By Cody Sipe, AFS Community Expert
One of the most frequent questions I get asked about marketing to older adult is “What works?” Trainers want to know where to go and what to do in order to build their loyal clientele of affluent older clients.
Sometimes their current methods and strategies just aren’t working very well or they just don’t have enough time and energy to figure it out on their own. There are certainly a lot of misconceptions that trainers have about how to find and engage with these potential clients so here are some tips to help you get moving in the right direction.
If there is one sure place to find older adults that would be interested in your training services it would be on Facebook. They are the fastest-growing segment on Facebook and do you want to know why? For the simple reason that they value relationships. They want to stay in touch with their children, grandchildren, friends and other like-minded people.Facebook provides a great forum for you to develop relationships with potential older clients by providing high-value content that really speaks to their needs in a relaxed environment.
Plus, they really value the opinion of their friends so when your information and client testimonials get shared by your older clients they take the time to look and listen. And if you really want to be effective no Facebook use videos.Older adults consume video content on Facebook at a startling rate.They love it!
Publish a Book
This is one of the most surefire ways to attract older adults.It is the ultimate calling card for three critical reasons. One, it establishes you as an authority.Published authors are automatically considered authorities by those that read them and older adults respect those with expertise. Two, it builds trust and familiarity by giving them insights into your training philosophies, approaches, benefits, etc.But even more than that it allows you to have an extended conversation with them so they also know about your personal life, struggles and values. Three, it gives you a natural opportunity to make a sales pitch for a low-barrier offer (LBO) which will be discussed later.
Think about being able to offer a copy of your book on Facebook as a lead generation tool or to potential clients that walk in to tour your facility. Or what about copies of your book in the lobby of physician offices, high end automobile dealers and other places your ideal clients frequent? By distributing your book in many different ways you will quickly become the local “go to” authority on functional aging and may even end up on the local news channel on a regular basis.
Similar to publishing a book, giving presentations is a way to establish your authority and expertise on a subject. Older adults are avid learners and eagerly attend opportunities to learn about topics that are meaningful and interesting to them. Plus, it gives you an opportunity meet a lot of people and allow them to get to know you a little bit.Now, of course, you have to deliver a solid presentation packed with tons of useful content that engages the attendees.
Don’t be that stuffy, know-it-all expert. Be personable and relatable. Interject some humor. Ask meaningful questions. You want to connect with them on an intellectual and personal level. And while you are at it why don’t you give them a copy of your book as a thank you gift for attending (in exchange for their email address of course)?
You have probably heard that “the list is King” or “the money is in the list”. Well it's true. Email marketing continues to be king among almost all populations but especially older adults. While some younger generations have shifted away from email the older generation has not. It is vital that you build your list as large as you can and then communicate with those on your list very regularly (3-5 times per week). Your three most basic list “buckets” should be Prospects, Clients and Former Clients. Some communications, such as your newsletter, can go out to all three but you also need to speak to each of these groups separately.
They are the fastest-growing segment on Facebook and do you want to know why? For the simple reason that they value relationships.
Obviously you want prospects to become clients; you want current clients to refer their friends; you want former clients to come back and give you another try. These messages need to be crafted separately. And if you are wondering about what email system to use I would highly recommend Fit Pro Newsletter. It is a robust email marketing system and incredible done-for-you newsletter all in one.
Yes! Direct mail works for older clients. They read their mail at a much higher rate than other age groups so it is a great way to step inside their home and speak to them. Because of all of the marketing resources available you can easily target your ideal client based on age, income level, education and other critical factors so you know you are reaching high value prospects that are most likely to become your clients. But direct mail campaigns must be done well.
Typically this means a 3-5 postcard series designed with a single goal in mind – to get the prospect to take one specific action. The action could be coming in to get a free copy of your book, taking you up on a low barrier offer, signing up for a free resource on your website, or something else. But it needs to be specific.
Low Barrier Offers (LBO)
An LBO is a short term training program at a greatly reduced cost. It is intended to get prospects that have been considering your program for a while but just haven’t pulled the trigger yet to make a small commitment so that they can experience it for themselves. The goal is to remove the barriers of cost, time and fear of the unknown. Most LBOs will be 14-28 days long and may cost anywhere from $29-99 depending on your typical training costs and the structure of the LBO itself. Keep in mind that you want to attract people that could pay your regular prices but just need to get in and see how awesome you are before making a long term commitment.
You don’t want to attract people that just want to program “hop” but have no intention or even the financial means of staying on long-term. During the LBO treat these short-term clients like you would your normal long-term clients so they experience your training and culture and begin developing relationships with staff and other clients. Be up-front with them that the purpose is to let them experience all of this so that they stay on long-term. That way, when you offer them a long-term commitment it isn’t a surprise.
Cody Sipe, PhD is the co-founder of the Functional Aging Institute and a leading authority on exercise and aging. For more information on training, marketing and sales go to www.functionalaginginstitute.com.