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Zap the Generation Gap

February 11 2011

reachingout200pxStatistics tell us there are four generations in today's marketplace that are actively buying and selling properties. This generational dynamic requires sales professionals to become more aware of age preferences and core values as we strive to bridge communication gaps and improve our services.

Our newest challenge is to meet this variance in demands by addressing each group's respective communication and service preferences using both traditional and electronic channels.

Using Technology

According to Harvard Business Review of May 2010, Millenials (the youngest segment of our generation) are emerging as a significant section of our workforce and consumer segment.

In order to connect with this large buying segment, using electronic communication and web services will be crucial to engage today's faceted consumer, but using the channel of their own preferences to connect.

According to studies by Futures Consulting, the four generations representing these age groups are:

  1. Civic: 62+
  2. Boomer: 43-61
  3. GenXer: 31-42
  4. GenY/Millenial: 13-30

In order to engage with each group, we must deliver their brand of better service, using the technology channels they prefer to insure connection and ultimately conversion.

Servicing These Consumers

Starting with the oldest group, Civic consumers have always demanded respect, especially from younger service providers. To create a superior real estate experience that resonates with Civic consumers, we must infuse respect; from the language we use, to our style of dress, how we communicate with them and every aspect in between.

Agents who master the "respect factor" with Civics stand to gain significant competitive advantage. For this group, personal communication is often preferred, and technology plays a lesser role in meeting their service requirements.

Baby Boomers value a "winnable" experience; to overcome obstacles and feel as though they conquered and won. Agents who can promise and deliver a victory, like finding the property of their dreams and the best financing demonstrate they "speak their language." This approach helps support and develop long-lasting, profitable relationships with Boomers.

The youngest two generations of consumers (Gen X/Y) dominate the first-time buyer market. There are several factors that are important for agents to demonstrate, primarily that they "speak Gen X and Gen Y."

Studies show that with Xers, agents must demonstrate to these consumers the "Home Depot" approach, telling these consumers at every turn, "Yes, you can do this, but we can help." They have no interest in being told what to do, but will engage when asked to participate.

Texting and social media channels have eclipsed email as their preferred communication tool, with technology being tremendously important means of communication to both groups.

If you want to play with these young consumers, agents must use high tech platforms, interactive blogs, intranet portals and tech tools to facilitate the transaction. Speaking "high tech" is often a pass for admission to connect with this age segment.


Here are a few examples that will help communicate with these generational groups:


  1. For younger generations, look for communication models that deliver information 24/7. Employ platforms like QR Codes (Quick Response), and text number riders on signs to offer immediate information and connection for this crowd. Don't overlook the use of traditional brochure boxes as an alternate, but make the boxes work for you by including electronic options on the paperwork for additional resource information. Consider using multiple options for multiple age groups.
  2. Engage and participate online using blog posts and social media channels to position yourself as a resource, especially if you specialize in a given service vertical. Specialization enhances interest, like short sales, first-time buyers, retirement communities, and government financing, just to name a few. You are more likely to get higher response results with specificity. Post tips that offer valuable insight into the buying and selling process without selling to gain trust and create community.
  3. Video is a terrific way to demonstrate expertise. Develop a weekly videozine to answer the most often asked questions from your prospects. Video has never been easier with the latest digital video cameras and easy uploads to Facebook and YouTube. Be sure your audio quality is good, and your content relevant. (Kodak PlayTouch Video Camera has easy uploads to social media channels)
  4. Respond to all inquiries using the means that best suits their needs. Once you are using various platforms to communicate, it is important to respond to all comments in a quick time frame.

Think "strategic communications" to target and focus on the specific generational styles. Take advantage of the technological tools, programs and systems available and you will appeal to all age groups wanting to buy and sell properties....everybody wins!

See more results when you recognize and respond to these specific needs and wants of any prospective customer, to guarantee profitable results.

For a short video on generational dynamics, please click here.

Terri Murphy is President of Terri Murphy Communications, Inc., and is a communication and e-marketing specialist and social media consultant.