Wobbema’s Senior Resource Guide A Goldmine For The Geriatric Set
“I love these. Thank you. It’s just what I need.”
That’s what one of Toddy Wobbema’s grey-haired devotees told her in late October at a social worker’s office in Metairie, LA, when she handed the elderly fan the new Fall/ Winter Senior Resource Guide of Greater New Orleans.
“I was there delivering the Guides, and I saw a senior lady sitting in the lobby,” Wobbema said. “I opened a box, jokingly asked if she knew a senior who would like to have one, gave it to her, and you should have seen the smile on her face.”
“When people thank me for the Guide, I feel like I’m not just publishing a magazine,” she said. “I’m providing something beneficial to them. I’m helping people.”
Wobbema, a senior herself, plays advocate to tens of thousands of regional seniors.
As the the co-publisher, editor and cover story writer for The Senior Resource Guide of Greater New Orleans, serving Orleans, Jefferson, St. Charles, St. John the Baptist, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa, St. Bernard, Plaquemines and Washington parishes, and The Senior Resource Guide of Greater Baton Rouge, she also sells the ads and markets the free Guides and online Digital Directories.
Circulation is 50,000 semiannually for the New Orleans edition and 25,000 semiannually for the Baton Rouge edition.
Wobbema is a New Orleans native but lived in Colorado for 28 years. First a recreation activity director for a senior community, then a marketing director for independent and assisted living communities, Wobbema would always refer to the local “Seniors Blue Book.” She thought the directory for seniors was so brilliant she became one of its advertisers. The Denver publishing company expanded to other cities, renamed their publication The Seniors Resource Guide, and in 2004 Wobbema started working for the national company when she moved to Metairie.
For the last 12 years she has enjoyed a sales, commission and profit sharing business arrangement with the parent company producing a total of 150,000 copies of the New Orleans and Baton Rouge Guides yearly. Wobbema is her only employee, but she does rely on some graphic design and accounting from company headquarters.
The Fall/ Winter edition of the New Orleans Senior Resource Guide is 136 pages and features just over 70 sub-categories that fall under Activities & Entertainment, Care Management, Community Resources, Educational Features, Health At Home, Health, Wellness & Fitness, Health Services, Senior Housing and Professional Services sections.
There are also multiple grids that list resources side by side for quick comparisons.
“Our circulation includes just under 1,000 locations including senior centers, churches, doctor offices, hospitals, retirement communities and apartment houses,” she said. “If for some reason you can’t find one, copies are made available by mail for $3.50 shipping and handling. Many of our advertisers distribute the publication as well.”
Wobbema said ads cost from $625 – $4,400 per edition depending on the type and location of the ad. Print advertisers have the opportunity to advertise on the website at a discount. Non-print advertisers pay between $1,200 – $1,800 per year for web advertising.
“I contact people when I think they’re a good candidate, and people call me and say their company needs to be in there,” she said.
With a 80% renewal rate, Wobbema said she’s been fortunate to do business with many of the same advertisers who believe they receive great exposure by being a part of the Guide.
“I’m always looking for new advertisers, too,” she said. “For those who think it’s an expense and not an investment, I say if your business is serving seniors, it’s to your advantage to have a large presence in the Guide. If they look at the rate sheet and think it’s too expensive to advertise, I explain how the Guide is not a throwaway piece. People hang on to it.”
“Our Guides run out every time,” she said. “It’s being used and is in demand. It’s not a phone book, but a resource directory. In fact, many clinical liaisons, social workers, case managers, discharge planners and patient navigators call it their Bible. It’s great for professionals who can’t or don’t want to recommend specific places. Instead, they can refer someone to the Guide, so that the senior makes an informed decision.”
Wobbema said Baby Boomers are aging, and the growing senior population is looking for non-medical homecare services that are definitely serving customers in Louisiana because they are all staying in business.
“I get calls all the time from kids of aging parents asking what they should do in certain situations,” she said. “Things like ‘Mom broke her hip, and she’s just getting out of the hospital and can’t take care of herself. What can I do?’ I help people navigate what their options are.”
“I’m not an expert, but I know who is, and I direct them to people who can help them,” she said. “I know where all the resources are.”
She also knows where the seniors are, especially the notable ones that many New Orleanians remember and who are featured on the Guide’s cover.
Broadcasting legends Bob and Jan Carr, “Miss Linda” Barnett Mintz, Terry Flettrich “Mrs. Muffin” Rohe, Pete Fountain, Irma Thomas, Leah Chase and even her Dad, Robert Wiegand, who was the oldest living LSU cheerleader at the time he landed on the front page, all made the cut as cover story material.
Wobbema also likes to give credit to her husband Steve, also a senior, and a contractor who owns and operates Quality Home Repair in Metairie, for her continued success. “My husband is a wonderful mentor and has a great sales background,” she said. “He’s good with numbers.”
After working with seniors for 25 years, Wobbema said she still loves helping them and finding resources for them. From aquatic therapies to vision resources, it’s in the Guide. Alzheimer’s facilities, bath renovations, the latest in elder law? It’s in the Guide. Hearing resources, home repairs, hospices, pharmacies, senior housing? It’s in the Guide.
“The more you look at the Guide, the more you will find it’s useful and helpful,” Wobbema said. “What seniors need the most is advocacy, It’s the biggest issue facing seniors. I encourage family members to get involved whenever they can. With the Senior Resource Guide, it’s a great start.”
Senior Resource Guide