Today’s post was contributed by Mary Erlain, published author, speaker and professional trainer/coach/facilitator. Her most recent book is “Communicating with the 5 Generations in the Workplace“. 

I see the generational differences creating perhaps the most confusion for small business owners. Business owners are trying many channels, oftentimes without a strategy or follow-up plan. Frustration grows and marketing resources dwindle. An overall attitude change takes place as the marketing channel takes the blame for the failure when in fact it was a “spray and pray” attempt that was the breakdown.

10 answer keys ErlainIn any ad or marketing campaign, determining your market is the paramount goal. Combining a team of people who represent all the various targeted markets becomes fundamental in any advertising strategy. Give this team the goal of ascertaining which of the senses most appeals to the target audience.

If you structure your ad campaign in a way that addresses the primary senses of that generation, it will endear you and your product or service to that group.  People of all generations want to be heard and listened to regarding their needs. When you engage their senses, they feel that you have connected to them on more than one level.  A company or service that can create this involvement of the senses will always be a success.

Here are the 5 Generations in the Marketplace defined in brief:

  • Traditionalists (born prior to 1946) are old-fashion, down home type of people. They will look for bargains, but will not make that the decision maker. They will respond to ads that come across as being honest and sincere.
  • Boomers (1946-1964) learned the jingles, and even today there are Boomers that can sing the commercials of yester years. They are wiser and more wary when it comes to spending their money. Boomers do not connect with any marketing strategy or ad that overpromises and under delivers; this will be met with a negative response. Ads and marketing campaigns need to address products and services with the best price, best value and always have an added bonus.
  • Generation X’ers (1965-1976) are not so easy to reach face-to-face. Traditional network TV struggles to reach this demographic. They are watchers of cable and internet for their shopping and entertainment. Short sound bites filled with information is preferable to them. The slick sale is a huge turnoff to the Gen X’ers. Leave the pitch at home! They appreciate an honest, straight-forward and factual approach.
  • Generation Y’s (1977-1990) value creativity. Companies must continually offer promotional themes to capture this audience. Ads are targeted to internet sites, phone apps, TV, video gaming, etc. Word of mouth marketing is very important as peers influence their buying efforts. Social media dominates their lives. Content is critical for this generation; moving content from platform to platform with no restrictions is a must.
  • Generation Z’s (born after 1990) are influenced by new media, virtual friends, and the power that comes with technology. They have never lived without the internet and technology in some form or fashion. It is not uncommon for them to use another form of media at the same time they are watching TV. They have little tolerance for delays in customer service response times. If you wish to cater to this generation, your systems and people must be able to meet the needs of the Gen Z’s. Use of short videos, text marketing, and mobile ads that catch their eye is optimal. Social media marketing is another way to reach the Gen Z’s.

This takes time and this takes effort. This is advertising at its best when each individual’s needs are addressed. This is the recipe for greatness for any marketing advertising campaign. This is when employees who have generational diversity, as well as allies in business, can help you. Be careful of becoming almost addicted to every marketing seminar available. Over time these can end up confusing you with the differing approaches being presented. At the end of the day, someone standing at the front of the room proclaiming to be able to market your business, from the front of the room, doesn’t know YOUR business. Get “face-to-face” with someone who is willing to understand your business from past, present, and future perspectives.