The Internet creates crazes like wildfire. No sooner has a video of a child having his finger bitten left our screens than a new political movement spreads its Internet wings to fill up our browsers. Yet some things that begin life as crazes turn into a lot more. Who would have thought that the fledgling social network, Facebook, would become the background to our lives, without us even really noticing? Every day you need to check Facebook, see other people’s statuses and there can surely be nothing more hurtful than deleting a friend. There is one thing that has surpassed Facebook, however: blogging.
A Blog in the Ointment
One of the first uses of blogs was to push a certain political message. Indeed, most of the most popular blogs come the turn of the millennium were political blogs that aimed to promote a sense of free speech that their authors felt was absent from the mainstream media. Thus, big political blogs quickly realised that they could influence far more than the press: utilising the power to print at any time on any day and getting their own opinions out there with speed and panache. Thus the blogosphere’s influence grew: people were more prepared to listen.
Companies have latched onto the idea of blogging big time, with the informal style and large reach making a blog a far more cost efficient method of online marketing than their more formal predecessors. Thus, the role of the guest blogger was born. So they did not have to hire a permanent member of staff, the big companies instead turned to the community of writers surfing the web. By bringing in these guest bloggers, the companies guaranteed themselves a constant stream of content that would draw readers to their blogs. Better than that, though, as these bloggers were professionals, the companies got top quality, highly targeted content that really did engage that audience.
The Future of the World Wide Web
As the situation has changed however, the audience has also shimmered and changed shape in the heat of the day. The global financial crisis really changed the landscape of the working world, putting businesses insolvent and individuals out of work. It may have taken a year or two more but these people gradually gravitated online. Perhaps enticed by those spam adverts offering thousands a day online, people started to search for “How to make money online” and found that they could. Last year, one of the fastest growing websites in the UK was a previously unknown forum called The Warrior Forum. This site is a collection of Internet Marketers. If one group represents the “making money online” niche, it is this
Recently my elderly father bought himself a new mobile. He strode, sorry wrong verb, he’s old. He shuffled confidently, sorry, done it again. He shuffled belligerently, but nervously, into a gleaming temple where products aren’t so much on show as implied by bright colours and a lot of chrome. His entrance appeared to provoke a tangible sense of horror in the youthful sales assistants, three of whom managed to get away leaving a bewildered young man facing the slightly wary, watchful but relatively innocent and wrinkly face in front of him. I’d positioned myself in a secluded vantage point, partly to enjoy the show, and partly to ensure nothing went awry and my dad came out with the £15.00 Pay as You Go Vintage model he needed and not an iPhone. Or started swearing loudly in public (again). As it was, I needn’t have worried, in what must have been record time he was out again with required £15.00 phone, leaving a pale and visibly shaking young man wiping his brow. Poor lad, from the way he bundled the new phone into a bag and took the payment at high speed, it may have been his first time; selling to old people.
Are they worth selling to?
It’s rare in advertising that you’ll find many images of them; it’s rare in advertising or marketing that you’ll find many of them actually working in the industry. It’s an established fact in marketing that old people don’t buy anything, as after the age of around 49 our consumerism gene fails, we remain terminally loyal to our brands and are too busy buying cheap loaves of bread along with milk to soak it in. The target market for nearly all marketing agencies are those in their twenties, thirties and (at a push) their forties (if it’s possible to live that long?). However, there’s a problem with this; old people have certain qualities that make them perfect for just about any product; money, lots of it. They’ve generally paid off the mortgage, got the kids out of the house and have a private income they don’t have to work for; how much more of a target do you need?
So how do you do it?
Many advertising agencies and professionals admit that partly because their own demographic is at the young end of the scale, there’s a perception that older consumers are too canny to be tricked by bright but translucent marketing gimmicks. This may well be true, but it doesn’t mean they are impossible to lure. Here are some simple rules to follow:
- Treat “them” with respect; in fact forget the “them and us” equation, it’s a load of rubbish. Old people are nothing but older people with a young person inside, or at least one in the past. Generally, as you get older you notice you don’t feel any different to the way you did when you were eighteen. Don’t think there are things you can’t say in front of them; they’ve not only heard it all before they’ve probably tried quite a lot of it out for themselves; several times. If anything, they’re probably less easy to offend than younger people!
- Don’t talk down to them; in most cases they’re probably a bit more savvy than you, having experienced life without the product you’re trying to sell them for many years, they’ll probably see the advantages of living with it; if it has any. Explain how the product in question can help or relate to their lives.
- This is where we hit a problem; old people are pretty darn bright. It comes back to that reason that marketing executives are keen to steer away from them. They’ve had kids, grandkids and long since learnt the art of seeing through, shall we say, the odd white lie. One major marketing firm admitted recently that they avoided selling to ‘the older sector of the community’ simply because it was easier to fool young people into buying stuff. The trick here is to be honest with them, they’re highly likely to be honest right back at you and they’ll actually appreciate honesty more than all the sales talk in the world.
- Don’t generalise with older consumers; this is good advice with any consumer, but the older we get the less worried we are about trends, fashions and fads. In general though, if a product is perceived as cool, most young people will fear imminent death if they don’t have it. Older consumers have learned to live with the concept of imminent death and tend to be less afraid of going with their own tastes and needs.
But why bother if they’re nearly at the security controlled gates of that great Residential Care Home round the back of the industrial estate? Actually, they’re probably not that close. Collectively, we are all living longer, healthier, lives. Marketing and advertising agencies may long have classified the over 50s as technically dead, but that misguided truth has, thankfully, left the building. It probably wasn’t using a zimmer-frame, either, but was jogging and dressed in the latest expensive kit. “Old” people are, compared to many of us, wealthy people of independent means, and they are often willing to spend significant amounts of those means. In terms of marketing demographics, this could make old people the new young.
Internet Marketers mainly aim to make websites that bring in money every day without them lifting a finger. The idea is that these websites are full of adverts that pay out every time they’re clicked on.
These Internet marketers have a need of regular content to supply their websites with up to date articles and blogs and bring in visitors. Thus, a lot of them turn again to content creators. While a lot of these Internet marketers turned to the cheap market – and there are a lot of stories of woe throughout the Internet – some identified Google’s love of quality content and started to look for those highly skilled guest bloggers the big companies had been using. After all, the best way for a service provider to make money is to keep its customers happy, which is what Google wants.
It is therefore very, very important to learn off these big companies: there is a reason their online revenues are much larger. Getting your blogger outreach right in the current climate is essential: you want to attract people in your “front door” and get them buying after all.