Market to both Boomers and Millennials with tailored, generational messages

You’ve probably been hearing a lot lately about how important it is to appeal to Millennial customers. While that’s true (with Millennials expected to represent 40 percent of all car buyers by 2020), continuing to market to their parents and older siblings is going to be just as crucial to your success.

The majority of cars on the road today were purchased by consumers aged 45 to 64. Some may have passed on those cars to their kids, but by and large, they are still likely responsible for servicing those vehicles. And for the immediate future, it seems that Boomers and their slightly younger brethren will continue to dominate the car-buying market. In 2015, nearly half of all new car purchases – 47.6 percent – were made by consumers aged 50 and older.

The truth is, you simply can’t afford to focus your marketing efforts solely on Millennials, when older generations still represent the largest source of your sales. The safest bet instead, is to market to both audiences and to tailor your messages to meet each group’s buying habits.

The first step is to target your audiences, so you can better control which messages they receive. To do that effectively, use advertising channels that allow you to target by age, such as direct mail and social media. The more targeted you can get, the better, because it increases your chance of reaching a receptive audience.

Once you set your targets, you should consider what offers will compel them to take action. Let’s take a direct mail for example. You might send one group of postcards to potential Boomer customers and another to Millennials. The postcard that goes to Boomers will have an offer for a discounted oil change as well as a “save on service” offer, such as $25 off a service of $200 or more. That strategy should prompt the Boomer customer, who typically is well aware of the maintenance needs of their vehicle, to address a problem they may have been delaying.

In contrast, the promotion you send to a Millennial prospect might also include a discounted oil change, but should also include a more seasonal-based offer, such as free A/C or battery check – maintenance items that any consumer might know about, regardless of their automotive knowledge. And yes, even though Millennials are technology-oriented, direct mail is still a great way to capture attention among this group, because they view getting something in the mail as a novelty. In fact, according to the U.S. Postal Service, 47 percent of Millennials look forward to checking their mailbox daily.

That being said, your digital marketing efforts are also key to reaching Millennials and Baby Boomers. Both audiences are using the internet to search for services, so maintaining a user-friendly, mobile-responsive site is still important. For your Millennial viewers, be sure to offer the ability to book appointments online. For Boomers, make sure your address, hours and phone number are listed prominently. Older consumers want to be able to easily call you and find out more about what you offer.

Fostering good reviews is also worth your time, especially when it comes to cultivating Millennial customers. AdWeek reports that 93 percent of Millennials view consumer reviews before making a purchase. In addition to actively monitoring Yelp and Google, the best way to effectively manage your reviews is to use a CRM program that automatically generates and sends an email survey to customers after they visit the shop. Responses that require attention are sent directly to the store manager. That way, you can handle complaints before they become bad reviews.

Last, but not least, train your staff on how to effectively interact with a variety of customers. Boomers are value-driven, so front desk staff should be able to explain why taking care of a repair today will save them money in the future. Millennials, on the other hand, are concerned about safety, so showing them how regular maintenance can help them avoid accidents or future repairs will have the most impact.

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Tim Ross is a marketing veteran and president of Mudlick Mail, a leading provider of direct mail services. Ross has built Mudlick into a $40 million operation that has helped thousands of businesses develop sustainable sales growth.

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