The four Las Vegas-based senior panelists ranged in age from 64 to 83 years – all middle-income retirees. The open-mic format allowed 75 advisors to ask the seniors questions about anything. Marketing was a big topic. And, although the ratio of advisor to senior was a bit akimbo, this fearless group of seniors was frank in its responses.

“When it comes to direct mail and direct marketing, what do you like and what do you dislike?” Asked an advisor from the audience.

On stage, the seniors huddled and reached consensus. “We like the personal touch when it comes to direct marketing,” replied 65-year Grace. “But if your handwriting sucks, then don’t send me a handwritten letter. Type it up and sign your name.”

Grace, who shall forever be known as the saucy senior from SMAX, continued with her advice to advisors, finger pointed. “I would also say, there is a big difference between marketing to women and marketing to men. We get stuff in the mail [from advisors] that is addressed to my husband, but I make a lot of the decisions in the house. Don’t assume the man makes all the decisions just because we’re seniors.”

The bottom line? Marketing matters to seniors. Make sure you are listening and responding to your clients and your prospects. Don’t be afraid to ask seniors what works, because what worked last week, may not work next week.

And, for heaven’s sake, remember Grace’s advice – if your handwriting sucks, don’t send hand-written notes.

If you missed SMAX this year, don’t panic. Join us next year for SMAX 2007, Aug. 22-24 at the Wynn Las Vegas.