Talking Traditionalists: The Power of Generational Marketing
Generational marketing isn’t a fad. It’s here to stay. In fact, more and more health systems are utilizing the data within their Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system to better target their prospective customers, purchase media and shape messaging. Chuck Underwood, in his book The Generational Imperative, states “Generational considerations must now be a permanent ‘filter’ through which business runs all of its marketplace planning, creative work, and final decision-making.” Used properly, it is a powerful marketing discipline that can dramatically improve your ability to build relationships, gain your targeted audience’s trust and increase the effectiveness of your campaigns.
This is the first in a series of articles that will outline how you can tailor your hospital marketing towards the several key generational groups. Initially we will focus primarily on those who were born prior to 1945. This group goes by many names such as Matures, the Depression Generation, the Silent Generation and the Traditionalists. For the purpose of the article we will refer to the group as the Traditionalists.
Traditionalists are 48 Million Strong
Currently there are more than 48 million Traditionalists in the United States. This group lived through multiple wars and The Great Depression. Their history has helped shape certain values that are central to who they are. Traditionalists relish order and security. As a group, they value discipline and structure and have a high moral code. They tend to shy away from change. They consider themselves to be healthy and pride themselves on having an active lifestyle. They believe in job security and do not shy away from hard work. Traditionalists have a strong sense of loyalty and family means everything to them. Protection of the family is priority number one for them. Using images and scenarios where the family includes a Traditionalist is most appealing to them.
Stay Away from Stereotypes
Marketing messaging to Traditionalists needs to steer clear of the stereotypical “senior” or “elderly” person. It is important that you do not portray them as reliant on others or powerless. They respect celebrity endorsements and tend to obey authority figures – especially physicians and respected institutions. Keep this in mind in the tone of the words you use when talking to them. Regardless of how committed they are to their mate or trust their family physician, a Traditionalist still likes to feel empowered to make their own individual decisions.
No Pressure Sales
Traditionalists tend to be deemed slow to make a decision especially in areas that pertain to money. Although considered frugal by other generations, Traditionalists see themselves as financially responsible and do not give in to frivolous or unnecessary spending. Sending messages that tell them they have a short window to respond or a “now or never” approach will not appeal to them.1 They will resist being pressured into making a decision without weighing all their options and talking to individuals they respect and whose decisions they value. They are looking for ways that your product or service benefits them – they need to understand its value in the most basic terms.
Stand by Your Word
When promoting your hospital locations, products and services it is important to emphasize attributes that are important to Traditionalists. These include convenience, ease of use, accessibility, simplicity and availability of support if needed.2 This generation personifies “your word is your bond” and trust does not come easily – you must earn it from them. Spend extra time listening to their needs. The experience they have within your walls is important to them – they will be customers for life if you provide them with a quality product that they want and need.2
Formalize Your Communications
Communicating with the Traditionalists is most effective through written communication and face-to-face interactions. They are looking to build relationships and feel connected to groups outside of their family. Addressing them in a respectful manner with a formal greeting, such as Madam or Sir is preferred. They do not respond as well to the friendly conversational tone of the younger generations. However, using “we” and “us” in your messaging is appealing to them as they view it as inclusionary and reinforces the feeling of being part of something larger.
Information should educate, alleviate concerns and reassure them that their decision is the best one for their needs. Summarize your marketing information in easy to follow key points as much as possible as that is the ideal format for Traditionalists to consume information. They are looking for ways that your product or service benefits them – they need to understand its value in the most basic terms. Social events combined with opportunities for in-person question and answer sessions are the ideal way to connect to Traditionalists.
Turn Back the Clock on Your Media Choices
Media buying should complement the face-to-face interactions with more traditional media such as radio, TV and billboards. This generation grew up with newspapers as the primary provider of news and considers them the most trusted source. Traditionalists have an interest in learning more about technology. They are one of the fastest growing online communities and are taking advantage of computer classes offered at senior centers. But don’t confuse their interest in learning more about technology as a willingness to change their communication preferences or media habits. Change doesn’t come easy to them. When all else fails ask them for their advice on what resonates with them. They love to talk and would welcome the opportunity to have their opinion heard!
- Emmerson, T. (2012, March). 4 Factors of Generational Marketing. Retrieved March 21, 2017, from https://www.scotsmanguide.com/Residential/Articles/2012/03/4-Factors-of-Generational-Marketing/Journal of
- Behavioral Studies in Business Marketing to the Generations, Williams, K., & Page, R. (2011). Marketing to the Generations. Journal of Behavioral Studies in Business. Retrieved March 21, 2017, from https://www.aabri.com/manuscripts/10575.pdf
Jason is CEO & Chief Strategy Officer of Brown Parker & DeMarinis (BPD), an internationally-recognized advertising agency that is on a mission to make health systems and hospitals the most beloved brands in the world. A pioneer in hospital marketing, BPD works with clients to unlock the power of their Purpose inside and outside their organizations, resulting in highly engaged employees and physicians and dramatically higher brand preference and service-line volumes.