By Maddie Langston, IDOC Practice Marketing Consultant
When I work with optometric practice owners and managers on marketing plans, I almost always hear concern over how to market the practice to the older people who live in their communities. Many have the impression that adults who are over a certain age – say, 55 – aren’t very tech savvy, and so more traditional forms of advertising, like an ad in the print Yellow Pages, must be kept in the marketing budget to ensure these folks are reached. It’s true that traditional forms of advertising such as billboards and community print magazines can increase brand awareness for the practice; however, many practices have limited marketing budgets and must make choices, and some of these traditional forms of marketing can be surprisingly expensive. I do understand the concern, though, because people in their mid-fifties to early seventies are an important demographic for an optometric practice, so I’d like to share some statistics about these folks – the baby boomers.
Baby boomers in the United States were born between 1946 and 1964, so this means they’re between the ages of 54 and 72 in 2018. Most of them are still actively working, and even the baby boomers in retirement want to remain active – they’re traveling, working out, and engaged grandparents. 23% of entrepreneurs in 2014 were older than 55, and many baby boomers are launching startups instead of retiring at all.
One characteristic about baby boomers is that they despise being referred to as "old". Words like "senior", "aged", and "elderly" are real turn-offs for these folks. They are interested in maintaining their energy, vitality and good health for as long as possible, so emphasizing how you can help them do just that should be a key marketing message for the practice to connect with baby boomers.
80% of baby boomers belong to at least one social media platform, and are the most rapidly growing segment of users on Facebook. They're also the most likely to follow you on Facebook and engage with the content you post by liking, sharing and commenting, and so they can be very helpful to increase referrals and word of mouth marketing through social media.
They spend more time each week online than they do watching television – approximately 27 hours a week – which is 2 hours more than people between the ages of 16 and 34. The AARP estimates that 73% of people ages 50 to 59 and 54% of people ages 60 to 69 own smartphones, so instead of agreeing to another year of advertising in the print yellow pages, a better use of those same marketing budget dollars is optimizing the mobile version of your practice website, ensuring that the font size is adequate and that you appear high in Google searches for your expertise.
I hope I helped to dispel the notion that your older patients aren’t tech-savvy, too. Smartphones have really made it easy for all of us to search for information, and truthfully, you don’t need to be all that tech-savvy to utilize the technology available to us in 2018. All traditional forms of advertising, including Every Door Direct Mail, billboards, real estate/community magazines and newspapers will drive interested prospective patients to a Google search for your website, Facebook page, Google listing and Yelp listing – so be sure to add content to these places which speaks to baby boomers’ needs and preferences. Show them how you can partner with them to ensure they maintain optimum vision for their active, busy lifestyles.
Maddie Langston brings extensive experience in marketing and sales administration and has developed strategies to drive sales for various industries. Most recently, Maddie developed marketing programs for a national network of independently owned auto repair service centers. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Liberty University. Maddie and her husband Jim have a teenage son and two beagles. She enjoys reading, watching documentaries and hiking in her spare time. For questions or comments about this article, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org..