Sue Dobbe, owner of Dobbe Marketing in Crystal Lake

Marketing Strategies: Craft Your Message to Fit Your Audience

Is your marketing message truly reaching your audience, or are you firing in the dark? Susan Dobbe-Leahy, of Dobbe Marketing, shows why demographics will impact your next campaign.

Sue Dobbe, owner of Dobbe Marketing in Crystal Lake
Sue Dobbe, owner of Dobbe Marketing in Crystal Lake

Making noise is easy. Making noise that reaches your audience with the desired result – that takes more effort. Marketers seek to reduce clutter and chaos with concise, targeted messages that pique the curiosity of potential customers. The listener must be motivated into action.

Recently, one of my clients built a campaign that encouraged middle and high school students to add a crisis text line into their smartphones’ address books. The client, McHenry County Community Foundation, has funded a 24-hour anonymous crisis hotline targeted to students via text.

During initial planning, we considered radio, print, billboard and other regional media advertising. Posters were placed on bulletin boards around the community and press coverage was great. However, activity on the text crisis line was slower than expected.

Logic dictated that we ask the students what would motivate them to take action. Two marketing classes at Prairie Ridge High School, in Crystal Lake, provided focus group input that was extremely valuable. Their solutions included social media, like Twitter and Instagram; teacher recommendations; prom king and queen endorsements; scary scenarios to grab attention; rewards that young people value; freshman orientation announcements and peer encouragement.

The surprising find? “We don’t use radio, print and billboards as influencers,” the students said.
Are your marketing efforts thwarted by your sending the right noise in the wrong way?

Sending a message to your audience should include careful attention to how the message is constructed and delivered. Understanding your recipient’s point of view, education, experience and buying behaviors can help you craft a message that will not only be delivered but received.

The habits of your audience must be identified. One method relied upon by smart marketers is demographics. Detailing the age of your audience can help you prepare your communication to address the actions and intelligence they most often use to decide on a purchase.

The following provides a few key details by division of age and some of the characteristics emphasized in the buying process for each. As you develop your marketing strategy, consider whether you’ve prepared your pitch properly.

Matures: Born Before 1946
• 16 million served in the armed forces
• Highest net household income of all groups
• Loyal to brands. Won’t change unless there’s a problem.
• In the sales process: Matures seek quality, low-tech pitches with paper and face-to-face contact, plus facts about the product/service and recognized testimonials.

Boomers: Born 1946-1964
• Sandwiched between their children and their aging parents
• Need control of their world
• Seeking products to save time and gain control
• In the sales process: Boomers want proof and are drawn to youth. They prefer face-to-face contact and solutions to problems.

GenX: Born 1965-1980
• They’re advancing into leadership and careers
• Most likely age group to shop and bank online
• They’re somewhat suspicious of being sold.
• They do online research on products and services.
• Might say, “Don’t sell me; allow me to buy”
• In the sales process: Strong web presence is required if you want them to select your product/service.

Millennials: Born 1981-1997
• Sleep with their smartphone nearby. On average, they’ll check smartphones 45 times per day and text 3,000 times per month.
• They seek instant gratification.
• Social media is very important in their lives.
• They’re suspicious of being sold.
• Seeking socially and environmentally responsible products.

Generation Z: Born 1995-2012
•Expect a strong reliance on devices for information, resources, references, payment, etc.

Each person has his or her own perspective built upon experience, education, habits and need. Your message is most effective if you speak the proper language to your audience. Take the time to be sure you are telling your customer the message they need to hear in order to do business with you.

Susan Dobbe-Leahy is president of Dobbe Marketing & PR Inc. Founded in 1989, this brand strategy agency leads businesses, organizations and municipalities to build brand image awareness and communication.