5 generational marketing tips


July 13, 2018

Generations of people

PHOTO: iStock/skynesher

Social media content. Blogs. Enewsletters. Testimonials. Sales collateral. Directory listings. Ad campaigns.

These all are key components of a successful marketing program and ways businesses look to grab the attention of current and prospective customers. But the what, why and to whom are equally important to ensure your tactics are resonating with target audiences.

For the first time in history, pest control companies are servicing four generations of consumers — the Matures (1925-1945), Baby Boomers (1946-1964), Gen-Xers (1965-1980) and Millennials (1981-1996) — all of which have different interests and communication methods. And, speaking in general terms (there will always be outliers), they all have their own preferences when it comes to communicating and interacting with brands and service providers. A 65-year-old man who prefers to get his news through an enewsletter or newspaper typically is not going to be as receptive to a tweet with pest-proofing tips as his 25-year-old grandson might be. Meanwhile, his 76-year-old sister is much more comfortable checking her actual mailbox than her email inbox.

It’s important to intimately understand your target audience and make sure marketing plans are strategic and speak to each audience appropriately. The Professional Pest Management Alliance (PPMA), the consumer outreach and education arm of the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), recently partnered with a third-party research firm to learn more about the similarities and differences across generational audiences, relating to professional pest control needs and perceptions. Here are some key findings from this new research along with various marketing tips for engaging with all audiences:

1.  Focus online. All generations are consuming and sharing information online at some level — actively seeking out company websites, reading online reviews and engaging on social media. Younger generations put more emphasis on social media, asking for recommendations via Facebook and vetting a company’s page in their search for a service. Baby Boomers are a little more leery of social media and say it is untrustworthy. Matures are more likely to ask a younger person to do the online legwork on their behalf. But no matter how you slice it, in this digital day and age, it is critical for companies to engage with customers online. Where do you begin? Start with updating your company website with timely and helpful content, and embrace social media. According to PPMA’s research, Facebook was the top social media site for searching for company reviews. Haven’t joined the Facebook world yet? Consider the following:

⦁ Create a page where you can post engaging content like pest control tips, interesting pest facts, visuals and video that will be valuable to current and prospective customers.

⦁ On that page, launch a Facebook poll tied to a timely topic that may resonate with Baby Boomers who enjoy interactive elements. Or post about mosquitoes and Zika virus, which is a key concern of Millennials when it comes to pests and public health.

2. Brag a little. Our research found that Millennial, Gen-X and Boomer generations agree that pest management professionals (PMPs) save them time, energy and money, and are typically called in for tasks deemed unfamiliar or especially concerning. Market that! Focus on the convenience and time-saving aspects of hiring a pro in advertising messages, website content, and more. Social Media Today reported that Gen-Xers have the second-largest disposable incomes — after Baby Boomers — and are at a stage in their lives where luxury and comfort take precedence. Take advantage of this by reminding your customers that your company is here to handle their pest problems so they can focus on the things that matter most to them, instead of relying on do-it-yourself methods that can cost more time, money and angst in the long run.

PPMA research chart

PPMA’s research looked at 14 pest categories and their likelihood to prompt a call to a PMP. CHART: PPMA

3. Remember the basics. While social media and new digital applications are important, don’t let tried-and-true marketing initiatives fall by the wayside. E-blasts, brochures, newsletters, direct-mail pieces and print newspaper ads complement new online initiatives for an impactful marketing mix. Baby Boomers, for the most part, will welcome traditional marketing tactics, which to them appear more trustworthy. If your company is a PPMA investor, don’t forget to check out the ready-made marketing content on PPMAMainframe.org  that can be downloaded and utilized for future efforts.

4. Keep it timely. PPMA’s research found that ants, mosquitoes and spiders are of top concern among all audiences; however, the first sighting of a termite, bed bug or cockroach also will make the phone ring. Strategically time your marketing efforts around these specific pests when they are most prevalent in your region. Communicate with homeowners and business owners, through social media and media relations, how they can work with pros to prevent pest infestations. Feel free to join PPMA in a consumer marketing push tied to Bed Bug Awareness Week (June), Rodent Awareness Week (October), Termite Awareness Week (March) and National Pest Management Month (April).

5. Give yourself a gut check. All generations are united in looking for experienced, trustworthy professionals who provide a work guarantee, which PPMA’s research found is commonly communicated through positive online reviews or personal recommendations. If you stand by your work or have a guarantee, make sure people know about it. It’s also important to stay in tune with your company’s online review rating on sites like Angie’s List and Yelp to make note of strengths and areas of improvement. Be sure to communicate your findings internally, so they are top-of-mind when technicians enter homes. Check in with customers regularly and encourage them to leave completed reviews once services are wrapped up, as the quantity of positive reviews can be just as important as the quality of the feedback. Also, keep an eye on Facebook reviews, which are becoming increasingly popular and are one of the top places consumers look when conducting their online research. There is so much opportunity when it comes to marketing across multiple generations. Create a checklist of areas your company can enhance or improve to engage with Millennials, Gen-Xers and Baby Boomers in meaningful ways. Checking things off that list sure will feel rewarding and hopefully will result in a great return on investment.

Survey Methodology

PPMA commissioned MARC, a third-party market research firm, to conduct a survey across Millennial, Gen-X and Baby Boomer generations, with the goal of understanding similarities and differences related to pest control needs and perceptions. The research was conducted in September 2017 and consisted of two parts: qualitative and quantitative. The qualitative portion included 45 in-depth interviews (IDIs) via webcam with a moderator, which were split evenly across the three generational groups. These were conducted nationally among pest control users. The quantitative portion consisted of more than 1,200 online surveys and interviews that met PPMA’s key criteria of homeowners between the ages of 26 and 75, with a household income of $60,000 or higher. The respondents identified themselves as the decision-makers of the home, and personally used professional pest control services within the past five years or would be likely to use professional services in the future. To purchase the full research study, contact Cindy Mannes at cmannes@pestworld.org.

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