Go Digital or Die: Advice for Baby Boomer Business Owners

Date: May 29, 2019
Author: Kristin Zhivago
Photo of a Baby Boomer female working on laptop

Sounds harsh, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, it’s true. We are seeing more and more baby boomer business owners who are like deer in the headlights. Why? Because they are overwhelmed with the digital and technical aspects of their business, which has stifled their growth. This is not just in marketing and sales, which is where we focus our energy—but in other areas of their business as well.

The real problem is that today’s customers—no matter their age, no matter if they are on the “consumer” side or the “business buyer” side—expect to have a smooth digital relationship with the companies they’re trying to buy from. They expect digital sophistication at the Amazon level, where they can compare products, see “more like this,” read numerous reviews, and even get their very specific questions answered by other customers.

And the truth is, there are surely companies in your market that have gone digital, and have gained advantages over you because they are meeting customer expectations.

Which brings me to another harsh reality: Customers are bypassing marketing blah blah and conversing directly with each other. They have been so disappointed for so long by insufficient, biased, and even misleading information by sellers that they expect it won’t be helpful. And, of course, technology has made it easy for customers to find each other, often by asking specific questions on Google and getting answers from others with a similar problem, interest, or experience.

Living in the tech industry as long as I have, I have seen markets rise and flourish and fall, or rise and fall without ever flourishing. And the difference between flourishing and failing always comes down to one thing: did the product or service meet a real customer need, the way the customer wanted it to be met, or was it just a well-constructed fantasy in the mind of the creator?

The real customer need, during the buying process, has always been to get answers to specific questions, so that the customer can make a regret-free decision. No matter how much technology has changed, this one truth has remained.

Baby boomer business owners are just like any other business owner when attempting to answer those specific questions. If they never interview their customers the right way (my book tells you exactly how to do this), they won’t know what the actual questions are and the best way to answer them.

But boomers have another problem: Their customers expect to be able to find and interact with their company’s digital properties—including sites, chat, apps, social, search results, etc.—in a smooth and efficient way. Certain standards must be met.

So many boomer business owners got a little lost once the cloud took over. What is a DNS? Who hosts my site? Where is my email hosted? What’s the difference between Shopify and WooCommerce? (By the way, I wrote this “Website 101” article to answer these kinds of questions.)

We all know we can’t manage what we don’t understand. If you don’t understand the way all this digital stuff works, you are not managing effectively. Worse, you are probably being taken advantage of by the “I can get you on page one of Google in two weeks!” types. And you’ve probably spent money there and have come out of the experience with less money instead of more.

This is why Frank Zinghini and I have started to do a series of videos aimed at baby boomer business owners, entitled (surprisingly): Go Digital or Die: Advice for Baby Boomer Business Owners. We discuss everything you need to know in order to start managing your digital activities successfully.

Frank and I have known each other a long time; he is also a client. Frank is the CEO of two application development companies and a company that sells a very sophisticated application testing product. Frank and his team have developed zillions of applications (well, perhaps that is a slight exaggeration) for everyone from a chain of gyms to a famous greeting card company to the Department of Homeland Security.

In these videos, Frank focuses on the “your application IS your business” side of the equation, and I focus on the marketing and selling side.

This isn’t just yet another list of “digital marketing tips” or “digital marketing ideas.” It’s two tech-savvy company owners revealing the framework and context in which you can apply those tips.

We are determined to help baby boomer business owners gain new management-level insights, hearing things they won’t hear anywhere else, things that will help them get a handle on all this digital stuff and start using it to their advantage. All this technology is learnable, and leveraging it will make your business as competitive as it deserves to be. With help like this, you can be one of the companies that successfully goes through a digital transformation.

Baby Boomers Frequently Asked Questions

Are baby boomers tech-savvy? 

Yes, but we are a practical generation that likes to keep things simple. 

Do baby boomers struggle with technology?

You either have to adapt or die.  Baby Boomers that use technology are constantly learning and adapting.  Frank and I talk about this in our webinar series.  https://www.zhivagopartners.com/webinar

Baby boomers and technology in the workplace, what it’s like working with baby boomers?

Baby Boomers care about face to face communication.  We need a single, easy to use mobile interface.  We are extremely hardworking and motivated by position, perks, and prestige. We have long work weeks and define ourselves by our professional accomplishments.  We equate work and position with self-worth and we are competitive in the workplace.

What are some of the characteristics of baby boomers?

Strong work ethic, competitive, goal-centric, resourceful, team oriented.

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