Thursday, March 12, 2009

It’s all about ME! LoL

Gen-Xers famously seem to think that everything is all about them. Their needs. Their wants. Their expectations.

But you know, fellow marketers, they’re right! Maybe it’s not media-hyped self-centeredness at all. Just maybe it’s simple self-awareness.

Think about it. The Gen-Xers have figured it out: They’re consumers of the products/services you and I—old fogies that we are—have to offer. They can choose to buy into our pitch, or opt out of it entirely. Yes indeed, they are in the proverbial driver’s seat.

These guys grew up with remote controls in their hands. They got their first cell phone in the sixth grade; text messaging is their native language. They listen to music pulsing through those cute white wires in their ears. They don’t read newspapers; they download.

Jon Stewart is their go-to guy. They have best-buddy lists that reach out electronically to thousands of people. They are hooked in and tuned on. We’re the foreigners in this strange land, not them.

They are smart, educated and tech-savvy. They know what they want, and if you’re selling the hot technology and gizmos, good for you! On the other hand, what’s in today is out tomorrow. So you’ve got to stay on top of your game just to stay in the game.

However, if you’re selling retirement plans, your job is a lot tougher. These 20-somethings live in the here-and-now. Tomorrow is a long way away for them. 40 years hence is almost incomprehensible.

Making it worse, the economic downturn has left many of them who never knew anything but the good old go-go days reeling with justified fear.
Social Security? Probably not a reality for them and they know it.
Selling big-ticket items like real estate? Hmmm. The Gen-Xers get “hooked up” later (they don’t trust the institution of marriage the way their now-divorced parents did) and have fewer children. Maybe they don’t need the McMansions you’re hocking. And they certainly don’t want the high mortgages that go with them.

This generation will be inheriting an earth that is noisy, dirty and overheating.
Going green is more than a slogan for them. Their efforts to live green may be what makes the earth inhabitable for their children. And they know that, too.

While they have cash—lots of it—to spend, theirs may be the first generation of Americans that has lower expectations than their parents. And marketers have to come to terms with that.
If we want to address them successfully…if we want to earn their trust and their business…then we have to realize that it is all about them.

How can we as marketers become their new BFFs?

Chose a marketing media that is appropriate, like direct mail. This tech-wise generation loves “old fashioned” direct mail catalogs which they keep as reference books and use to make informed buying decisions later.

The Facebook generation loves the privacy of direct mail; and because so many of their “human interfaces” are electronic, they still get a genuine thrill when they get a letter in the mail.

Use marketing media that speak to them, like email. OK, email is so 1990s, but it’s still a very effective tool with the right message to the right list. Email lists, while still more expensive than
DM lists, are coming down in price, and the ability to segment to reach the exact group you need is quite good. Best yet: you get almost instantaneous feedback.

Use new marketing media like
PURLs and SMS text messaging. These new cross-platform media proved enormously successful in Obama’s run for the Presidency. They “galvanized the base” (read: they energized the very people we’re writing about here!) and can help you get your message out too. Read the next article about PURLs to learn more about these newest marketing technologies.

But it’s not just how you say it, it’s what you say. Forget the fluff. Hold the hype. Give them real, valuable content. It’s what they want and what they expect.

They are bombarded with information every day. They can—with a few keystrokes—find almost anything they need to make a buying decision. And yes, they want information from you, too, but they want it on their own terms. If they think you’re “selling” them, they’ll turn you off in a hot minute. However, if you’re providing honest content, they’ll give you their time and attention.

The content has to be relevant. It has to arm them with facts about your company, your industry, solutions to problems, approaches they can take, and the best practices that lead to successful relationships. Give them answers to their questions, and you give them the ability to make up their mind about you.

They can choose to listen in or tune out. They can decide if you are relevant, or not. Thumbs up or thumbs down.

Is it all about them? You bet it is!

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