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Selling to Gen X and Y as a Baby Boomer on the Internet

Selling_to_Generations_X_and_YEvery generation is different, yet somehow the same as the last; that is as true in marketing as it is in other aspects of life. If you grew up as a Baby Boomer, you may be feeling out of touch with today’s Gen Y – but the good news is, you are not really that far apart.

The Boomers – born 1946 to 1964 – are old enough to remember a life without the Internet, microwave ovens, cable and, in some cases, color television. They built their buying habits on TV and radio, display ads and direct mail. When they wanted information, they went to the Yellow Pages or asked their friends and neighbors.

This huge demographic largely accepted today’s technologies– indeed, 70% of the boomer generation likes to use Facebook. They also have adopted smartphones, and are nearly as likely as younger generations to spend lots of time texting or data mining. The trouble is rooted in perspectives. Baby boomers tend to perceive online media in the same manner as the offline content they consumed before these innovations were born. This will result in a breakdown when it comes to baby boomers attempting to "sell" to the Gen X and Gen Y generations.

Gen X

Generation X (Born 1965 to 1979) is the first generation to grow up with computers in schools, hundreds of TV channels and those brick-sized prototypes of the cell phone. They also grew up with a more “ironic” mindset and a more savvy attitude toward marketing in general – they don’t want to be the target of a hard sell or feel they are being pressured to buy and they can completely avoide that type of messaging. In general, Gen Xers keep a close eye on their cash (appropriate, as they came of age during an era of employment challenges and large layoffs), and use their smartphones and tablets to carefully research every purchase.  They expect information, lots of it so the old game of trying to lure someone to your business by withholding information won't work in today's information rich environment.

Gen X consumers are 81 percent invested in Facebook and pay more attention to YouTube than Boomers do – after all, they are of a generation armed with camcorders. Marketing to this demographic would include producing blogs and videos that dispense with the commercial message in favor of helpful, entertaining and sharable information on matters that interest them. Once again, Boomer's are challenged with their own tendency to want to keep the potential buyer in the dark to "make them call" or personally engage in some way before information will be given to them.

Gen Y (the Millennials)

Millennials (born 1980 to 2000) grew up fully invested in online living. They are “less driven by the worry that they are being swindled,” notes PACE, “and are more concerned with fitting in.” In other words, Millennials pay close attention to what their peers are viewing, downloading, purchasing and commenting on. Devoted to YouTube and Netflix, they have little need for television, and they are more likely than their older counterparts to ignore “interruption” marketing. Instead, you will find them on their smartphones to engage in social media, texting, watching video and using global positioning systems (GPS).

A Baby Boomer speaking to Millennials can benefit from latching onto the network that drives so many decisions. “Companies that make it easy to share customer experiences, and brands that actively seek input, can transform Millennial customers into extremely effective brand advocates,” says Marketing Profs. At the same time, if you can position your company as socially conscious and philanthropic, you are more likely to get the attention of younger consumers. Above all, transparency is important to Millennials – they want to know exactly what kind of a company you are.

For successful online lead generation, shifting your perspective from the old, obsolete outbound tactics is a must. The first step is getting a handle on what you're doing right so you don't change the wrong things.

Since some of the "old ways" do play a role here in the sense that there is nothing new under the sun, it is your perspective and strategy that needs changed to adapt to tools and resources available today. 

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