Every day, we’re given more and more evidence that the online world is the prevailing path to the future. 4G technology on increasingly sophisticated smartphones, the race to create even more powerful post- Steve Jobs innovations in tablet technology, the endless barrage of email and e-newsletters and … well, it can make your head spin. It’s the subject of our cover story, and clearly the future of the way business is going to take place in our industry.
But think about how your senior client feels about all of it.
That senior tag has been given a pretty serious working over in the past decade or so. When I first started working at our sister publication, Senior Market Advisor, we often talked about whether the magazine’s title referred to the clients or, as the trend has been in our entire industry, the age of the advisors themselves – I’ve heard our industry average is now something like 53, and getting older every year.
Ever since Dennis Hopper started doing ads for investment products (my family told me they saw archetypical ’70s punk figure Iggy Pop, himself now 64 years old, if you can believe it, as a retirement spokesmodel in ads on British television), it became obvious that the standard definition of senior was up for a major rethink.
And addressing the needs of a category that now includes both my 94-year-old grandmother and some barely retired Baby Boomers (hey, even I recently got a solicitation in the mail for pre-joining the AARP, and I’m two and a half decades from retirement age) is going to call for some new ideas.
Subsequently, while you will continue to be carpet-bombed with information about the newest apps and social media connections that will make (some of) your clients’ lives easier, consider that this high-tech world is still not completely ideal for everyone.
While it’s unthinkable in modern teen and Millennial circles, my own parents still share a single email address, my mother abhors using even her old-school cell phone and the electronic solicitations they receive mostly fall into their junkmail folder. They also one-upped the "Do Not Call" list by blocking unknown incoming calls – and then subsequently shared that with all of their relatives, who also block their own number on all outgoing calls – meaning it’s occasionally impossible to reach them, even as a family member.
Some of this nearly paranoid fear of being contacted by salespeople is legitimate, as robocallers and high-pressure telemarketers became hard to avoid, despite being less of an issue nowadays, except with a year of election campaigning ahead.
How do you make any in-roads with clients who both embrace and simultaneously abhor technology? It seems to go back to the world of the personal touch. By building those personal connections and soliciting referrals from clients you’ve wowed with your honest and earnest approach, you may crack the code and be given the personal entrée into the lives of potential clients – ones who, once you get to know them, will actually appreciate your newsletters, your instantaneous communication on email and even some colorful updates on your YouTube channel.
Until then, keep in mind the shield that many younger seniors have erected to the outside world, and you’ll find yourself wasting less of your own precious time.