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Marketing To X And Y: How To Reach The Next Generation Of Consumers

How do you reach an audience that can choose their own music without listening to a commercial radio station, can block outsiders from their social circle—which revolves around cell phones and online networks like Facebook and MySpace—and only refer to newspapers when they need packing material to move on to their next venue?

How do you reach an audience that can choose their own music without listening to a commercial radio station, can block outsiders from their social circle—which revolves around cell phones and online networks like Facebook and MySpace—and only refer to newspapers when they need packing material to move on to their next venue?For starters, you can’t rely on adding a 1980s soundtrack to your advertising, a blog to your Web site, or a young professionals networking social to your programming and call it good. Marketing to Generations X and Y requires a comprehensive approach that features technology and is focused on relationship-building on multiple levels.To succeed in reaching X and Y, you must first understand they are unlike any other consumer that has come before them. They were raised on music videos, technology, and advertising, so they are savvy and skeptical consumers that can spot a sales pitch a mile away–and they really dislike being sold anything.X and Y cannot be reached through traditional marketing channels. Direct mail, print ads, and television advertising bounce off these powerful consumers like bullets on Superman's chest. They are also the most diverse, well-educated, and cutting edge generations. Gen Y (ages 13-25) is the largest generation in our nation’s history, wielding a tremendous amount of influence and buying power.As an Xer myself, and in my work with companies who are trying desperately to reach these elusive markets, I've discovered many ways in which marketers have totally missed the mark with Generation X and Y consumers.Few know how to motivate and engage them, so let me clue you in to a few ways in which you can effectively connect with this growing market of savvy spenders:GET PERSONALXers and Ys are not impressed with corporate-speak or sales pitches, and they are more loyal to people than to places or products. For the best results, use messages that get to the point, are honest, and personal. Incorporate testimonials, case studies, and videos featuring the stories and successes of your employees, clients, and consumers.RESPECT THEMGenerations X and Y are savvy and intelligent consumers. Don't talk at or down to them. Instead, continually address their needs and interests, what your company or product can do for them and how it benefits them. Having been raised with a lot of stress, Xers are especially responsive to genuine initiatives that help them reduce anxiety and retain peace of mind.BUILD RELATIONSHIPSX and Y want to know that you care enough to find out what makes them tick. But don't rely on the old method of marketing surveys. Get out there and talk to them! Find out how they spend their time, the music they listen to, and what they eat, wear, read, watch, and drive.BE HIPThrow out those tri-fold brochures and bullet points in your PowerPoint presentations. X and Y are tech-savvy and media-savvy and will buy based on a sleek, beautiful, cool-looking packages. Use graphics, technology, and innovation to get your message across.STAND FOR SOMETHINGToday’s brands can't just strive to stand out; they must strive to stand for something. X and Y are family-focused and socially responsible. They want to know your company cares about their well-being and is aligned with causes that benefit their communities and the world at-large.JOIN THEIR NETWORKSIf you can't connect with their preferred methods of communication (texting and social networks), forget about reaching Generation Y. Go where they hang out online—MySpace, Facebook, etc.—and learn how to integrate mobile technology in your marketing efforts. Get into their networks and your company will get noticed.GO VIRALIf these generations like your product, people around the world will know it. Blogs and video (vodcast) and audio (podcasts) bits uploaded to your Web site will quickly spread across the Internet as X and Y share their favorites with their friends, who pass it along to their circle, and so on. And these generations are the first to trust, almost exclusively, the recommendations of their peers.These are not your grandfather's marketing strategies. The tried-and-true marketing strategies of product, place, and promotion, and direct mail, advertising , and networking socials won't work with these young, hip consumers.Learn how to reach , motivate , and engage X and Y, and your company can expect a successful and prosperous future.

Sarah Sladek

Concerned about declining engagement in our nation’s membership associations, non-profits, and workplaces, Sarah Sladek founded XYZ University, the nation’s first and only generations-focused training and engagement strategy company, in 2002.

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