folks starting their own businesses.  Some emails are ignored (MLM, vitamins, supplements, etc.), some are answered and we might chat for a bit on the phone as I try to point them in the right direction, some become clients, some don’t.

It’s sort of like the real-life business world.

I’ve found that there are two mistakes made by almost every entrepreneur targeting this unwieldy, diverse market:

  1. Positioning their product/service in a medical category when it could easily be positioned as a lifestyle or premium offering.
  2. Assuming that all you need is a web site, maybe a bit of paid Google Search, maybe some banner ads here and there – and they will come.

I’ll write about #1 in future posts.  Let me take on #2 first (not that I haven’t been screaming about it for years).

Some posts you should skim before I prattle on:

Click this ad. 0.051% do.
… a tiny fraction of people ever click on an ad. In fact, 99% of stable cookies examined never click on an ad … optimization of campaigns to achieve higher CTR may in fact be reducing brand ROI.

Ad Campaign Effectiveness Dives
by Steve McClellan
ertain segments in the online space were more sharply impacted during the reported period. Display ads and sponsorships were down 26% and 35%, respectively, in customer engagement.

Online ads generally were 25% less effective than traditional ads for "incremental customer demand generation," per the report.

…With the exception of the workplace, smartphones (along with iPads and Kindles or something like them) might just make desktops and laptops and the web as we know it obsolete.  If ‘being connected’ mostly means communicating with friends, doing simple search, reading the news - then all that’s really needed is a smartphone. 

A ubiquitous phrase (I’ve used it myself):  You have to cut through the clutter. 

imageActually, the reverse is true when uploading a product/service web site.  A better hackneyed analogy: Think about traveling along a major highway in the desert and seeing a dirt road leading to what appears to be nowhere.  Now imagine travelling ten miles up this empty road and finding a big billboard for your product/service.  That’s what a consumer-targeted web site really is. 

You can put a small billboard on the main highway telling people to turn off and travel ten miles to see your big billboard – but how many people will do that

imageAlexa is a free service (or partially free).  I have their toolbar on my browser.  It’s fascinating to know what a web page rank is:

A Bit Of Social Networking Site Research

  • ****.com has a three-month global Alexa traffic rank of 32,289. Approximately 68% of visits are bounces (one page view only).
  • *******.com has a three-month global Alexa traffic rank of 411,987, and roughly 58% of visits to the site consist of only one page view (i.e., are bounces).

Ready to spend your marketing nickels or your gazillions on Banner Ads or coercing members to be ‘fans’ on these sites?

I had a meeting with an advertising agency a few months ago.  Their client is a medium-sized financial planning company.  They hired a comic actor (semi-well known) and made a few videos with him, hoping they’d ‘go viral’ or something.  This was not a TV campaign, and I wondered why.  “We’re going to have a Facebook page!” the account exec said, with a big, excited smile.  They already had some banner ads floating around on a few financial web sites. 

Here is the Alexa ranking for this web-only campaign: image
There isn’t a U.S. Ranking because it’s so infinitesimal you can’t measure it. 

And this is not a small start-up. 

Part III will be about an interesting piece of sporting equipment that is being positioned as a medical device.  Its Alexa global ranking at the moment is 16,114,472.

Entrepreneurs & Baby Boomers: Part I

26 September 2011

Entrepreneurs & Baby Boomers: Part I

All of a sudden every other news article about Baby Boomers is focused on business and entrepreneurs.  A handful:

Advice for baby boomers who want to start businesses
imageQ: I'm an early baby boomer and am thinking about leaving my corporate job to open a small business of my own. Do you have any advice?
A: You are not alone. Many of America's 77 million baby boomers contemplating retirement are finding that slowing down is the last thing they want to do.

Rise of the Boompreneur
By Casey Dowd
imageBoomer: Why are baby boomers starting businesses?
Izard: The economic conditions today certainly have triggered many baby boomers to want to go back to work and often they want to work in their own business; they don't want to work for someone else.

Small Business Survey Reveals Baby Boomers Account for 84 Percent of New Businesses
“To be able to use my 401(k) to invest in myself and to start my own business made everything possible. This was the best business decision I have made in my career.”

An Aging Population Means New Jobs
imageKerry Hannon, Contributor
This demographic shift is already creating a wave of new fields and opportunities for workers of all ages. It’s just a tease of what’s to come.

South Florida is stage for new generation of entrepreneurs: Baby boomers
Peter Fogel and Anna Collins, who are baby boomers, (born between 1946-1964), have found their niche: an Internet radio show in which they talk about themselves and everyone else their age, laugh a lot and make money doing it.

AARP Launches New Innovation@50+ Scholarships for DEMO Conference
New scholarships to help two entrepreneurs pitch the next great idea for Americans 50+ at nation’s premiere start-up launch conference.

An excellent introductory video about this emerging business market (although it concentrates on technology only – just about every industry can benefit from targeting Baby Boomers):

MIT AgeLab: Emerging Business Markets in Aging with Dr. Joseph Coughlin

About three minutes in, Maureen Mohyde says something that sounds very familiar.  From my book © 2005, 2007:

"Advertising to Baby Boomers" Targets Clients and Entrepreneurs
imageIn his book "Advertising to Baby Boomers," Chuck Nyren takes on the excuses that many advertising agencies give for not targeting the baby boom audience, and urges companies wanting to attract this formidable market of 76 million people to rethink their approaches.

For the next few posts (over the next week or so), I’ll concentrate on some common mistakes entrepreneurs have made when advertising and marketing to Baby Boomers.  Most will be real-life examples.