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Turn Bust into Boom

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I read an article in the Wall Street Journal called “Boomer Bust.”  It explores how marketers who depend on Boomers (and that’s a lot of us!) will be affected by the fact that this generation just lost $2 trillion of retirement fund wealth in the down stock market.  It’s a pretty grim article that ends with Boomers having to work longer and “save string.”  Ouch.

I don’t buy that Boomers will suddenly become entirely different people and give up nice things.  Sure, they may consider purchases carefully, but will they stop buying? Not unless the entire generation undergoes a personality transplant.  Even that pessimistic WSJ article cites this quote from Jack Pitney, VP of marketing for BMW: “Our research is telling us… they need a good argument on why the purchase of a luxury good is a rational decision.”

I’m with Jack — and not just for luxury goods.  People today are A) confused and B) wary.  Marketing that addresses these emotions will succeed. 

Just look at what BMW is doing.  With a great offer (zero maintenance costs) and great information (mileage, resale value, longevity, safety) the company positions these high-performance cars as extremely economical, prudent choices. How do you integrate an “anti-confused and wary” component into your marketing?  We're advising clients to consider these three tactics:

1. Content marketing — whitepapers, press releases, point-of-sale reviews and ads that use less sell and more “tell.” 

2. Pack communications with evidence and specifics.  If you save customers money, tell how much, how soon, and for how long to come. 

3. If what you offer is a nice-to-have, make it a NEED-to-have.  Example: nice-to-have is a CFL lightbulb that saves the environment.  Need-to-have is a CFL lightbulb that saves you $135 over its lifetime and saves the environment from carbon emissions equal to taking 100 cars off the road. 

Bottom line, in a rollercoaster economy, Boomers and other customers need to know it’s safe.  Give them that assurance and they won’t just let go of their money, they’ll feel relieved to spend it with you.

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