May 16, 2017

5 ways to communicate to a multi-generational audience


The differences in communication styles, values and work habits from generation to generation can be staggering and have almost become cliché.  

The widespread assumptions are that baby boomers and Generation-Xers have a tendency to communicate via phone and email, while Generation-Y sends text messages, tweets and instant messaging – and millennials use abbreviations, informal language and colloquialisms to communicate. This gives brands a multitude of challenges if they are targeting a breadth of demographics….how does a company communicate its messages effectively across multi-generational audiences?

1. Understand what your audience values and what motivates them. An understanding of your audience’s values and learning what motivates them, makes it easier to communicate. By personalizing your approach with the language you use and how you connect to each generational group, you are more likely to make the desired connection.

2. Break through, overcome and remove the negative stereotypes.  Each generation assigns a new stereotype to the next one.  Be aware of making stereotypes or assumptions when targeting individuals in your audience.  Make an effort to know and understand how each person likes to best receive information, and do not base this solely on their age. Personalize your approach and be ready and willing to use several approaches.  Whether that means sending a text to certain groups or emailing others, either way you’ll connect to your target audience in a manner they prefer.

3. Ask questions and ask for feedback.  Miscommunication, after all, is what you are trying to avoid.  Ask questions and show a willingness to learn something new from each generation by getting in touch with your target audience directly and asking what resonates with them.  Host roundtables or focus groups with a breadth of age groups – you may find that each generation brings new insights and ideas to the table. Listen closely to what you have learned from each in order to help shape your messages going forward.

4. Don’t be afraid of the data. With a bounty of free data analytics tools at your fingertips, it is possible to steer your strategy using information you already have around how and why each demographic group responds to and engages with content and campaigns.  Monitor and track the numbers, see how effective different tactics are – and if something does not resonate, evolve to try a new approach.

5. Always give your undivided attention. No matter what generation you are communicating with, always be sure to give your undivided attention.  Make each person in your audience feel valued and provide as much face-to-face communication as possible. You may need to tailor your message to reach them. Because no matter how many different ways there are to reach each audience to get your message across, everyone can benefit from personal interaction.

There have been significant changes in our world from the Traditional generation to Generation Z. These changes have helped to shape and create notable differences from generation to generation. Whether you are conversing with a family member, a customer, an employee, the media – always be knowledgeable and understand the differences, as this will inevitably set you up for success.