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Posted on 08.14.2014

Marketing to Seniors? 10 Tips for Reaching an Older Patient Demographic

Hospital marketers - like all marketers - can be distracted by the latest whiz bang promotional tool. But new toys can often turn off older patients, who represent an important piece of the patient mix pie for most hospitals. Your new Instagram campaign or GoPro giveaway may leave 65+ set cold. Here's a handful of tried-and-true seniors marketing ideas - along with a few newsenior-marketing tips thrown in.

    1. Newspapers. Older Americans are one of the few demographic groups who are holding onto the daily print edition. The Pew Research Journalism Project tracked newspaper readership by reader age and found that while readership continues to decline across all age groups, the trend is mildest among seniors, who remain the group most likely to have read a paper in the last day.

 

    1. Senior focused publications.  Many communities have a local (or syndicated with local content added) publication for seniors, and distribution racks are typically located in senior-centric locations like activity centers and physician offices.

 

    1. Prescription bags. Prescribed medication use by seniors is significant - and in many cases, recurrent. When it's available, Rx bags can provide an interesting unusual way of getting a message in front of this audience (and at a time when they likely have their glasses on).

 

    1. Coupon mailers or weekly advertisers. Seniors are often accomplished deal finders and coupon clippers. Thrifty publications can be a great placement for a traditional ad - even better for bounce backs. Remember that the Medicare Improvements for Patients and Providers Act of 2008 (MIPPA) placed certain restrictions on marketing to Medicare beneficiaries, especially for managed care organizations and Medicare Advantage plan sponsors, so be careful about promotions or cross promotions that may trip the regs.

 

    1. Social media. Gramma's on Facebook! Forbes reported last year that the 74-plus demographic is the fastest growing demographic among social networks.

 

    1. Online. Google ads can be targeted to senior-leaning opportunities, and websites like Lumosity.com and the many 'senior mingle' websites out there (including the AARP's own dating site) are a direct line the older community.

 

    1. 7. marketing-to-seniorsCable. Seniors watch TV. USNews in 2012 reported that American retirees engage in an average of 4.2 hours of TV-viewing each day, almost twice the all-age average, and people age 75 and older watch more TV than any other age group. Ever since Wilford Brimley began his fireside chats with Medicare beneficiaries about diabetes supplies, healthcare marketers have turned to TV to reach the senior market.

 

    1. Sponsorships and events. Most seniors have more free time than younger demographic groups who are more likely to have full-time jobs or obligations to young children. In addition to health fairs and senior events, consider reaching seniors through arts and cultural events like concerts, plays, movie theatres, or at libraries.

 

    1. Radio. Seniors still listen to broadcast (and many are listening online). Talk radio and "oldies" stations (which are starting to sound frighteningly like '70s stations, by my standards) turn out favorably in Nielsen and Arbitron measurements.

 

  1. ChurchABC news reports that church attendance is highest among seniors, with 60% of the 65+ crowd reporting they attend every week. The numbers are even higher in the South and among republicans. Bulletin ads, picnic sponsorships and "coffee with a doc" events can help tap into this audience. So the next time you allocate hospital marketing dollars for graffiti sidewalk ads or college sports events, remember who is most often in your facility and who helps pay the bills.

 

Rosemary Plorin is president of Lovell Communications. You can view more of her blog posts here. Connect with her at rosemary@lovell.com or @plorin. 

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