The Big Myth Behind “Boomer” Marketing

When it comes to marketing reverse mortgage products, there are a few important factors that are often overlooked. The biggest myth? The idea that there is such a thing as a “boomer market.”

Those Americans born between 1946 and 1964 number in the range of 77 million according to census data. Increasingly, those in their 60s are looking into home equity as a retirement income source, a recent MetLife Mature Market Institute study showed.

In talking about home equity products with these households, originators may be wise to consider a few things. “Ageless marketing” while maybe counterintuitive, is paramount among them, says Jim Gilmartin, founder of Chicago-based Coming of Age Marketing.

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“If you believe there’s a ‘senior market,’ you probably have the tendency to believe there’s an ‘average senior,'” Gilmartin told RMD in an interview. “The bottom line is, the older we get, the less we are alike.”

Grouping or categorizing the boomer demographic is a danger that many companies run into in their marketing efforts, Gilmartin says. Getting past any stereotypes or ideas that the group can be defined by age is the first lesson.

“You can look at age as giving you direction, as in understanding that people in certain ages do certain things,” he says. “But if you focus on age and not life stage, you are making a lot of mistakes.”

Of the many observations Coming of Age has made in its 20-plus years consulting on marketing to those in the later life stages: Honesty is more important than ever, as is the first impression, since older people tend to value first impressions much more highly than young people do.

Marketing reverse mortgage products to women is another guideline. The woman of the house is likely to have a more emotional attachment and a stronger stake in any home equity decision-making, says Gilmartin.

Some physical considerations are also important. Images are proven to work better than words on a page, according to Coming of Age research. Look to images, metaphors and similes as communication tools, Gilmartin says.

A typical direct mail marketing piece increases its impression tenfold when it features pictures and a story, for example.

“People like a beginning, middle and end. As a result, those who use anecdotes and story formats get the attention of this market.”

The 50-64 year old population is also going online increasingly to get information with the use of social networking increasing 88% in 2010, according to Pew Center research. But while boomers are plugged in and are online, meeting with them face to face is a timeless strategy.

“Get into the community as much as you can,” Gilmartin says. “Train your sales people to understand who they’re talking to. You’re not there to pitch a product, you’re there to pitch an experience. What’s the [reverse mortgage] going to lead to? A better quality of life. That’s what’s going to get their attention.”

Written by Elizabeth Ecker

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