Multi-Generational Marketing: How to Bridge the Generational Divide

03 Aug Multi-Generational Marketing: How to Bridge the Generational Divide

There was a time when companies held the upper hand, when it came to holding the attention of consumers. A well-placed ad could mean your business was on the high road to success, or at least traveling in that direction. But in today’s world, families don’t sit around the radio each evening, waiting to be fed information. We live in the age of proprietary audiences, where consumers have the power to swipe over advertisements with a quick flick of their thumb.

Whether you’re trying to reach teen audiences or boomers, learning to market across demographics should be an essential part of your long term marketing strategies.

In fact, multi-generational marketing is proving to be one of the top 10 marketing trends, and not just for the present. Trend reports are showing it will hold that place for the next 25 years. This means that knowing how to use the right language, how to use new technology to your advantage, and how to fine-tune your  social media presence, can set your business up for long-term success.  


Think Outside The Box


The first step when developing your multi-generational marketing strategy is for you to think outside the box. It can be easy to gravitate toward the “us vs. them” mentality when choosing a marketing technique, but it goes so much deeper than that.

A  good strategist knows that while targeting the 18-25 year-old demographic might sound like a sure fire plan, it’s important to also think about targeting older—and even younger—generations who, combined, have an equal amount of purchasing power.


Market To The Future

Stagnant marketing, or marketing only to your current customer base, is setting your company up for failure. While your current customer might hold the present power, don’t forget to plan for when they’re no longer in that target demographic.

Let’s take a look at the under 18 market, for example. They might not seem like the most marketable generation at the moment, but within 10 years they’ll be joining the ranks of consumers with established spending potential. Investing your marketing resources into building these connections early on, is an essential part of building financial stability with your target market. Building those connections now means that once Generation Y reaches those spending years, they will already know where they want to spend their money.


Establish Your Brand

While there are, of course, differences between generations, there are also similarities.

Developing methods of marketing to older consumers without alienating younger ones is a valuable skill. Here are some commonalities to capitalize on:

  • People Influence People: Regardless of which generation you’re trying to reach out to, the marketing strategy should include getting people to talk positively about your business. Because when people talk, potential customers become realized clients. Word of mouth accounts for 20 to 50 percent of all purchasing decisions, so get the conversation going.
  • Brand Loyalty: While it’s usually the older, boomer generation that is tied to this trait, you might be surprised that, according to MediaPost, 72 percent of 18-25 year-olds said that they also have brand loyalty to the products their parents use. This goes back to the importance of cross-generational marketing, so that younger generations are exposed to your product or service and use that familiarity to become dedicated customers.
  • Frugality: Don’t let the stereotypes sway you, whether it’s because they are in  more debt than any prior generation or they just have built-in habits, millennials (as much as boomers) are also looking for a deal.
  • Technology and Social Media: We live in the age of technology, and it’s important to realize that multiple generations are online and ready to engage with your business. Boomers and millennials alike are “device agnostic” (using multiple screens at once) meaning your site needs to be optimized for multiple platforms in order to best reach your potential customers. With at least 65 percent of baby boomers using Facebook, and younger generations glued to social media sites, it’s important to make sure that your marketing is being targeted toward these platforms, as well.


Become Socially Involved


From Generation Y to Boomers, it’s important for your company to show social involvement. With younger generations volunteering as a required part of their academic lives, social consciousness is ingrained in the way they live and think. Younger generations like to invest in companies they feel a part of, and older generations like to see value (whether it’s monetary or societal) connected with their purchases and involvement. Show that your brand cares and you’ll go far with customers across the board.


Research Different Generations


While doing research may seem like a no-brainer, it can be easy for companies to market based on stereotypes about generations, rather than actually researching their target customers. Especially if you’re trying to reach out to a generation which may not be your own, chances are you already have a few customers in that generation. Reach out to them.

Utilize that research to empathize with the needs of each generation. For example, avoid referring to seniors as “old people” and instead emphasize the stages and topics that would be relevant to their stage of life (retirement, estate planning, etc.).  Doing your research for older generations right now may also give you some insights into the future buying habits of generations who will be maturing.

Rather than expecting your potential customers to reach out and meet you on your level, reach out and help them at theirs. Improve existing products to make them more accessible for older (or younger) generations without crossing over into lines of reminding them of being either old or young. Remember, your customer base should be built from both your current and future markets.


Learn to Relate To Different Generations

The best way to bring potential customers to your company is to reach out to the demographics you’re trying to target. Conducting focus groups can give you a lot of insight into the buying habits and motivations of different targeted groups. When conducting your focus group try asking 
these questions, to get things started:

1. Industry Trends: “What have you noticed in industries like ours?”

2. Most Liked Product Features/Components: “What is your favorite feature about our product? What is it that keeps you coming back to our brand?”

3. Competitor Advantages: “Can you tell us what has drawn you to our competitor’s product? Please include examples of where we’ve succeeded and other companies have fallen short (or vice versa).”

4. How Your Product Is Being Used: “How do you use our products, when do you find them most useful?”

5. Wish List: “If you could change or improve one thing about our product/service what would it be?”

Remember, this research is a constant process and will need to be continually analyzed. While it may take some time and effort, testing the market can prove to be very useful.


Try Micro Targeting To Reach Out


When it comes to marketing, there are different ways to reach your target market, and if maintaining a focus group isn’t the right style for you, you may want to try micro-targeting.

Micro-targeting is a strategy that takes consumer data and uses it to identify specific groups or types of consumers, in order to better sell to that specific market. This style of marketing is becoming essential as more and more information becomes accessible to businesses. Here are some ways to use micro-targeting to expand the reach of your generational marketing.

1. Give Something Away: One of the best ways for you to get information for your marketing research is to offer something in return for participation. Make sure you keep questions minimal (no more than 5) and direct, so more people will be willing to answer them. As far as what to give, it can be something simple such as a whitepaper or a download.

2. Personalization: Allow for customers to personalize their products and their customer experience in order to have an edge on your competition!

3. Facebook Ads: Facebook ads allow for you to target and pinpoint specific demographics, which can ensure that your marketing is more poignant and successful. For instance, if you’re specifically targeting small business owners, you can choose filters when boosting a post, that ensure the exact age, gender, and interests of small business owners.

4. LinkedIn: Never underestimate the power of LinkedIn. Engaging with groups that  you host or are a part of, or creating ad campaigns that target members of your groups can ensure that you get your message those who are most likely to engage with it.


Hire those who represent targeted demographics

And finally, another way to ensure that your company is successfully building relationships inter-generationally is to hire employees who can relate to underrepresented demographics. Specifically, by hiring older employees you’ll have a constant connection to the ideas, mindsets and firsthand knowledge of how to connect with older generations.

With customers of all ages swarmed by advertisements and a plethora of options, multi-generational marketing is more important than it ever before. By investing time and effort into researching the best ways to utilize your marketing, you’ll be on your way to reaching customers across the generational divides.

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