Q: What is the most effective way to reach people over 55 and retirees who may be downsizing? Also, how can we appeal to the children of seniors who are helping their parents transition into retirement communities?

Joyce DelGuercio, assistant sales manager, Homestead Run, Toms River, N.J.

A: A critical issue in your situation stems from the very broad targeting based primarily on age.

There may have been a time in the past when marketers could look for people at age 65 to promote retirement-associated products and services. Today, people retire at various times, for various reasons, starting as early as 55, but many are much older.

The instinct to identify a point of transition at which your marketing should be ramped up to a given audience is good, but age alone won’t be ­sufficient.

You want to reach people at the “ready” and “aim” stage of the transition to a retirement community, before they pull the trigger on a move.

Consider other factors in the life of your target group that may indicate future ­intentions.

For instance, you might consider ways to identify people who have owned a house for more than 10 years and have recently had their home appraised, but not associated with a refinancing. To know if this is part of the “ready” stage or nearing the “fire” point, you will need to learn more about how people go through this process.

You need to understand the tendencies of people in the process. To identify some of those trigger points, start with your current residents. Conversations or surveys of what they did and when can be of great value. Eventually, you will need to broaden that inquiry to validate what you learn, but starting with your best customers can get your investigation started easily.

If most of your residents sold homes valued under $500,000 that were within 20 miles of your community, that will also help narrow your marketing efforts. You may find that people with home values above or below a certain amount tend to exhibit different points of transition. Look to trends among those who chose your location, and build from there.


Mike Porter is the distinguished service faculty in marketing at the University of St. Thomas, Opus College of Business.