Originally published in the Boulder Daily Camera and the Longmont Daily Times-Call.

Not everything that goes around comes around again.

Fashion, music, food and old friends come around again. Marketing even goes around in some respects. Basics that I learned a long time ago are being taught again as if they are new. Foundational concepts are reviewed over time and redefined as necessary. Successful marketers know, however, that not everything old is new again and that everything new is not always effective.

Different generations, for example, have different perceptions and values. Failure to consider this in your marketing planning is more than a mistake. Your profits are on the line.

Not so long ago it was difficult to conduct differentiated marketing campaigns on small budgets. Developing different, but similar, campaigns targeting different generations was generally left to large businesses with large campaign budgets. Changes in technology have created a new stage online that levels the field and allows for businesses to be more strategic and approach generational marketing at affordable costs.

Baby Boomers (born roughly between 1946 and 1964) comprise approximately 76 million consumers. While much focus has been placed on the Millennials (1981 and 1995) who comprise more than 80 million consumers, the reality is that currently Baby Boomers control 70 percent of all discretionary income. Millennials comprise less than 20 percent of all consumer discretionary purchases.

Generation X (1965 and 1980) includes approximately 65 million individuals. This target market, while often overlooked, is at the peak of their earning and spending years.

Because so much attention is given to digital media as opposed to traditional media, many businesses assume that they should abandon more traditional efforts as well. Before deciding what types of media to use in a campaign you need to know your target audience. If your target audience is primarily Baby Boomers, abandoning traditional means of marketing could be a mistake. You could be leaving your customers and clients behind.

Consider some basics when planning your generational marketing.

Baby Boomers grew up as the post-WWII generation as well as the civil rights movement, the Vietnam War, the rise of rock ‘n’ roll and the Cold War. They use new technology, but not as much as younger generations. They will search for a product online, but also wish to make phone calls and contact via email. Face-to-face communication is preferred in many cases. They wish to know what your business stands for. Discounts and bargains are appreciated. Brand loyalty is high. Print and broadcast media are important for this group.

Generation X is more diverse than baby boomers in terms of race, religion, ethnicity and sexual orientation. They were often referred to as “latch key” kids. They tend to avoid hard core sales tactics. They prefer to conduct their own research about your business. Testimonials are very meaningful. This group responds well to a balanced approach between traditional marketing efforts such as print and broadcast media and digital, email and online advertising.

Millennials, with approximately 40 percent identifying themselves as a race other than white, is the most diverse generation.. This group grew up expecting to be “connected” 24 hours a day. They expect instant gratification and information. They are unpredictable and not necessarily brand loyal but will purchase a product to support a cause they believe in. They tend to have a strong online presence, often including blogs. This group is tech wired and adopts the latest technology whenever available. Traditional campaigns are not likely to impact this group.

All three groups have different experiences, disposable income and spending habits. Businesses will benefit from understanding the differences.

So, who are you targeting?

Stacy Cornay is the owner of Communication Concepts Public Relations & Advertising. 
She may be reached at 303-651-6612; scornay@comm-concepts.com; www.comm-concepts.com; Facebook.com/Communication Concepts; Twitter @CommConceptsPR; or Linked In.

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