Do Boomers Really Embrace Social Media?

Saw an interesting article today from an author who is skeptical about whether Boomers are embracing social media as much as the buzz would have you believe. The author argues that

1. while Boomers are embracing Facebook in increasing numbers, overall the penetration is still very small compared to younger consumers 13% for over 45 compared to 60% for 18-34. It is a classic example of “fastest growing” versus largest.

2. Boomers don’t want Boomer focused social media. While hindsight is 20/20, I would say, “duh.” Boomers are too large and wide to be an affinity group. That’s like trying to build an affinity group for people who own a TV. “You own one too? No kidding?”

3. Another interesting tidbit is the theory that older people tend to be more selective in their relationships as they grow older. That makes sense to me. As people age they feel like they have “seen it all before.” The older we all get, the less time we have for wasted activities of any kind. So friend-wise, let’s spend our time on relationships we know will pay off.

But beyond all that, remember Everett Rogers’ theory “Diffusion of Innovations.”

(This is such a useful concept I remember the day I learned about it in undergrad!)

Essentially, for new technologies and ideas, “Innovators” and “Early Adopters” embrace the earliest. They tend to be younger, more upscale and thought leaders. Next come the “Early Majority” who adapt more slowly than their predecessors. Lastly comes “Late Majority” and “Laggards.” The later groups are older and more downscale, and have little opinion leadership.

So, late adoption by older Boomers would be absolutely expected. I don’t have access to Facebook’s data, but I would bet that most of the Boomers who are already on Facebook are much more upscale than average.

My take on social media is that it will fundamentally change our society in ways we cannot yet foretell.

Just like the early days of the Internet, people are predicting too much too fast in the short term, but UNDERESTIMATING the impact in the long term.

It is an exciting time to be a marketer, and I can’t wait to see how this all plays out.

Jobless in America: Is Double-Digit Unemployment Here to Stay?

Today's unemployed
Today's unemployed

I recommend you check out this recent Time Magazine article, “Jobless in America: Is Double-Digit Unemployment Here to Stay?” Lots of good info. Fundamentally, our economy is changing. According to John Mauldin, real unemployment (taking into account people who have given up or are working temporary/part time jobs) is at 18% in the US – and rising.

Many baby boomers are now past their peak earning and spending years and are beginning to retire – or at least they do so if they can. They are also paying down debt which a good thing, but that means the artificial spending of years past is gone.

With baby boomers retreating from the consumer market, who is going to buy those 4,000 square feet houses and shiny new cars?

Your marketing is going to have to adjust to the new realities, irrespective of what the stock market does and pundits say.

For me… while I would like to think our recession is over, you won’t see me betting on that. Instead, I am planning for the long haul both personally and when consulting for clients.

What are you doing today that takes into account these new realities?

As we’ve discussed before, retreating isn’t the answer. Marketing smarter and more efficiently is.

More on these topics in posts to come.

Your Smartest Competitors Aren’t Napping Due to the Recession – Are You?

Today I want to share two client anecdotes that hopefully will convince you to begin marketing (again) in earnest.

For confidentiality reasons I won’t reveal the identity of these two clients, but I can tell you that both are respected doctors who also run highly successful businesses. (The principles will apply to you whether you run a corporation, hospital or private practice.)

The first anecdote begins with a snippet from a recent email…

“Fortunately,  we have done fairly well in this difficult time.  Since we have the financial resources, this may be a unique opportunity to extend our advantage over those less financially secure.”

Now if you have been following my writing and speaking, you know I have continually advocated marketing during this recession in order to win market share and protect your bottom line. Of course not everyone believes me, but some people obviously do.

Our second client urged us to share the following with you…

“We have had a larger volume of new patients despite the recession. Patients are afraid they will lose their insurance or they already have lost them and are paying for Cobra. There is a huge demand for elective procedures covered by insurance… snoring, sleep apnea, sinus infections, congestion, sinus headaches, allergies, etc. “

This client went on to write that his colleagues’ out-of-pocket  (cosmetic surgery) cases are down, but their reimbursable services are UP.

So what does this all mean?

First of all, if you have disappeared from the scene in a competitive marketplace, chances are your savviest competitors haven’t. What’s more, your competitors are thrilled that you have disappeared, and are hoping you (and everyone else) will remain on the sidelines indefinitely.

Second, this is a time to look harder for areas of opportunity.

Yes, I know that budgets are tight, times are scary and some of your offerings have fallen flat.

No one could have blamed our second doctor if he had simply complained about the economy like everyone else does. But, he and his colleagues instead focus on less sexy – but profitable – reimbursable services.

Of course, if your business is all cash, you could say that idea doesn’t apply to you. But I would remind you that there are an infinite number of ways to package prices and offers for people to buy. Have you tried them all?

Finally, there’s this whole business about whether the recession is easing or not. As my past post indicates, only 21% of the people we surveyed believe that, but in any event, who cares? The issue is not whether things will get better soon.

Instead, the question is, “What are you doing to improve your business, right now?”

So don’t get caught napping (or hiding).

As the fabled hare sadly discovered, it’s too hard to catch up later.

Healthcare Recession Survey Results

On my last post I mentioned that recent audiences I have spoken to were exceedingly skeptical about the possibility of an impending economic recovery. So, I decided to poll doctors and corporate people on a larger scale. To elicit response, I posted the survey in many relevant places on the Internet and also sent about 35,000 emails. Given the emotion that I have witnessed first hand, I was surprised that less than 100 people took the time to complete our mini survey.

Still, I promised to share the results, so while they are far from scientific, here is what the data said as of this morning. (I have since closed the survey.)

1. Do you think the US is currently in a recession?

91% yes

9% unsure

0% no

2. How much is your business suffering as a result of the recession?

42% a lot

52% a little

6% not at all

3. Do you agree with Ben Bernanke that the recession is nearly over?

61% no

21% not sure

18% yes

Usually when we do similar surveys, many hundreds of people respond.  So I am guessing that most people simply feel confused and/or are paralyzed by what is – or is not – happening.

The stock market of course is not the economy, but everyone forgets that. Up today, we all feel good. Down today, we all feel scared.

I’ll post shortly about what this recession means to your marketing efforts.