If your business provides a product or service that appeals to a wide range of age groups, you need to develop a marketing strategy that reaches across generations. There’s been a lot of research done on targeting your marketing to specific demographics, but how can you create a plan that reaches a broad audience while still being effective?
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First, you need to figure out what your target market is. If you determine that it really reaches across all age groups, then you’re ready to start designing a cross-generational marketing plan.
Basics of Cross-Generational Marketing
The pillar of a marketing plan that reaches across generations is diversity. Each generation is different and responds best to different tactics.
To make sure you reach a variety of age groups, you need to use a variety of channels and strategies.
Some tactics will be targeted toward millennials, others toward Baby Boomers, and so on. Some content will be generally applicable for your whole audience.
For those more general parts of your plan, avoid topics that are specific to one generation. For example, you might want to stay away from pop culture unless the celebrity, song, or TV show you mention is so famous that age won’t really matter. Just remember that different generations might have a different relationship to that pop culture icon.
Marketers often use nostalgia or excitement about the future to create a feeling around a brand. That won’t really work, though, if your audience feels nostalgic and excited about different things.
Utilize diversity and avoid age-specific content; your marketing should reach your audience no matter their age. Below are some tips and outstanding examples for specific marketing strategies.
Facebook remains a sure platform for reaching a variety of age groups, especially if you can invest ad spend in this increasingly pay-to-play space. Eighty-eight percent of internet users between the ages of 18 and 29 use Facebook.
It’s almost as popular among online adults ages 30-49, 84% of whom use it.
The usage drops off a little after that, but not so much that it isn’t useful for reaching older age groups. Seventy-two percent of online adults between 50 and 64 are Facebook users, while 62% of those older than 65 are on the site.
Pinterest is good for those between 18 and 49, and might still be worth using for reaching people between ages 50 and 64. Instagram and Twitter, though, are largely used by a younger crowd.
So, if you’re marketing on Facebook or Pinterest, make your content more applicable to any age group. On Instagram and Twitter, it might be smart to target it to a younger audience.
Email is often a popular alternative to direct mail because it’s considered less intrusive and allows for more creativity.
Seven out of 10 American consumers prefer email over any other form of promotional outreach.
Here’s an email from Postmates that grabs your attention with a flashy GIF to really make you crave some tortillas, and generates awareness for the delivery service’s latest deal.
Email marketing, aided by systems like Marketo, allows you to send different age groups different emails with age-specific information and messaging. So, if your audience consists of people of various ages, you could send out one email, customized by demographic data.
Millennials, Generation X, and Baby Boomers grew up during very different times, but when it comes to content, they have a few things in common.
Although millennials are known as the first generation of digital natives, Baby Boomers actually consume the most online content. Most of them spend more than 20 hours a week on it.
In general, the most popular types of content are consistent across age groups. There are a few differences, though. For instance, millennials like memes a lot more than Baby Boomers do.
Keep in mind that long-form content isn’t necessarily great content, no matter which age group you’re targeting. Sometimes it’s just…long. Great content is content that converts and achieves business goals.
Therefore, make sure your content, from social to your website, is readable, consistent, and visually appealing to your audience, no matter how old they are.
Visuals are important, no matter your generation. Whether you grew up with a smartphone or remember the excitement you felt when color TV first came out, visuals resonate.
People like and share infographics on social media three times more than any other type of content. And in this study, images ranked as the second most popular type of content across three generations.
Baby Boomers are known for being especially visual, but connecting with imagery is really something that reaches across age groups.
CJ Pony Parts has a nice collection of infographics on their website. The content is about cars, so it appeals to all ages. There’s also a nice variety of content, including one infographic about the most popular cars by generation.
You might think of the younger generations as purely digital–and then entirely discount direct mail if you’re trying to reach those groups. But, in fact, 86% of millennials have been influenced to visit a store by digital mail, compared to 79% of the entire population.
Older generations tend to trust direct mail because it’s a method of communication they grew up with. Younger people usually receive less direct mail, so when they do get a creative, beautifully designed offer via direct mail, it tends to excite them.
The best way to pique someone’s interest with direct mail is to personalize it for them, especially when it comes to millennials. Above is an example of a piece of direct mail from Papa John’s that’s personalized with the customer’s name. Who wouldn’t want a piece of pizza after seeing one with their name on it?
Keep It Diverse
Different generations consume content differently and have different purchasing patterns, so it can be difficult to market to all of them at once. But by following these examples, staying diverse, and making content appropriate for any age, you’ll be well on your way to creating fantastic, cross-generational marketing content.
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