Forward on reverse: Insights for marketing to maturity: Part IV: A different kind of customerAtare E. Agbamu, CRMSReverse mortgages Marketing to my 6-year-old daughter, Tejiri, is a piece of cake. My one-phrase magic pitch gets and holds her attention right away. I have also found that this simple phrase works wonders even with my two teenage sons, Awesiri and Akporefe. What is this all-powerful phrase? Why are these words so potent with my kids, your kids and all kids in every family, in every culture, in every country and on every continent? The wonder phrase is "Let's play." Of course, the operative word is "play." In Part III of this series ("A different kind of customer," The Mortgage Press, December 2005), I introduced David Wolfe's four seasons of a customer's life. I promised we'd look at the developmental objectives of the spring and summer seasons in this installment. Before we return to play, let's review Wolfe's seasons of a consumer's life: †From birth to age 22+/- = Spring †From age 18+/- to 40+/- = Summer †From age 38+/- to 60+/- = Fall †From age 58+/- and over = Winter In the spring of a consumer's life, Wolfe said that play is the primal driving force in shaping childhood worldviews and behaviors. It is through play that children learn the adaptive skills that they need to navigate the rivers of life. They play with toys. They model roles that have been programmed in their biology--DNA. They pick up essential skills via role playing and modeling. Boys generally play like boys. Girls do the same. There are some exceptions, but the general pattern is set. "Like a good mother, nature uses a variety of strategies to make sure that we get our minimum daily learning requirements met ... The play imperative is found in every mammalian species. Whether kittens or kids, play is nature's way of ensuring that the young acquire the learning they need to survive as adults," Wolfe said. "Play in adolescence takes on an experimental quality that revolves around friendships, career fantasies, ideas, music and the big S-word. Idea play reaches its peak for many in college years. Just recall the endless hours you examined the world with friends until the first rays of dawn." Play leads to serious play, which becomes serious money. Bill Gates' software billions began in blissful play with computers as a lad. Michael Jordan's basketball millions originated in boyhood dunking. The mathematics wizardry of incoming Federal Reserve Chief Ben Bernanke emerged through play with baseball numbers as a kid. So, if you play hard enough, cash and other things of value will follow. Play is why marketing to youth is a cakewalk. Just wrap your product, service or idea around an Elmo, a Big Bird, a Michael Jordan, a LeBron James, a Tiger Woods or an Andre Agassi, and hear your cash registers sing Wall Street's "Ode to Greenbacks." Play is a primitive force. We have to play. Play, fantasy and magic go together and shape the worldview of a customer's first 20 years of life. Although we retain our native capacity for play throughout life, by the summer years, the focus is on play-less learning, earning, getting and keeping. Generally, we go for the right job and the big paycheck; we buy the big house in the right neighborhood and start the ideal family; we join the right clubs and know the right people. The developmental destination is a place called "somebody" in our vocations and in society. "Yearning for work, the means by which a person satisfies a consuming focus on becoming someone socially and vocationally. Earnings generated by work support desires to make social statements that give material proof of a person's accomplishments; thus summer is the season of acquisitiveness," said Wolfe in "Ageless Marketing." Spring and summer years make up the first half of a consumer's life. The goal of the spring years is basic human development, while social and vocational advancement is the aim of the summer years. In Part V, we will look at the developmental goals of the second-half consumer (fall and winter). This is where our reverse mortgage prospects and their circles of influence are in life's intriguing walk. We might just learn something new. Think reverse. Move forward! Atare E. Agbamu, CRMS is president of ThinkReverse LLC, a reverse mortgage training and consulting firm based in the Twin Cities and is a consultant with Credo Mortgage. Atare is regarded as an emerging authority on reverse mortgages and is frequently consulted by financial professionals and families across America. His reverse mortgage interviews have been webcast on MortgageMag Live! He can be reached by phone at (651) 389-1105 or e-mail [email protected].
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