Today’s leasing teams face the challenge of effectively marketing and selling their products and services to four generations – Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Gen Xers, and Gen Yers. It is important to tap into the values, expectations, and buying motivations of each generation in order to increase levels of customer engagement. The higher the level of customer engagement, the higher likelihood that the relationship leads to a lease!
It is amazing how different generations behave in terms of their buying motivations and their spending habits. Although every individual is unique, we can clearly see a generalization among age groups. History has played a major role in determining the different behaviors of each generation. Only the future will tell how successful our efforts to relate to each one are. It isn’t an easy task. How do you market and sell to these very different types of people? The first step is becoming familiar with each generation.
WHO ARE THE FOUR GENERATIONS?
Traditionalists: Born before 1946 Generally recognized as the children of the Great Depression, Traditionalists were profoundly impacted by the experiences they encountered during their formative years.
Baby Boomers: Born 1946-1964 This generation was born during the demographic Post-World War II Baby Boom. While their parents unwaveringly adhere to rules, Baby Boomers are not afraid to challenge rules when necessary.
Generation X: Born 1965-1977 Sometimes referred to as the MTV Generation, Generation X was born after the Post-World War II Baby Boom ended. Often the children of two working parents, they spent much time home alone and were forced to grow up quickly.
Generation Y: Born 1978-1995 Generation Y grew up in a decade of uncertainty, political unrest, and technological metamorphosis. Their existence is saturated with highly evolved technology.
Once you are familiar with each generation, you can begin to effectively market and connect with them.
EFFECTIVE MARKETING, GENERATIONALLY SPEAKING
Traditionalists have seen a lot in their lifetime, so when reaching out to them, appeal to their sense of value. Understand what they really need. Show them you value their loyalty (brag about any customer loyalty programs you may offer). Their family is important to them; provide solutions that will help their family. Only a small fraction of Traditionalists will be accessed by social media marketing. A combination of traditional marketing and some social media is required to be truly effectual in reaching this group.
Baby Boomers are the first generation to become workaholics; they have a difficult time with work-life balance. When marketing to them, answer these questions: What do you have to offer that could help them with their work-life balance? How can you make the lives of their kids easier? What cause do you have for them to embrace? Baby Boomers’ knowledge and adoption of technology comes primarily from what they learned at work. Though not as reliant on modern technological advances as younger generations, they utilize them more than Traditionalists do. Regardless of the avenue of advertisement, Baby Boomers have high expectations concerning the marketing and sales pitches. Don’t use vague, mass-marketing advertising with generic messages. Communicate the clear-cut benefits of the product and/or service you’re selling. And your post-purchase customer service levels had better live up to the promises made during the sales process.
Generation X is self reliant. While both parents worked, they were the Latch Key kids – left to grow up by themselves. Generation X loves to have fun, striving to master the work-life balance. They feel a sense of entitlement since their parents were not always around. A marketing strategy that focuses on their wants and desires will do well. After all, they deserve it. Many in this generation think of themselves as disloyal to brands and as skeptics of big business. Xers are very sensitive when companies try to “sell” them or when they suspect they are being exploited. They’d rather believe they are part of a dialogue with the company. Use a straightforward approach. In the midst of so much marketing noise, this generation has learned to ignore the racket as much as possible. Thus, mass marketing and selling can fall on deaf ears, and fake personalization can hurt rather than help. Their loyalty to a company or brand needs to be continually earned.
Generation Y is “savvy.” By the time they entered junior high, many of them were text messaging under their desks in the same way earlier generations had passed notes. Marketers are discovering that as a result of all the media saturation this generation has experienced, it’s increasingly difficult to catch a Gen Yer’s eye. On top of the visibility problem, Gen Yers are sick of being sold to. Be straightforward and use simple messages that are honest – no hype. The use of direct marketing rather than mass marketing works with Generation Y. However, this does not mean that Yers will be impressed by a text message that mentions their name. This generation is in the know—and what it doesn’t know it easily accesses by a few taps of its touch screen. Creativity is the key to grasping their attention.
MAKE THE SALES CONNECTION & CLOSE THE DEAL
Congratulations! Your marketing efforts have paid off and your potential renter has made contact. The old saying “treat others as you would like to be treated” is not so helpful anymore. The secret is to “treat others as they would like to be treated”. In other words, it is vital for leasing professionals to deliver exceptional service according to the customer’s expectations. Here are a few points to consider in each step of the sales process (connect, needs, solutions, the close) as you interact with people of different generations.
- Appeal to their interest in seeking new experiences
- Do not assume you know what they need
- Focus on what is important to them
- Avoid pressuring them for a decision
- Appeal to their high expectations and personalize your presentation
- Do not assume anything about them
- Create a positive experience
- Make them feel like they have won something
- Be sincere, make a personal connection
- Understand their lifestyle and how they will use your product/service
- Do not try to “sell” them – no marketing lines
- Be honest with them; they will lease if they trust you
- Respond to their expectation for instant communication
- Engage them in the process
- Send them a clear message that you have a solution
- The overall experience will be a decision driver
Armed with knowledge of who your customer is, you become better equipped to make a connection with them, gain and keep their interest, and be able to make the sale!
Tell us how you use generational context to relate to and sell to your customer!