|$old On Seniorsģ
Book Pages Excerpts
"How You Can Reach &
Sell the $20 Trillion
~ Gary Onks
Chapter 1, Page 8
Oh, Iíve read lots of marketing statistics, reviewed group studies, age factors, sales
strategies, done focus groups, studied product analysis, analyzed response
questionnaires, yada, yada, yada... the normal sales and marketing forecasting techniques.
All these give you helpful, interesting information, but Iíve done something that most other
marketing consultants in this field have not done. I have "Sold" directly, in person,
to the senior consumers, one-on-one in their homes and in my offices.
In addition, I have literally lived under the same roof with them, laughed with them,
entertained them, danced with them, rejoiced with them and cried with them. Iíve seen them
strong, healthy, vibrant, and also been at their bedside as their lives passed away. Iíve
consulted with them about some of their most intimate and monumental life decisions, as well as
the everyday simple ones.
I have even become part of the family in many of their minds, been in their homes, in their cars
and every aspect of their very lives, dining with them, sharing their memories and helping them
create new ones. I really know seniors. I have enhanced their life experiences with my products
and services, but mostly with my caring. Iíve hugged them, walked with them, worked beside
them, partied with them and played games together with them. Thatís why they adopted me into
their lives and why they bought from me. I simply showed them that I cared greatly and very
personally about them.
However, my insights and knowledge about seniors did not begin in sales. Iíve been studying
them since I was 3 or 4 years old (in other words all my life). Yes, I have been Sold On
Seniorsģ all my life, and can say Iíve literally grown up Seniorizedģ. As a young boy, I
related more to my Grandpap and Meemaw than to anyone else. It amazed my parents that I always
wanted to go stay at "the farm." It was on a dirt road, a mile off the main highway.
There was no indoor bathroom, or TV; heating and all cooking was by wood stoves and
Chapter 2, Page 15
Seniors love to pay their bills fully and on time. We learned this
first hand during a billing cycle when there was a computer problem, and we could not issue our
invoices. We were not too concerned, because the problem would be fixed in a day or two. The
bills were normally issued and put into the mailboxes of the retirement community residents on
the first of the month. Well, that very day we began hearing from them. Many came out to our
front desk looking for their bill and asking to pay. Can you believe it? We were simply amazed.
These folks take pride in being able to pay their bills, and pay them on time. They don't hide
from you or play games with you, or put off paying their bills for even a day Ė
Seniorizedģ Factoid: No collection departments needed here.
Seniors grew up with work hard, pull your weight and pay your own way as their ethics. They live
it and are proud of it. If you are looking for the "Mother lode" of business and
financial "Treasure," then seniors are the ones you seek.
Chapter 3, Page 22
OK, Gary, youíve "shown me the money," but what about market
size? How many seniors are there anyway? The year, 1999, was declared the
"International Year of Older Persons" by the United Nations. It was their way of
recognizing, and bringing attention to the fact that there were almost 450 Million Seniors
worldwide. Today there are over 81 Million in the United States alone, and that number is
growing at the rate of 1 every 7 seconds. This makes them the largest demographic consumer group
of all time, and they will continue to be the fastest growing group for many decades to come.
Marketing should always be focused on niches or micro-niches, and segmentation is the way to
identify your niche area. In other words, who are your customers/prospects? Even better, who do
you want them to be? This type of focus will bring you the greatest amount of sales success, in
the shortest amount of time, with the least amount of expense, and the maximum profits; goals
that we all want to achieve.
Chapter 4, Page 28
Hmmm, tons of money, tons of customers, must also be tons of competitors
going after them, right?
WRONG... not another sales rep in sight!
How loud do Gold Miners holler "Untapped Mother Lode"?
Your Competitors Radar Screens are totally blank.
A customer segment that is Absolutely FREE for the Taking.
As the Good Book says, "The fields are RIPE unto the Harvest but the workers are few."
WOW, is this, Oh, So True in senior marketing. Itís easy to be "Outstanding in this
Iím telling you the lights are on in this treasure house, but nobody is home, except in a few
retirement community marketing and medical sales areas. Outside of those limited and highly
specialized markets, it is Wide Open and "Katie, Bar the Door" to anyone who pays just
a little bit of attention to the seniors.
We've all heard about "stopping to smell the roses." Well, most marketers don't even
see these senior roses, much less stop and pay any attention to them.
Chapter 5, Page 35
In the previous three chapters, I have addressed the most critical elements that you should
be thinking about in any market evaluation: How much money is the market worth? How big is the
market? How much competition already exists?
The next step is learning who these people are, so you can best serve their needs. So just who
"Seniors are The Consumer Segment that Nobody Knows."
To demonstrate how little is known about categorizing seniors, here are some of the terms
that marketers and advertisers are using to describe them or trying to label/group them under:
Seasoned Citizens, Ageless,
Gray Wave, Focused over Fifty, Mature Market, Gray Gold...
Chapter 6, Page 40
What seniors want is the real Jackpot Question. The answer can be found in a couple of
statements my Grandpap used to make. The comments were about me, but as I look back on them,
it's easy to see the golden marketing nuggets they contain. Grandpap said I was as "handy
as a pocket in a shirt," and he also called me his "legs" (great accolades for a
This is what seniors desire most of all. They want things to be convenient, readily available
and suitable to their life. This simply means wanting someone to serve their specific desires.
A very good business adage says, "Find a need and fill it" to reach sales success. An
even better adage says to "Find a want and fill it." Both sayings are very true, and
seniors represent the best of both of these sales opportunity worlds. They have special needs
due to aging, and there is a whole list of wants they would just love to fulfill.
Chapter 7, Page 50
The events and culture from 1930 to 1950 are the things that seniors most vividly remember.
Those are the things that helped shape their lives, futures, thoughts, desires, hopes and
dreams. Most of all, these years formed their future destinies.
If you can "touch" on things from that era with your marketing efforts, your sales
response rates will skyrocket. Nothing resonates with seniors (or with any other consumer
segment) more strongly than their own unique childhood memories.
Think about it yourself. What reminds you of childhood? It may have been something
"corny" then, but it's warm, wonderful and friendly now. Those long lost words,
phrases, slogans, television images and personalities, songs, smells and sounds are wonderful.
Heck, I still have a crush on Annette Funicello of the Mickey Mouse Club. Hearing a train
whistle makes most people remember happy childhood days. Do you remember?
Chapter 8, Page 63
Aren't they hard to please? No Way! In fact seniors are much easier to please and get along with
than any other clientele that I have ever encountered. You will find that doing business with
them is much
more enjoyable than with any other consumer group.
I know that a lot of people conjure up this image in their minds of Grumpy Old Men (like the
movie title) or Fussy Old Ladies, when thinking about seniors. I also know that you might even
have encountered such an individual somewhere. But to group all
seniors as being this way is a major selling mistake.
They, like any other group of people, have a few bad eggs in the basket. You have to remember
the personality issue I mentioned earlier; our basic personalities, once formed, usually do not
change as we age. If you are friendly and easygoing early in life, you will be the same later in
life, with rare exception.
Chapter 9, Page 77
You must tailor ALL your marketing efforts towards helping seniors maintain their Freedom and
Independence. This tells them that you care about and respect them, which opens that bonding
door. Then you can show them your desire to improve their quality of life, by making things
easier and more convenient for them with your product or service offerings.
Seniorizedģ Factoid: Maintaining Safety, Independence, and Security are the very highest
priorities in life to all seniors.
The very last thing seniors want to have happen to them is to become dependent on others for
anything. Dependency means itís time for the old folksí home and "being taken care
You must always remember the fact that EVERYTHING in their lives is becoming harder, due to
changing health and lots of physical limitations. Anything you offer, that eases their load and
improves their quality of life, is truly a godsend to them.
Chapter 10, Page 90
Seniors have been burned too many times and are a most skeptical crowd. Theyíve been
"adult consumers" for 30 to 50+ years, and not only have seen it all before, they've
seen hype that we don't even know about. Descriptive terms, like Slick Willy and Snake Oil
Salesman, were coined by these buyers long before you or I showed up on the scene. So it is
highly advisable to avoid using sales "tricks" when selling to seniors.
We derive the word sincere from two Latin words "sine cere." These two words are
literally translated into English as "without wax." Sincerity in speech is almost
unheard of today, due to spin doctoring of almost every word that is heard. We don't just need
to take things with a grain of salt, we need a whole bucketful.
You know this is a fact yourself. Every time you read, see or hear an advertisement, you wonder
"Is this True, Is this For Real." That's why people like news stories instead of ads.
They just don't trust ads as much as those "expert" news articles. So stand out from
the crowd, be sincere, and "Sell without Wax."
Chapter 11, Page 105
Seniors have the longest "life span" of all the marketing segments. Sounds odd since
we are talking about seniors, but so very true. The younger groups average 16 years per segment.
However, thanks to the longer life expectancies we enjoy nowadays, the senior segment offers
marketers almost 30 years of average customer life span. From age 50 to 80+, yes, they could be
yours. Almost twice the life span of the other segments... WOW!
So, as it's said in the movie Ghostbusters, "Who You Gonna Call?" Do you want
customers for 16 years, or would you rather have customers for up to 30 years or more? Well,
Now that you have decided you would rather target customers for 30 years instead of 16 (You have
decided that, haven't you?), letís look at some magic numbers. These numbers apply to all
seniors. Let me repeat that. I said, "These numbers apply to all seniors." Are you
paying attention yet? Okay, once more, These Numbers Apply To ALL SENIORS, no exceptions.
Chapter 12, Page 111
"If you can persuade your customer to tattoo your product name on their chest, they will
probably not ever switch brands."
~ Indiana University Professor, (re: Harley-Davidson
Brand identification is extremely important to any business for long-term success.
Numerous marketing studies have proven that it's much easier to retain clients than it is to get
new ones. Branding is the method that keeps clients in your corner.
The best way to differentiate your goods from your competitors is with branding. Otherwise you
are just one more product on the shelf (on the shelf does not make you any money).
The branding focus I recommend for you to pursue is the old tried-and-true, "seal of
approval" approach. The modern term for this is "Trustmark." My reason for
advising you to choose this method is because there is "nothing stronger than a third party
recommendation," and that is what a trustmark is.
Chapter 13, Page 120
In selling the retirement community to seniors, our little something extra was "1st
Pickins." What, you've never heard of 1st Pickins? Well, not to worry. I'll fix this
lacking in your sales training right now. Almost every senior you'll meet knows all about 1st
Pickins, so you won't have to explain it to them.
This is a farming term that means the crop is starting to come in and the first batch is ready.
It represents finally being able to enjoy the fruits of your labors, as well as the privilege
and honor of being first in line. It's a way of saying that because you've worked so hard, you
deserve the cream of the crop. I remember quite fondly the time each year down on my Grandpapís
farm when we got those 1st Pickins. It was usually my Meemaw who would tell us to go out into
the garden (there were acres of it by the way), and pick our own dinner. Walking through those
rows of corn, potatoes, string beans, lettuce, carrots, onions, peppers, cantaloupe,
watermelons, and popcorn (yes, we grew our own) was so exciting.
More importantly though was the special feeling you got from knowing that you had first choice;
that you were thought so highly of, and that someone cared so much for you. Yes, that is what
1st Pickins brings to my mind and to seniorsí minds too.
Chapter 14, Page 129
"Young whippersnappers" may snicker, but as I have mentioned before, there are no
areas of life where seniors are any different than anyone else, just older. So even sex appeal
has its place in advertising to this market segment, just the same as it does for any other
consumer segment (well, almost).
During one of my training trips to a retirement community in Florida, I unexpectedly encountered
this firsthand. While out walking around the community one afternoon, I noticed an elderly
gentleman standing in the stairway entrance to a section of apartments. Drawing near I said,
"Hello," and he motioned for me to come over to him. Upon doing so he asked me,
"Are you the guy from up north who is going to be building a new retirement
community?" "Yes, Sir," I replied. He said, "I have some advice for you, so
pay close attention." He then said, "Get More Men!" Well folks, that took me back
a little bit.
He went on to say, "The women just won't leave me alone, and that's why I'm hiding out in
this stairway. There are only a few of us single guys around here, and the ladies are really
lonely. So 'get more men' when you build your place." Okay...
Chapter 15, Page 138
Remember you are not selling to Market Segments or Age Cohorts or even Senior Groups. You are
always selling to individuals. One-on-One marketing, that is what all sales are, and seniors
show the most sensitivity to personal attentiveness. You can be yourself, have fun, serve
clients and get lots of sales.
Seniorizedģ Factoid: The more you give, the more you get.
Ainít may not be a proper word, but Ainít is where it's at. Go where the Competition Ainít,
and your competition just Ainít Focusing on the seniors. So what are you waiting for?
"40 thousand wishes will not fill your bucket with
~ An old fisherman's saying
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