How to Perform Generational Targeting in Direct Mail Marketing

Generational targeting in direct mail can be instrumental in increasing your response rates. As brains age they change, and the way we need to target people also changes. Because the majority of the buying public falls into three generations now, we will focus on Boomers, Gen X and Millennials.

Generational targeting in direct mail
Credit: Getty Images by Jasper Cole

Generational targeting in direct mail can be instrumental in increasing your response rates. As brains age they change, and the way we need to target people also changes. Because the majority of the buying public falls into three generations now, we will focus on Boomers, Gen X and Millennials.

Generational Targeting in Direct Mail

Boomers — As we age, it becomes hard to filter out distractions. This means that your direct mail should have a clear message in a big font. Do not clutter the mail piece with tons of copy and a bunch of images. Include white space around your copy and images to allow time for absorption without distraction. Because older brains filter out negative messages, you should accentuate the positive benefits of your product or service. They have time and, therefore, value more information before making a decision — unlike Gen Xers and Millennials. Make sure to respect their intelligence and include details about your product or service that are relevant to them. The more they are exposed to a message, company and brand, the more it becomes true for them. So make sure that your messaging on your mail piece matches your message on other channels.

Gen X — The first thing we need to note about Gen Xers is that they are very busy people; you will need to grab their attention quickly. Coupons are a great way to reach Gen X. They love a good deal. They love companies that do “good for society.” So when they make a purchase, they can also help out others. They like loyalty programs that help keep them on track through busy weeks and months. Keep in mind that this generation loves direct mail. Of course you need to send them mail pieces that are relevant, but you should expect good response rates from them. Because lack of time is an issue, make sure that you go with less copy and get right to the point of how your product or service can help them.

Millennials — The most important thing to know about Millennials is that they value social issues over economics. So you need to make sure that your messaging taps into that need. Another factor is innovation. This generation is always looking for the next best thing. How can your product or service fix their problems in a new way? Millennials love reviews, so make sure you provide real testimonials from customers on your direct mail pieces. They, like Gen X, are big on loyalty programs; so make sure you have a robust program.

Conclusion

Keep in mind that each generation is comprised of unique people; not everyone will respond the same way. Don’t replace your other demographic targeting and segmentation strategies. These notations should help you shape your direct mail concepts, but by no means should they become the “be-all, end-all” strategy. Are you ready to get started?

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?