It’s easy, as a marketer, to focus on the Millennials.
We’re bombarded every day with information about how they are uber-connected and tech-savvy. And the Baby Boomers – well, with aging populations around the world causing our governments much anguish – it’s easy to keep that generation front of mind.
But Generation X – that group that is right in the middle, born between 1965 and 1981 – should be a vitally important target for your B2B marketing.
Yet they are often forgotten.
Four facts about Gen X that will help your social media marketing strategy:
They are often overlooked
When CNBC analysed a large sample of companies’ earnings calls with Wall Street analysts, in 17,776 transcripts, companies mentioned Generation X just 16 times. The network noted that, while conversations around Millennials were abundant, “companies do not seem to pay much attention to Gen X at all.”
They are the decision-makers
Career-wise, Generation X are in their stride. Aged 38 – 57, they’ve spent years working their way up the career-ladder and are now likely to be sitting right in the decision-making seat. That means that for B2B marketers, they are the prime audience to which they should be pitching their efforts.
They are the innovators
55% of startup founders are Gen X’ers. They have the experience and the network to get new businesses off the ground. To those B2B marketers specifically targeting start-ups or fast-growing businesses, Gen X are an important consideration.
Generation X are social
With 85% of users saying that social networks help them decide what to purchase (source: IBM), social media marketing simply can’t be ignored when it comes to setting both a B2B marketing and sales strategy. And Generation X are avid users of social media.
A recent Neilson study in the United States found that adults aged 35 – 49 were found to spend an average of 6 hours and 58 minutes a week on social media networks, compared with 6 hours 19 minutes adults 18 – 34.
B2B Social Media Marketing: five ways to target Generation X
1 Know your customer’s buying process
66% – 90% of B2B buyers conduct heavy research in the early stages of their purchase journey. By the time they contact vendors, the decision is likely already made.
So if you’re not engaging your audience early on in the customer journey, you could be missing the mark. It’s not uncommon for your audience to search your LinkedIn profile, your website and Google information about you and your organisation.
- This means that you need to invest time targeting them earlier in the journey than you may have considered.
- Social media networks allow businesses to identify ‘intent to buy’, versus people who are just ‘likely to buy’. Filters and alerts are becoming increasingly advanced helping identify data points like job changes, social posts and hiring patterns to identify engagement opportunities early on in the journey.
- Engaging at the exact right point of the journey is key. B2B buyers trust:
- independent white papers (64.6%),
- Trials and demonstrations (42.2%)
- and analyst reports (37.8%).
Another source says 25% of B2B CXOs are searching on the internet, while 20% are calling their peers and 20% are calling an industry analyst.
And when it comes to which “social network” to choose, Generation X rank Facebook higher than any other social media (64.7%).
That said, LinkedIn is 277% more effective for lead generation than Facebook or Twitter.
And it’s now a prerequisite to be mobile-optimised given it’s a key customer touch point for most B2B audiences, with 88% of Australians owning a smartphone.
2 Stay on message
Generation X-ers are skeptics. As Karen Ritchie, author of Marketing to Generation X, said, “We created a whole generation that believes advertising is lies and hype.” They’ll identify thinly-veiled brand messages in an instant and will be quick to move on.
B2B buyers are also a notoriously a hard-to-please crowd; in one survey, only 9% named contented from vendors as highly trusted. They are looking for a combination of breadth and in-depth information, ease of access, understanding and readability, and originality of thinking and ideas.
Instead, they feel they are receiving blatant promotion, uninformed content and too many barriers to download.
How do you stay on-message? Start with a messaging framework. Your company’s messaging framework underpins “What to say” (vs your your content strategy which defines “When to say it”).
From employee social media profiles on LinkedIn and Twitter, to blog posts, videos and status posts on social networks, this framework should set out clear guidelines about what to say and what not to say. Without it, it’s like exploring without a map, and it’s amazing how many marketers don’t have one in place for their organisations.
Create content that is relevant to your audience, focuses on topics that matter to them and solves their pain point, then you’ll have a much greater chance of getting cut-through.
3 Get your content balance right
Your content should be well balanced to serve and help your audience advance through each stage of the funnel. There are three types of content – top, middle and bottom of funnel content – and each serves a difference purpose for a different stage of the buyer journey. For example: