Omnichannel Marketing Is Preferred by 85% of Consumers

With the advent of the Internet and social media, choosing the right marketing channel to distribute your message to your target audience and create a stronger relationship with them is now more complicated. With all these choices, what’s important is to focus on selecting the right media channels for your customer base … both online and offline.

With the advent of the Internet and social media, choosing the right marketing channel to distribute your message to your target audience and create a stronger relationship with them is now more complicated. With all these choices, what’s important is to focus on selecting the right media channels for your customer base … both online and offline.

Last week, I had the opportunity to participate in a webinar with Liz Miller, SVP of Marketing from the CMO Council. She shared findings from a recent study done by the CMO Council in partnership with Pitney Bowes titled “Critical Channels of Choice.” The study surveyed 2,000 consumers across five generations (Gen Z, Millennial, Gen X, Baby Boomers, and the Silent Generation).

According to Miller, “Everyone assumes that Millennials and Gen Zers are all digital and that is the best way, and in some instances the only way, to communicate with them. The most critical finding from the study indicated that the channel of choice was in fact, omnichannel.” Consumers expect a seamless shopping experience, whether they’re shopping online from a desktop or mobile device, by telephone, or in a brick and mortar store location.

When asked to describe their communication preferences, consumers overwhelmingly agreed that one path to the brand simply isn’t enough … they want them all. Some 85% of consumers surveyed agreed that their ideal channel is actually a blend of channels, opting for a mix of both digital and physical experiences (Figure 1).

According to survey respondents, consumers prefer to have omnichannel marketing efforts directed toward them.
Source: CMO Council, Critical Channels of Choice, 2019. Click to enlarge.

Miller explained that print is alive and well. She said, “Perhaps most telling of this openness for omnichannel is that printed mail, considered by some to be one of the more ‘traditional’ channels in today’s marketing mix, is essential. It continues to be a highly valued channel of choice. One out of every three consumers surveyed expected printed mail to be part of their ideal communications mix. Brands need to reevaluate how they are leveraging and deploying all of the tools available in an omnichannel toolkit.”

While you might expect a divide across generations in terms of channel preferences, that isn’t the case. The research found that all respondents, regardless of age demographic, prefer a blend of digital and physical channels to pave their communications journey with a brand (Figure 2).

Based on key findings, there is a preference for a blend of digital and physical communications in marketing efforts, regardless of age.
Source: CMO Council, Critical Channels of Choice, 2019. Click to enlarge.

The study also pointed out that the deciding factors for channel usage by consumers include convenience, reliability, speed, personalization, and trust (Figure 3). Whether it is print, social media, or email, consumers are looking for channels that meet their expectations.

Critical attributes of must have channels.
Source: CMO Council, Critical Channels of Choice, 2019. Click to enlarge.

The Bottom Line

Given the drive for a seamless omnichannel experience, your customers will be looking for partners to help deliver the solutions consumers want. Print will continue to be integral to the marketing mix, but your offerings will need to be blended with social, mobile, and online channels, as well as brick and mortar point of purchase solutions. Service providers need to evaluate the role they want to play in an omnichannel world.

Are Boomers Really Underserved by Digital Marketers?

Marketing to Millennials is out-sized in digital media, probably because of the upside potential. Digital marketers see future lifetime value is always bigger when you’re going to live another 50 to 70 years.

Did you hear the one about the entitled calling out the entitled?

I’m entitled. I was born during the peak year of the Baby Boom — and one thing I never had to think about was being ignored by marketers. Even digital marketers today.

Riding the “age wave” as a consumer, I was courted by brands from a tender young age. I was taught young how to be a good American consumer, and I was duly paid attention to by marketers.

And though the peak year of the Baby Boom presented challenges growing up — we all competed fiercely for college placements, job placements, housing, and status — it also prepared us well for the Reagan era’s rugged individualism, a concept and social structure that seems to have gone far, far away in our “it takes a Village” reality today. At least in the ’80s, I could afford to move to New York — though barely.

Witness a new generation — the children of Baby Boomers, Millennials — who are rising to dominate the workforce, and asserting new social values (built on inclusiveness, sustainability, fairness, and tolerance) and, gee, are brands paying attention to them! No, I’m not jealous — I’m thrilled. No, really!

Transparency, Authenticity, Sustainability, Diversity, On Demand — Brand Attributes That Appeal

According to a newly updated Deloitte Insights study, there are nearly as many Millennials as Boomers in the United States. These two generations are both forces for economic growth — as consumer spending drives two-thirds of the U.S. economy. Boomers certainly have more disposable income — and Millennials have more debt relative to income. But where digital strategy drives the marketing, Deloitte reports, Boomers may matter less, at least in practice. My guess: Marketing to Millennials is out-sized in digital media, probably because of the upside potential. Future lifetime value is always bigger when you’re going to live another 50 to 70 years.

Also, Millennials live, work, and play online. Boomers consume digitally, too. But when you tune into the nightly television news, you know the audience is comprised of Boomers and the Silent Generation before them. (Granted, when I watch TV news, I’m also skimming my smartphone.) Just watch the ads for prescription drugs, incontinence products, memory care, nutraceuticals, and other products for an aging audience — and you know there’s hardly a soul under 40 (or 50) watching scheduled newscasts anymore. The cord-cutting is rampant when “triple-play” packages cost hundreds per month, and Millennial-led households and individuals don’t see any need or logic to pay like their parents do, even if they can afford it.

They consume media completely differently, and always can steam any live events, news included, from their own trusted sources fairly easily. Media consumption, disrupted.

Brand attributes are changing, too. Many direct-to-consumer brands, popular among Millennials, have arisen not just because of perceived convenience and superior product, if that is indeed true — but because they connect using data flows that recognize the consumer from device to device, and learn in the process (that matters). They also connect because of what the brand represents, by establishing emotional and identity connection. Does the brand speak to the individual with respect and display a social aptitude? If the answer is yes, you have a better chance of gaining business and loyalty. It helps, too, that marketing is personalized at mass scale – and product personalization is booming. As “social” a cohort as Millennials are, they still demand “rugged individualism” when tailoring the product or service to their own wants, needs, and interests. For any of us at any age, we love such personalized connections, too.

So let’s congratulate Millennials, their digital prowess, and the brands’ love affair they are experiencing on their devices — and that I’ve enjoyed for decades elsewhere everywhere. It’s not as if I’m ignored online, I know I’m still coveted. But let’s not talk about sex.

digital marketers
Photo: Chet Dalzell, Photo inside JFK – Alitalia Lounge, 2019. I’ve enjoyed the attention. | Credit: Chet Dalzell

The ‘Aging-in’ Opportunity for Healthcare Brands

Healthcare marketers might focus on the 65 and up segment because of perceived near-term needs that will generate revenue quickly, or they might target much younger adults to earn maternity and pediatric customers in the hopes of larger CLV. But there’s a middle group who may be more persuadable: The younger aging-in population.

Health systems increasingly use return on investment (ROI) metrics as a means of instilling discipline into the marketing function. In turn, a marketer might focus on the 65 and up segment because of perceived near-term needs that will generate revenue quickly, or they might target much younger adults to earn maternity and pediatric customers in the hopes of larger customer lifetime value (CLV) estimates. But there’s a middle group who may be more persuadable: The younger “aging-in” population.

I’m not referring to “aging-in” in the almost-ready-to-sign-up for Medicare sense, but rather to the 50-64 year old population that often seems overlooked in health system marketing plans. This demographic is working, has seniority with their employer, has favorable commercial insurance, and is starting to consume more health services. They are starting to pay attention to the health category.

This segment combines the tail-end of the Baby Boomers and the leading edge of Generation X. Their life experiences were shaped by hard rock, disco and pop music, political scandals, gas lines, economic booms and the Great Recession. And even though they may now take blood pressure or cholesterol medications, they maintain a self-perception of being younger and are looking forward to this window of time between the kids finally moving out and the contemplation of retirement.

So, how do you persuade them? Targeting from a media perspective is relatively easy. The harder part is avoiding the clichés of ‘senior marketing’ that turn-off this segment. Here are three tips:

  • Don’t overly focus on age as part of your visual or narrative message. This group intellectually understands they are getting older, but attitudinally pushes back on messages that seem designed for the ‘senior’ set. This is an important distinction from older segments that embrace the ‘senior’ designation and silver-haired imagery.
  • Focus on their motivations. These prospects are interested in experiences large and small that they may have previously delayed. The emphasis is on the ability to ‘do.’ This is strongly tied to a person’s motivations for new experiences and why your clinical service line needs to be in the context of enabling an engaged lifestyle with minimal disruption.
  • They carry a sense of responsibility. This segment will go online to do research and can be cynical about superficial content, so make sure there’s a “there, there” when they land on your campaign page. This group solves problems at work and will approach a service line in the same way. Once they land on your page, your content needs to be structured to allow for deeper dives into volume/quality, return to work speed, how to access, cost considerations and next steps.

The 50- to 64-year-old aging in place segment represents a strong segment with favorable income and insurance, rising health needs and an increasing wiliness to listen to your message — as long as you don’t make them feel old.

How Do You Market to Perennials?

Gina Pell, content chief at The What, was looking for a new way to look at people, beyond their birth year, calling it “so antiquated … so 20th century.” So she came up with the classification of Perennials.

Stereotyping Generations — Millennials, Boomers, Gen Xers, Perennials… and no, I’m not talking daisies, hostas or lilies (#plantnerd).

As a subscriber to a number of e-newsletters like theSkimm, The Hustle and NextDraft, I enjoy a lot of the world and national news brought to me, in a quick-take, often sassy format. And in the April 5 issue of NextDraft, I found out about Perennials.

Gina Pell, content chief at The What, was looking for a new way to look at people, beyond their birth year, calling it “so antiquated … so 20th century,” regarding shoehorning people into just being their generation.

She wanted to regard them by mindset … something that’s a bit different for marketers, who are classically used to segmenting prospects and customers by demographics, such as age, sex, education level, income level, marital status, occupation, religion.

In a post she wrote in October 2016 — titled, “Meet the Perennials” — Pell breaks the group down into this:

We are ever-blooming, relevant people of all ages who live in the present time, know what’s happening in the world, stay current with technology, and have friends of all ages. We get involved, stay curious, mentor others, are passionate, compassionate, creative, confident, collaborative, global-minded, risk takers who continue to push up against our growing edge and know how to hustle. We comprise an inclusive, enduring mindset, not a divisive demographic. Perennials are also vectors who have a wide appeal and spread ideas and commerce faster than any single generation.

Who’s not a Perennial? Someone who is close-minded, and who looks at life like a timeline, i.e., “By 30 I must accomplish this, this and this. By 40 I will have a growing family and will have reached management status. By 50 it’s time to slow down.”

Okay, so, as someone who is in the upper-age bracket of the Millennial generation, this speaks to me on some levels. I get sick and tired of being lumped into a group that can span nearly 20 years (I have very little in common with a 22-year-old, much less 15-year-old). That said, I face the a lot of the same challenges: dealing with student loan debt; struggling with job security; etc.

But while writing that sentence, it made me realize: hasn’t every generation dealt with those issues, too? In their own ways?

Pell closes her post with:

Being a Millennial doesn’t have to mean living in your parent’s basement, growing an artisanal beard, and drinking craft beer. Midlife doesn’t have to be a crisis. And you don’t have to be a number anymore. You’re relevant. You’re ever-blooming. You’re Perennial.

I appreciate the sentiment. But for marketers, how do you market to this group? Do you toss out demographic data, and instead focus on values? And is it worth it?

You tell me. And tell me what you think of the idea of Perennials … is it fitting, or just another buzzword-to-be?

Don’t Ignore Baby Boomers

Quick quiz: Which generation is huge in size, interested in experiences, loves to travel, owns digital devices and is active in social media? Millennials? No, it’s actually Baby Boomers. Surprised? The Baby Boomer generation tends to be overlooked, but they are an important consumer segment.

Baby BoomersQuick quiz: Which generation is huge in size, interested in experiences, loves to travel, owns digital devices and is active in social media?

Millennials?

No, it’s actually Baby Boomers. Surprised? The Baby Boomer generation tends to be overlooked, but they are an important consumer segment.

This population — born between 1946 and 1964 — are 74 million strong and have more disposable income than any other generation. They are more likely to be in the upper-income group. According to Pew Research, 27 percent of boomers are in the upper income group, which is the highest figure of all generations. Principal economist at Kantar Retail, Doug Hermanson, notes:

“Upper-income Boomers can sustain their pre-recession spending and be a strong driver of the consumer economy over the next five to 10 years. They have the money to spend. It’s a different mindset of saving before and now saying, ‘I’ve got to spend it while I’m here.’”

Let’s dig into these mass affluent Baby Boomers. These are defined as those who have $100,000-$250,000 in household income and over $250,000 in savings. They are an optimistic bunch, with 77 percent saying their goal is to have an interesting life.

Over 80 percent say they live a healthy lifestyle, and they are much more likely to give to charities. Pew Research reports that Boomers are living longer, with an average life expectancy of 80 years old, up from 68 in 1950. Many are now entering their retirement years. While about half of all adults say they feel younger than their actual age, 61 percent of Boomers are feeling more spry than their age would imply.

So what drives spending for this important segment? Quality is important to the mass affluent Boomer, with nine out of 10 saying they are more likely to value quality over brand name. They also like to shop within brands they feel an emotional connection with. And over 70 percent of Boomers across all income levels say the fact that they “like” a retailer is a driver of retail selection.

So, now that we have seen how they like to spend money, let’s take a look at what this generation plans to spend money on. About a quarter of Baby Boomers in the mass affluent category say they will spend more money in general in the coming year. Baby Boomers at the higher income level are more likely to prefer experiences over things: 73 percent of them say they prefer to spend money on experiences, vs. 69 percent of Millennials. Their spend categories emphasize travel, home improvement and charities.

Additionally, Synchrony Financial consumer surveys reveal the following:

  • The highest category of future spend will be travel. About 40 percent of mass affluent Boomers plan to spend more on travel next year. AARP estimates Baby Boomers spend more than $120 billion annually on leisure travel.
  • The second highest spend category is home improvement, with 32 percent of Boomers spending more on home improvement in the coming year, and 22 percent spending more on home furnishings.
  • Boomers are much more likely to say that they give to charitable causes, with 79 percent saying they plan in increase their charitable giving.

The Digital Divide: Boomers and Technology

Let’s take a look at the most talked-about difference between Baby Boomers and younger generations — digital technology. The reality is that the Baby Boomer population is on-par with younger generations when it comes to smartphone ownership, online shopping and social media access. Three out of four Baby Boomers own a smartphone, up 19 percent from a year ago. The generational divide exists in the usage of digital devices. Synchrony Financial’s research studies show that Boomers are much less likely than Millennials to use their smartphone for a multitude of tasks — from shopping to texting to social media postings.

But contrary to what some may think, Boomers have a great deal of access and interaction with social media. Ninety-two percent of Boomers say they have access to a social media channel — mainly Facebook (82 percent of Boomers have access to Facebook, up from 76 percent only a year ago). But they not influenced by social media for purchases. Only one third say they purchased a product after seeing it on social media, which is a significantly lower figure than that of younger generations: For Millennials, that number tops 70 percent.

How well does your business cater to this large and important segment of the population? Generalizations are difficult for any population of this size, but in general, Boomers are optimistic, secure and not done spending. Brands who provide a great shopping experience, high quality and seamless digital technology will go far in attracting this important segment.

Sources: All data is sourced from the following three studies, unless otherwise noted: Synchrony Financial 2016 Loyalty Study, Synchrony Financial 2016 Affluent Survey and Synchrony Financial 2016 Digital Study. All references to consumers and population refer to the survey respondents.

Note: The views expressed in this blog are those of the blogger and not necessarily of Synchrony Financial.

The Making of a ‘Perfect’ Mobile Ad

The Verve whitepaper, “The Rise of Mobile Prodigies™: Millennials, Gen Z and the Future of Mobile Marketing,” provides some useful insights on engaging younger cohorts on smartphones (Millennials now have buying power of between $200-600 billion and Gen Z currently has $44 billion, according to the report).

Deliver_Brand_In_Digital2-2(1)While I was attending LiveRamp’s RampUp 2017 Summit last week, I attended a session on the “Skeptical Consumer,” which included a reference to recent research: “The Rise of Mobile Prodigies: Millennials, Gen Z and the Future of Mobile Marketing” (Verve, 2016). A good part of this session — which included speakers from the Digital Advertising Alliance, Venable, TRUSTe and Gap, as well as Verve — focused on how brands can overcome consumer skepticism over data collection with regard to digital/mobile advertising. (There’s much hope here.) The Verve white paper provided some useful insights on engaging younger cohorts on smartphones (Millennials now have buying power of between $200 and $600 billion and Gen Z, currently $44 billion, according to the report).

There’s a bevy of insights in the research, but I was particularly intrigued with one finding: What Makes a More “Perfect” Mobile Ad, as reported by these Mobile-First (mobile-only) users:

Source: “The Rise of Mobile Prodigies,” Verve, 2016, p 11.
Source: “The Rise of Mobile Prodigies,” Verve, 2016, p 11.

Too often, mobile is not driving most marketers’ brand engagement strategies — but not for long. These “Mobile Prodigies” are here and now, and they’re spending up to 90 percent of their smartphone time in the app environment — perhaps the majority of these apps are financed by advertising.

More than 55 percent of these consumers are using ad-blocking software and 82 percent delete apps that they perceive to fail to deliver value for the data collected … but oh, what relevance can do! Six in 10 would download more free apps, connect apps to their Facebook accounts, share location data and even share fitness and sleep data in exchange for a personalized experience. One in three say they reverse opt-out permissions when personalized ads, based on context and behavior, are offered.

Verve writes, “If we serve Mobile Prodigies best-in-class mobile experiences, they are willing to share their personal information — their permission comes down to relevance and reward.”

That sentiment actually mirrors that of Generation X and Baby Boomers. However, how that value is demonstrated in mobile requires a whole new level of branded experiences for Millennials and Gen Z, with a demand to use data in highly relevant and creative ways that still largely remains elusive on smartphones. Perhaps that’s why 2,500 were in San Francisco to examine better ways to deploy data in service to consumers, and 108,000 were in Barcelona a few days before — in part, in quest for the perfect mobile ad.

Will Millennials Fully Experience the Analog Revival?

Analog is back. It’s hip, it’s retro and it’s hot in film photography, print books and paper notebooks. But will the embrace of tactile, non-digital media among Millennials extend to music? That remains to be seen.

Analog is making a comeback
Analog is making a comeback

Analog is back. It’s hip, it’s retro and it’s hot in film photography, print books and paper notebooks. But will the embrace of tactile, non-digital media among Millennials extend to music? That remains to be seen.

Instagram shows over 3 million posts each for the hashtags #filmphotography, #filmisnotdead and #polaroid. Photo booths are popular at weddings. Young people are increasingly enamored with pictures taken on devices other than their phones, even though Instagram remains the go-to place to view and share them.

My students who have done class research projects on ebook readers have consistently found that college students prefer print books over electronic ones for classes. I’ve observed an increasing number of students using paper notebooks rather than tablet computers and laptops to take notes. Hardcover diary-type notebooks are gaining a hipster cache, and recently, I had a student enter an appointment in a paper calendar, as I remarked, “How quaint!”

A New York Times review says the new David Sax book, “The Revenge of Analog,” is “a powerful counter-narrative to the techno-utopian belief that we would live in an ever-improving, all-digital world.” The review adds that the author contends that the analog revival “is not just a case of nostalgia or hipster street cred, but something more complex.”

But while most things we can have and hold are easily accessible to Millennials, music is different. Fortune magazine reported vinyl record sales hit $416 million last year, the highest since 1988, according to the RIAA. But there are several barriers to the mass adoption of analog music, most significant of which is the need for a turntable and vinyl platters. Millennials own digital music and listen to it on portable devices through headphones, occasionally through a Bluetooth speaker. I’ve written before about the Millennial music experience being more individual than social, more like filling your ears with sound than filling a room with sound.

It’s easier for Baby Boomers to embrace analog music, because many still have their vinyl collections stored away. Marketing consultant Lonny Strum recently wrote in his blog Strumings about re-experiencing the joy of a turntable needle drop, saying “What the process of using a turntable has reminded me of is the joy of interaction/engagement with music that vinyl provided. The ‘needle drop’ (and alas the subsequent vinyl scratches) were all part of the process of listening to music. The selection of the song, the cut of the album took time and consideration, not a millisecond fast-forward that digital allows. I rediscovered the snap, crackle and pop from excessive play in past years. In fact, I instantly recall the places in songs of my 45s and LPs where the crackle, or pop existed, as if it were a key part of the song.”

EmotionsThese are the types of experiences that the Times notes in reviewing “The Revenge of Analog,”

“ … the hectic scratch of a fountain pen on the smooth, lined pages of a notebook; the slow magic of a Polaroid photo developing before our eyes; the snap of a newspaper page being turned and folded back … ”

A recent study published in the Journal of the Audio Engineering Society concluded that “MP3 compression strengthened neutral and negative emotional characteristics such as Mysterious, Shy, Scary and Sad, and weakened positive emotional characteristics such as Happy, Heroic, Romantic, Comic and Calm” making the case that analog music might actually be a more positive and pleasant experience.

Will Millennials and the generations who follow get to experience it?

Report: Mobile Apps May Be Peaking

The latest comScore report, “The 2016 U.S. Mobile App Report,” had me wondering if we had hit “peak-app.” Just how many apps can users crowd onto their smartphones and tablets? And while looking for such insights in the report, I learned quite a lot of other details useful for marketers. Did you now know that:

Deliver_Brand_In_Digital2-2(1)The latest comScore report on “The 2016 U.S. Mobile App Report” had me wondering if we had hit “peak-app” — just how many apps can users crowd onto their smartphones and tablets?

And while looking for such insights in the report [downloadable here], I learned quite a lot of other details useful for marketers. Did you now know that:

  • Digital Love, Mobile Lust — Over the past three years, our total digital media time has grown by 53 percent, driven mostly by mobile apps. Our actual time spent on desktop media during the past year actually declined by 11 percent. Mobile now represents two of every three digital media minutes.
  • App Share of Digital — Smartphone apps all by themselves account for nearly half of all digital media time spent, and three of every four minutes while on mobile.
  • Hours and Hours — Millennials love their apps: the 18-24 age segment spends 93.5 hours a month (June 2016) on smartphone apps and ages 25-34 spends about 85.6 hours. Baby Boomers spend 55.6 hours and posted year-over-year growth of 37 percent!
  • App vs Web — We spend seven times more time in mobile apps than we do on mobile Web – that’s actually remained steady, even as our tablet use had dropped off
  • Peak App? — Roughly half of smartphone users download one or more apps per month and half don’t download apps at all. Six percent download eight or more apps a month. Those who download five or more per month are largely ages 18-44, male and Hispanic.
  • Organizing Apps — Sixty-one percent of age 18-34 users organize their apps into folders, while just 25 percent of age 55 and older users do, primarily because Millennials download more apps and don’t want to have more than four screens with apps on them.
  • Pushback or “Push notification fatigue” — More smartphone users are rejecting app update notifications. Thirty-eight percent never or rarely agree to such notifications (up 31 percent last year) while 27 percent often or always agree to them (down from 33 percent in 2015).
  • Loyalty at the Top — Most smartphone users use 27 apps per month, but nine of every 10 mobile app minutes are spent with a user’s top five apps. Try breaking into that group!
  • App Herding — Millennials concentrate more mobile app time within “Top 10” ranked apps in their cohort than older age groups do.
  • Thumbs Up — My absolute favorite: Baby boomers are six times more likely as Millennials to only operate their smartphone with two hands. Of one-handed smartphone users, Millennials are most likely to position apps on their phones within “thumb reach.”

This report raises a lot of questions about designing, reinvigorating and reimagining apps. Can a brand break through? As bullish this current app report from comScore is, Gartner is foretelling a decline in app dominance. Whichever future holds, I foresee lots of thumb surgeries and reading glasses.

Direct Mail for All Generations

Many times, marketers feel that direct mail works best for older generations. While it is true that older generations respond to direct mail, all the other generations do too. By limiting expectations, we are leaving a large chuck of the population out of direct mail marketing.

Screen Shot 2016-06-14 at 12.52.28 PMMany times, marketers feel that direct mail works best for only older generations. While it is true that older generations respond to direct mail, all the other generations do too. By limiting expectations, we are leaving a large chuck of the population out of direct mail marketing. This means you are leaving money on the table. Instead, let’s look at how we can leverage direct mail across all generations while increasing response.

There are four main generations to target currently with direct mail:

Traditionalists: Born 1945 and Before

This group is retired and enjoys getting direct mail. It’s a channel they trust and use when giving donations to nonprofit organizations.

Key Points: community minded, strong on personal morality, civic duty minded, loyal, team players, save money, pay with cash, avid readers, disciplined and self-sacrificing

Baby Boomers: Born 1946 to 1964

Some people in this group are retired, while others are still out in the work force. They, like the traditionalists, enjoy and trust direct mail.

Key Points: self-righteous, self-centered, buy now on credit, women were the first to work consistently outside the home, divorce generation, optimistic, driven, one of the largest generations in history, like hierarchy and tradition

Generation X: Born 1965 to 1976

This group is all out in the work force. They trust direct mail, but have less time to view it.

Key Points: first latch-key kids, individualistic, government and big business mean little, feel misunderstood, cynical, want to learn, want to make a contribution, late to marry and quick to divorce, into labels/brand names, deeply in credit card debt and cautious

Millennials: Born 1977 to 2000

This group is spread between working force and students. Many still live at home with their parents. They enjoy getting mail since they do not get a lot of it. They trust direct mail more than any other marketing channel.

Key Points: very large group, optimistic, focused, omnipresent parents, respect authority, they live with the reality that they could be shot at school, like to work in teams, want everything fast and immediately, they feel special and expect to be treated that way, assertive and prefer a relaxed work environment

After looking at each of these groups, how can we best target our direct mail? Keep in mind that identifying and solving pain points with direct mail gets the best response. By creating personas for groups of people based on buying history, interest, demographics, firmographics, psychographics, as well as generational information, you create a very strong persona to target. By understanding who your recipients are, you are better able to send them the right offers. This translates into greater responses.

Let the power of direct mail be driven by your database — not by guessing. In 2016 you need to personalize your direct mail which will require you to use multiple offers within a campaign. Your recipients expect to get direct mail that is useful to them, otherwise it’s considered junk mail and thrown away. Don’t end up in the trash bin — give them an exciting offer they cannot refuse!

Disruption: A Concept to Embrace Out of Love or Fear

“Change” is ever-constant in life and marketing — like births, deaths and taxes. But what about “disruption?” I hear a lot of references to it these days. This higher usage of “disruption” in our vocabulary is not a re-statement about change, it’s about the magnitude of that change.

Online Marketing Strategies That Work“Change” is ever-constant in life and marketing — like births, deaths and taxes. But what about “disruption?” I hear a lot of references to it these days.

This higher usage of “disruption” in our vocabulary is not a re-statement about change, it’s about the magnitude of that change. Change is incremental. Disruption is game changing. Disruption today is seemingly everywhere — in politics, in social and economic ebb and flows, in business — and certainly in marketing.

Are we ready for disruption? Do we not only accept disruption’s emergence, but also expect it, learn from it and truly embrace its challenges (and opportunities)?

That’s not always easy to do. However, disruption is the new normal. Did those of us in the world of direct marketing — who perhaps knew from the start that digital marketing was “direct marketing on steroids” — truly foresee the disruption that digital business models would wreak? Venture capital and Silicon Valley certainly placed bets on monetizing data and they have prospered. Still, traditional direct marketing has had to adapt to digital, social, local and mobile — our marketing discipline’s “own” digital disruption. We’ve had to anticipate disruption or pay the price, much like everybody else.

Most CMOs have to manage disruption, digital and otherwise, but today’s CMOs are rarely recruited from the data-rich realm of direct marketing. Branding still dominates CMO ranks. Branding budgets still drive the bulk of ad spending — even as data collection and analysis now influence more and more of that spend. The labels of “direct marketing,” “digital marketing” and even “integrated marketing” are now simply “marketing.” CMOs, with their dashboards, need to account for all they spend and the value that spending creates. Labels tend to reflect silos that stubbornly hang on but can mire the overall customer experience. Managing customer experience is managing disruption.

Millennials in the workplace are another disruptor. I thank them for the insights they bring to our business, and for the focused coverage and research their presence creates. They should dominate our imaginations as Baby Boomers and Generation X before – but we should resist classifying them with our prejudices, and rely on the data that the marketplace provides (as a target market) and their insights (as members of our marketing team).

Next week, Marketing EDGE will bestow its inaugural EDGE Awards in New York CityLester Wunderman, MediaMath, Wharton Customer Analytics Initiative and six “Rising Stars” will all be in the spotlight. The first three honorees are disruptors in their own right, while the six “Rising Stars” actually have “disruption” as a criterion for their recognition. Marketing in the age of disruption may scare, carry risks, spur failure – but survival is the payoff if you’re lucky, and true innovation if you’re really lucky. What choice do we have but to embrace disruption?