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The Secret to Marketing Across Generational Lines

The Secret to Marketing Across Generational Lines

Carnival Day setup an 8×4-foot Lite Brite board for Elevate guests to interact with throughout the day.

As marketing and advertising professionals, you know that the first step in creating a good campaign is to identify your target audience. What are their professions, ages, hobbies, values, etc? These are all important factors in putting together a personality profile of the desired client or customer. But what about those times that you need to reach across generations?


Ben Roth, chief creative officer at global marketing agency MKTG Inc., has the answer. While speaking at yesterday’s Elevate conference hosted by BizBash, Roth narrowed the gap between Traditionalists (those born between 1901 and 1945) and Gen-Zers with a single word: emotion.


“Emotion drives content and content drives events, so it only makes sense that emotion drives events too,” said Roth. He added that you can talk about the utility of your product or service, but if you can tap into the emotional response it creates in potential customers, then your content will really ignite action.


These days the idea of ‘igniting’ content immediately brings to mind social media. Consultant and social media expert Mark Schaefer wrote a whole  book, The Content Code, about just that. However there are other ways to ignite content with older generations, like Baby Boomers, who don’t have the same innate digital drive of Millennials because they didn’t grow up with it as part of their day-to-day lives. Relying on social when you’re potential customer base crosses generational lines is sure to alienate those for whom social isn’t their forte, thereby cutting your potential revenue opportunities. Instead, create a campaign to tap into the emotions of your audience at a human level.


Roth gave the example of Coca-Cola’s “open a Coke, open happiness.” ad. While it’s not always necessary to call out the emotion, the sunny and flowery imagery with the ad conveys a sense of peace and relaxation—two feelings that evoke happiness.



You can also blend analog and digital engagements at your events to bridge the gap. Setup a chalkboard wall with a bucket of chalk next to it and pose a question to event guests, or utilize a giant Lite Brite board like BizBash did at Elevate.

The chalkboard will trigger a nostalgic emotion in Boomers who grew up with them in school while both will give Gen Y and Zers a photo opportunity for social media. Not only are you encouraging guest interaction with your brand, but  doing so in a way that triggers emotions (nostalgia and desire to share) in all three generations.


Photo: Tony Brown/Imijination Photography

Channing Muller is an award winning marketing & public relations consultant and the principal of DCM Communications. She works with event professionals and business owners to grow and scale their businesses with refined marketing strategies developed through one-on-one and group consulting, customized marketing programs and public relations. She has been named a "25 Young Event Pro to Watch" by Special Events magazine and "40 Under 40" by Connect Meetings. Channing is an avid runner, lover of labrador retrievers, good food, delicious drinks, and an advocate for the American Heart Association. Follow her on Instagram @ChanningMuller.

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