When you’re thinking about sending out information, it’s worthwhile taking a moment to be really clear about who your audience is, and then you can tailor your message to meet their needs. Well that’s not new, and you probably already send out information appropriate to different sectors and industries. But think also about whether your target audience is older or younger, as members of the different generations have different preferences in reading, using and sending information. Dr Graeme Codrington has suggested the following groups have their own preferences:
Traditionalists (born before 1945) will generally prefer you to use “the Queen’s English”, with proper sentences and punctuation and definitely not ‘text speak’. They may like plenty of time to consider your offer, and won’t want to be deluged with daily reminders. And just because many people of this age may already be retired, don’t forget that those still working are probably running the family firm, or in senior positions, and may therefore have considerable influence in their company.
Baby Boomers (born 1945 – 1965) are born optimists and keen to take advantage of technology (think about the grey surfers) but had no computers around when they were growing up, and therefore may be slow on the uptake when using social media. Boomers invented one-to-one marketing, so your products and communication need to be tailored to their needs – and they have loads of needs: they control over 70% of the net personal wealth in the UK, and if you want them to spend it with you, then you need to make them feel in control, and special. Regular updates on the progress of your project, and offering the ability to change the spec will be very welcome to the Boomers.
Generation X (born 1965 – 1980s) are now in their 30s and 40s and are the first group to grow up with technology, and enjoy access to computers in school. They are very comfortable communicating using email on their laptops, PDAs and BlackBerrys, but they want the flexibility to work how and where they want, but they suffer from “information overload” and so are more likely to need regular reminders about your services.
Generation Y (1980s- 2000s) are also known as Millenials, and are totally at ease with using technology and social media to enhance their work as well as their social life. In fact employers who try to prevent a Gen Y from accessing Facebook in work time may find themselves having to find a new employee. Short snappy media messages and tweets are more likely to hit home, whereas lengthy detailed information might be ignored.
Not all older people hate technology, and not all younger people are as competent with it as you may think, so it’s always worthwhile getting to know as much as possible about your contacts. Getting the communications strategy right (what to say, who to say it to, how to deliver the message) when you’re working across generations will pay dividends in the end.