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Reach Five Generations Online

By 2020, the concept of the laptop will be extinct – that’s how quickly technology is changing, said Amanda Johns Vaden of Southwestern Consulting. As part of the social media and marketing track on Education Day at ASI Orlando, Vaden explained how rapidly evolving means of communication is affecting how distributors need to communicate with the five generations in the workplace, from the Matures, born before 1945, to Gen Z, born after 1996.

“The more high tech businesses go, the more high touch you have to be to build relationships with customers,” Vaden said. “Otherwise, you get lost in the clutter. You need to communicate with each generation in the way they prefer.” For example, Matures prefer face-to-face meetings; Baby Boomers like phone calls and direct mail; Gen Xers love email; Gen Y and Z chat via text and social media.

Vaden reminded attendees that in 2015, millennials aged 18 to 34 surpassed Baby Boomers as the largest group of American workers. “If you’re not on social media, you’re in an interesting place with a limited market demographic,” Vaden said. “One in three purchasers is a millennial.” At the same time you’re texting or connecting with younger buyers on social media to get to know them better, you need to learn how to bond with prospects of all ages, like emailing a Gen Xer within an hour of meeting with them and offer to connect on LinkedIn; conversely, call a Baby Boomer after a meeting to answer any questions. “Remember that 60% of Baby Boomers are in decision-making roles, so following up with them is key,” Vaden said.

Vaden offered a variety of tips for effectively using social media to court prospects. “Get to know them, and help them get to know you,” she said. “Treat the social sphere like a human interaction.” Consistency is key, and there are lots of tools that automate the posting process so you don’t need to spend more than 30 minutes a day on your messaging. “Be sure to stand out, too, by showing your prospects why they should buy promo products from you rather than from some other business,” she said. Another idea: Always use images with your social postings. “Remember, social media is free marketing, so be sure to use it,” Vaden said.