Generational Context Is Key When Marketing For Places

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Whether you’re marketing liquor, toothpaste or a vacation destination, the strategies and tactics employed to persuade are undoubtedly different. Specific messaging is used in each case to influence intended targets, whether that’s a 40-year-old male who has an affinity for scotch, a young mother of three looking for a toothpaste her kids won’t refuse or a retired couple who have expendable income and are seeking a tropical refuge for a few weeks out of the year.

The ways in which any firm or agency goes about marketing to these groups looks, feels and sounds different. And it’s nearly the same recipe when talking about places. How we market communities and destinations depend on our target audiences or those defined groups of people we’re trying to convince, sway or effect.

Most people know it’s a marketing death sentence to use the same marketing methodologies across all targets. Think about it: Do you consume marketing and advertising the same way your mom does? Your boss? Your kids? The grocery store checkout attendant? The Blue Apron delivery driver? Even though you may interact with all of these people on a daily basis, their habits, likes, dislikes and behaviors are vastly different. The way marketers speak to and connect with people has to be customized, tailored and authentic.

Generational Context For Place Marketing

When we promote places, our No. 1 priority is defining the “why.” Why would I visit, relocate my company or purchase this product? Leadership expert Simon Sinek calls this The Golden Circle. Sinek believes that humans, at our core, are most motivated by knowing why we do things. If we understand our why, then we can increase our overall impact.

And while this is undoubtedly the most important question to ask, we can’t uncover all of the why without (almost) simultaneously defining the "who." Who are we trying to reach? Who are we trying to target? Who are we trying to influence? When issuing any kind of communication, generational context is crucial — it further defines the who.

Kim Lear of Inlay Insights, a group dedicated to identifying emerging cultural trends that impact the way we work, buy and live, says honoring generational uniqueness is key. Lear told me, “Each generation typically has hot buttons that can prevent a message from getting through. For example, highly aspirational messaging usually turns off Gen Xers. They tend to be more receptive to objective communication. Understanding these generational hot buttons can give the communicator a competitive edge in the marketplace.”

Practice Makes Perfect

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