In previous times, purchasing power was concentrated inside a narrow range of years: most commercial behavior took place inside a 40 year time span, starting as one graduated from high school and coming to a halt upon retirement. Under these conditions, a one-size-fits-all, mass market visibility plan worked pretty effectively.
Those days are long gone. Consumers today may be a member of one of at least 4 generations, starting with the pre-pubescent teenagers and extending up to the baby boomers. Businesses are targeting themselves to 6 year olds and 76 year olds; obviously each one will require a different approach. Here is a look into each of the 4 groups and what you have to know to appropriately position yourself:
The youngest participants in the market, the Millenials were born after the year 1977. Skeptical and amazingly media savvy, this group takes almost nothing on faith. You must prove yourself to them--and quick. More than any additional generation, this group expects an environment of verifiable, instant information.
Millenials respond well to focused, short presentations, short on sales fluff and heavy on benefits. Seminars, educational presentations, as well as speakers who provide real value are going to draw in Millenials.
Brand loyalty, at the same time, is nearly unheard of amongst Millenials. If you have a desire to develop a long-lasting relationship, it'll be one in which you constantly must bring your 'A' game to the table. Repeatedly proving yourself as the leading option for any given transaction will be key to winning this group's approval.
Generation Xers were born from 1965 to 1976. This generation was disappointed by public figures, media stars, and personal heros, and thus, learned to rely upon nobody but themselves. They'll expect to work hard for what they own--and they'll expect you to work just as hard for them.
You should expect to spend more time creating relationships with Generation Xers. You are encountering a mindset which, at first, distrusts the majority of things, yet is willing to work with you in order to reach a mutually agreeable point.
A personal connection is critical to this group. They enjoy being recognized as individuals, and will put a lot of emphasis on forming connections with peers and colleagues. It's where your individual staffers must shine: if you do not 'click' with the Generation Xer, you'll lose a sale.
What has not already been said about Baby Boomers? The self-obsessed generation examined itself ad infinitum, and declared itself, in the end, to be pretty darn good. Self-motivated and idealistic, Boomers possess a strong passion for individual advancement and career.
Appeal to Baby Boomers with benefits-focused presentations framing the material in terms of how it'll improve individual lives. This group likes to see things in context--where do your services and products fit into the bigger picture? Present the Baby Boomer with the answer to this question, and you will carry the day.
This group slowly is vanishing from the marketplace. Most entered retirement, or seriously are contemplating doing so. Traditionals, born before the end of World War II, value the success of a team over an individual. They're hard working and self-sacrificing, and respond well to authoritarian figures explaining "The Ideal Solution" or "The Best Way" to any challenge.
Another generation has an absolute presence in the marketplace, though you are unlikely to witness them wondering around the aisles, just yet. They are too busy playing in recess and studying for 4th grade tests.
It's the exploding 'Tween' marketplace. This group is loosely defined as the years from 8 to 12, and they command spending power. If you are marketing your services/products to attendees who serve this marketplace, it'd be wise to familiarize yourself with this ever-changing, dynamic category. Remember that while they have a good amount of disposable income, at the completion of a day it is their parent's money that is paying for their purchases. Close contact to your consumers and by extension, their consumers, is going to assist you in walking the fine line which ultimately can lead to profitability.
The broad array of viewpoints and ages in today's market is unlike anything ever experienced. Savvy exhibitors will familiarize themselves with the generations who are most interested in their services and products and do everything they can to appropriately present themselves.