Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Dealing with SCATs (Still Clueless About Technology)

My father refused to buy our family a color television “until they get the bugs worked out.” It was the mid-1970s before I saw Disney’s “Wonderful World of Color” in color.

For a year after I got my first answering machine my mother would not leave a message. She did not want to talk to “some machine.” She wanted to talk to me.

Some (not many) of my clients did not invest in a website until well after Y2K. They wanted to see if the “fad” would pass before spending the money.

These are examples of people who I call SCATs – “Still Clueless About Technology.” Some are genuine Luddites who stoically resist all attempts to modernize their lives. But most are simply overly cautious about adapting anything new and difficult to understand.

You know at least one SCAT. Still on dial-up access with an AOL email address. Grabs the Yellow Pages when he needs to look up a phone number. Doesn’t need an iPod because her Sony Walkman is still working just fine, thank you.

With more and more of our marketing being built around using technology to reach potential customers, SCATs present a problem. The more “traditional” methods of marketing are being replaced by email campaigns, Facebook and Twitter, and web-based promotion. But how do we reach someone who does not check email, live on Bluetooth or surf the web on a regular basis?

One solution is to ignore them. SCATs are a shrinking audience as technology becomes simpler and more accessible to more people. Spend the money where it will do the most good and reach those prospects who are more likely to see and respond to a “modern” pitch.

The problem with this approach is that SCATs tend to be older and (bless their Baby Boomer hearts!) more affluent. Just because someone does not run out and purchase and iPad does not mean they can’t afford one. Or two. So leaving SCATs out of the mix risks leaving a lot of money on the table.

A better approach is to incorporate some of those “old fashioned” marketing techniques into your planning. Carve out a portion of the next email campaign and devote it toward a print mail effort targeted at the older end of your demographic. Give customers an option of receiving your company newsletter via email or in paper format. Keep spending money on AdWords, but throw some (carefully, of course) into newspaper and radio ads.

Eventually everybody will be comfortable communicating electronically, and the on-line marketing infrastructure you are building today will reach a full and receptive audience. But until that time, find space in your effort and budget to accommodate the SCATs among us.

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