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Marketing Mistake 10: Different Generations Don’t Matter

The Marketing Mistake:

Communicating from your own perspective when your target audience is from a different generation


Marketing Mistake: Disregarding generationsIf you’re a baby boomer (aged 46 to 64) and your primary target audience is Millennials in their teens or twenties, you must understand what’s important to them and how and where they communicate in order to be successful.

We all inherently know the generations are different, have different perspectives and communication styles. It’s often called the Generation Gap. But how does that impact your marketing strategy and program?

“Millennials are the first generation to be raised with online media. As young adults, ages 18 to 34, these digital natives quickly adopt new technologies, then adapt them to fit their lifestyles. If something that suits them better comes along, they are quick to move on. Indeed, 24% of respondents in this age group chose ‘technology use’ as the trait that sets them apart from previous generations, according to the Pew Research Center. … it is not only ingrained behavior but practically part of their DNA.” eMarketer, September 7, 2010

Think Starbucks. It’s just coffee, right?

There was a time when people thought anyone would be crazy to pay $3 or more for a cup of coffee. The Starbucks’ focus on the experience, not just the cup of coffee, created a whole new category and a whole new reason to spend $3 on a cup of coffee … with no free refills.

You’ve seen communication technology change rapidly in the last five to ten years—from the internet as a primary source of information to the rapid growth of social media to the now ever-present mobile media on smart phones and devices like the iPad. It can be overwhelming!

How do you sort through the options and choose the best one?

First get clear about your target audience—generational perspective, expectations, choices they have and preferred communication methods. Local newspapers will still reach an older audience, but a twenty-something will never see an ad in the paper. And a student looking for information about a potential college will look first at the website and then participate in social media to make connections and discover the inside story.

You don’t need to cover all the bases, just choose the channels your audience chooses.

About the author

Jennifer Larsen Morrow

Jennifer's four decades of work in the industry, starting as a designer and adding marketing, copywriting and digital marketing, has generated response for clients since 1978.

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