Market To Generations And Reap The Benefits
(originally published Fall 2020)

What Category Do Your Clients Fit In To?

Have you defined your target market? We all know it's wise to figure out who you sell to rather than assuming that you will sell to "everyone". When  you defined your target market, were you looking for who you want to sell to? Or have you begun recognizing who your current customer really is?

We live in a time when there are multiple generations active in the buying process and in the work environment.

  • Traditionalists are those born 1900-1945
  • Baby Boomers are those born 1946-1964
  • Generation X are those born 1965-1980
  • Generation Y are those born 1981-1995
  • Generation Z are those born after 1995

Each age group has some very significant differences. Their attributes are different. Their core values are different. Their experiences are different. Their work ethics and preferred environments are different.

While you may choose to do business with certain age groups, you may actually be attracting customers from other age groups. And when you know more about their preferences, you can make the interaction with each group much more successful.

No matter your age, you also have experiences and interactions that are different from other people. For example, do you have the desire and ability to market using a platform that is different from your own choices?

As I've said before, this is a really good time to look at multiple aspects of your business. Figure out how you can do things better.

Taking time to learn about the unique types of customers that you do have will only serve to make the relationship better. Know how to greet them, how to sell to them how to market to them. These can improve not only the immediate sale, but also the future and the referrals you may get.

All it takes is observing who you are interacting with at any given moment and adjusting to their style.

Image courtesy of Google Images


Marketing To A Traditional Buyer

Last month I wrote about how there are several different generations existing now, and any one of them could be your ideal customer. There is also the possibility that you may end up working with different generations without intending to. Maybe someone from a one generation is making a purchase that is for another generation. It's important to learn about some of their differences and have a strategy for how to serve them effectively.

This month highlights 2 generations. Each has similar traits so it made sense to include both of them.


Defining generations began at the the start of the 20th century. The first groups were The Lost Generation, born 1890-1915, and The Interbellum Generation, born 1901-1913. The youngest would be 107 years old and are probably not making too many purchases. But you just never know!

The first generation that gained attention was named The Greatest Generation by TV anchor Tom Brokaw. It was primarily because they lived through and fought in World War II. Born between 1910 and 1924, they were also known as the G.I. Generation and the WWII Generation. This year the youngest of those would be 96 years old. (G.I. is short-hand for either Government Issue or General Issue)


Characteristics that they held were of personal responsibility, integrity, humility, a strong work ethic, and financial prudence. Since they also lived through the Great Depression, it's no wonder that these traits defined this generation.


The Greatest Generation literally gave birth to the Silent Generation, the smallest generation (only about 47 million births). These children were born 1925-1945. This year they would be between 75 and 95 years old. Definitely still in the consumer and buying mode.


Their characteristics are quite similar to their parents because, while they were not adults who had to make the hard decisions, they were enormously impacted by the Great Depression and the loss of family members during World War II. They have a strong work ethic and consider it a privilege to have employment. They are known to just keep their head down and get to the job at hand; no whining, no complaining. Thus the moniker of Silent. They are traditional, humble, loyal, and civic minded. They tend to be financially conservative and value getting their money's worth on every purchase.


How do you interact with them in a business setting?

  • Often preferring face-to-face communication, you must create a connection and become a trusted advisor.
  • Get to the point, but remain genuine. Show them your value.
  • Communicate any information clearly. Explain the services/products you provide. Use a professional style with your language rather than too casual or familiar. Use every effort to avoid profanity. Limit any slang that you might want to use.
  • Make sure to show them the respect that they have earned and deserve. They are highly experienced and intelligent people. Listen and respond to their stories, ideas, and questions.
  • Do not assume that they can not or will not communicate by technology. They may be more connected to their devices than you think.
  • In creating advertising, use lifestyle photos as a visual and make sure your fonts are a little larger than usual. Focus your message on how your product or service will benefit the family, especially their grandchildren.
  • Do not get discouraged if the sale process takes a little longer. Remember, they are evaluating the value of what you have to offer.

Image courtesy of Google Images


Selling to Baby Boomers

At one time they were considered the largest of all the generations. Baby Boomers accounted for at least 75 million births between 1946 and 1964. Right now this generation is 56 to 74 years old.

Even though they are considered "post-war" babies, both the Korean War and the Vietnam War shaped their lives. Additionally, they have experienced significant political, social and economic change during their lifetime. They are responsible for significant economic growth as well as technological advancement.

Boomers have stayed in the workforce longer than previous generations. Because of that, they often have more disposable income and purchasing power.

This is a generation that values trust. They want to have a relationship with the people they buy from. It doesn't necessarily mean that they want a fully intimate friendship with you. But it does mean that they want conversation, not simply computer-generated facts. Facts can be cold and impersonal, unless they are explained to the consumers' satisfaction.

Baby Boomers did not grow up with a computer in their hands. And even though they may do a large amount of research, they still value face-to-face communication. Many are looking for discounts and bargains when they shop; ways to make their purchase more valuable. Provide them with information and be there to answer any questions they may have about either the product, the service, or the description. Explaining guarantees and warranties are comforting. Following through on your promises creates trust.

A good place to make connection is through Facebook. Other social media platforms may work, but Facebook is currently the most viewed.

As with previous generations, make sure to use proper language both in speaking and in writing. Skip the slang. Use clear headings in your writing to focus on your value and message. Bullet-points can convey key selling features and benefits.

If you decide to create video, remember that around 85% of videos on Facebook are watched without sound. Including text within the video can still get your message across. Make sure the text is on the larger side. No matter which channel or vehicle you use, keep it short and sweet.

This is a group that still will respond to the traditional marketing means of newspaper, radio and television. Have a clear selling message. Focus that message on self-fulfillment and of enjoying life with the resources that they have. Baby Boomers do not view aging as a constrain on their ability to pursue their dreams and goals; the things that make them happy. Show them how you can help them achieve their desires.

Image courtesy of Google Images



How You Can Market To Generation X

We all know that selling to different types of people can be a challenge. That's why it's good to understand the differences between you and others. So far in this series we have looked at the Greatest Generation, the Silent Generation and Baby Boomers. Now it's time to take a peek at Generation X.


Generation X probably has the largest set of "referred to" names. Born between 1965 and 1980, this generation produced around 66 million children. These children are now between the ages of 40 and 55. Some of the names given to them are Forgotten, Middle, Sandwich, even the Baby Bust generation. But Sandwich Generation has stuck more because many of these people are raising families while also building a career and caring for their own parents. It can be a tough and overwhelming job. Actually, exhausting is the word that comes to my mind!


But it does make this generation more concerned about providing for themselves and their families. They are financially responsible, self-reliant and want to reduce their debt. They are typically well-educated, ethnically diverse and unique. And, important to you, is that they are less trusting of large corporations and institutions because of the things that they have witnessed over the years.


While this generation has one of the lowest birth rates, they currently make up a large portion of the purchasing power, accounting for approximately 30% of all buyers.


In order to make the best connection with them and to get them to buy from you, there are a few things to keep in mind. The first thing to is to avoid high pressure sales tactics. A more personal and authentic approach will get your further. If you make the process too difficult, they will look for an easier alternative for their purchase.


When you advertise, no matter which channel you use, include testimonials. This is a peer-oriented generation and they will seek out the advice of their friends. Incorporate videos that show an authentic message. Show them that you can be trusted to provide a reliable product or service.


Multiple channels for advertising will work. You can reach them through direct mail, phone calls, door-to-door, email and social media. But make certain that your online efforts coordinate with each other. Your website should refer to your social media platforms and vice versa. Remember, this is a generation that is quite accustomed to technology.


One thing that makes them a little unique is that they can relate to the generations both before them and after them, depending on when they were born.


If they were born earlier in the generation, they can relate more to Baby Boomers. And if they were born in the second half of their generation, they frequently relate more to Millennials. This can be quite the advantage to your marketing efforts. And it makes your job to define a target market all that more important.


Keep in mind, if you fall into this generational category, adapting to other generations will also help you make more sales and create a larger group of dedicated customers.


Image courtesy of Google Images



Interacting with Younger Generations to Make More Sales

For the past few months we've been looking at several generations of people you work with, serve and sell to. To me, it shows that generations who are close to each other are able to see another's point of view and style. But when the generations are further apart, there can be a significant distance between how they perceive things and how we expect to interact. So, to play off a long-time PSA slogan, "The More You Know . . . ". By getting familiar with the expectations of different age groups, you can bridge that gap and make the exchange more pleasant for both of you.

We've now looked at The Greatest, The Silent, Baby Boomers and Generation X. The final ones on the list are the Millennials and Generation Z.

Millennials are ruling the world right now, at least from a statistical point of view. This age group has a wider range of possible birth years. You may see the years as 1980-2000 and 1981-1994. It's estimated that 76 to 80 million babies were born during that time, the largest percentage of our current population. The oldest is about 40 years and the youngest is around 20. They are the current work force. And they may be the ones who have the biggest differences compared to previous generations.

Just think, they do not know a world without computers and cell phones. Because of those resources, they will all become highly educated, whether through traditional means or by self-education. While it is early, predictions are that they will be very self-reliant and innovative. It is clear that they are goal-oriented. They strongly want their work and commitment to be recognized. This plays into on-the-job rewards for employees.

When it comes to buying, they are looking for price comparisons and prefer to get their information through digital formats, but not necessarily via email. For them, Facebook is too old school; they prefer Snapchat or Instagram, so make sure to have a strong online presence for your business. Include reviews and testimonials on your website and social media pages.

They want a referral from their own network, it's part of the "warm introduction" style. But they do not care for unsolicited pitches; it's a foreign concept and unwelcome.

Millennials are attracted to social issues. Make sure to include messaging that involves lifestyle. When using images, select ones that show a balance between work and socializing.

Generation Z rounds out the list. These are the youngest ones. They were born anywhere from 1995 to 2012, and could be as young as 8 and as old as 25. So some are in the work force, but all are able to make purchases. This generation accounts for 72 million impressionable people.

Because they've never known a world without mobile connection and smart phones, their attention spans are getting shorter and shorter. They want information rapidly. They are focused on discovery, independence and social change.

In a bit of a switch from the price comparing Millennials, Gen Z is looking for quality and they are willing to pay more for something that lasts. They will be looking in multiple places for their information. But the one area that stands out is with mobile online marketing. Make sure your website is mobile-friendly. They will be attracted to messages that are more visual than written. If you use video, and you should, make them short and sweet. Remember that they have short attention spans and want answers instantaneously.

Courtesy of Unsplash

Now that you have information about all the different age groups, have you thought about the different expectations for interaction? Being able to adjust your approach can mean more dollars in your pocket. Some final bullet points to remember:

  • Do you know how to treat customers of a different age than you?
  • Are you training your employees about this (for example, a young Gen-Z employee selling to an experienced Baby Boomer)?
  • When you are in a group setting as business colleagues, do you know how to recognize that the participants will answer from a different point of view because of their age and experience?
  • Do not get offended.
  • Do not expect them to react the same way you do.
  • Do not assume they are more aggressive, hateful or unintelligent simply because they see the problem or solution with a different set of eyes than yours.

It's always a matter of perspective and respect. And given the past year, using these tips going into 2021 can go a long way to easing the tensions that we all have been feeling.