Call us on 1300 794 893

Small Business

Marketing to the generations

| More

A US liquidation advice company took the unusual step of putting a promotional video on YouTube recently. And it poses the question, are baby boomer business owners under threat from the new world media?

It’s a question worth asking considering the lead given by the Prime Minister, who took his climate change announcement to YouTube recently.

An ACNielsen report showed online sales are rising in Australia, strongly recording figures of $11.35bn for the year ended June 2006. That’s approximately $1900 per shopper and it’s getting bigger by the year.

However, Peter Sheahan, an expert on young consumers, author of the book Gen Y: Surviving with Generation Y at Work and a generation and marketplace consultant, warns to tread warily with new media marketing messages.

“Young people want marketing to be personally valuable,” he says. “And they don’t like it to be overly commercial.”

Verne Harnish, US-based business expert and author of The Rockefeller Habits, pointed to the innovation of David Cornblatt, the CEO of OLS Liquidation Advisers in a recent e-newsletter.
“Cornblatt shot a couple of videos last week and posted them on YouTube,” writes Harnish. “The cost was under US$1500.”

To many baby boomers, the whole idea of websites such as YouTube and MySpace are as foreign as going out on a Friday night at 10 o’clock. Gen X and Gen Y are doing exactly that when most boomers are asleep on their lounges in front of television.

So, does this hi-tech divide and lifestyle difference put baby boomers at a competitive disadvantage?

US-based Todd Klein, managing partner of Legend Ventures, poses some questions all baby boomers and even Gen Y and Gen X business-types should answer.

Klein thinks the next generation should be called the V Generation or the Virtual Generation. (Other call it Generation Z or Next, though I have even seen Generation Text.)

Their comfort, he argues, with instant messaging sites such as YouTube, Facebook, MySpace and Second Life should not be ignored by business.
“It is the generation that expects immersion in their use of technology,” says Klein on his blog. “The generation that does not distinguish between relationships they’ve developed online and those created in-person.
“It is a generation that feels connected in a pub on as they do at the local Starbucks.”

And the key word for baby boomer business owners is ‘connected’ as this group is increasingly being disconnected from the new and developing consumer markets.

Undoubtedly, OLS Liquidation Advisers won’t attract the same viewing traffic as the ’Evolution of Dance’ on YouTube, but the company is attaining a first mover advantage by not ignoring where the eyes and minds are going nowadays.

The likes of YouTube and MySpace compete directly with the media that business invests its advertising with — newspapers, television and radio. But it is a more challenging media — it actually could backfire on you.

Sheahan warns you have to get your message right. “After John Howard did his speech on YouTube, within a few hours there were five rip-off versions,” he says. “Similarly, McDonald’s had a video on the ‘McDonald’s You Don’t Know’ and when I saw it, it had 1765 hits while a negative one above it on the site had 400,000 hits.”

Sheahan says negative and funny works well on this media but at the heart younger generation consumers want advertising to be credible, relevant and cool.

Peter Garrett and John Howard are both politicians in suits, but Garrett is not just a former rock singer, he’s been into climate change for decades.

On this subject he is credible, relevant and cool. He’s so cool he wouldn’t dare try YouTube — he’s market researched.

Sheahan laughed at a liquidator on YouTube playing it straight, suggesting if he came as a hit man ‘liquidator’ it might have worked better. He says if your market is in the YouTube or MySpace space such as pubs, clothing stores, juice bars, take-away food, cars and travel, then baby boomer owners of these operations can’t afford to ignore this media.

“Quality works too,” says Sheahan. “Apple got Stanford students to use iPods to create role models, but the real reason the product took off was because iTunes was so damn good.”

But Klein offers boomers hope that they are not alone and that younger generation markets channels won’t disappear for them overnight.

“The ability to move seamlessly between technologies, and by extension, professional and personal experiences, defines one generation from the next,” he says. “Baby boomers tend to use email less than the phone, Gen X'rs are more comfortable with email than instant messaging (IM) and Gen Y text and IM like crazy.  
“Gen V is defining itself by its technology choices as well and in many cases those choices are virtual.”

Personally, I take my hat off to the US liquidator because he has ‘star trekked’ into a space where many baby boomers have feared to
go. Over time, like emails and Google, they will get there.

But considering young people are going into small business at a rate of knots, the ‘cool’ liquidator on YouTube might be a lot smarter than a lot of his rivals advertising in old media.

Published on: Monday, June 29, 2009

blog comments powered by Disqus