In the last column (POB, July 2016, pg. 32), I talked about some of the basic marketing principles. Most of these have not changed. Client contact, delivering the job on time and on budget, and having the best technology will always be important. But times are changing.
Recently, my son-in-law gave his eight-year-old son his old iPhone when he purchased a new phone. My first thought was, “Has he lost his mind?” Then I get a text message from my grandson. “Hello grandpa. How are you today? I am texting you from my new phone.”
I had to stop and reflect on what this all means. An eight year old that can write and spell and text; not bad when I think what I could do at that age. Whether I approve or not, this is the future and we better understand how we are going to have to deal with these people.
To Whom Are We Selling Our Services?
Before we explore this question, we need to look at the different age groups and what is important to each. The following are the generally accepted age groups:
Silent Generation (1928-1946)
Today, this makes up a smaller and smaller part of our client base. Most are retired and out of the business world. If you were to sum up this group in a few words it would be, “Our word is our bond.” These were my clients for many years.
This currently is a very important group and many are our current clients. Baby boomers are associated with the rejection or redefinition of traditional values. Currently between the ages of 52 and 70, boomers are the wealthiest, most active and most physically fit. They are currently the voice of business and many are your clients. They think of themselves as a special generation.
Generation X (1965-1981)
Gen X is the smallest group, kind of a between group. Ages 35-51, they have the most debt and feel the pressure of student loans, house payments, car loans and other obligations put on them by other generations. They are required to care for their own families, but, in many cases, also care for aging parents. They are pessimistic about their future and feel they will have to share more financial burden than their parents. Retirement for most will be a 401K and many expect to work longer. They envision retirement to be more flexible, fulfilling and rewarding, with more social purpose. As this group moves into more important jobs, they will become more of your clients. Gone will be the country clubs and golf with more interest in social issues and the long-term effect of man on his environment. They are also the first that technology plays a major role in their lives.
Millennials/Gen Y (1981-1998)
This is a market segment that most of you are not dealing with yet. But get ready, they are coming. Currently ages 18-35. American sociologist Kathleen Shaputis labeled millennials as the boomerang generation or Peter Pan generation for delaying some rites of passage into adulthood such as getting a driver’s license or leaving their parents’ home. They tend to put off later in life such things as getting married or buying property or vehicles. They have also been called “generation me.” As you can tell, this is going to be a very different generation to deal with when marketing and selling services. As you might expect, if it can’t be done on a computer it doesn’t need to be done. A down side is, they know very little about things such as the land system, land ownership or engineering services. Part of your marketing strategy should be to help educate them. Of course this will have to be in a computer-related environment. Multitasking is an everyday occurrence in their lives.
Post Millennial/Gen Z (1998-2016)
Not everyone agrees on what this generation will be called, but they will just be very different. First thing, they don’t know any of the old ways that made some of us who we are. It will take new thinking to address marketing to this age group. It is something we don’t have to worry about for a while. I have two grandsons and two granddaughters that fall into this group.
How Is Marketing Going To Change?
What a blessing. Websites amount to free marketing on the Internet, where most millennials spend a great part of their time. Most, if not all, companies have a website. I almost hate to have to say this, but most are boring and have not been updated recently. I know of no website that pops like it could, or that would draw clients back to see what happens next. I firmly believe that every website should have video links with stories and episodes that would draw people back. A new post like the snake of the week, or some environmental issue like a great tree found, or birds and wildlife encountered. Tips on getting your property surveyed, or a link to YouTube of surveyors in action.
I have been talking to many surveyors around the country and most are busy. This is the time to invest in marketing. Most wait until they are out of work and broke. Then it’s too late.
Other Social Media
A while back I attended a marketing workshop on social media geared toward surveying and engineering. The instructor, who was great and very knowledgeable in social media, knew nothing about surveying or engineering. First thing he asked was if anyone had a business Facebook page. If you are not aware, there is a difference. A millennial surveyor said he did and pulled it up on his iPad. The instructor crafted a post that went something like this: “Does anyone living within 50 miles of this city want to know more about having your property surveyed, need to ask questions about surveying or need a survey?” We forgot about the post and finished the workshop. Last thing of the day, the millennial was asked to check his page. We all about fell off our chairs. Three requests for more information on surveying, four that had a question and four that wanted to have their property surveyed. I know just as well as you that these will not all turn out to be jobs, but if one or two did just by posting on business Facebook while we were doing other things, shows the potential of social media.
Other Social Media Tools
There are many other social media tools that we will address at a later date. The important thing to remember is that just as our equipment has undergone changes and will continue to change, so will our client base and how we do business.
- PewResearch Center/ Richard Fry
- Wikipedia, Millennials