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Direct Response Marketing

Harnessing the Boom

1 Nov, 2008 By: Bridget McCrea Response

Direct response marketers take aim at America’s largest demographic.


Reaching Baby Boomers takes a certain finesse, due to the many idiosyncrasies that define the group. The first step marketers should take, says Yallen, is to identify the "influencer" who makes the buying decisions, and focus the campaign on that person. Where a brand advertiser can afford to reach out to "a zillion different targets," he explains, DR marketers often have to "pack it all into 120 seconds," in a way that entices consumers to want to learn more and/or make a purchase.



"We try to keep it simple and not convoluted," says Yallen, who points out that the influencer is sometimes not the Baby Boomer, but rather his or her spouse. "The key is to pinpoint who you are targeting and why you are targeting them, and then figure out how to shorten the buying process and not dilute the message."

As the first generation to watch television and adapt to technology, the Baby Boomers rely on the Internet for information, products and services, making them especially good targets for direct response marketers. "Sixty percent of them surf the Web," says Peter Koeppel, president of Koeppel Direct in Dallas, "and more and more of them are making Internet purchases."

But while Baby Boomers are tech-savvy, they're not to be confused with their children's generation. So while some of these consumers may watch an infomercial and boot up their computers to learn more about a product or purchase it, others still prefer the more traditional means of sealing the deal. Most are looking for quality and value, says Koeppel, and will switch brands if they feel that they will get a better deal by doing so.

Having worked on numerous campaigns targeting the Baby Boomers, David Savage, executive vice president and managing partner with R2C Group in Philadelphia (and a member of the Response Editorial Advisory Board), says the demographic is keenly interested in products that improve quality of life, health and wellness. Some of the venerable DR categories tend to go over particularly well with this group, including diet supplements, exercise equipment, entertainment and housewares.

To hone campaigns in a way that reaches this audience, Savage says his firm uses a focused media-buying approach that factors in the idea that Baby Boomers aren't a monolithic crowd. "Our goal is to define the group as accurately as possible from a media perspective," says Savage, "and then to hit the messaging points in the creative in a way that encourages them to respond to the different commercials."

Discriminating Tastes

As a self-dependent group that prides itself on being a part of the first generation to truly "establish itself," the Baby Boomers are open to new ideas and options, but at the same time are discriminating about how they spend money. "Unless a marketer is very clear in communicating what's 'in it' for the Boomer and what the return on investment is," says Maria Eden, CEO at Direct Response Media Inc., in Wayne, Pa. (and a member of the Response Editorial Advisory Board), "they will wind up losing that market."

Three Ways to Reach Baby Boomers
Three Ways to Reach Baby Boomers

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