Four Takeaways for Creating ‘Seniors-Friendly’ Advertising

Much of the retirement community advertising misses the mark. So much of it is the same. It’s a picture of the smiling older couple, the daughter and mom or the tennis-playing or golfing twosome. There is no distinctiveness nor differentiation from one community’s advertising to another. As a result, there is little or no compelling need to respond to the message.

Creating “seniors-friendly” marketing and sales communication involves understanding the targeted market’s attitudes and value system. It also involves not using the attitudes and beliefs of younger generations who create the ads.

Each senior community needs to spend training time on developing staff awareness and appropriate “seniors-friendly” responses. There are four “takeaways” I use in conducting training workshops for art directors, copywriters, researchers, graphic designers, account executives and media buyers.

Takeaway #1: Learning how to overcome generational differences. The average age of ad agencies account representatives is between 28 and 30 years of age, according to the advertising industry. They are 20, 30 or even 40 years younger than prospective residents. They don’t necessarily know how older adults take in and process information and how they make decisions. It’s far different than the frame of reference for younger generations. They need training so they can create effective advertising that touches the heart and minds of prospects.

Takeaway #2: How aging changes comprehension. The most meaningful physical challenge affecting communications is vision decline. Vision decline is one of the most obvious signs of aging. About 90 percent of people over age 60 require vision correction of one kind or another. With aging, the eye becomes thicker and heavier, reducing the ability to focus on near objects. Training provides practical techniques for overcoming barriers to declining vision and how to overcome them.

Takeaway #3: Cognition shift to the right side of the brain. Modern brain research shows that older adults tend to become more right-brain oriented, as they age. Therefore, it is more effective to explain senior living concepts, ideas and other relevant information in terms of right brain concepts using pictures and other visual cues, icons, stories and emotionally-enriched words. Marketing staffs don’t do this intuitively; they need to learn how to do so creatively.

Takeaway #4: Using the five motivational values that drive seniors. According to research psychologists and cultural anthropologists, there are five emotional drivers or motivational values when dealing with people of age. Each motivational value offers an opportunity to create meaningful advertising visuals.

They are independence or autonomy; connections with family, friends, and society; personal or spiritual growth; renewal -– rest, recreation and relaxation and altruism or giving back to society. Once creative personnel understand this, they are able to produce powerful advertising that gets the attention of seniors and their adult children.

If you advertising requires an overhaul, email me at [email protected] for a copy of my “10 Tips to Creating More Effective Retirement Community Advertising”.