Marketing to the Generations

You’ve probably noticed most of our newsletters contain some type of article about millennials.  Millennials are the newest generation to enter adulthood.  They are getting jobs, buying houses, having children, making them great prospects for new clients.  All the talk today is millennials and how to sell, network, converse, hire them, but it’s important not to forget about the other generations- baby boomers, and generation x.

Lets first take a look at the definition and characteristics of each.

Baby Boomers:

Baby Boomers consist of individuals born between the years 1946-1964.  These would be retirees or people nearing retirement in most cases.  Though they are portrayed as the postwar generation of opportunity and optimism, many boomers worry about retirement and if they have properly prepared for the transition from work to retirement.  Some of their values include prosperity, ownership, and individual choice.  They are goal-oriented, adaptive to a diverse workplace, and have a positive attitude.

Generation X:

Generation X consists of individuals born between the years 1965-1979.  These people have been in the workforce awhile, but still have many years ahead of them before retirement.  They grew up during a time where technology was emerging and were found home alone and taking care of their siblings while their parents worked.  Gen Xers values include independence, loyalty, and contribution.  They are highly educated, self-reliant, results driven individuals whose time is very valuable to them.


Millennials, or Generation Y, consists of individuals born between the years 1980-2000.   For the most part they are just now entering the workforce.  They are coming into adulthood questioning what type of future, if any, they will have.  Technology is something they have always known; things such as cable television, cell phones, laptops, video games were a norm in their households, giving them a need for instant gratification.  Millennials values include sense of community, quality, and recognition.  They seek their parents’ advice and approval, and look for convenience and easy access to information, and dislike rigid structure.  They tend to have multiple jobs/skills vs one career.

Now that we know a few of the characteristics about each of these generations, lets look at some ways to market to them.  AIG has put together a great micro-site called “Generation Matters”.  I strongly urge you to take a look at this site as it lays out great statistics and marketing techniques in a clear and precise manner.  Lets take a look at one of my favorites: Keys to Building Better Relationships.

Key Strategies – How to sell the the generations

Baby Boomers:

  • Show optimism – it is important to show that there is still hope for them.  Most boomers are worried it’s too late for them to save for retirement.  You want to help them gain control of their finances.
  • Feature brand names – Boomers are loyal to brand names that they know.  They are likely to be more interested in a name, in our case, an insurance carrier that they know.
  • Person-to-person communications – this generation doesn’t like texts or social media.  They prefer face to face or if need be, phone call conversations.
  • Provide a sense of teamwork – they value teamwork.  Show that you are there to help them determine how you can add value to their lives.
  • Don’t make them feel old – Boomers think of themselves as at least 15 years younger than they are.  It is important to address them the way they think of themselves.

Generation Xers:

  • Present just the facts – educate them by giving them all the information in a straightforward manner.  Don’t wast time with unnecessary chatter.
  • Full disclosure – make sure to explain all the available options.  They want to gather all information available.
  • Be authentic – You will need to build their trust.  Make sure you are being who you say you are, they will be looking for clues.  Prove your authenticity with recent accomplishments and successful clients, not resume type stats and degrees.  This includes referrals from your peers.
  • Short-term solutions – They tend to have shorter time prospects than other generations and want short-term solutions and goals.  Make sure to explain how you can make an immediate impact as well as in the future.
  • Online – Your business should have an online presence if you want to reach the Generation X.  They may become frustrated if they cannot interact with you online.  They prefer contact via email or text as oppose to the phone or in person.


  • Be quick about it – Millennials believe everything should be as quick and easy as searching and buying something on their smartphones or laptops.
  • Be upfront – They will look up what you tell them, and possibly even you, on the internet so its best to be upfront and honest from the beginning-no misleading.
  • Be yourself – You don’t need to look and act like your young, hip millennial client to gain their trust.  Just be yourself.
  • Give it away – Millennials love free stuff.  They grew up in the time of “participation ribbons” and being rewarded and praised for just being them.  Give them something free, or close to free if at all possible.  Offer free wireless access in your office.
  • Go hi-tech – set up a Facebook page, LinkedIn profile and a Twitter feed for your business.  Millennials prefer communicating via text or social media vs. face-to-face or by phone.

Build Relationships-How to set up a rapport


  • Show your work – Boomers are known for their work ethic and want to see the same quality in you.  Invest time and effort into your relationship.  They appreciate things like cards or letters at the appropriate times.
  • Appropriate technology – Right upfront ask your boomer clients which form of communication they prefer.  Most would like face-to-face, however some have adopted our technology focused world today.
  • They are influenced by their children – Boomers look to their children often times for input and will even have them do research for them.  You may very well have to deal with millennial children along with your boomer clients so be mindful to their values as well.
  • Flatter and praise – This generation is especially proud of their work ethic and accomplishments.  Make sure they know you are aware of them as well and will help them to enjoy the retirement they have worked so hard for.
  • Trophies – Giving boomers a gift of appreciation will go a long way with them.  Let them know you appreciate what they have done for your business.  You’ll be amazed at what even the smallest gift can mean to these clients.

Generation Xers:

  • Time is money – To them, their time is more important than a business relationship with you.  Show them you respect this and keep your interactions with them short and to the point.
  • Present options – Present them with all options available to them.  You can highlight the ones you think would fit them best but don’t narrow down the list for them.  They want to review all avenues and will then come to you for your expert opinion.
  • Have a plan B – Back up plans are important to Gen Xers.  They believe that not everything works out the way its supposed to and will appreciate that you took this into consideration and have a second option if need be.
  • Involvement – Gen Xers will want to be a part of every process and see every detail and step along the way.  Welcome them in and keep them in the loop.


  • Recognize their individuality – Build a rapport by recognizing their individuality and style.  Let them know that you admire them as an individual and the way they express themselves.
  • Reputation management – Make sure to manage your relationship with millennials.  This includes both in person and on social media.  Millennials are very aware of what others are doing and will do their research on you.  If a peer has had a bad interaction with you, they will know about it.
  • Peer references – Along the same lines, they can make great referrals.  If you have a great experience with a millennial client, ask for some peer referrals or a shout out on Facebook or recommendation on LinkedIn.
  • Social consciousness – Millennials care about their community and like to give back to causes.  They want to know that you are working towards a better community and environment as well.
  • Herd mentality – Millennials move in packs, they stick together.  This is a great opportunity to target a group of individuals by inviting them to a meeting or lunch together.

So now when you take a look at your target market, hopefully you can use these tools to relate to your clients and their values a little bit better.  If you have any questions or would like some more information please feel free to reach out to me!




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