Digital marketing is for all generations. But in the right dose.
Generational preferences help shape how people encode and subsequently decode messages. Tapping into the fundamental differences between each generation gives marketers an edge in understanding how and why a specific demographic group thinks and acts. The behaviors of generational groups are based on their individual and collective values. Once we understand that, we can be more selective and successful in stimulating the necessary call to action.
For the basis of this discussion, we will categorize the current generational groups into five distinct silos: traditionalists (Grandma and Grandpa), baby boomers (Mom and Dad), Gen X and Y (the kids) and millennials (the kids’ kids).
Traditionalists and baby boomers prefer more written or face-to-face communication. Traditionalists have been shaped by the Great Depression and World War II, which has led them to be a very private or silent generation. They had to struggle to overcome adversity, and during their business life had to deal with folks on the value of what they said. Traditionalists believe that the word is just that, the word. A formal structure is important to them. They want to see it in writing, but a handshake will do.
On the other hand, boomers, who did not experience the same hardships as their parents, had the good life, which bore the concept of me first, you second. Boomers are hard workers, early adopters of the team concept and want complete and thorough answers to their questions. This group relies more on body language to assess the sincerity and genuineness of the message and, therefore, is geared more toward face-to-face interactions.
Fast forwarding to Gen X and Y and the millennial groups, messaging is required to be electronic, interactive, direct and fast moving. These groups have been largely shaped by the introduction of technology on a very rapid scale.
So, does that mean that digital marketing is only for the younger members? Absolutely not. But it may be the most effective dose and this group can stomach lots of it. They crave it, will multitask around it, and expect it to be readily available at their fingertips. Understanding one’s preference does not preclude the savvy marketer from utilizing all methods of communication to get a message into the marketplace.
But let’s consider this point: Both Grandma and Grandpa and Mom and Dad will read digital messages. The marketer’s challenge is to find a way to capture that preference within the credit union’s database, so it can be utilized more efficiently and effectively.
It would be silly to discount the numerous stories of folks who defy the typical generalizations and have a Facebook page, tweet to their friends, use an iPhone, or write or comment on blogs. However, putting a picture of those 55 and wiser on a large digital billboard or crafting an e-mail ad for handling one’s retirement may not be the best use of resources.
The main point in all of this is to separate strategy from tactic. That means the strategy is what forms the basis for the message and the tactic (digital messaging) is how the message is deployed. Know the audience and how they prefer to do business to get the dosage just right.
The success of the call to action for digital marketing will be the strongest for those of Gen X, Gen Y and the millennial groups. Why? The preferences of these generations are understood to be those that would embrace and accept all forms of electronic or digital marketing.
Keeping this diverse group of consumers motivated today is challenging.
Digital marketing is more than just putting a print ad into an email. Crafting a message for print ads is more like playing a game of solitaire; everything is laid out before you. The digital world, on the other hand, is multidimensional and requires the skills of a chess player who must think on multiple levels, anticipate at least three moves ahead and be willing to sacrifice the queen to win the game.
Good marketers already understand this difference and have leveraged the deployment of static versus dynamic messaging to draw in consumers to their credit unions.
They realize it’s not just one dose fits all.
Troy Hall is chief operations officer at South Carolina Federal Credit Union in North Charleston, S.C.