This is the second of a two-part excerpt from Full Brain Marketing--for the Small Business by DJ Heckes.
Generational differences in the work force play a large part in effective communication for companies. Marketing in today's work force is much more challenging than it was 10-plus years ago. We now have four, and soon to be five, decades of generational differences all working together with totally different backgrounds based on values, beliefs, communication and leadership styles.
We need to learn how to maintain calmness in the work force environment, and how to determine a demographic audience's 1) values and 2) communication style by both their generational and their bird personality (see "Marketing by Personality Type.")
The generational differences outlined below do not in any way make me a generational difference expert. However, I have listed some great ways for communicating and following up effectively for each generation. After all, relationship marketing and selling are the best forms of flattery a company may offer to its prospects and customers.
There is definitely diversity in the work environment, and much of this is attributed to the following generational differences.
The four generations are known as:
|Traditionalists (Matures)||Born prior to 1946|
|Baby boomers||Born 1946-1964|
|Generation X (Xers)||Born 1965-1980|
|Generation Y (Nexters or Millennials)||Born 1981-1995|
Traditionalists are the generation that has lived through many events and experiences in life such as the Great Depression, New Deal, World War II, Korean War and the atomic bomb. They are steady and loyal. By their principles, having responsibility is a good thing, and it is expected of them. They are trustworthy and respect authority. They are disciplined in their work habits and will stay until the job is finished. They conform to their environment and dislike change.
This generation is conservative, and its members are not risk takers at all. They are one of the last generations to be frugal and save their money for a "rainy day" and retirement. They are independent thinkers and prefer to work alone. When trying to market and sell a product or service to this generation, it is best to talk about the value and longtime use. Remember, this generation believes in saving and not spending frivolously.
When interacting with traditionalists, know that they enjoy their privacy and are not inclined to share their inner thoughts. Face-to-face communication is preferred, and they generally do not like to text or send e-mails. They respond to logic and do not like emotional language and communication; hence, they prefer unemotional communication.
They focus on the spoken word and do not respond well to body language and emotion. They function well in a traditional setting such as a classroom or boardroom. They prefer formal settings with an agenda to follow. When presenting information to traditionalists, be sure to support the data, as they are receptive to information presented in a well-organized and well-researched manner.
The information presented will also need to be supported by facts, figure and examples. Etiquette matters, and manners are a big part of this generation. Remember the "yes, sir" and "no, ma'am" approach. Also, it is a good habit not to talk with food in your mouth.
Baby boomers, also referred to as boomers, have lived through many events and experiences such as civil rights, space travel, the Cold War, the sexual revolution and assassinations. Boomers have a philosophy that everyone is different and have a strong belief in personal growth. These are guidelines this generation believes in. They pride themselves on owning a home, working until the job is finished, being nostalgic and being independent. They are a consensus-building and practical idealist generation. This generation brought about forward thinking.
They are direct, and believe in continuing their education. They are great storytellers and are considered optimistic. You will often hear them ask, "How does the product or service apply to me or my company and how is it useful?" Baby boomers see the glass half full as opposed to half empty. Baby boomers are very creative and prefer face-to-face, e-mails and texting as a mixture of communication, depending on whether they are at the beginning of the boomer age cutoff or the end. This generation lives in a "buy now, pay later" environment and is an affluent generation.
Generation X, also known as Xers, have lived through events and experiences such as the fall of the Berlin Wall, women's liberation, Watergate and the energy crisis, and they are cynical. They have an entrepreneurial spirit and believe in investing in their own development rather than in that of their organization. While others may see them as disloyal, they are cautious about investing in relationships with employers because their experience has shown that these relationships are not reliable. Cavalier as it may sound, one Xer told a boomer, "If you want loyalty, get a dog." To an Xer, loyalty may mean a two-week notice. They are independent and creative, have clear goals, and prefer managing their own time and solving their own problems rather than being managed by a supervisor.
Xers value access to information and love plenty of it. They need continuous feedback, and they use the feedback to adapt to new situations. This generation is flexible and is the first generation to demand quality of work life. This generation works hard but they would rather find quicker, more efficient ways of working so they have time for fun. While boomers are working hard to move up the ladder, Xers are working hard so that they can have more time to balance work and life responsibilities.
When communicating with Xers, use e-mail or texting as a primary communication tool and be sure to talk in short sound bites to keep their attention. Ask for their feedback and provide them with regular feedback of their own. Share information with them on a regular basis and strive to keep them in the loop. Use an informal communication style such as e-mail or texting. Xers are money cautious.
Generation Y (Nexters / Millennials)
Generation Y, also known as Nexters or Millennials, have lived through events and experiences such as the Oklahoma City bombing, school shootings, technology advances, Clinton/Lewinsky and conservative values. Nexters like challenging work, creative expression, freedom and flexibility, and they dislike micromanagement. This generation likes to work in team environments. They are also optimistic and confident, like the baby boomers.
Members of this generation have been told they are great, and their confidence has been built up since infancy. Sometimes their experience for the task or job at hand may not meet the same standards as the confidence they project. They prefer to communicate and work in a social and flexible environment. To communicate with a Nexter, it is best to text first and, second, send an e-mail. Also, be sure to connect with them in social media channels. They prefer this to the spoken word as it is interactive, quick and efficient. They live in a generation of "whenever I want it, I can push and click." They earn money to spend money.
DJ Heckes is CEO of EXHIBI-IT! Tradeshow Marketing Experts and author of Full Brain Marketing, designed to help small businesses identify the right market, and communicate the right image and message to the right audience.