Boomers are much different than their parents. AP Photo/Bonnie Gruttadauria

If you’ve been in business over the past 10 years, you’ve no doubt seen lots of changes. And while many of these changes have been significant, perhaps none will more directly impact your business than the changes in buying habits of today’s consumers.

When I started in the business in 2001, I focused heavily on serving the senior market. However, today more and more advisors focus on baby boomers. It’s not hard to see why when you consider 10,000 of them will be retiring every day for the next 19 years. It’s a huge market!

However, if you plan to capitalize on this opportunity, you’d better first make sure you understand the differences in how they approach planning as compared to their parents.  In decades past, business was done differently than it is today. The individuals who make up the senior market, also known as the “Greatest Generation,” and the World War II generation, did things differently than we do today.

In the senior market, business was done on trust and a handshake. In the past, the value advisors brought to the table was information. It used to be that when consumers had a need, they sought out the “experts” for advice and education. Information was scarcer than it is today, and therefore, they had little other choice than to trust our advice and hope for positive results.

A new skill set

That is why so many of us have sat through countless training sessions on how to quickly build rapport, trust and relationships. These were essential skills for earning business. However, if you approach the boomer market the same way you approached the senior market, you’re likely to be disappointed with the results. Maybe you’ve already begun to notice that earning business seems more difficult today than it’s ever been. Perhaps the challenge is not that earning business is difficult, but rather that it requires a new skillset. The strategies we use to acquire new clients must adapt to the next generation’s buying habits.

You see, today’s consumer has an overabundance of information. In fact, with the Internet, there is so much information available today that boomers have the opposite problem of their parents – instead of not enough information, there’s too much! Trying to make sense of the vast amounts of conflicting opinions and information available today is a real challenge. And in my opinion, that’s where clients need you more than ever. They need you to help them make sense of it all. However, if you don’t change the way you approach this target audience you’ll never have the chance to work with them. Those advisors who are now positioning themselves as experts are setting themselves up for a huge windfall.

Society of Google experts

Today’s consumer is not driven as much by trust and relationships as they are research and information. We have become a society of Google experts. We research everything. And we begin researching potential sources for help well before we ever sit down to meet with an expert or salesperson. Think about your own situation. What was the last major purchase you made? Consider the last time you purchased a car. Did you start by walking on a lot and seeking out a salesperson? No way! You started online, comparing, contrasting and reading customer reviews. We approach everything that way today, including choosing our next advisor.

Now, understanding this, how can you position yourself ahead of the competition and set yourself up to win big in what some are calling the greatest opportunity this industry has ever seen? I believe you need to meet prospects where they are, online. Now, don’t tune out just because you think you don’t know how to reach people online. Many advisors I’ve coached begin feeling overwhelmed when they think of online marketing. They begin thinking of all the buzz terms and approaches — pay per click, search engine optimization, social media, lead capture. But what I’m going to do is give you a framework to approach this area of marketing.

Remember, today’s prospects are out searching the Web for information. But because there is so much information available today, you can no longer get by with throwing up a canned website with generic, static content. You need to begin connecting with and educating prospects through your website. While this takes some time and planning, it may not be as difficult as you think. In next week’s blog I’m going to share with you two of the most powerful tools you can leverage to not only attract but also engage today’s prospect right on your website!

Until then, check out this free video on how to leverage your website to reach prospects. And, for more information on online marketing strategies, visit www.automatedadvisor.com.

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