As the chief communications and marketing officer for a many-faceted organization, AARP's Martha Boudreau says her role is to make sure all of its varied channels "roll up to one clear brand voice."

Her job is a complex one, partly because of the many roles AARP plays—social mission advocacy group, charitable foundation, business partner and the largest publisher in the US.

Making so many moving parts function together seamlessly, she tells Doug Simon, requires "breaking down silos and integrating different disciplines."

Doing that, she adds, requires three things: "An organizational structure that puts all of the different disciplines and all of the channels under the authority of one person, aligning key performance indicators, and a culture of integrating channels and also collaborating between channels."

Key to making those things come together, Boudreau says, is getting everyone on the same page. "We all have to come together to understand that creating a clear brand voice is essential, so that each of the executive team members is managing their teams to that same outcome."

Another essential: "You have to hold people accountable for making sure that their initiative, their program, is not executed in and of itself, just in their business unit—they have to tie it together."

Boudreau stresses this is not just a one-and-done kind of undertaking. "The fact is the work is never done. Integrating is hard, and it doesn't just perpetuate itself. You have to drive toward it and demand that people integrate their work across a whole series of disciplines."

AARP's focus on Americans who are 50 and above, she says, makes it pivotal to understand how the process of aging has changed and how that impacts strategies for marketing to them.

"Marketers and communicators have to look not just at the demographic data, with age as a key part of demography," Boudreau tells Simon, "they also have to look at behavioral data and they have to look at the life stage that people are in and look at the whole person based on how they're living their life."

She adds that "the 50+ are living dynamic lives, they're consuming, they're trying new brands, they are not isolated. And so, communicators and marketers need to challenge their own ideas about aging, update them based on the data and the reality of what it is today, so they can connect to this enormous demographic."

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