Your Customer Base Is Changing — Are Your Marketing Tactics?

Posted by Michele Nichols on Tue, Apr 12, 2016


For the first time in over 100 years, there are four generations in the workforce. Differences in communication styles among these groups can have real implications for your marketing.


A New Batch of Buyers

The retirement of the Baby Boomers can mean a shift in your target audience—especially in manufacturing, where nearly 40% of the workforce is up for retirement in the next few years. For those companies that carefully target not just the right companies, but the right buyer, it may be time to revisit this core part of your marketing strategy. Download our customer persona worksheet to get started.

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New Expectations for Sales & Marketing

In the optics, photonics, medical device, nanotech and other engineering-driven industries we serve, evolving buying behaviors and communication styles are affecting how we sell to the next generation of engineers. And it’s not just ‘kids these days’—what starts with the Millenials and Gen X-ers can become the norm for us all. The largest growing demographic on Facebook, for example, is 50+.

The following are examples of these changing behaviors, and how they might impact your sales and marketing.


Inbound Marketing

Nearly 60% of the purchase decision is made before your buyer even makes contact with you. Engineers in particular don’t want to be sold—they want to do the research, find a possible solution, connect with you online, and then talk to a salesperson.

Inbound marketing—providing educational content that helps buyers a) find you and b) see your product or service as a credible solution—is increasingly becoming companies’ main source of qualified leads. Research has shown that 68% of consumers feel more positive about a brand after consuming their content, and prospects that are in content-driven lead nurture programs end up making 47% larger purchases than those that aren’t.



Online sales totaled $335 billion in 2015 and are expected to reach $523 billion in the next five years. How does that carry over to B2B businesses with complex, custom solutions? E-commerce has trained your customer to expect a certain level of self-service as well as instant response from your site. Today’s web-savvy customers expect:

  • Multiple ways to engage: Phone, form, chat, text. If someone fills out a form, you have a 90% greater chance of closing the sale if you contact them within the first five minutes.
  • Navigation: Young engineers view the “Home” tab in your website menu as dated and redundant. They have become accustomed to just clicking on a logo to return to the homepage.
  • Search: We no longer browse—we search. More and more of your web traffic will enter your site through pages other than your homepage. Deliberate emphasis on SEO will increase qualified leads. Though most will use Google search, a search widget on your site is a user-friendly addition as well.

Email Marketing

Email is still a highly effective way to reach prospects, achieving a 2x higher ROI than cold calls, trade shows or networking. To improve engagement with your prospective buyers, use automated emails for 1:1 lead follow-up. Deliver relevant content that is tailored to specific personas and stages in the sales funnel.  

When creating these emails, be careful to match your style to the medium. Nurture emails should be more casual and personable than mass emails like your company newsletter. According to HubSpot, lead nurturing emails generate an 8% CTR compared to general email sends, which generate a 3% CTR.


Text Messaging

One recent study gave us pause. Text messages that contain a period (ex: Yes.) were perceived as less sincere than messages without one. Should we give up all punctuation and professionalism? We won’t yet, but we’ll keep a close eye on the emerging research. For now, make sure work texts are friendly and casual—no paragraphs!



Are voicemails a lost art? Perhaps. Studies show that those under age 35 consider voicemails “a lost 30 seconds of their time.” As we’ve all grown accustomed to caller ID, consider how voicemails play a role in your sales cycles.

Sales experts disagree on this topic. HubSpot recommends leaving voicemails for your leads. We’re actively following the trends, but our current recommendation is one-and-done. Leave a voicemail the first time, then try to reach your leads without repeated voicemails.


Are your demographics changing? Want to discuss the best ways to engage your next-generation customer? Contact us.

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Topics: Marketing Mix, Marketing Strategy, Email Marketing