Of course, that doesn't mean you can ignore creativity in favor of communicating things in ways that would make even Bean Counters yawn. You've seen the kind of advertising and marcom that results from that approach. Ugh! Remember, you can't bore Baby Boomers into buying. So, if you try to tell or sell them something using Drivel and Pablum (wasn't that a Kansas City agency that closed back in the '90s?), don't expect Boomers to greet your efforts with anything but a yawn, or worse, disdain. And keep in mind that if creativity is magic, strategy-driven creativity that actually works is genius. To get the job done, you need to employ the most creative writers, art directors and producers around, but finding them can be as grueling as panning for gold.
I've hired and mentored many creative professionals over the past 40-some years, and the truly gifted ones are rare indeed. If you're looking for creative pros who can take your business to the next level, don't bother writing tight, logical job specs for them (unless you're forced to do so by corporate fiat), because creatives defy being boxed in by anyone or anything. Irrespective of education or experience, the one common quality I've noticed, is that their creativity never fails them. Wake them up at 3 a.m., give them a tough challenge, and they'll quickly come back with a very respectable professional solution, if not something that's borderline brilliant.
But there is something new in the air. Creative directors of the future will be required to challenge their own prejudices of aging while communicating with Boomers. Unfortunately for them, most of the hotshots in the field are just too young to understand or empathize with Boomers, and that will be their downfall.
Boomers are sophisticated, media-savvy consumers who have seen and heard it all. They simply won't tolerate advertising or marcom that tries to trick or talk down to them.
And no business can afford to try to marginalize the Boomers, because there are just too many of them. But be warned: If you get on their wrong side, Boomers can be just as temperamental as teens. The difference is that they won't spend it as impulsively as younger, trendy consumers, so you better be spot on with the creative approaches you take, in both concept and tone.
Fortunately, Boomers are as open to creative communications as anyone else. However, they tend to be rather contemplative in their shopping and deliberate in their buying. That makes them the toughest audience out there, so you need a lot more experience and expertise to reach them. And you're got to know more than just advertising and marcom. You've got to know the basic principles and techniques of gerontology counseling. That may sound esoteric, but as you'll see, that discipline can provide practical ways to understand, communicate with and motivate Boomers.
Reaching Boomers may well be the biggest challenge facing marketers over the next generation. If you have the skill and wisdom to devise and stick with a sound strategy, and if you have the courage to express it in the most creative ways possible, you've got a great shot at getting your share. Just remember, when you're communicating with Boomers, there's nothing more compelling than a memorable message that's actually worth remembering.
|Vincent Vassolo is the founder of Vim, Vigor & Vassolo, an agency that creates strategies, advertising and marcom programs targeting Boomers.|