What Content Marketing Can Learn From the Elderly

Let me preface this by saying I love old people as much as the next guy.  No, I probably love old people a lot more than the average person… yes, definitely.  I may spend my days blogging and emailing projects to meet deadlines, but I do have a fantasy life…

In my fantasy life, I am in a cabin, in the mountains, sitting in a rocking chair, with no agenda save perhaps a few books I might like to read.  This is pretty much what I imagine retired life could be.  Now, because I have grandparents and know quite a few retirees, I’m well aware that this fantasy isn’t a reality for most elderly people.  However, elderly people tend to embody some of the essentials in my fantasy life!

Thus begins yet another addition to the ever-popular CEM Series, What Content Marketing Can Learn From…

Creating an Experience

One of my favorite characteristics about the elderly (you’re just going to have to accept that this series plays off stereotypes) is that they are great at creating experiences.  Whose grandmother didn’t bake cookies or make them a big breakfast?  Hopefully you were also fortunate enough to have a grandfather who taught you a skill like fishing or woodworking.

Whatever the case may be, elderly people tend to create experiences that others enjoy (or at least that their grandchildren enjoy!).  This carefully crafted experience should be an integral part of your content marketing.  In fact, you should start equating content marketing with experience.

There are no excuses for not having a brand experience.  If it’s possible to create a brand experience even when you’re using marketing automation techniques, then it’s certainly possible to do so in the other, more personal areas of your business.

Practical Tips: Pay attention to every aspect of your customer’s experience.  From website landing pages to email marketing campaigns to delivery of product or service.  Everything should work together to deliver a cohesive package that is your brand experience.  Meeting with a brand consultant can help you unify your processes, image, and communication style.

Owning an Identity

Because the elderly have been around for a lot longer than most of us, they tend to feel pretty comfortable in their own skin.  Elderly people, as a whole, know who they are.  They often look back to tradition and heritage as a source of identity, and adamantly place roots for their progeny to have an identity, too.

Your company should have an identity that is as defined and concretely rooted as an elderly person’s.  Of course, as a growing company, you have the ability to change and adapt – and you should!  But, before you can change and grow, you have to have some kind of identity to work with.

Practical Tips: Work on developing your blog’s voice.  Whether you have multiple writers or just one, make sure every post works toward creating your own unique identity.  Lisa Barone has some solid advice on creating your blog’s voice that’s applicable to just about any business blog.  Also, should you choose to outsource, a good writing service will work to develop a voice that works for your company.

Sharing Anecdotes

Another one of my favorite things about the elderly is that they’re great at sharing anecdotes.  Valuable life lessons, personal stories from the past, and sometimes rather quirky reminiscences… the elderly have all the anecdotes.

Your content marketing strategy should be chock-full of anecdotes – the interesting ones that engage an audience that is!  There’s a fine line between your own anecdotal indulgence, and the effective sharing of anecdotes that build your brand.

Practical Tips: Twitter is a great place for you to share anecdotes and connect with your audience.  I think Target’s Twitter account does a great job of balancing promotional content with friendly, but less essential anecdotes.  Note how their page utilizes corporate anecdotes as a guise for broadcasting promotional messages.  Great work!

Slowing Down

Also, you’ve got to hand it to the elderly for knowing when to slow down: always.  When was the last time you saw an old person in a rush?  Not when you were driving behind that Cadillac on the way to work this morning.  Not when you were trying to order your coffee, but the old man in front of you was emptying all of the change out of his pockets.

Old people generally don’t rush.  It seems like they get to a point in life where they’re just “over” all the fast-paced business.  I think we can all take away a valuable lesson here.  Many of us are driving our content marketing strategies at 100 miles per hour, all to no avail.  Do you really need your writing service to Tweet 17 times a day on your behalf?  Is it essential that you maintain that Vimeo profile page?

Practical Tips: Think about what might happen if you cut back your social media presence to just two platforms (three at the most).  Chances are at least one of your platforms is completely ineffective anyway.  Why waste time and energy trying to do everything at once?  Cut back, slow down, and fully immerse yourself in fewer processes.  I bet you’ll notice a difference!

Enjoying the Moment

Lastly, the elderly tend to enjoy the moment.  What’s the point in living and working when you push through the first eight hours of your day just to get to the last eight?  Elderly people live in the moment because they’ve come to find that the present is all anyone really has.

Your content marketing should be motivated by a similar ethos.  If you aren’t enjoying your content marketing in the present, then you might not be going about it the right way.  Sure, there’s an element of hard work and long days to anything worth doing, but your content marketing shouldn’t feel like that day-in and day-out; it should be enjoyable.

Practical Tip: If content marketing is just painful to you, then it could be that you aren’t being authentic in your efforts.  Most companies that get burnt out on content marketing get burnt out because they were never sharing real, authentic content in the first place.  If you feel like you have to come up with content for the sake of having content, then you’re not going to last long.  Start creating genuine material that you’re passionate about, and enjoy the moment!

Now I’m in the mood to take some of my own advice, and enjoy a week of content marketing and blogging à la elderly!  What about you?  What lessons from the elderly do you think you will use in your approach to content marketing?

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Ben Richardson is a writer based in Nashville, TN. While he loves writing on a variety of subjects, he's our go-to on all things related to branding and the creative aspects of content marketing. Follow him on Twitter!

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