How Fitness Professionals Can Engage Boomers Online

Boomers on FacebookBy far the most cost effective and efficient way to attract Boomer clients is through your online presence – website, blog, newsletter/email and Facebook page.  Not only are they the largest and wealthiest age group they are also the Web’s largest constituency making up over 30% of internet users in the U.S.  Not surprisingly the 50+ population is the Internet’s fastest-growing group.

Boomers are using the Internet to research both online and offline purchases and are spending money online at an incredible rate.  They spend more money online than any other age group.  Over 75% of Boomers regularly buy online and are making it their “go to” resource for all types of purchases – including fitness memberships, group fitness programs and personal training.  In fact, it has become an essential part of their life with about 40% of Boomers using a search engine daily from their computers, tablets and smartphones.

However, just knowing that they are online and even knowing where they are online isn’t enough.  In order to be successful you have to be able to meaningfully engage with them in the online environment.  According to the authors of Dot Boom you have to know WHY they are online.  It is important to remember that Boomers are online to fulfill a need.  Identifying that need is paramount.  Then the real work of figuring out how to engage with them effectively so that you become the solution in their mind begins.

You can learn how to optimize ads, build a website, create Low Barrier Offers (LBO’s), generate leads and set up a great looking Facebook profile…but if you don’t know how to engage with Boomers through all of these different methods then your Return On Investment (ROI) will be minimal.  In fact, you may end up wasting a lot of time and money only to one day sit back in disgust, throw your hands up and say “This stuff doesn’t work!”  The method is only a means to an end and that end is to give you the opportunity to engage with a potential customer.

Here are some key insights from Dot Boom by Weigelt and Boehman that can make your online marketing much more successful with this key demographic.  Keep in mind that many of these points are not specific to Boomers per se.  Rather they are specific to all of us as we get older (50+) because they are based on human development.  It just so happens that there is this big population (e.g. the Boomers) that are growing through this lifestage but it will be just as applicable to the following generations.

Lead with the Right; Follow with the Left


Whole Brain

Mature consumers (especially women) have brains that are a little different than their younger counterparts.  They tend to see the big picture better and have a better grasp of how many different factors work together.  They also tend to see the world from what I call a “whole brain” perspective.  The right side of the brain is very emotional.  The left side of the brain is very factual.  To engage with Boomers you will need to appeal to both sides of their brain.  Use an emotional appeal (image, headline, story, etc.) to grab their attention and create a connection with them.  This will satisfy their Right Brain.  Then follow through by delivering all (or at least just enough) of the necessary factual information that goes along with it.  This will satisfy their Left Brain.  “Research has shown that if you make an emotional connection with an older consumer first, they will not only absorb the logistical information later, but they will generally consume more information than their younger counterparts.”

The Fastest Way to a Boomer’s Wallet is Through their Values

All human behavior is motivated by the need to fulfill five core values:  Identity; Relationship; Purpose; Adaptation; and Energy.  These values become increasingly important as we get older.  Your challenge is to figure out how your fitness program or product can help fulfill one or more of these core values.  In fact, I often have coaching clients write down and then tell the group how their program does just that in each of these five areas.  What you will realize is that your particular program is more focused on some rather than others.  In order to attract more clients, however, you need to be able to communicate effectively how your program meets each of these values.  Why?  Because…“These values are present in all people at all times but in varying shades of priority.”

Identity values involve self-preservation, self-awareness, and self-image

Relationship values involve connections to others, institutions and beliefs

Purpose values involve meaning and validation of one’s life and actions

Adaptation values involve the skills and knowledge necessary to negotiate life

Energy values involve health, well-being and functionality

The Trust Factor

You may have heard the popular phrase used in marketing circles stating that your job is to get potential clients to “Know, Like and Trust” you.  This is true tenfold for the older consumer.  When we combine the trust factor with their respect for persons of authority then we start to think about becoming a “Trusted Authority”.  But older consumers also have the preference/need to be involved in decision-making processes (i.e. not just told what to do) which shifts our positioning to the role of “Trusted Advisor”.  This is a powerful position to be in AND CAN HAPPEN WITHOUT PERSONALLY MEETING OR KNOWING THE OTHER PERSON.

How can this be?  Think about it.  Why are actors used in commercials?  Because we know, like and trust them through their movie roles and TV personas.  We don’t actually know them and have probably never met them.  Yet we still accept their advice as valid (most of the time).  Through your online presence you can easily become the Trusted Advisor in the minds of Boomers in your community and everywhere.  Weigelt and Boehman offer these specific tips to help build the trust factor with older consumers:

  1. Make a commitment to be transparent
  2. Do not assume you can control the information your audience can access
  3. Recognize that social media users feel a sense of ownership
  4. If you say you want feedback, mean it, and respond to it

Being everywhere online is one thing.  Knowing how to meaningfully engage with older consumers online is quite another.  By taking the time to learn more about how to develop meaningful online engagement your presence in cyber space will be much more effective leading to more clients to help and more revenue for your business.

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