5 ways to lose your retiree audience fast

You’re marketing a service to retirees. What do you picture? Palm trees? A golf course? Maybe…if they’re in their 80s or living off a traditional pension plan. For almost everyone else who’s since quit their day job, it’s life as usual.

The fact is, retirement is a continuation of the journey — not a destination, nor will it be. We’re talking about the same life, different age, and it will probably include work — now that most pensions have given way to 401(k)s.

That’s just one of the ways retirement is changing before our eyes. If you’re not embracing the changes, you risk coming across as out of touch. Here are five ways you could quickly lose your retiree audience:

1. Assume they’ve got nothing but time on their hands. Half of all retirees work in retirement. 72% of pre-retirees (age 50+) say they will — half of them because they feel they’ll have no choice.1 So for most retirees, it will be business as usual. They’ll continue to set work appointments, not tee times.

2. Picture them on a glide path to terminal leisure. A recent survey commissioned by Bank of America revealed that most retirees see retirement as a chance to recharge during a “career intermission,” which can take a couple of years, and then to re-engage, for a decade or more. Only then do most plan to enter the “leisure” phase of their lives.2 With life expectancy increasingly extending into one’s nineties, they figure there’ll still be plenty of time to kick back.

3. Cue the ’60s music. Several years ago a major financial firm tried to redefine retirement through Dennis Hopper over a Spencer Davis Group soundtrack. Maybe a little self-conscious? What’s important to retirees is what happens today and tomorrow, not what happened when they were in college. They’re very contemporary and will tune out messaging that isn’t.

4. Cue the grandkids. Sure they may like being grandparents; they just don’t like being a stereotype. And the grandkids they like are their own. If kids are integral to your story, have at it. If not, no need to remind retirees (and the growing number of them without grandkids) of their elder status in the family hierarchy.

5. Show them rock climbing. Get them off the golf course, but don’t overdo it. A chiseled, silver-haired bungee jumper says you’re trying just a little too hard. Thanks for the attempted compliment, but that’s difficult to relate to. How about talking to them as the real-life people they are rather than the people they’ll never be, or would never want to be?

Retiree. Thinking about it, maybe it’s time to retire the word too. More accurately, these are people who happen to be older than average and may be throttling back on work. Otherwise, they haven’t changed that much since they were in their forties. And that’s how they like it.

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1 © Work in Retirement: Myths and Motivations. ©2014 Bank of America Corporation
2 Ibid

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