It’s common in B2B marketing campaigns — especially ABM campaigns — to define targeted buyers by industry, role, size or solution. I think of these as “vertical” divisions, and they make sense for B2B plays.
But I’ve been reading about marketing to Gen Xers recently, and it’s got me thinking that with the data available to B2B marketers today, targeting by horizontal generational traits could improve the outcomes of demand generation campaigns.
Generational targeting is more common in B2C marketing than B2B, but B2B marketers can use it to sharpen content personalization, activation and amplification. After all, birth dates are public information and could be added to your data resources.
I also see this as part of the continued alignment between B2B and B2C marketing, as we’ve seen with the inclusion of psychographic information in personas and behavioral science in buyer targeting.
Want to give it a try? Consider these suggestions to add a generational dimension to your next campaign:
SiriusDecisions recognizes after-purchase customer marketing as one of four types of ABM, and based on how costly acquiring new buyers is, this is a wise strategy.
For content planning, themes based on generational preferences could overlay product- or industry-specific themes to further refine messaging. For example, Gen Xers have seen a lot of strife and tragedy in their lives and so care a lot about safety and security in general. By contrast, millennials are all about convenience. If there is product messaging that could be teased out under each of these attributes, that could be used for content reversioning to appeal to these distinct psychographic preferences.
The intent of personalization is to increase engagement, and appealing to emotional triggers is a tried-and-true B2C tactic.
If your target group is a mix of generations, and you want to reach each group, build redundancy into content activation. Baby Boomers like email, but millennials and Gen Zers dislike emails. Gen Xers are more in the middle, but they are among the least likely targets to fill out a lead-gen form. Building redundancy into content activation means making sure that your top messages are activated across a mix of access points so that you don’t shut out part of your target group.
On the other hand, if you know your target buyers fall largely into one generation, it would make sense to use activation tactics that are most appealing to that group only, because it would optimize resources. This is an example of where knowing the generational mix of your target group improves efficiency and cost-effectiveness, not just demand generation.
Once your content is out there, generational targeting can make it more discoverable. For example, where do you advertise? A good place is where buyers go to buy, but according to research by Oracle Commerce Cloud, Mirakl and WBR Insights, purchasing channel preferences vary by generational, i.e., 19% of Baby Boomers prefer online marketplaces compared with 31% of millennials.
Social media preferences also vary. For example 95% of Gen Xers use Facebook, but Gen Zers prefer Instagram.
Generational preferences can also spur imaginative amplification for direct mail and in-person experiences that are tied to childhood memories and decade highlights. Here’s a great example from data protection solutions provider Veritas, which used a cassette-tape/player theme for a web page to connect tape data storage with the ’80s, which aligns the outdated model to yesteryear but also touches a fun memory for Gen Xers.
Take a Fresh Look
There’s lots of data and advice out there about marketing to different generations. Take advantage of this to consider how you can add new dimensions to your demand gen efforts by appealing to emotions and preferences across different generations.
Be sure to check out 10 Ways to Make 2020 Your Best Marketing Year Yet for more insights on focusing your content on specific buyers — plus nine more key trends you can leverage this year.