Marketing for Design for Active Aging

By Patricia Rowen, ASID, CAPS and member of the ASID Aging in Place Council

Okay, so I realize I have a valuable service and products to offer the aging population.  But, what is the best way to market my services to this community?

There are so many possibilities that the process may seem daunting.  My recommendation is to start developing your marketing plan by asking yourself these questions.

What services / products do I offer?

Know your products, their features, pricing, lead time, and how they will benefit this client.  Knowledge is the key to selling.  You will develop trust and confidence when talking with your prospective clients if you know your products well.

How am I different from the others in my area?

What makes you different?  Look for ways, even small ways, which make your service different and thus more valuable or irreplaceable to your clients.  Is there a personal aspect to your interest in working with the older generations?  This business isn’t about you; it’s about what you can do for your clients.  Consider their needs and desires.  Take time out to spend a day shopping with an older person.  You will soon realize the things you can do which will help them remain independent.  Helping someone live better is such a satisfying place to be for a designer.

How can I promote this aspect of my business?

Develop your advertising using your logo, and focus on repetition.  If your advertising, brochures and newsletter all have similar layouts, color and logo, your market will soon recognize your information regardless of the location in which it is found.  Keep your information simple and clear, and use a font which can be easily read.

Do you want to create a tag line or branding statement?  What if you worked for a firm that had been in business for 50 years or more?  You could use a tag line like this:  Over 50 years of experience, and we’re aging with you.  Or, if you don’t want to use the word “aging” in your statement, how about this: Quality products and design for your independent living.  Be creative. What do you want clients to know about you?  What will appeal to them?

Where should I advertise to reach this segment of the population?

First, take a look around the geographical area that you would like to cover and identify your target market.  There are several age groups that you will want to identify and get to know. Each of these age groups is unique in regards to its values, outlook and expectations.  They are generally categorized according to the following cohort names and age groups:

  • Baby Boomer Generation – those born from 1946-1965
  • Post War Generation born – those from 1928-1945
  • WWII Generation born – those born from 1922-1927  
  • Depression Generation born – those born from 1912-1921

Determine where the people in these different age groups congregate.  Take a look in the gym nearby.  Is there a local coffee shop or senior center where they enjoy spending time?  Many in these generations are frequent volunteers; where do you find them in your community?  Ask location managers if you can place a brochure rack in their business to introduce your service.

Think about your own client list.  If one or more of your clients aren’t in this age group, chances are they have parents or extended family members who are.  Word of mouth is always the best advertising.  Ask your past clients if they will help you spread the word.

Many of these people belong to fraternal, service and women’s clubs.  Consider developing a presentation that you can deliver to your local groups.

Don’t overlook online marketing campaigns.  According to Jupitermedia, the number of adults in the boomer generation surfing the net will reach 35.4 million by the end of this year.

Network with other service providers, such as medical equipment and supply stores, pharmacies, centers for occupational therapy, Area Agency on Aging, and the local AARP chapter.

These are just a few suggestions which may help you get started.  Ultimately, it all comes down to the amount of effort you are willing to expend.

Think creatively.  Most of all, just get out there and get started.