Why It Pays for Brands to Embrace Baby Boomers

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Why It Pays for Brands to Embrace Baby Boomers


 

By Linda Landers
Girlpower Marketing


Madonna. Bono. George Clooney. Tom Hanks. Oprah. All Baby Boomers.

Not exactly the clichéd stereotype of grandma and grandpa using a walker to get from one room to another.

Though Millennials (75.4 million) have recently surpassed Baby Boomers (74.9 million) in sheer numbers, today’s Baby Boomers represent nearly 40% of the U.S. population and control 70% of all disposable cash in the United States. That’s $3.2 trillion in spending power. So why are marketers so willing to ignore this vibrant and lucrative market?

Following are key reasons why Baby Boomers represent a great opportunity for marketers trying to identify a consumer sweet spot:

  • They spend $400 billion more than younger demographics each year on consumer goods, including restaurants, personal care, and entertainment
  • Contrary to popular thinking, these consumers are willing to try new brands that talk to them and earn their loyalty
  • They dominate spending in 119 out of 123 CPG categories
  • Boomers are hungry for experiential products and services, and on the prowl for the next big thing
  • They plan to leverage technology for a more fulfilling, comfortable life
  • Boomers spend nearly $7 billion online annually, well ahead of Millennials
  • They purchase 62.5% of all new cars and 80% of luxury travel products
  • By 2022, Baby Boomers, particularly women Baby Boomers, will have inherited nearly $15 trillion from their parents and spouses

Women Baby Boomers, in particular, represent a huge opportunity based on their significant spending power. Consider these facts:

  • As a whole, women over the age of 50 have a combined net worth of $19 trillion
  • Having focused on looking after families in their younger years, these now empty nesters have become the biggest consumers of luxury, security, and convenience items in the country
  • Women over the age of 50 spend, on average, 250% of what the population in general spends in any given year, including purchases of technology-related items, cars, and various financial services

Boomers are social, mobile, and online. They’re working well beyond the traditional retirement age, creating new businesses and products, and staying healthy beyond their years. Boomers are most interested in the experiences their money can buy, so key industries that will flourish with this group include health & wellness, travel, auto, entertainment, and pets. Whether they’re spending $120 billion on travel or $30 billion on pet care, they’re spending their money differently than previous generations as they reinvent aging.

It’s unfortunate that these two vibrant generations are pitted against each other in the media and for the attention of marketers. It shouldn’t be either/or; both Millennials and Baby Boomers, particularly femaleBaby Boomers, represent powerful economic forces. Marketers would be wise to welcome Baby Boomers into their fold and establish meaningful connections that prioritize this group.

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Career Advice for Women: Stop Thinking Like a Girl

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Career Advice for Women: Stop Thinking Like a Girl


 

By Tami Cannizzaro
www.tamicannizzaro.com

 


Recently my blog was named “One of the Best Blogs for Women in Business 2017” by Market Inspector.

“Great news! Woo-hoo! Yay me!” – right?

Nope.

My first reaction upon hearing this news was not of joy but of disbelief. “Who, me?”  

Surely, they have mistaken me for another blogger, I thought. My little ol’ blog? A winner? Are you serious?

The skeptic in me was convinced this was a scam of some sort and it would only be a matter of time before the organization would ask for money in order to receive this dubious honor.

 After all, this wasn’t my first rodeo. I had received news of something great before, only to have it fall through. Not to mention this particular email was from a UK-based company. What could I possibly offer them?

A quick email later and there were no jokes, scams, or fees; this was real. My blog really did receive the honor and I could tell others about it.

How were the blogs selected? Who knows and who cares? I’m a winner! Look everyone, I got a trophy! LOL

But seriously.

When I thought about my reaction to hearing the news, it wasn’t what some professionals and certainly not what my male colleagues would have done when receiving good news in the corporate world.   

I’m going to make a broad generalization – something I usually don’t like to do: Why do we women, when receiving praise or awards, tend to bow our heads and give it the old, “Aw, shucks, it was nothing” routine? 

Or worse, question why we are receiving the honor?

Or wonder if it was a mistake?

Men, when receiving praise for a job well-done or honors bestowed, typically don’t ask questions. They stand taller. Prouder. They say, “Thank you” and shout the news from the rooftop.

As professional women, we need to own our accomplishments.  Wear the honors and praise bestowed upon us as if they were badges on a uniform. We certainly should not diminish the accolades by denying them with a cursory, “Well, it was nothing.”

It was SOMETHING.

In addition to accepting accolades, we women in must also learn to toot our own horn.  If we don’t tell others about our accomplishments, especially at the office, how will anyone else find out? 

As women, we tend to rely on managers or performance reviews to somehow do this job for us. Osmosis only works in science; not when it comes to personal achievements. Maybe we’re afraid to sound like a show-off, or maybe we’ve been taught that good work will speak for itself.

Newsflash: we’re not showing off. And who best to tell our story but us?  Besides, if we don’t, no one will. 

Let others know about your accomplishments. A performance review should not be the first time your manager hears about your stellar work.  And it needs to circulate higher than your direct manager; find ways to get your message to key individuals throughout the organization. Tricky, yes, although it can be done.

One of the best ways to make sure your accomplishments get noticed at work is through continuous communication.

Regular updates about the status of your project to key stakeholders not only keeps everyone in the loop, it also allows you to “boast” of your success at the completion of the project without looking as if you’re suddenly calling attention to yourself. 

Is it difficult to self-promote? It can be, since it doesn’t always come naturally and it does take some finesse to execute well.  Yet the results can mean the difference between recognition and a promotion or career stagnation.

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Why Don’t We Have a Crisis Communication Plan? Because Prevention Isn’t Sexy.

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Why Don’t We Have a Crisis Communication Plan? Because Prevention Isn’t Sexy.



As a crisis communication consultant, I have seen countless examples of organizations that either don’t have a crisis communication plan, or fail to effectively implement the one they have.  Numerous studies confirm that only about half of all organizations have any kind of crisis plan.  So, what’s the excuse for the other half? 

Here’s what I think:  Prevention isn’t sexy. It’s boring.  And denial is far too easy.  ‘That will never happen to our company’ is an all-too-common excuse for not investing in a crisis communication plan. These days, when employer-employee loyalty is a relic of our parents’ generation, who’s going to bother to argue with the boss when she/he denies there’s a problem? The sand is right there at our feet, let’s just stick our head down into it. See? No crisis. 

This is the reason, I believe, that so few politicians seem to support initiatives that are designed to prevent problems.  Prevention does not get them a headline.  But fixing a problem, now that merits news coverage. And campaign contributions and votes.  Too many are happy to stand up and talk about how they have solved a problem, but far too few are willing to work on preventing it from happening in the first place.  But I’m not here to talk politics.

The same is true for organizational crises.  Take United Airlines’ recent PR disaster, which occurred on April 9 when a passenger was forcibly removed from a flight because the airline needed the seat to transport a crew member to Louisville from Chicago, and too few passengers volunteered to give up their seats for compensation. 

United has had to apologize for how its policy was enforced, and is enduring an ongoing PR disaster of its own making. Their apology (see the related piece from fellow USPR Member Michael Blumfield) -- which improved somewhat over time and under intense social media pressure-- failed to adequately acknowledge their poor initial handling of the incident, when they hid behind policy and blamed the passenger.  

Perhaps CEO Oscar Munoz, having come from CSX, just isn’t attuned to a people-centric (rather than cargo) transportation business. His tone-deaf initial response on Monday certainly exacerbated an already embarrassing situation. What we don’t know is whether Mr. Munoz got bad advice on how to respond, or if he ignored good advice. Or worse, sought no counsel at all. But I believe that the right message, at the right time, would have contained the crisis quickly and we would be talking about something else by now. 

But crises like this only happen at big companies, right? They are the ones always in the news.  

Executives of smaller companies often believe that they are too small to capture news headlines, and therefore they don’t need to worry about a crisis.  “It won’t happen to us.”  The fact is, though, that a crisis can bring down a smaller company and never be widely covered by the mainstream media.  An issue becomes a crisis when your stakeholders find out about it, and share the story with others. Media coverage certainly won’t help the situation, but it is no longer the sole means to access news and information about your organization. In fact, it is not even the primary way to get information. That role has been assumed by social media and the internet.

So, what’s an executive to do? 

Let’s start by pulling our heads out of the sand and acknowledging that yes, we are vulnerable to a variety of potential crises. It can happen at our organization. It will happen sooner or later.  Time to make the commitment today to prepare and prevent, so we don’t have to repair and repent tomorrow.  

Invest in a comprehensive crisis communication plan.  It’s an ounce of prevention that will save a ton of cure in the long run. Begin with an honest assessment of the organization’s vulnerabilities to determine the kinds of crises that the plan should address.  Evaluate the issues, problems and disruptions that are most probable or most impactful.  Our research has consistently shown that most crises-to-be are smoldering issues that could have been prevented, managed or mitigated well before erupting into a full-blown crisis. 

Crises are about people.  Crisis communication plans are like insurance policies: you can hope for the best, but plan for the worst and minimize your exposure to risk. Hope that the catastrophe never happens, but be prepared just in case it does.  Because it just might.  

There are several crisis scenarios that should be addressed in virtually every plan, including: harassment, abuse or discrimination; illegal or unethical behavior; whistle-blowers; white collar crime; cybercrime / data breach; employee or customer casualty or fatality; natural disaster; workplace violence (including terror attacks and shooters); product recalls; labor disruptions; activist or social media attacks. Employees caught on smartphone video behaving badly.  There will likely be a few other issues specific to the company or industry that should be included.

Develop initial strategies for each of the scenarios and identify the crisis team members, communication priorities, key stakeholder groups, likely questions and initial messages. Prepare holding statements and social media messages, and have them vetted and approved by legal and management in advance, so they can be used immediately if needed. 

Once the plan is completed, teach the crisis team how to use it.  Conduct an exercise to make sure the plan works as intended, and that it integrates well with emergency response plans and business continuity and recovery plans.   Review and exercise the plan regularly, at least annually. 

While you’re at it, take a good, honest, possibly painful look at your culture, and determine whether it encourages employees to speak up when they see a problem.  If not, change the culture. This is much easier said than done, of course.  But the kind of crisis-ready, adaptable to change, employee-friendly and customer-friendly culture that prevents crises can also make the organization more nimble and ready to change in the face of new and unforeseen challenges. 

Learn more about the kinds of crises that made the most headlines in 2016: download our free annual crisis report

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Communications count – even when you’re not facing a crisis. (Looking at you, United.)

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Communications count – even when you’re not facing a crisis. (Looking at you, United.)



Besides the larger PR problems that United Airlines caused itself after having police remove a seated passenger, the company’s press releases following it were full of maddening corporate speak:

“I apologize for having to re-accommodate these customers,” CEO Oscar Munoz said in a three-sentence press release shortly after videos of the incident hit the internet. That single sentence offends in several ways:

  • The apology is not an admission of guilt. He’s actually not saying he’s sorry but rather suggesting this was an unavoidable reality the airline had to address.
  • Lumping the customers who walked off the flight with the one man bloodied and dragged out of his seat is a way of distancing United from the particulars of the event. Cold.
  • And “re-accommodate?” Is that even a word? “Accommodate” is defined as “fit in with wishes or needs of.“ “Re” suggests you’re doing it again. Either way, calling the cops on a recalcitrant passenger doesn’t seem like the right application of the term, does it?

Airlines, of course, are famous for making things sound more classy and sophisticated than they actually are. You “get in” or “get out” of a car, “hop on” or “hop off” a bus or train, but at airports gate employees talk about “pre-boarding the aircraft” once arriving passengers have “de-planed.”

Not all carriers go along with the standard lexicon. Southwest Airlines has delighted passengers for years by allowing its flight attendants to riff on the standard safety announcements by injecting humor and personality. (Said one attendant of the life vests that passengers would grab if they crashed on water, “Everybody gets their own teeny-weenie yellow Southwest bikini.”) 

Southwest’s entertaining safety announcements have been captured on video by passengers and widely shared – having the exact opposite effect as the videos showing what happened on the United flight.

That reflects a shift in the way consumers view corporations at large, not just airlines. We live in an era that touts trust and transparency. A company’s language must reflect that new reality. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Use plain language, not terms that are unclear to anyone outside your industry.
  • Use the active voice, not passive.
  • Identify who did what, who’s apologizing to whom and what they’re apologizing for.
  • Write like you’d say it in a heartfelt conversation with an affected person. Avoid abstract positioning statements geared toward investors – they’re not impressed anymore, either.

The problem that CEO Munoz has at United goes far beyond word choice. Southwest can allow and even encourage irreverent safety announcements because it consciously aims to create a culture that’s vastly different than that of United. United’s flight crew and gate attendants weren’t empowered to do much or think creatively. They were bound by a strict set of operational guidelines. Hence the use of force.

Officious, cold corporate language is symptomatic of an officious, cold corporate culture. By itself, changing the language won’t change the culture. But paying attention to that language may give a company insights into how it’s thinking of its customers.

The reality is that customers already have picked up on these clues. All things being equal, they’re going to select a company that has a heart -- instead of just a list of procedures.


For more on communicating effectively during a crisis, see a related piece from fellow USPR Member Deb Hileman.

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The Envelope Please: Our Annual List of the Worst Business Clichés

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The Envelope Please: Our Annual List of the Worst Business Clichés

Every year at this time, as a public service, we bring out our list of the worst business clichés, those fetid phrases that dull our otherwise-brilliant conversations and writing. 

We've added some new ones from 2016, a year when - for some reason - starting every sentence with the word "So" became a thing.  

After publishing last year's list, many of you sent us your favorites. Thank you - we hated them - so, of course, we added them to this year's list. Some of you told have us that you bring the list to business presentations to see how many clichés you can check off. Clever.

Here we present The Annual RDC List of Worst Business Clichés" for 2017 (and their clearer substitutes):  

  • It is what it is (the facts are)
  • Circle back (discuss again)
  • Touch base (contact)
  • Close the loop (tell everyone involved)
  • At the end of the day (ultimately)
  • The perfect storm of (bad combination)
  • Brainchild (invention, idea)
  • Brain dump (briefing) 
  • Pick your brain (get your advice)
  • Brainstorm (discuss)
  • No brainer (easy)
  • Slam dunk (see "No brainer")
  • Get my head around (understand) 
  • Granular (more detailed)
  • Take it offline (talk after the meeting)
  • The elephant in the room (unavoidable issue)
  • Win-Win (mutually beneficial)
  • On the same page (agree)
  • Task force (working group)
  • Drink the Kool-Aid (this refers to a 1978 mass suicide; let's retire this one)
  • Leading or cutting edge (innovative)
  • Mission critical (essential)
  • Crunch time (near deadline)
  • On their radar screen (we have their attention)
  • Paradigm Shift (a change) 

 Have a great year! 

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Innovation vs Quality: After the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 disaster, will an old buzzword get new life?

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Innovation vs Quality: After the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 disaster, will an old buzzword get new life?

With the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 debacle, maybe it's time to resurrect an old buzzword and reconsider a new one. USPR member Michael Blumfield writes about how marketers might start thinking about injecting references to "quality" in their messaging and pull back on "innovation" in this article for The Marketing Scope. Spend a few minutes reading it – you might, like Bob Schiers, get some ideas about how your clients could benefit from this shift in emphasis.

http://www.themarketingscope.com/innovation-vs-quality-samsung-galaxy-note-7-disaster/

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Festive Frantic: A New Way to Work During the Holidays

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Festive Frantic: A New Way to Work During the Holidays

The holidays have always been my favorite time of year. Everyone seems to be in a better mood. Places – and people – are more festive, dressed up in their finest. Everywhere you go, there’s an energy that just doesn’t happen during other months.

This year? I’m just not feeling it. I’m going to blame working from home. Honestly, how does one prioritize work and clients amid so many holiday distractions?

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When Content Matters, Your Authentic, Personal Voice Can Lift Your Brand above the Bland

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When Content Matters, Your Authentic, Personal Voice Can Lift Your Brand above the Bland

Yet the more we all rely on emoticons and emoji, the more we have to wonder if content even matters anymore. Why take care with tone and structure when we have abbreviations and graphics to explain what we really meant, anyway? If our eyes skip ahead to the emoticons to see the intent of the content, then what’s next for text? What’s the future hold for those who believe content can be more than filler.

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Twitter is doing away with its 140-character limit for Direct Messages

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Twitter is doing away with its 140-character limit for Direct Messages

It seems like news is breaking faster at Twitter than Twitter can Tweet.  At least that seems to be the case as tech writers, users and fans of the messaging software seem to have beaten Twitter at its own game by announcing this past Thursday that Twitter is doing away with it’s 140-character limit for direct messages before the tech giant had a chance to roll out a formal announcement.

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Why PR Matters

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Why PR Matters

There seems to be a lot of talk floating around that “news releases are dead” and “PR doesn’t matter anymore.”  Let’s be clear – that’s ridiculous.  In fact, the importance of effective communications has never been more critical. 

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Our Story: The How and Why of USPR

We are a national network of communications professionals that can design, implement and manage national branding, messaging, product launches and initiatives. And today, we begin to tell our story, promote our members and advertise our national network on national platforms.