Generational marketing: a key first step toward effective marketing


“I began to realize how simple life could be if one had a regular routine to follow with fixed hours, a fixed salary, and very little original thinking to do.” — Roald Dahl, author of “Willie Wonka & The Chocolate Factory.”

The world of marketing is a maddening place, far more than Willie Wonka ever fathomed.  The combination of local search solutions (traditional, digital and mobile) available to bring your message to your target audience is daunting to say the least.  However, the first step toward implementing a successful marketing campaign begins with understanding your customers and future customers.  Who are they?  Where are they?  How do they like to receive information?  What should you say?

Meet: generational marketing.

Generation Cloud

According to the Center for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), in 2010 the average life expectancy in America is 78.7 years; the highest figure ever reported by the CDC.  While that figure is certainly welcomed news, it presents a challenge for many marketers, because each generation, with its particular influences, behaviors and preferences, absorbs information and connects with products and services in different ways. To optimally assign marketing dollars, it is critical to understand which generations purchase from you today, and cultivate your shoppers of tomorrow.

Baby Boomers

For instance, if your customers are generally “Baby Boomers” (born 1946 through 1964), then you will need to employ a healthy mixture of traditional media (newspaper, direct mail, TV) with standard digital (email and SEO specifically).  While Boomers use mobile devices, they are significantly less inclined to engage with a marketing message through that device.  From a messaging standpoint, the majority of Boomers are now empty-nester’s, meaning their children have grown and moved out of their home.  Disposable income is now available to Boomers and they are living an active-adult lifestyle with a focus on their passions or hobbies.  Messaging to this generation should celebrate this new reality and be thorough, but not overwhelming, in details.

Gen X

Beyond the Boomers, however, this business owner will need to pay close attention to the next generation to become their target customer – Generation X.  This generation (born 1965 – 1980) was born into a world of high divorce rates and economic uncertainty, so they are skeptical and less inclined to accept “sales speak” at face value.  Gen X seeks verifiable, credible data and designations; be mindful to speak to them as a consultant, not a sales person trying to close a deal.  In terms of media choices, Gen X watches Cable TV, uses digital for search, emails and actively engages on social media (typically Facebook, YouTube and Instagram or other photo-sharing sites).  They are much more active on mobile as well, particularly apps.

Speak directly to your audience

Messaging, imagery and delivery are different generation to generation, so it is important to treat each group as a separate campaign.  Given the limitless options you have to market a business on a local level, it is easier to implement a single, “one size covers all” option for marketing.  However, if active engagement and increased leads are your goals, a focused campaign that speaks directly to your audience in the manner they are most receptive to will provide a much stronger ROI.


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