David Weigelt, co-founder of Immersion Active, spoke to attendees at the 2013 Greystone Sales Adventure, held last month in Dallas, Texas. Immersion Active is a digital marketing agency that focuses specifically on consumers 50 and older. We’ve pulled out five abridged excerpts from David’s hour-long presentation and shared them below.

David on boomers and their online activity: 
Certainly if you’re sitting in this room, you know the power of the 50-plus consumer. Boomers and seniors make up the largest and fastest growing constituency online. Some of you may not be aware that boomers, once referred to as the television generation, now spend more time online than many of you. There’s a variety of reasons for that, including tablets, but the ultimate measure of engagement that I’m pretty sure most of you won’t be familiar with is that boomers outspend younger adults online 2:1 on a per-capita basis. And this is data since the economic downturn. This all sounds fantastic, doesn’t it? And it begs the question: Why wouldn’t we want to market online? And it begs the question: If this is the case, why aren’t more companies, brands and communities like yours realizing great success in their online marketing efforts?

David on differentiating your product: 
Over time the marketing industry has ultimately gotten to the point where it seems like your job is to brainwash people, to hypnotize them into this sea of sameness. And, by the way, I saw this in the senior living space. No reflection on any organization here, but there was a lot of sameness in the marketing materials. That was a little disturbing to me, but this isn’t just your industry — this is across the board. And ultimately we’ve gotten to a point where any sort of commercial communication is seen as spam — especially by boomers. The reality is that boomers, more so than any generation before or after them, will go out of their way to avoid your advertising. Everybody in this room has a challenge on their hands.

David on meeting consumers’ needs: 
The brand that can show its prospects that it meets as many of their needs as possible wins. The example I like to give here is Southwest Airlines. At the end of the day, it’s a crazy industry. It’s actually a horrible business. Little known fact: The aviation industry, if you put all the companies together, has never made a dime. But Southwest, if you look at single companies, is one that stands out as consistently profitable. Whatever you think of them, know they’re doing something right. What they got from Herb Kelleher on an intuitive level is this whole needs-based approach. What you might notice when you look at their communication touchpoints, they understand how their brand needs a purpose. They understand how their brand needs relation. They understand how their brand needs energy and satisfies energy requirements. And for this reason, the fact that it’s more than getting people from point A to point B, they’re able to put these Trailways buses in the sky and charge us money and make a nice profit.

David on best practices for engaging seniors: 
With technology, we can now image the brain, and science has found out something very interesting: When we go through the first half of life to the second half of life, we go from being left or right brain thinkers to being whole brain thinkers. What this means for us as marketers and salespeople is that it’s even more important that we are engaging prospects on an emotional level first. A lot of marketers think you want bullet points and to get right to the facts — we disagree with that. There are several ways you can do this. Market oversized photos. Use your headlines and copy to trigger the senses. This will trigger a physiological response and get their attention. In the old days of direct mail, they said you had 3 to 5 seconds before someone either threw it in the trash or opened it. With the web and older consumers, you have less than a second. So this is really important stuff.

David on social media: 
I really love social networking, but we need to be really careful not chase the shiny object. Pinterest is a good example; just the latest example, though. Several years ago I spoke at an annual convention, and I remember getting on stage and saying, “If MySpace was a country, it would be the fifth largest country.” And a year later, I was on stage having to explain that MySpace is kind of gone now, but now it’s Facebook: “If Facebook was a country, it’d be the third largest country.” Pinterest is the new one. It’s very popular with female boomers, leading-edge boomers, especially on tablets. There are a whole lot of reasons to love Pinterest, and there are a whole lot of cool things you can do. But we need to be careful, even if we’re disciplined with posting on the major social media sites, because we’re never going to be able to keep up with all of them. And so, once again, I would suggest we just take a step back and look at the numbers and understand the reality and make sure we’re weaving those in appropriately. My biggest point here would be: Don’t forget the email. Now is the time to get serious about email. There are tools available that make it possible for you to really leverage email. And just because you don’t like unsolicited email doesn’t mean that it can’t be effective depending on how you go about it.

See photos from Sales Adventure.

Read an excerpt from David’s book by clicking the image below.