Generational Marketing for Fund Raising Success

May 13th, 2008 by

I recently attended a lecture on Generational Marketing given by Chuck Underwood of the Generational Imperative. He discussed the differences between the 5 large generational groups he termed The GIs, The Silents, Boomers, GenX-ers, and Millenials, and how they differ from an organization and leadership standpoint.

It was easy to see that many of the qualities that make each of these groups unique in terms of leadership also come into play in terms of their response to the different direct marketing vehicles.

The lecture crystallized a few key thoughts for me in terms of direct marketing.

Key Findings

* Direct Marketing is absolutely alive + well. This is because the Silents and the older Boomer group enjoy direct mail as a means of communication.

* The Mail will continue to be an important Fund Raising Tool for these two market segments.

* Marketers will be successful if they take the trouble to mail material with appropriate messaging & response vehicles to the Silents and Boomer groups.

Bottom line, in generational marketing the fund raising dollars derived from direct mail to these 2 highly affluent and responsive generational groups is huge. Smart marketers need to understand what makes these groups tick and use them accordingly.

The Silents

Lets start with the group Chuck calls “The Silents”. The Silents are those individuals born between 1927 -1945. Silents are patriotic and private. They appreciate information and will process it accordingly. This generation respond to rational appeals. They paid their dues and are ready to take advantage of the rewards. This cohort worked hard for their money and are at the stage in life where they can enjoy it and donate it to causes that interest them.

Don’t waste time or money mailing an appeal that they would consider a waste of their time. Provide information the reader can use to make an informed decision. Don’t expect to drive them to your website for a response – they will not input their credit card information. Make sure you provide a BRM and easy-to-digest response vehicle. Endorsements from well-respected persons work well.

Emotional hot buttons – their generation’s legacy, security, independence, grandchildren, living long + happy lives.

Baby Boomers

Boomers were born between 1946 -1964 – and within this huge generation, there is definitely a mindset gap between the first wave and second wave boomers, depending on whether they grew up in the 50s or the 70s. Baby Boomers want to live life to the fullest, they are in no hurry to retire, they want to stay young forever, they want choices and they want their options to be user-friendly. They want meaningful detail but not meaningless detail

Never call them old or mature or refer to aging in any way – these are serious boomer turn-offs. Boomers are free spirited, like to finish first and are into options that offer instant gratification. Mail-pieces should be easy-to-read without reading glasses and offer choices. Remember Baby Boomers do not like to be told what to do. Response vehicles must be easy to use or they will simply be ignored.

Emotional hot buttons – I want it my way and I want it now, forever young, unlimited possibilities, there is always hope, never say never.

It’s certainly easy for direct marketers to segment lists by age, whether by appending age data to a house file of pulling a prospect list. But, looking at these generational hot buttons from a marketing perspective is just another way that savvy direct marketers can improve their messaging, response vehicles and even font size.

Let’s face it, marketers that push the right buttons will get responses.
Marketers that don’t do their homework, don’t test, tweak and re-test will not.

Consequently, I recommend Chuck’s book, “The Generational Imperative” to my fellow marketers. It will help you fine-tune your message, which is key to the response rate for these groups.