Luring younger generations like X and Y makes good business sense. As customers age, if they have a good business experience, they are likely to stay customers for the long haul. Repeat and referral business should make up the core of your customer base. To grow this, you have to look younger (unless, of course, you are marketing specifically to products and services for Boomers or older). Because of technological advances and changes in family structure, these younger generations differ dramatically from the current middle-aged generation. So how do you court them?

1. Use video. I just heard today that Border’s is facing bankruptcy. Really, we shouldn’t be surprised. Partly because of the advent of e-readers, but more significantly, booksellers are impacted by a decreasing number of readers. Aside from a few break-out bestsellers, younger people are more inclined to watch than read. Incorporating video on your site and being active on YouTube and/or Vimeo is key. Plus video works so much better on smartphones than text.

2. Use humor. Humor is everywhere. Even the post office is going with funny advertising. Serious and formal is dead. Check out Super Bowl ads, viral videos, today’s biggest blockbusters and television shows (not to mention webcasts). This generation wants to laugh.

3. Use games. Fast Company had a great article on how games are infiltrating our lives. Point systems, becoming “mayor” of businesses, Farmville and Mafia Wars. Games engage and motivate like nothing else. Read the article. You’ll get it.

4. Be accessible. Publish your landline, your email, a cell phone number (with text capabilities) and offer online chat. Be on Facebook, Twitter and Yelp. Help your young customers find you. They don’t have the patience you do.

5. Educate. This generation is used to free education. In fact they demand it. Need an answer to anything? Hop online, Google, Wikipedia or YouTube it for an answer. Help them skip this by offering educational videos on your site.

Pursuing a younger customer base ensures a longer life for your business. Treat them with respect, offer a phenomenal customer experience (or they will rat you out online!) and products and services tailored to them and you will be rewarded with years of loyalty.


by Steven Schlagel