Is Marketing to Millennials really that different from GenXers or Boomers? Yes, but…

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If you need to stay on top of trends and technologies impacting marketing communications, as I do, this post is for you. Consider it a support group for anyone who toils in the vineyards of sales and marketing, advertising or public relations.

Hello, my name is Steve and I’m an avid newspaper reader. I also live in email (M-F anyway), read magazines, watch broadcast TV news and cable (especially during baseball season), and listen to radio stations (both FM and AM) in my car.

Now before you shovel dirt over me, know that I also use my iPhone to text all day long, check my Facebook feed a few times a day, surf at least a half-dozen websites daily, listen to music with Pandora, use other apps, watch YouTube videos and stream a movie now and then.

Demographically, I live in the sandwich generation, smack between GenX and Boomer. My parents are what you might call leading edge Boomers, while I’m on the trailing edge of that cohort. My kids are Millennials. Believe me, I get it that there’s a huge generational difference when it comes to media consumption and hence content delivery.

My kids do not touch printed newspapers. They look at a magazine only rarely. They eschew cable for Roku and a rabbit-ear antenna (talk about TBT, but I digress). They and their cord-cutting friends live 24/7 on and in their phones, not computers or tablets. One gets “hard news” from Facebook, the other from Reddit.

So yes, of course, reaching and motivating different generations requires different communication strategies and tactics. Millennials proactively decide what they want to know and set alerts for it to be fed to them. GenXers seek info all over social media. And Boomers still like their mass media served up with great production value and fanfare.

But we all do have something in common, I would submit. We all like things that work. Marketers and media that connect us to useful products and services—ones that truly meet a need or scratch an itch—will do well.

The media are changing. A lot. But the message still matters. Communicators take heed: make your message matter, too. Make it useful. Make it authentic. Make it pragmatic.

And your product or service? If it doesn’t matter, please try again and make one that matters. Make it relevant. Make it a good experience. Make it work. As advertised.

Digital or analog. Screen or printed page. Apple Watch or stone tablet. Whatever and wherever you communicate, create a passion for your brand. Make each impression and experience count. Align the promise of the brand with the performance of the product. Walk the talk. And you will do well.

As one marketer with a pretty good little brand started saying to consumers of all ages in 1988 and continues to say with success in 2016: Just do it.

By Steve Johnson, Managing Partner

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