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Next week Creating Results team members will join thousands of non-profit senior living professionals for the LeadingAge Annual Meeting in Boston. This conference offers a mix of inspiration and education for those who provide housing and services to older adults.

We’ll be doing our own part, sharing senior living marketing insights in two presentations. The first session examines marketing trends and whether it really is the “End of Advertising,” as so many headlines have suggested in recent years.

Now I don’t want to steal any thunder from the presenting team of Todd Harff, Beth Spohn and Willow Valley Communities’ Kim Daly Nobbs. But I can give you a little advance preview: In this age of shiny new digital technologies, one traditional marketing technique is holding steady. It’s direct mail.

Survey says …

Creating Results surveyed marketers from around the country, focusing on LeadingAge member organizations and for-profit senior living providers. We asked them which tactics would receive the largest share of their 2015 budget. Direct mail topped the list, as the following chart illustrates.

Chart - survey - senior living marketers - marketing budget

Why? Because direct marketing still works, especially with older adults. A recent MarketingCharts study of baby boomers confirms this.

“More than 3 in 10 survey respondents report[ed] that direct mail had influenced them to purchase a product or service during the prior 6 months. Interestingly, that was the most commonly-cited purchase influencer of 16 identified, ahead of word-of-mouth and online consumer reviews.”

Chart - purchase influencers among baby boomers
Source: MarketingCharts

A Gallup survey of 65+ seniors also yielded positive news for direct mailers.

“Americans aged 65 and older were far more likely than those younger than 50 to say they look forward to checking the mail every day (56% vs. 36%). While that survey covered various types of mail (including letters and greeting cards), it’s worth noting that respondents who look forward to checking the mail were more likely to have a positive reaction to catalogs, advertising cards and fliers than respondents who don’t think much about checking the mail.”

Direct Mail Works. Can It Work Better?

It’s clear, then, that if you’re in charge of senior living marketing (or marketing another service / product to boomers and seniors), direct mail will be an important part of your budget this year and next. Those budgets are increasingly strapped. And there are other shiny new digital techniques vying for a larger share of the pie.

What can you do to improve the ROI of direct mail?

That’s the topic of the second Creating Results’ session at the LeadingAge Annual Meeting: “Making the Dinosaur Dance.” Beth Mickey and I will be talking about how to make direct marketing more effective by aligning it with digital marketing efforts. The “new moves” we recommend for this dino include personalization, segmentation and taking inspiration from other industries.

What do you think? Is direct mail helping you achieve your senior living marketing goals? What are you doing to make it work better? Share your comments below.

We hope you’ll join us in Boston next week! Details on both presentations can be found here: http://creatingresults.com/news/2015-leadingage-annual-meeting-boston-ma.

About The Author

Erin Read

Erin Read spearheads integrated and digital marketing programs for organizations targeting mature consumers. She writes, researches and speaks about marketing to baby boomers and seniors. Erin has addressed local, regional, international conferences on generational marketing. She is the co-author of three national studies/eBooks (Photo Finish; Social, Silver Surfers 2010 & 2013) and the principal blogger for Mature Marketing Matters.

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