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Tips for marketing your practice to older patients


Seniors didn’t grow up with the internet so reaching them requires a different strategy

When you think of marketing to seniors, you might believe it's all about increasing the size of fonts and displaying images of older people in your advertising. Although this is a common practice among many businesses, it’s not nearly enough to capture this market's attention.

The baby boomer generation is different from other markets. Contrary to popular belief, many seniors spend a reasonable amount of time online. There are, however, some important distinctions to remember when marketing to an older demographic.

Here are some tips for reaching baby boomers and older demographics you can integrate into your marketing strategy:

1. Use relatable language

If you want to market your service to seniors, you have to speak their language. To market to seniors, you need to avoid using youthful jargon, trendy language, and internet slang.

Unlike millennials, who thrive on a heightened sense of drama, baby boomers want to know how your product or service will improve their quality of life. That might be old school, but it's what they want.

That does not mean you can't be clever, but refrain from using language seniors didn't grow up with. This means avoiding terms like "ROFLCOPTER"* and "WASS^."** Even if you are making a joke using internet slang, chances are they won’t know what you're talking about, and your joke will be totally lost on them.

2. Don't assume other people make their decisions

Seniors are not helpless people who can't make their own decisions. They are often healthy adults who like to make their own choices. Don't assume you need to speak to their children or a caregiver to discuss your medical advice and services.

3. Understand their criteria are different than younger generations

When promoting your services, remember that you are not selling them "the product" but rather what the product or your practice will do for them. Consider the metaphor of selling a drill. If your product is a drill, you are selling the hole it can create. And the company that can convince people their drill makes a superior hole wins.

When it comes to seniors, they don't necessarily want the same things a teenager wants, but that doesn't mean they don't want the same product. You can sell the same service to anybody as long as you can solve their medical problem.

4. Make it easy for them

Baby boomers didn't grow up with an iPhone in their hand or with social media, so requiring specific actions on a web page or in an app won't necessarily be second nature for them. For example, they may need to learn what a hamburger menu is or if it is something to click on.

If part of your marketing strategy requires patients to click on symbols or read the fine print, you may lose a large portion of your senior patients. Don't make these choices just for seniors; everyone can benefit from a website that’s easy to navigate.

5. Use multi-channel marketing (like catalogs)

According to the Pew Research Center, in 2015, more than two-thirds of elderly patients looked online for healthcare information. While this number may be gradually increasing, it is a good indication that seniors live more of their lives in the offline world. This means you will have to work hard to promote your practice to seniors if you are relying only on mobile and internet marketing to reach them.

If you want to reach most of your senior market, you must use multi-channel marketing by targeting them both online and offline. You can still use online marketing, but most of your efforts should be concentrated where most of your market can be found.

6. Give them something familiar

People are naturally drawn to what is familiar. Since seniors grew up receiving advertisements and physical catalogs in the mail, it makes sense to market to them through this channel. The older generation prefers something tangible they can hold, like a catalog. The internet makes it easy to print your practice brochure.

7. Personalize their experience

When baby boomers were growing up, good customer service was personal. There was always a live person on the other end of the phone to talk to in the doctor's office. Self-service and phone trees were almost unheard of.

When you personalize an experience for someone, they remember it for a long time. Since baby boomers are used to that personal touch, incorporate some personalization into your marketing efforts. This can be as simple as having a live person respond to a patient calling the office.


Make sure your message is received

Seniors want services they know are going to make their life easier in some way. Patients need to know how your services and your practice will do that.

If you follow these helpful tips, you will find it easier to reach your senior demographic and retain them as long-term patients. Seniors i.e., baby boomers, will require a different level of care and attention than that provided to Gen X and millennials. Their needs and wants must be recognized, and we must give them the attention and communication that applies to their station in life.

* Roflcopter blends the word helicopter and the internet acronym ROFL, or rolling on the floor laughing.

** WASS^ = what’s up

Neil Baum, MD, is a professor of clinical urology at Tulane University and the author of Marketing Your Medical Practice-Ethically, Effectively, and Economically.

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