By Joe Pulizzi published September 22, 2012

5 Content Marketing Tips for Targeting Generation Y

While speaking this week at Mechanical Systems Week (the largest show dedicated to HVAC and plumbing contractors), I was able to see Jason Ryan Dorsey, famed “Gen Y Guy” and author of the book, My Reality Check Bounced, present on how contractors can bridge the generation gap.

What was most telling about Dorsey’s presentation was the different ways each generation communicates. According to Dorsey, right now is the first time in history that four generations are working side by side in the workforce. Not only does this present a challenge for both managers and employees, but for content marketers, as well. Yes, that means we need to create content for FOUR different generations.

What defines a generation?

Simply put, a generation is made up of people who were born around the same time period in the same general location. When creating and distributing content to each of these groups, content marketers must understand channel preference BEFORE deciding how to publish your content marketing.

The four generations

Dorsey reviewed each generation in detail and included an overriding mantra for each group.

Generation Y (born 1977 – 1995)

Mantra: This group has grown up with the feeling of entitlement. Dorsey detailed how entitlement is a totally learned behavior, brought upon by Baby-Boomer parents. This has created, in many Gen Y males and females, the idea of delayed adulthood. In Dorsey’s own data, when Gen Y’ers were asked at what age they truly enter adulthood, the average answer was 30.

Generation X (born 1965 – 1976)

Mantra: This group is naturally skeptical. Its members believe that actions speak louder than words. Gen X is also the most loyal generation, not to brands or organizations, but to individuals.

Baby Boomers (born 1946 – 1964)

Mantra: Baby Boomers judge success by work ethic. How hard do you work? How many hours do you work in a week? First in the office, last out of the office (FILO). Baby Boomers believe there are no shortcuts to success.

Traditionalists (born before 1946)

Mantra: Extremely strong military connection. Traditionalists are and have always been comfortable with delayed gratification.

So, if your brand needs to target 18- to 35-year-old males and females (which includes most of us), what do we need to keep in mind?

  • Gen Ys most preferred way to communicate is through texts. The next preferred method is email.
  • Email behavior shows they only read the subject line.
  • To Gen Y, phone calls are an invasion of privacy.
  • Gen Y is desperately lacking face-to-face conversations.
  • Gen Y connects most with the oldest generation, traditionalists.
  • Gen Y connects least with Generation X.

Content marketing tips for Generation Y

  • Provide stories in visual form. Gen Ys are completely visual learners, so videos, infographics and pictures in your storytelling are a must.
  • Since Gen Y connects with traditionalists, it may make sense to include traditionalist content creators in your planning?
  • Invest in the best resources for email subject-line writing.
  • Calls to action should never include a phone number or having to call someone (real friends text, they don’t call).
  • Provide opportunities for Gen Y’ers to meet face to face in comfortable situations.

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Author: Joe Pulizzi

Joe Pulizzi is the Founder of Content Marketing Institute, a UBM company, the leading education and training organization for content marketing, which includes the largest in-person content marketing event in the world, Content Marketing World. Joe is the winner of the 2014 John Caldwell Lifetime Achievement Award from the Content Council. Joe’s the author of five books, including his latest, Killing Marketing. His third book, Epic Content Marketing was named one of “Five Must Read Business Books of 2013” by Fortune Magazine. If you ever see Joe in person, he’ll be wearing orange. Follow him on Twitter @JoePulizzi.

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