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VOL. 39 | NO. 10 | Friday, March 6, 2015

Digital marketing for all generations

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While speaking to the Vancouver Board of Trade a few years ago, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz talked about the need for companies to use social media to build a “reservoir of trust” rather than just to sell more products.

“Social and digital media is a bullet train, and that bullet train is not coming home,” Schultz said.

Not every business has the resources to devote to building a “reservoir of trust” on social media like a corporate giant on the scale of Starbucks. But businesses cannot afford to ignore a digital marketing strategy.

A common misconception for business owners who don’t put much stock in digital marketing is that their customers aren’t tech-savvy.

If their customers aren’t online much, why invest in a digital marketing plan?

Is the basis for that assumption grounded in research, or is it just a hunch?

Maybe your customer base is older and the assumption is they aren’t online much so you’ve decided not to invest in a digital marketing plan.

If that’s the case, resist the temptation to base business decisions on assumptions, and research the online usage of your target market.

Baby boomers, in fact, are big adopters of digital technology. Don’t forget that Bill Gates and the late Steve Jobs – inventors of much of the technology used today – are baby boomers.

A Nielsen study of baby boomers in 2012 found the group makes up a third of all Internet users. In fact, among older adults who use the Internet, 71 percent do so daily.

Similarly, the Pew Research Center reported in 2014 that more than half of adults 65 and older are Internet users.

Among those 65-plus with an annual household income of $75,000 or more, 90 percent go online, and 82 percent have broadband at home.

Seventy percent of baby boomers have a Facebook account, according to Adweek, which isn’t that far behind the 81 percent of Gen X and 88 percent of millennials with an account.

Only 12 percent of boomers actively use Twitter, Adweek reveals, but with millennials’ usage at 26 percent, they aren’t far behind.

A recent Forrester Research benchmark tech study found that while baby boomers represent 25 percent of the population, they consume 40 percent of technology in dollars spent.

The takeaway is to avoid outdated assumptions about baby boomers and their affinity, or lack thereof, for technology and embrace digital as part of your marketing strategy no matter the targeted generation.

Every day you wait, you are missing opportunities. The question to consider isn’t how many potential customers are online, but rather how few of them aren’t.

Lori Turner-Wilson is an award-winning columnist and managing partner of RedRover Sales & Marketing, www.redrovercompany.com, with offices in Memphis and Nashville. You can follow RedRover on Twitter (@redrovercompany and @loriturner) and Facebook (facebook.com/redrovercompany).

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