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   ARTICLE   |   From Scotsman Guide Residential Edition   |   March 2012

4 Factors of Generational Marketing

Learn how each age demographic perceives your promotional efforts

4 Factors of Generational Marketing

The techniques that you use to market to different generations should be as varied as your client base. Each age demographic should be approached in its own unique way, even if you’re marketing the very same product. Knowing more about how your customers process marketing information can help you stay a step ahead of the competition.

When crafting marketing or promotional materials, be sure that you consider the following four areas very carefully.

1. Audience

Knowing the difference between the four major generational labels is proverbially half the battle. The following definitions are based on Neil Howe and William Strauss’s generational theory, as published in their book Generations.

  • Matures: Born between 1925 and 1942. They define themselves by family and are rooted in the values that they were raised on. Their lives have been greatly shaped by war and economic depression.
  • Baby boomers: Born between 1943 and 1960. They largely define themselves by what they have accomplished in their professional lives. In general, they are short on time and low on patience.
  • Generation X: Born between 1961 and 1981. They are defined by what they have seen in terms of technological growth — witnessing the invention of cellphones, the Internet and cable television.
  • Generation Y: Born after 1982. They’re adept at using technology to multitask and are generally more loyal to brands than their predecessors.

2. Timing

Often, the timing of a marketing campaign can be just as important as your actual pitch. Keep the following in mind for each age demographic.

  • Matures: It’s likely that they won’t respond to messages of urgency and expiration. For instance, advising members of this generation to “act now” is not something that will motivate them. Matures don’t tend to fear the loss of a special deal and won’t allow themselves to be pressured into making a decision.
  • Baby boomers: They’re the least patient of all the generations and want information immediately. As such, your marketing needs to be efficient. They are likely to work with the mortgage company that provides what they want in the shortest time possible. Baby boomers also are less likely to respond to time-sensitive offers, but they understand the value of a good deal when they see it.

  • Generation X: They aren’t loyal to brands and require constant communication. Timing your marketing for this generation successfully will largely be based on luck. That said, if you get your message in front of them at the moment when they’re making a decision, you could be the brand that they choose over others.
  • Generation Y: As opposed to the previous generation, members of this group are generally loyal to brands and brand image. If you provide them with excellent customer service, members of this generation can become marketing assets in and of themselves — referring their friends and family to your company.

3. Offer

Everyone is looking for something a little different, and your market’s four generations are no exception.

  • Matures: They’re looking for a sense of connectedness that reaches beyond their individual families. Members of this generation need to clearly see the value of your offer and the different ways that it benefits them.
  • Baby boomers: Remember that convenience is key in marketing to this generation. Saving them time on their loan applications or reducing their closing costs will earn the trust and respect of these clients.
  • Generation X: They’re looking for an offer that comes with a satisfaction guarantee. Since this generation can be skeptical of marketing efforts, having your offer on the outside of direct mail will sometimes seem encouraging to them, as this conveys the message that you aren’t hiding something.
  • Generation Y: Members of this generation often have more debt because they are generally more collegiately educated. Showing them how they can afford a loan will earn their trust, respect and business.

4. Response

Each generation communicates in its own separate ways. It’s important to be familiar with the range of reactions that you can expect from generational marketing.

  • Matures: This generation prefers face-to-face communication. An appointment will help you close deals with this demographic. They tend to value personal relationships and will be consulting others in making decisions.
  • Baby boomers: They’re often underestimated in terms of their technological experience and can frequently comprise a large portion of your online consumer base. Their call to action can be by either phone or e-mail. Regardless, they want fast responses to their questions.
  • Generation X: They’re more dependent on e-mail for communication, but they’re constantly researching their decisions through various other mediums. Direct mail that drives them to the Internet for more information is perfect for their style of communication.
  • Generation Y: With their technological savvy, this generation uses quick-response (QR) codes, text messages or e-mail. They spend much less time having physical conversations and, instead, electronic response mechanisms often can work best.

• • •

You’ll invariably gain the greatest marketing advantage by empowering your customers with information and resources regardless of their generation. That said, knowing more about your customers and their perceptions will help you choose the products and marketing approaches that best help you close deals.

Carefully considering the different needs and perceptions of each generation can help you move closer to achieving that all-important goal: increasing your sales volume. 


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