Marti Barletta has transformed a marketing career spanning two decades into thought dominance in the exploding field of marketing to middle-aged women. Her newest book, PrimeTime Women, has inspired some personal reflections.
Although our career paths never formally crossed until recently, we cut our marketing teeth in strategically related organizations.
Marti once worked for Frankel, a company that has handled consumer promotions and retail merchandizing for McDonald’s for many years. I worked for an advertising agency managing a 16-store McDonald’s marketing cooperative in Colorado. And although the fast-food juggernaut has lost some of its prestige in the last few (super-size me) years, as a consumer marketing organization there have been few better.
With the urgency of major system-wide McDondald's promotions handled by Frankel and much scrutiny of local implementation by my team, I learned a lot about marketing to Boomers, on the job and early in my career. I got sweaty palms and heart palpitations often.
For example, I handled the local launch of Chicken McNuggets by developing a fundraising promotion for the Ronald McDonald House. Our target audience was Boomer women with small children. We telecast the first 3-D movie on TV, and I still remember block-long lines of Boomers waiting to purchase their 3-D glasses at McDonald’s. We broke all sales goals, made a substantial donation to The Ronald McDonald House, garnered tons of media coverage, and won a national award from the corporation for our local creativity.
Although Marti and I have never compared notes about this coincidence in our careers, I’m sure we both owe a lot to Frankel for pragmatic education and experience. This is also where Marti got her start with marketing to women and her Frankel program entitled Frankly Female.
Now Marti has introduced a third significant marketing book. Get your highlighters ready. This book provides unique focus on the Boomer market, with emphasis on women and how they differ from their male peers.
As Marti observes, “I believe the difference in men’s and women’s midlife experience is not rooted in a difference in underlying human development, but rather stems from three simple circumstances: more control, more support, and believe it or not, menopause.”
From this jumping off point, you have to keep reading!
Marti doesn’t just provoke readers, although she’s good at it; she delivers keen insights and analysis backed by consumer research and thoughtful case study assessments. She does this in a breezy writing style that comes across as an intelligent conversation rather than a grinding polemic. Her advice for marketers is solid and substantial. As we liked to say in the 70s, “Marti Barletta has her act together.”
This perceptive marketing book is also a social statement that middle-aged women (and the men who love them) can heartily embrace.
Not too long after reading the book, I stumbled across an article in The Denver Post written by a real estate columnist who was just miserable with herself. She described herself attending a holiday party, mostly populated by younger people, and feeling old and used up – a fuddy-duddy.
I sent the columnist an email with a challenging subject line: “Prozac for the Denver Post columnist?" Then I assailed her for a negative, apologetic view of Boomer aging:
Your article is cute and full of tongue-in-cheek comments and well written overall.
However, my Boomer sister, you need to reeducate yourself about your generation and how it really has evolved into mid-life, and you need vastly new perspectives. I’ve got news for you: our generation is calling the shots socially, economically, politically and culturally. If we're fuddy-duddies by your estimation, we're kick-ass fuddy-duddies.
Here’s one significant book that’s coming out this month to put on your urgent list: PrimeTime Women by Marti Barletta.
Read it and start regaling in this phenomenal 50+ lifestage instead of feeling sheepishly embarrassed about it. (The last thing any of us need is more ageism.)
PS Put your fuddy-duddy column in your scrapbook and reread it after you’ve undergone a consciousness revolution of your own. You’ll smile sadly and then praise being here now.
PPS I was the keynote speaker for Mayor John Hickenlooper's "Summit on Aging" in November. Wish you had been there. The column would never have happened because you'd have been a different person at that party populated by younger people.
Quite surprisingly, the columnist DID respond to my email fusillade:
Thanks for your comments, and I will put PrimeTime Women on my list. No argument here. I do need a kick in the pants. I received lots of positive mail, but one reader tracked me down on the phone and really cleaned my clock for reinforcing negative stereotypes. She made some great points. Her main one, I believe, was that younger generations already discount anyone over 50, so why feed into that? Anyway, I'll get the book. Thanks again for your time.
You will be reading positive, erudite reviews of Marti’s new book, such as Chuck Nyren's, but I wanted to share with you my personal perceptions of this trendsetting accomplishment.
Bottom line: get it, read it, and prosper from it.