How Can You Capitalize on the Greying of America?

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  • How Can You Capitalize on the Greying of America?

By now it’s no secret that America is aging. In 2014 there were 113 million adults over 50 and by 2030 there will be 160. At least 50% of discretionary income belongs to the 50 and older market. There’s a huge opportunity within this group of individuals who want to “age in place” and knows they’ll live a better quality of life if they’re healthy.

Eight out of ten adults over 50 don’t think marketing targets them. Brands and businesses don’t “get them.” That means there’s an even bigger opportunity for you if you get it right.

Assess Your Current Marketing Messagessenior couple

What words are you using to describe your services? Do you really know your target? If you’re using “older adult,” “boomer” or “senior,” you’re limiting yourself. Because of the diversity within both Boomers and the Silent generation (born 1927-1945) you need to segment within this group. Focus on ability rather than age. Then focus on delivery that will attract or repel this market.

I challenge you to ask your trainers or staff members to write three words describing “boomers.” Then do the same for “senior” and “older adult.” You’ll get a mixture of things. Most fitness businesses want to offer services to those in the second fifty but we still haven’t quite figured out how to do it well.

Use Words That Matter

The best marketing for a Boomer, Silent or the GI Generation (born 1901-1924)features a program that targets needs. No two boomers are the same. Labeling a class senior yoga doesn’t make it fit every senior. (Who is a senior, anyway?) Label your service instead based on the benefits.

Then go on to describe the music, the conditions, the program delivery, and you’ll attract the right people who will be satisfied and become raving fans.

Younger staff members are less likely to know the customer they’re targeting. That’s trouble. Mistakenly, we often pair a beginning exerciser with a new trainer. Since any 60-year old has more life experience, has bought and sold more in their lifetime, a marketing message that misses is deadly for your business. It’s bye-bye boomer. They tune out if you don’t “get them.” Read more marketing fitness to boomers.

Simple Solutions For Coming in First With The Second Fifty Crowd

If you knew 75% of adults 75 and older look at your website first would you change anything? Here are a few quick tips to attracting Boomer or the Silent generation before they walk in.

1. Make it Black and White. Use dark print with light background. Black on white is the easiest to read combination. Don’t get caught up in your brand colors. If potential customers can’t read it easily they aren’t going to be looking at your colors long.

2. Use Big Font. Sure any browser can increase size for you. Should the customer have to do the work? None of your customers will complain you have a bigger font. Very few older adults will read your copy and buy from you if it’s too small.

3. Picture them. If you really want to attract this market make sure they’re represented. They like to have fun. Show them laughing, attending sporting events, in sporting events, and traveling. Show them doing out of the ordinary things. Why are they exercising? Show that. Have you noticed that these are the photos that go viral? Have any of your website images gone viral? If you must show exercise show “heavy lifting” with chubby grandchildren, and mobility with a tricky golf shot from behind a tree. Have some humor and you’ll endear yourself.

After they walk in consider a few details that make or break that first visit.

4. Quiet down. They have to hear you. If you have loud overhead music, consider whether it will attract or repel. You’re going to compete with that for their attention. They may not admit they can’t hear. Consider acoustics while you’re walking through the building. Talking while you’re on the pool deck or in the weight room could be a mistake.

5. Light Up. Make sure all areas have adequate light for them. For an older adult trying yoga for the first time a dark room would be ridiculous.

6. Direct them. Make internal signs clear with images, arrows and big font. Anyone can get disoriented in a new environment especially when they’re taking in a lot of information. If you leave them to walk through the locker room alone will they easily know how to find you again?

7. Think big. If you have posters and signs up on the walls use font that’s poster sized. Flyers you hold in your hand should be no smaller than 12 pt. On a wall they need to be bigger.

The best way to make sure your facility works for the “second fifty” crowd is to wear your sunglasses, put cotton in your ears and wear slippery bottom shoes to walk through your facility. Does a vibrant 50, 60, or 70-year old need it all? Not necessarily. But you’re not going to lose them because you do it.

Debra Atkinson, MS, CSCS is a Boomer Fitness Expert and Fitness Marketing Coach. A 30-year fitness industry professional and international presenter for IDEA, NSCA, Can-Fit-Pro and Subject Matter Expert for the American Council on Exercise. She’s the author of Navigating Fitness After 50: Your GPS For Choosing Programs and Professionals You Can Trust. Her new book, The After 50 Fitness Formula For Women is out in late 2015. Reach her at