To paraphrase Rosamunde Pilcher, you don’t stop learning because you grow old, you grow old because you stop learning. It’s a sentiment that informs the Love to Learn series, a leisure learning series from Pearson aimed at the silver surfer, and everything we do in building the content and brand. The ‘silver surfer’ sector is the fastest growing online age-group and perhaps best described as the ageing, not elderly, part of the population.
From a digital or online perspective it’s an age-group which is much less explored, which may explain why we thought this would be a good idea in the first place, yet it’s a group with spending power and is the primary end-user/reader for any purchase they make (so why is the 55+ reader not more aggressively courted by publishers?).
The series is, in the way it looks, feels and is built, openly aimed at the empty-nester/baby-boomer. Starting with only a little knowledge of the social group, and still being a few years off pensionable, there’s really only one way to make sure we’re speaking to our market and that’s to involve them from the off. Being a web-only product allows Agile practices to be integrated much more easily into our development. We try, consult, go back to the drawing board, consult, etc, until eventually we have something we can really put to the test in the market. It’s an exciting and exacting development process that speaks to the ‘Ivory Towers’ criticism that some publishers remain susceptible to. Nothing puts the brakes on creative hubris quite as quickly as the user-testing session conversation that begins ‘I’m not sure I need all this faff around the edges at my age.’
The relinquishing of control to the reader in the development of a new title requires bravery from the author and from the publishing team, especially in putting out a product that isn’t yet finished to a demanding testing group; and not a little diplomacy from the user-testing team in identifying which gripes are with the content and which are with the journey to the testing session. But the benefits have already shown in the evolution of each title, adapting to readers with particular needs and habits which betray a mid-land between print and digital.
One of the great questions of this project is ‘where does the silver surfer actually live?’ It’s all very well trying to go and meet your customer where they live online; first of all you’ve got to have the right address. Yes they’re growing quickly on Facebook and Twitter, and use TripAdvisor and such as online communities, too, but that’s from a pretty low base, and habits don’t reflect those of younger groups. This online area where the silver surfer lives contains inconsistencies where usage is less regular and user error happens in even the most basic tasks, but demands of the technology and interactivity are high.
For extra difficulty points, the series is also direct to customer, and as a start-up we have to improvise our way to visibility, doubly difficult as anyone tackling online discoverability knows. D2C isn’t a familiar field for many in this sector, and so we are learning as we go here, too. Visibility through partnerships is key and will continue to be so as we partner up in-house and with blue chip institutions in the activities and subjects covered. That collaboration and networking joins up the publisher with the end-user in a more relevant area for our market.
We’re on a steep learning curve, and perhaps surprisingly there’s a limited amount of expertise that we can tap into, as we find agencies are still building their knowledge of the 55+ market, and aren't much further ahead than we in publishing are, but hey, when did that ever stop publishers from trying before?
Recent blog posts
- Dreams of interoperability
- The Story behind The Story by Bobette Buster
- Pottermore's winning digital strategy
- Tools done changing?
- Publishing is Booming But it's Still Gloom on the High Street
- Authors and book rights – some more truths
- “TOC was a great ride…”
- Bright lights, big web
- Augmenting the cloud
- Are you measuring your metrics?
- I have a strong feeling that
1 week 6 days ago
- Paid-For Showrooming Is Madness
2 weeks 6 days ago
3 weeks 1 day ago
- You are asking the wrong
3 weeks 3 days ago
3 weeks 4 days ago
- Frameworks and Lotteries
3 weeks 6 days ago
- Eisler's point has been misunderstood
3 weeks 6 days ago
- Publish and be damned?
3 weeks 6 days ago
- Great post, Chris! But you're
5 weeks 4 days ago
- Numbers Game
5 weeks 6 days ago