Like the start of any relationship, agencies and clients come together with the best of intentions—each expecting a mutually beneficial outcome. Yet recent research shows that only about 40% of marketers are “truly happy” with their ad agencies. Repeated studies show that this dissatisfaction level stays about the same year after year.

Maybe we all could use a refresher course in basic business etiquette. In particular, the courtesy of a reply goes a long way toward making the right impression. If you’ve asked an agency or a vendor for information, a favor, or a proposal, please extend the courtesy of a response once they’ve met with your request. 

It can be just a simple acknowledgement that their proposal was received, or even a quick update to say you’re swamped and can’t properly respond at present. If nothing else, a nicely worded “get lost” would be better than no word at all. 

Fundamental business courtesies pay dividends. If an agency or vendor makes some form of proposal, and you don’t provide feedback, you might be saying any of the following:

  • You didn’t get the proposal when, in fact, you did. This opens you up to repeated follow-ups, wasting both your time and theirs.
  • That you haven’t made a decision yet because the whole matter is still under review. If that’s true, just say so.
  • The letter/proposal went into your spam folder. (Many people don’t ask for a “read receipt” for fear of irritating the recipient.) 
  • Your silence means “no,” or something has changed. Remember:  Any answer is better than no answer.
  • You’re waiting for answers from others. If that’s the case, let the other party know. 
  • You’re a procrastinator, disorganized or both. 

Whatever the actual scenario, your silence can be deafening to someone expecting a reply. So please try your best to respond in some way. When someone has given you time and attention, that’s something of value. You may feel it’s not important or of no immediate benefit to you personally. But that’s where you’re wrong. 

With a non-answer, you’re sending a clear message that you’re unprofessional. In an always-connected world with rapid-fire communication, that reputation can quickly spread. Not to mention that, should you ever develop a real need from the same person or business, perhaps a much more urgent one, the other party will remember your lack of courtesy and label you a poor investment of time. 

This year, the last of 80 million baby boomers will reach age 50. That means this group now represents one-third of the U.S. adult population. In another three to five years, 50% of the U.S. adult population is forecast to be 50 or over. And by 2030, this segment will expand by 34%, compared to only 12% growth for the 18 to 49 sector. 

If sheer numbers alone don’t convince you of this market’s potential, consider spending. Boomers dominate in many consumer categories. They control about 70-75% of U.S. wealth and contribute more than 40% of all dollars given to U.S. charities—making them the nation’s largest single group of givers.

So what are the best ways to reach this lucrative market? Baby boomers have a unique perspective on life that colors their spending habits. Therefore, you’ll need to take a far different approach than the one you use to sell to younger audiences. 

Here are some essential tips for communicating with an older population: 

  • Give them the information they crave. Having been exposed over time to hyperbole, they tend to be cynical. A straightforward approach appeals to their practical decision-making process.
  • Far from being set in their ways, this group remains open to switching brands. Give them good reason to do so.
  • Boomers are busy. Most still work, so they appreciate simple messaging. Quickly demonstrate how your product or service will enhance their life. 
  • Boomers have greater sensitivity to value in their purchases, and they “value” security and comfort.
  • Make sure the images you use are images an older market will recognize and relate to. Ideally, you should have people with a 50+ perspective driving these communications.
  • This segment remains optimistic and has hopes for the future—a great deal more so than those already over 65. Keep this in mind when crafting your messages.

In terms of where to reach them:

  • Look for them online. About 80% of those 50+ use the Internet. More than 70% report buying products online, and more than 80% indicate they search online for product information before making purchase decisions.
  • Don’t overlook television. Even though they’re spending time online, they spend equal hours in front of that familiar screen they grew up with.