As boomers continue their march toward retirement, the frequency with which they think about their various investments should be increasing steadily—especially if they’re women…
It’s not that women are any less fiscally responsible than men (in fact, many may argue that it’s quite the opposite), or that women lack an “investment gene” necessary to achieving financial success; it’s a little bit less complicated than that. The simple reality is that the investment community has traditionally marketed to men, despite the fact that women comprise half (or more) of the U.S. workforce and tend to live longer than their male counterparts.
If you’re a savvy marketer, you can probably see where I’m going with this line of logic: it’s time for the financial world to start marketing to women—boomer women, in particular. And at the same time, women need to commit to taking a more active and aggressive hand in their retirement planning. With the economy and stock market showing signs of life, there should be a sense of urgency for all involved.
According to recent research by Wells Fargo, nearly 80% of the women said they wished their employer helped them more with retirement and investment advice. In other words, women are susceptible to this information; they’re just not getting it.
So what type of information do you need to keep in mind as a financial institution that wants to target and begin speaking to and with boomer women?
Well, according to the Wells Fargo research…
1. Women tend to be more conservative when it comes to investments and often underestimate how much they will need to live on for what could be a 20-30 year retirement.
2. Women tend to be open to receiving information in the form of advice.
3. Not only are they open to advice; they actively seek it out.
And according to recent research by iVillage…
4. Women much prefer online women’s communities for information over broad social networking sites such as Facebook.
5. They seek out and trust content on online communities while using social media sites for keeping in touch with friends and family.
How might marketers put this information to use? Through advice-laden content, of course.
Wells Fargo set forward to fill this messaging and information gap with “Beyond Today,” a program that targets women through an online collection of content blogs, videos, tools, checklists, and digital magazine. In other words, Wells Fargo essentially created its own media channel to speak directly to the needs of women, to change the nature and approach of the conversation, and to provide answers and advice about investment options.
The women’s retirement market is ripe for this type of approach as it is incumbent upon investment houses to build trust and affinity with women while educating them.
Two keys to success for content marketing are relevance and authenticity:
• If you’re planning to use content to speak to women about retirement and investment planning, then you better use credible subject matter experts who speak with authority.
• Additionally, be mindful that one size doesn’t fit all when it comes to content. Women are not a homogenous group and shouldn’t be spoken to all in the same manner. The needs of a single thirty-year-old are quite different from a women nearing retirement who is also dealing with aging parents. And, just don’t search and replace text that was used to market to men, they’ll know the difference.
Over the next several years, the market for women’s retirement planning should be booming and the companies that seek to truly educate and advise women will be the winners in the long term. Marketers have an opportunity to build lasting relationships with valuable female customers with information that make a difference in their lives.
Next month, I'm joining several hundred fellow Boomers who are trying to qualify for the Reebok Crossfit games as a Master (45+). Crossfit, a mix of functional fitness, kettle bells, rowing, running, Olympic lifting, and gymnastics, is a strength and conditioning system built on constantly varied, functional movements executed at high intensity.
It is not for the faint of heart or spirit and not the type of sport activity you would associate with men and women over 45. But, the Masters division is booming as are similar competitions for older participants in track, swimming, and weightlifting. More and more Boomers are staying active with "extreme" sports and activities like snowboarding, mixed martial arts and mountain biking.
Sports marketers generally target the 18-34 demographic, but need to rethink their priorities. After all, there is a burgeoning and oft-neglected market of Boomers who are just as active as Gen Xers and Yers ... and who have a lot more disposable income. A generation ago, it was assumed that people over 45 would hit the country club circuit for golf, tennis, and cards at the clubhouse.
In contrast, my favorite Crossfit workout is a mile run followed by 100 pull-ups, 200 pushups, and 300 squats followed by another mile run. Eighteen holes and a game of canasta it is not. There are several reasons why Boomers are mixing it up in competitive sports today (and why sports marketers should be targeting them):
* Better nutrition and sports medicine have kept us on the field longer. Tremendous advances in treating and rehabbing sports injuries have lengthened the time Boomers can stay active.
* Boomers grew up in a competitive environment and are up to the challenge when it comes to competing with Gen Xers who want their jobs. In other words, staying fit and youthful is not just recreation, but a career necessity in challenging economic times.
* Boomers invented the youth culture and they're not ready to give up the aura of youth and coolness. Boomers don't want to think of themselves as old. Getting an AARP card is not a point of pride, but getting a new personal best in your chosen sport is something to brag about -- on Facebook.
* The web and social media have made it easier to spread the word, get inspired, and be part of a community to stay connected. Crossfit affiliates span Wordpress sites, blogs, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, making it a virtual and opensource fitness movement that's growing just as fast as the social web. In fact, it has gained the attention of Reebok, which recently signed a 10-year deal to sponsor the games and open affiliates.
To capitalize on this trend, marketers need to develop unique campaigns that target Boomer athletes. Content marketing expertise is crucial since Boomers have unique information needs. In other words, using the same celebs and "extreme" imagery/messaging that appeal to Gen Y is not going to resonate with this audience. The media choices are also different, as are the ways this audience prefers to consume its information.
An older audience is more likely to open both traditional and new media, and case studies, testimonials, and inspirations from their peers are often very effective content delivery formats. The trend of the competitive Boomer athlete presents a real opportunity to footwear/apparel and equipment manufacturers. There is a unique market out there, just make sure you speak to them directly and speak to their needs.
Twitter just turned five years old and is being used by an estimated 21 million US adults, climbing to 28 million by 2013 according to eMarketer. Twitter will never have the wide spread penetration of Facebook or LinkedIn, but does reach an affluent and influential audience. Many people ask me why they should be on Twitter and what the benefit is to them. There is perception it is a bunch of narcissists telling each other what they had for lunch; or an echo chamber where so-called social media experts preach to the converted. Sure, there is some of that, but used correctly there is much value to derive from a minimal time investment. Here are some of the reasons to get on the Twitter train.
1. Twitter gives you the ability to interact with brands and well known personalities. It is kind of cool how you can get in a conversation with brands you care about and give them feedback. You may not get a response but you can bet they are listening and watching what is said about their brand. It is also a way to find out about deals, specials and up coming releases. Users can send messages to celebrities, journalists and business professionals. Journalists such as Sports Illustrated’s Peter King encourage readers to tweet him questions and their opinions. He retweets many, prints some in his online columns and holds tweetups for fans in cities around the US. This is a great way for him to engage his audience, even though he has never retweeted any of my gems about the Jets or Tom Brady’s hairstyle.
2. Twitter is a great newsfeed and content aggregator if you are smart about the number and quality of people you follow. Don’t follow everyone, just people and sources you care about. Major news stories often break first on Twitter because of the speed. Additionally, you can get some great content to learn about marketing, social media and just about any topic depending on whom you follow. For the marketing business I follow iMedia Connection, eMarketer, Mashable, Media Post, CMO.com, Chief Marketer and many more. In a business where you need to keep up on daily news, it is the best tool I have found.
3. You can have some fun, yes, fun. There are many great comedians and humor writers who consistently deliver great material to lighten the work day or dead time in an airport or waiting room. Following legends like Steve Martin and Dennis Miller always bring a few daily laughs. Some of my other favorites are Rainn Wilson, Mindy Kaling, Sarah Silverman, and Patton Oswalt – and of course the Onion. There are dozens of political pundits, sports writers, athletes and musicians who tweet interesting content. Put your favorite in the search bar and see what comes up.
4. Twitter is a venue where you can have fun participating in an event and a shared experience. This is going to be big as media companies and brands figure out a way to tap in to the energy already happening. During events like the Oscars or Super Bowl or episodes of Jersey Shore and American Idol you can follow a running commentary from people all across the country. I joined in a couple of times and it added significantly to the overall experience. It is kind of like watching TV with a room full of wiseasses who you can’t actually hear. And everyone leaves when the show is over.
The stars of two cable shows Anthony Bourdain (No Reservations) and Daniel Tosh (Tosh.0) live tweet while their show is on the air. It is a brilliant use of twitter to break through the screen and engage the audience. The “two-screen” environment has a lot of potential for content providers and marketers to interact with customers.
If you have not taken the leap yet, give it a try and let me know what you think.
Follow me @GordonPlutsky and King Fish Media @KingFishMed
Facebook has introduced their comments plug in for content websites to use in place of their current comment section. The benefit for sites are clear as readers can use their FB login to comment on a site without having to set up and administer a password and verification system. And when someone leaves a comment it appears on that person’s newsfeed for their friends to see = viral!
One of the anticipated outcomes for sites that integrate Facebook comments is a reduction in the number of nasty comments from anonymous or pseudonymous commenters. Peruse any news or political site and you’ll see the ones; you’ll also see a lot of smart and thoughtful commentary. Some sites do a good job of moderating and policing the bad comments, some don’t moderate them at all, allowing for open discourse, but smaller sites—and in particular, brand sites that can’t always afford to let ill-will plague their users’ experience, don’t have the manpower (or stomach) to deal with the situation.
Facebook comments seem like a good solution – at least on the surface. From the user vantage point, I’m not crazy about it. It is not advantageous for consumers if Facebook becomes a big walled environment within the larger web. Sharing on Facebook among permissioned friends is what users sign up for, but having their profile open to random people through comments is unwise as a privacy/security risk. The use of real name and identity will have a chilling effect on the desire to comment on topics outside of your professional venue. We live in a hypersensitive and partisan era where flame wars break out easily over the major topics of the day. Do you really want to express your thoughtful and reasonable opinion on such hot button topics as abortion, public employee unions, local politicians and global warming, not only using your name, but also potentially identifying your family, friends, and employer along the way? I do believe I’ll pass on that.
My local paper, the Salem News, had a rollicking and active comments section that contained a mix of good writing and opinion, tempered with some vicious personal attacks and outrageous accusations. It could be great fun to read, and a hot story could get 25-50 comments—some received well over 100. For reasons that are not entirely clear, they went to a “real name’ Facebook ID login to “add more civility” a few weeks ago. (Some speculate that any number of local politicians squelched the section because they were getting pounded by anonymous comments.) If deafening silence is civility, then they succeeded. Most stories now have no comments whatsoever, and the small handful of people who do comment are local cranks, retirees, and people trying to get name recognition.
This small struggling local paper could have leveraged all the great content that was being provided and should have done a better job moderating the mean-spirited junk. Instead of monetizing the free content, increasing engagement and expanding their readership, they’ll likely see their traffic cut in half, which, needless to say, will very directly impact revenue. This is just one example, but one that should give pause to publishers considering this solution. As always, put yourself in the shoes of your customers and do what is right by them.
QR (quick response) codes have an opportunity to be one the new “hot things” in marketing. They have been used in Japan for years, but now making inroads here in the US. They are popping up everywhere from retail stores to print ads.
QR codes are worth trying and look promising for location based marketing programs where a simple Smartphone scan can be tied into a mobile platform such as Facebook Places. Specials and deals can be unlocked; or it could be part of a scavenger hunt type program. The codes could also make sense at shows and conferences as a virtual badge or to enhance signage. Used in this manner, the code is tactic to engage a customer in a way that takes advantage of the unique properties of the phone – namely, it has a camera and built in GPS.
Additionally, QR codes could send a customer to a specific web page, video or music clip/podcast with having to navigate around a site or enter a cumbersome URL on a mobile device which is never a treat.
QR codes are appearing more and more in print ads and I am less enthusiastic about this usage. Many of them send the user to web site or landing page which could easily be written into the ad without the big ugly code. How many times are readers holding their phone when reading a newspaper or magazine? It seems forced, like the advertiser is trying to be “hip” while still running an unhip traditional interruptive style ad.
Back in my trade publishing days, we were approached by several companies who were selling scanners that would scan codes in print ads and send people directly to a web site. The pitch was that it would prove that print is driving people online – this was very important in those days as the web was starting to eat our lunch. The older print sales guys loved it, but I threw a bucket of cold water on their glee when I asked how would people would get the scanner and why would readers use the scanner instead of just typing the URL. Our business manager, who refused to invest in our Website, suggested mailing the scanners to hundreds of thousands of subscribers. The whole thing seemed at odds with consumer behavior and information consumption patterns, and of course it never caught on.
QR codes are an interesting tool that deserves some exploration in your marketing mix. However, use them in a way that is unique and makes sense for your customer’s behavior.
Guest post from Anna Goldsmith of the King Fish Content Strategy Team
You've got 140 characters. Sure, you could use them to tell your followers what you had for breakfast, but you probably know better than that. And if you're using Twitter to generate new business and strengthen old relationships (you know you should be, right?), the pressure to say something smart, savvy and, dare-to-dream, "retweet-worthy" can be pretty daunting. Here are five tips to use those 140 characters wisely.
1) Be provocative.
No, I'm not talking sexy provocative — although that might get you a whole bunch of attention, too. I'm talking about the kind of tweet that poses a thought-provoking question. Your goal with Twitter is simply to get a conversation started. If nothing immediately springs to mind, see if you can find a news story that is at least tangentially related to your industry and pose a question about that.
2) Do a "how-to" or list.
People are suckers for both. "How to Navigate a Roomful of Strangers in Five Easy Steps," [ "Top Five Tips for Writing Effective Tweets," etc. Even if you didn't write the blog or article you're linking to, you're still positioning yourself as someone in the know.
3) "Retweet" something you found interesting.
Unless you're a completely boring person, if something was interesting to you, it probably will be to other people, too. This isn't plagiarism. This is information sharing and this is what Twitter is all about. Keep a list of go-to interesting people on hand so "you" always have something to say. And yes, if you aren't simply clicking "retweet," you do need to give them credit.
4) "Reply" to that something interesting and add your two cents.
Related to #3: Add your own two cents by replying to a tweet that caught your attention. In fact, regardless of how many provocative tweets you can generate on your own, it's a good idea to reply to other tweets you read so you don't seem like you're just out there to promote yourself. (Even though that's exactly what you're doing.)
5) Remember you're writing a headline, not a story.
I know you only have 140 characters, but tweets filled with abbreviations and lingo not only look awful, they turn off all but the most extreme Twexperts. (I may have made that word up, but probably not.) If you find yourself relying on abbreviations, maybe you're trying to say too much. With Twitter you're a headline writer, not a novelist.
Bonus advanced tip: That said, if you know what you're doing, Twitter can be an effective way to tell longer narratives. This is particularly effective if you have a news story that needs to be told in real time. Master of the engaging "mini narrative" is NPR's David Folkenflik, who regularly tweets about unfolding events and uses a "(more)" at the end of tweets. For example:
• Fmr NPR SVP for fundraising Ron Schiller caught on tape criticizing Tea Party & GOP as he lunched w fake prospective Muslim donors (more)
But David still follows the golden rule of good tweeting: Say one thing and say it well.
Final word of warning: Don't be that guy.
Twitter is a great business tool, but use it wisely. If you're constantly self-promoting, you're going to turn off your current followers and have no chance of getting new ones. Here's a good rule of thumb: For every post you do to promote your business, have two that promote something someone else says or does. Remember: Twitter is a conversation, and we all hate the guy whose favorite topic is himself.
About the Author
Anna Goldsmith is a partner at the Boston-based copywriting agency, The Hired Pens. Her work has won numerous awards, including a Hatch, Webby, MITX, and a W3 Gold. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Guest post from Anna Goldsmith of the King Fish Content Strategy Team
In a perfect world, you’d never have to edit your own work, but well, you know the drill. The world’s not perfect, life’s not fair, yada yada. So spend a little time now or a lot of time later trying to convince your boss to let you keep your job as a “pubic relations director.”
Step One: Just walk away, Renée (or Kevin or Amy).
We all know that when we’re too close to things, we don’t see them clearly. This can be good for relationships, but hazardous for the editing process.
See, you know what you meant to write, so your eyes just fill in the blanks, overlook typos, etc. That’s why you need to get a little distance. So after you write a first draft, go get a cup of coffee or take a walk to clear your head.
Step Two: Imagine you’re not you.
Instead, imagine you’re the intended audience reading your document for the first time. The big questions you want to answer here are:
• Does it make sense? Would the reader understand what you’re trying to say?
• Does it hold your interest from start to finish?
• Does it include all the information you need (e.g., important numbers, URL, event location)?
Step Three: Is your writing PHAT or FAT?
I don’t mean to give your writing body image issues, but if it’s not lean and mean, you’ve got some work to do. Here are three ways to lose the fat:
• Trim long sentences: If any are longer than 25 words or so, consider turning them into two sentences or removing any unnecessary words.
• Slim down the words: Replace long words and phrases with short ones. In other words, why say “ascertain the location of” when you can just say “find”?
• Remember that black flatters figures, but white flatters writing: Nothing is more daunting to a reader than a dense block of text. Add some breathing room with white space between paragraphs, bold subheads and (where appropriate) bullet points.
Step Four: Listen to your high school English teacher — except when it’s best to tune her out.
Marketing writing is not the same as writing for your old English teacher. For example, you can in fact start a sentence with “and” or “but.” But only if it adds clarity and impact. That said, she was right about a lot of things. Here are a few major points we can all agree on:
• Good writing is error-free. This means perfect spelling and no typos.
• Check for the correct use of homonyms like to/too/two, their/they’re/there, etc. Spellcheck doesn’t always make those distinctions.
• Confirm you’ve spelled all names correctly. This mistake can be particularly embarrassing.
• Good writing avoids the energy-draining passive voice. Write Bob threw the ball. Not The ball was thrown by Bob.
• Good writing is formatted correctly. Check your margins, use of spacing and consistency in style of headings — font, bold or not bold, capitalization, etc.
Step Five: Now clean it up and read it again. Out loud.
After you’ve made your revisions, print your document (don’t edit onscreen!) and read it again. If you’re in a crowded office, whisper instead, but don’t skip this step. You’ll be amazed at how much you’ll catch.
Yay, I’m done! Does that mean it’s perfect?
Don’t feel bad, but probably not. Editing is a real skill that can take years to perfect. But if you follow these recommendations, you’ll greatly improve whatever you write. You’ll have done your best, which is all anyone can really ask. And yes, I’m happy to tell that to your boss.
About the Author
Anna Goldsmith is a partner at the Boston-based copywriting agency, The Hired Pens (www.thehiredpens.com). Her work has won numerous awards, including a Hatch, Webby, MITX, and a W3 Gold. You can reach her at email@example.com