The world is changing. Technology is reshaping how people interact with each other and with their surroundings. Take a look at the latest craze with Pokémon Go. It now seems that humans are more distracted then ever by the technology that infuses their daily lives. More than any other group of people, this assumption targets the millennial generation. If you read any marketing publications, much of the focus is directed towards millennials as if they are the key to unlocking a secret.
True, millennials might be that key, but more in the sense of understanding trends and how certain people interact with technology and the content that surrounds them. However, when looking at the bigger picture, especially within the B2B industry, marketers are forgetting about the generation that probably has the most buying and decision-making power within any business. This generation is “Generation X”, who have long been overshadowed by the Baby Boomers that preceded them and by the overwhelming size of the millennial generation.
The Generational Middle Child
It does make sense that Generation X was slightly overlooked, despite how unfortunate it really is. The Baby Boomers were responsible for reshaping a nation that was recovering from tumultuous periods of war and civil revolts. The millennials were the generation that grew up with all the newest technologies and therefore must be on the cutting edge. However, according to Sparks & Honey, Gen X represents one quarter of the total U.S. population and as a result hold sway within many B2B organization’s buying committees.
Now if you are anything like me (and you may not be), this left me scratching my head and coming up with reasons why Gen X may be overlooked and why there is so much focus directed towards Millennials. The first thing that popped to mind was that Millennials are the easiest generation to reach because their lives constantly revolve around technology. In fact, eMarketer anticipates that approximately 95% of millennials will own a smart phone in 2016. So as a B2B marketer, it makes sense why millennials are the focus for a majority of companies because they most likely make up the research committee, which many deem a smaller segment of the buying committee.
So when you look at the statistics, it makes sense that B2B marketers are targeting millennials because they are most likely going to be absorbing the information and relaying it to upper management. However, to think that the Gen X population is not doing research and is not relaying information within an organization is a bit farfetched. If you think about it in terms of account based marketing, you want to find the people within an organization that are in charge. By targeting just millennials, you are closing yourself off to the larger portion of an organization and may only be getting your message across to a segment that doesn’t have much sway.
Following In Their Footsteps
According to the Sparks and Honey report, Gen X are “actually the people in power…they’re in the center of everything and when you think of that from a marketing perspective or advertising perspective, you want to reach the people who have influence…over other people.” So when you take this perspective, especially for a B2B marketer, a multi-tiered approach to your content and advertising is necessary in order to make sure you are reaching all the necessary parties within an organization.
As much as marketers want to believe that millennials are doing the majority of research (and in some cases they are), this is not entirely true. A lot of research that millennials may be doing, can sometimes just be research that is done during down time to establish a broader knowledgebase.
With that in mind, marketers should take a more targeted approach along each step of the funnel. Think more general and encompassing pieces for top of the funnel (i.e. millennials) and more focused and descriptive content for middle to bottom of the funnel where Gen X is going to be most present.
Typically, Millennials are not decision makers and if they are, their mindset is most likely going to be similar to that of Gen X. Much like Gen X took advice from the Baby Boomers, the millennials are doing the same. So keep this in mind with your next marketing campaign and think about a multi-tiered content approach that will be able to speak to each generation within your target audience.