Ok, Boomer: how to market to different generations in B2B


July 31, 2023

bird's eye view of a curvy road

I put my hands up and proudly admit to belonging to Generation Z. Each generation has its positives and negatives, but we can’t pick and choose which one we belong to. Every generation must learn to work together despite the (sometimes very) big differences between them. The same goes for B2B marketing. If you only market to one generation, be it older or younger, you’re closing off your own audience and reach perhaps without even realising it. Let’s take a look at why learning to develop a marketing strategy that fits all generations is the best way to go.

Different generations are bound to prefer different methods of marketing. A Gen Zer is far less likely to pick up a newspaper and see a physical ad than say, a baby boomer. In comparison, other generations like mine and millennials spend a lot more of our time exposing ourselves to new experiences on the internet. We are both frequently referred to as the first ‘digital natives’, with millennials growing up through the rise of technology and us younger generations exposed to it practically from birth. The easiest way to navigate through the vast difference in marketing preferences is to incorporate a healthy mixture of a variety of marketing methods to ensure you reach everyone. But how do you still stay on brand with your target audience, and is it time to leave some methods, and people, behind?

As I have said many, many, many times before, the biggest internet platform for us B2B marketers is without a doubt LinkedIn. B2B social media has become a crucial part of most agency’s strategy, which could either be a direct result of or an influence on the hiring of younger generations into a marketing world that, let’s face it, was always controlled by the older, more mature folks. B2C is usually much more appealing for Gen Zers, and even millennials, and yet as B2B adopts more of the same strategies as B2C, this is swiftly changing. And it’s not just the hiring process that’s evolving, but the buying process to match. Did you know that a staggering 59% of B2B tech buyers are millennials nowadays? And even more shocking, 25% of all workers (not just in B2B) are Gen Zers! It’s safe to say there is a drastic generational shift happening.

The classic strategies in B2B marketing, email campaigns, physical marketing etc. are still incredibly effective tools. However, older-generation marketers are having to learn how to balance these methods alongside more modern ones, such as social media, in order to contend with other companies’ evolving strategies. This is also necessary due to the market we are now catering to. With an increase in younger people in the B2B buying market, it’s crucial to balance that out with people working within the company to match. But this doesn’t mean Gen Xers and Baby Boomers should be left behind. Within the next five years, it’s estimated that millennials and Gen Zers will make up 75% of the workforce. Even if this comes to pass, that means there is still a massive 25% made up by the older generations.

B2B marketing is all about targeting the right crop of people. If you ignore 25% of the workforce, you’re inevitably reducing the reach of your work and therefore reducing the number of quality leads available to you. This is why it’s imperative in B2B marketing to target as many age groups as possible. Now, if your campaign calls for a very specific age-targeted audience then that’s another story, but if you solely use Gifs, computer game-style landing pages and VR experiences-oriented campaigns just because you find them ‘cool’ you’re likely alienating some crucial potential leads. Personally, I believe it is always better to target leads based on demographics other than age. In B2B, the most likely demographic you will be looking through is job title. However, there is one disparity between marketing to the younger and older generations that means your sales process has to be airtight.

Us Gen Zers and Millennials have grown up with the wonder of the internet. The result of this is that we tend to go to the internet for the answer to quite a few of our problems. When it comes to the B2B buying process, this means that younger generations are likely to meet you far later in the process than older generations. We are far more likely to have done more research on the internet ourselves and will meet marketers once they’ve already made up their mind about them and have decided they have the best solutions for their problems. Older B2B buyers on the other hand are more likely to be drawn into company’s sales pitches early on, and travel with you through the whole sales process. Because of this, it is important to cater your sales process to both generations and try to catch those Gen Zers and Millennials early on by humanising your brand and providing your own content such as case studies and eBooks to demonstrate that you yourself have done research and proven yourself to be the solution to what they’re looking for.

So there you have it. In a possibly slightly convoluted way, I hope I’ve explained the difference in marketing to younger and older generations, and why the best thing to do is alter your B2B strategy to target both. After all, one cannot exist without the other, and if you’re a Millennial or Gen Zer reading this, remember that one day you’ll be considered the ‘older generation’ in this blog post. Good luck!

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