January 14, 2023

As I am completing my “kinda/sorta sabbatical,” I went through my Sunday blog posts over the last three years thinking that I would resend the one that got the highest open rate.

A “greatest hit” if you will.

Then I recalled the post I wrote, “Open rates are overrated,” which is based on the intelligent ramblings of Ben Settle…and I decided to go the other way…and update and resend a post from July of 2021…which due to a glitch with our email broadcast provider, had a 13% open rate when all other open rates approach 50% or higher.

It had to be a glitch with delivery, right?

It couldn’t have anything to do with the quality of that one blog post, could it?

I guess I’ll find out now. 🙂

There are actually two reasons to repeat it: One because so few of you even received it the first time I sent it (and it is still timely); and for the 13% who actually read it, reading a single text twice is more profitable than reading two different things once.

It’s about the confusion around the “alphabet soup of generations” (Z, Y, X…with The Boomers and The Silent Generation right behind them).

I always get confused…and I also get annoyed with all the stereotypes associated with each one.

Consider this post a sifting and sorting of the generations…and how they apply to your marketing and messaging.

And to help with any confusion or annoyance you might have.

This appeared in my InBox in June of 2021:

Gen Z: The New Entrepreneurs

According to a study by the Center for Generational Kinetics for WP Engine, 62% of Gen Zers—those born between 1996 and 2015 (or so, depending on which definition you use)—have started or intend to start their own businesses. They are optimistic and have a high level of digital literacy, choosing “technology first” as their type of business.

Does an “optimistic” lemonade stand (e.g., one that uses positive and hopeful lemons) …with high level of “digital literacy” (e.g., accepts PayPal AND Venmo for payments) … count as a Gen Z startup?

Not that the “kids” who are part of Gen Z (ages 9 to 26 in 2023) can’t be “entrepreneurial” …but that almost two-thirds of this group “have started or intend to start their own businesses” sounded like a bit of a stretch.

At 26 years old (max) for current Gen Z’ers, doesn’t it feel like we might be jumping the gun a bit?

Certainly for the 9-year-olds.

It’s true that there are many millionaires in their 20’s…but there are many more that go bankrupt multiple times before they get on solid footing.

At least that has been my experience teaching and mentoring this group today.

There’s also the trend of more and more people in ALL generations looking to take control of their careers and lives…and realizing that entrepreneurship is the best way to do that.

After reading about these latest and greatest entrepreneurs, I went to The Google and found this chart to get further clarification on defining the various generations:

The first thing I learned from this is that Millennials are the same as Generation Y…which I’m sure all of you knew but I didn’t…so I learned something from this inquiry.

And the “Silent” generation–often called “The Greatest Generation” (because they saved the world from tyranny by winning WWII…and made it through The Great Depression), reminded me that there has also been a lot of “great” since then…with more diversification as each subsequent generation has emerged.

My observation after finding this chart is that it’s too easy to classify people based on their birthdates…and while it can be instructional, that doesn’t mean that a “defined generation” (people born during a 15–20-year period) is homogenous either.

More importantly for us, what does this have to do with direct marketing?

Like I wrote in, “Your smart phone won’t reverse aging,” which talked specifically about marketing to Gen Y, I concluded with the profound realization that every generation contains humans who buy stuff.

Sometimes I surprise myself how smart I am. 🙂

I spent much of my marketing career targeting a “mature” demographic (55+ would be on the young side, 65+ more the norm, and 75+ not out of the ordinary).

Now I know how to label them—The Silent Generation and The Boomers.

And hardly a week went by during all those years without someone lecturing me about the dangers of having an audience that is “too old.”

Some even went morbid reminding me that my best customers were probably going to die all at once—meaning that we better go after a younger audience or die a painful death ourselves.

However, I always addressed this worry in a different way (and I still do):

“We don’t have to go younger…we just need to be ready for the new 50 and 60-year-olds when they are ready for the kind of information we provide.”

And now that I know Gen Z are the “New Entrepreneurs” we need to be ready for them in new and different ways just as we have been ready for Gen X and Gen Y.

But not necessarily with new content and products (which will still be important); but more in terms of updated content and innovations on previous products…always with an eye towards new delivery systems.

Also: When anyone warns marketers I work with about their vulnerability because they are targeting seniors, I don’t dismiss them…I just remind them that this audience has, in abundance, more of what we all want our potential customers to have:

Time and money.

That goes for today’s Silents and Boomers…and tomorrow’s Gen X, Y and Z.

With the average lifespan of most Americans only getting longer, there are many more “young 75-year-olds” than ever before.

The reports of their death have been greatly exaggerated…and the longevity of these folks going forward will make 75 the new 55.

It already has to a large extent.

But I am also not naïve.

Many seniors are on fixed incomes and many are not as “spunky” as they get older…which could make them less-active buyers.

Not everyone under 50 is super rich either…and many people under 50 are less spunky in terms of their attention spans.

Not to mention the (lack of) attention spans on the horizon with subsequent generations.

Technology comes at a price with all of the opportunities.

Making sure your audience can afford what you are selling needs to be handled in list segmenting at any age; and grabbing their attention is still about great story and copy at any age too.

Despite being loyal to my senior audience (and respecting my elders), my defensiveness led to curiosity (and some research) into the other end of the demographic spectrum, specifically Millennials/Gen Y.

It’s still too soon to begin to attack Gen Z… but I’m watching those lemonade stands very closely.

I became fascinated with “marketing to Millennials” since I knew so little about it.

All I heard were the stereotypes (with the negative interpretations in parenthesis):

  • “They need to know why” (“privileged’)
  • “They want a trophy for everything” (“entitled”)
  • “They want too much accommodation and flexibility” (“lazy”)

With so many people telling me about these stereotypes and at the same time hearing that I was missing the boat by not exploring this market further, I needed more info.

Both of my kids are part of this generation and I define it like this:

“I will never hear from my kids unless I text them.”

E-mail is so 1999.

I learned that, in general, Millennials (which have some similarities to “Generation X”) have less time to be engaged with long copy…and less money to buy stuff too.

Nothing revolutionary there.

And I don’t have to give you any numbers regarding the ownership and use of smartphones by these generations.

It’s no joke that Siri is considered an intimate partner for many.

The best marketers (especially those targeting a younger audience) always focus on how their online promotions and designs will appear on mobile which is legitimate and important.

They will need more advanced mobile displays for sure…but not at the expense of appropriate content.

My direct marketing sensibilities always go to three basic questions:

1)Who is buying?

2) How are they buying?

3) What do we need to know going forward to be as effective as possible with our marketing messages so they continue to buy in the future?”

My kids (and young adults like them) are buying something.

In my case they are mostly using MY credit cards (not really but if they read this, I like to piss them off a little). They ARE still on my cellphone plan, however 🙂

Obviously, technology plays a huge role…but it’s not everything…see the “25/25/25/25 Rule” below.

It might be the case that if marketers are not selling to them through a text message (or something equally short and sweet), good luck getting their attention.

The explosion of SMS marketing and succinct messaging on Facebook, Tik Tok, Instagram, Twitter etc., is now taught as part of the curriculum to new and veteran copywriters today.

But I will go out on a limb and repeat that there are some counter trends we should pay attention to as well.

Multi-channel marketing (i.e., looking at all media, online and offline) and multi-platform selling (i.e., the precise way we communicate with prospects) needs to be looked at more closely going forward…as does the future messaging for this up-and-coming audience.

Simply put, a 30-year-old today will be a 60-year-old thirty years from now.

Trust me. I did the math.

They will have more technological dexterity than the 60-year-olds of today when they get there but I believe they will still have similar needs and emotions (i.e., some things do not change from generation to generation).

All you need to do is read Breakthrough Advertising for proof of that, which was written in 1966 and is 100% relevant today.

I am not anti-technology…but I am in favor of meeting the Millennials (and all future generations) where they will need to be met once they are all buying stuff with their own money.

Dare I say that the “stuff” that we buy now… and “stuff” (maybe in a different form) that our parents and grandparents buy/bought as well…is also “stuff” that 20-year-olds of today will eventually need too.

Believe it or not, every Gen X, Y or Z in their 20’s, 30’s or 40’s today will someday (sooner than they think) need to think about things like estate planning, saving for retirement, life insurance, college funding for their kids…and yes, even their clogged arteries.

And if they look like us when they are 60, which of course they swear they won’t (ha!), many will also be pre-diabetic and facing all of the aches and pains of aging.

But of course, gluten-free. 🙂

Also (believe it or not), their mortality rate will be 100% just like every generation who came before them.

A smart phone does not reverse the aging process.

Simply put, financial and health issues are only two universal subject areas that will have as much relevance in the future as they do today. There are many more.

The challenge for us as marketers will be to deliver similar information in a form that they are most comfortable receiving it.

It could be on the I-Phone of 2045…but I would suggest that we should keep an open mind on format and design…and still focus on the message and the content being the most compelling (and relevant) we can deliver (i.e., make content your highest priority).

And AI will be part of the mix as well. It already is.

I am diving deep into this overly trendy yet groundbreaking topic…getting the best-of-the-best experts on the topic to speak to my Titans Xcelerator and Titans Mastermind members.

The words and the information will still need to make our audience vibrate through personalization and relevance, bot or no bot.

But I’ve met some Bots recently who I have been very impressed with. 🙂

Also: The words and the information must be useful, practical, and applicable and in language that is understandable by everyone in the cohort.

How we deliver information in the most powerful way to generations that are totally distracted is the ongoing adventure and inquiry.

A very successful entrepreneur and marketer I know shared with me a key insight after studying Millennials as a marketing target.

He changed his focus to be more about design over copy so his company is prepared for this generation going forward.

I think that’s smart…but it is not a panacea. It’s one of many things we need to do.

Another respected marketer who has a younger audience went even further by moving from 70% of his creative staff being copywriters and 30% being designers to the other way around—also forward thinking but I hope this drastic shift doesn’t compromise the quality of the creative and copy.

When today’s Millennials come looking for the same, critically important information their parents needed when THEY reached 50 or 60, it will need to be packaged differently (“design”) …but it is still critical information they need…and it will NOT be delivered on just “one thing” or “one format” or “one smart phone” or “one funnel.”

In addition, every channel will also create diversification when you figure it out with your audience.

We all cringe way too often these days as lazy marketers go for the quick buck and replace proper list selection, well-crafted offers and innovative messaging with technological wizardry.

Or maybe you prefer that kind of marketing…to each his own.

To that point, I read an article from someone who even went so far as to say that the “40/40/20 rule” (redefined as the “41/39/20 rule” in Chapter 4 of Overdeliver) is now a “25/25/25/25 rule.”

That is, instead of the success of any direct response marketing campaign, online or offline, depending 41% on the quality and relevance of the list/media, 39% on the offer being made to that list, and 20% on creative/copy (initially), this marketer said those three things were 25% each to make room for “25% technology.”

I don’t want to diminish the importance of technology in this equation (since it’s also critical for Gen Z’ers as they become “The New Entrepreneurs”), but I will quote advertising pioneer Bill Bernbach here (as I did in both of my books):

“Adapt your techniques to an idea, not an idea to your techniques.”

I know I probably sound like a Luddite (and a broken record) but my gut tells me it’s still all about the right message going to the right audience with the right offer.

And that applies to every generation, from The Silent (Greatest) to Gen Z (who will also be another version of The Greatest).



P.S. Rather than write a long P.S., here’s a short one:

Titans Xcelerator registration is open until Saturday January 21stat midnight U.S. pacific time, 3:00 a.m. U.S. eastern time (in honor of me returning from my sabbatical)…not to be reopened in the future with the current offer, my most generous ever.

I am ready to deliver the best virtual and affordable mastermind in 2023 (as I have since 2019).

You won’t find a better mastermind at ten times the price.

And…in addition to the “catch-up bonuses” listed on the offer page, you can pick two additional speakers who have spoken at Titans Xcelerator previously from the list that follows below.

The list only makes this look like a long P.S. 🙂

Please join us.

Here is the link.

And here is the list of speakers since the beginning with their topic…choose any two as additional bonuses (and simply email me with your choices after you sign up for Titans Xcelerator here):

  • Ben Settle and Doberman Dan Gallapoo (offline paid newsletters and email marketing)
  • Perry Marshall (everything marketing)
  • Chad Collins (SMS and text marketing)
  • Kim Krause Schwalm  (copywriting tips from an A-List copywriter)
  • David Deutsch (thinking inside the box from another A-List copywriter)
  • Susan Berkley (voice coaching for webinars, radio, podcasting…anywhere)
  • Nicholas Kusmich (Facebook advertising from one of best teachers and implementers)
  • Kevin Rogers (copywriting coaching…and ultimate hooks)
  • Joel Erway (webinar marketing)
  • Jay Abraham (everything marketing, hot seats, and preeminence)
  • Parris Lampropoulos (lessons learned from turning around a company)
  • Richard Rossi (creating events for 10,000 students and parents at a time…using direct mail)
  • Marcella Allison and Laura Gale (anatomy of writing a book)
  • Bari Baumgardner and Blue Melnick (live events to virtual events to hybrid events…and where we go next)
  • Carline Anglade-Cole (copy secrets from another A-Lister)
  • Mike Capuzzi (creating short books— “Shooks”– for fun and profit)
  • Ryan Lee (the continuity king)
  • Joshua Lee (the LinkedIn king)
  • Alex Charfin (the entrepreneur mindset)
  • Charles Byrd (affiliate and JV marketing from an expert in both)
  • Lee Richter (women in marketing…mentoring…and building businesses)
  • Shelley Brander (making your niche and passion a multi-million-dollar business)
  • Ryan Levesque (the “Ask” man…and Quiz funnels…from one of the best marketers anywhere)
  • Pat Corpora (company turnarounds…three different times)
  • Randy Long (positioning your company for sale)
  • Harlan Kilstein (Facebook Groups from a savant)
  • Justin Goff (writing copy for cold traffic)
  • Victoria Labalme (risking forward)
  • David Phelps (evolution of a niche of a niche of a niche…creating millions of dollars through hundreds of followers)
  • Troy Ericson (email deliverability)
  • Robert Skrob (the retention expert…for memberships and subscriptions)
  • Matt Wolfe and Joe Fier (podcasting for everyone)
  • Mike Koenigs (your next move…making it work…from a marketer who makes big moves every day)
  • Jeff Meltzer (TV and infomercial marketing)
  • Chris Haddad (the P.I.G. method from the copywriter everyone wants to follow)
  • Adrian Savage (email deliverability…such an important topic)
  • Craig Simpson (direct mail for everyone)
  • Chris Mercer (rethinking measurement: reading and believing your marketing numbers)
  • Rich Schefren (what is working in online marketing right now…through the most epic examples from his “Steal Our Winners” program)
  • Justin Breen (the entrepreneur’s mindset from a serial entrepreneur…and how he built two global companies in the “Zoom era”)
  • Ari Galper (“Trust Based Selling” …with a one call sale)
  • Jason Korman (creating an office and culture that people will thrive in and never want to leave)
  • Maxwell Finn (how to make your advertising on Tik Tok work)
  • Jason Fladlian  (the ultimate debrief on a $57 million launch…a 2 hour master class)
  • Alex Schlinsky (the paradox of selling with depth…and shortcuts)
  • Jason Swenk (building an agency the right way)
  • Annie Hyman Pratt (building a company “people first” based on her bestselling book, The People Part)
  • Matthew Dicks (storytelling and marketing…based on his book, Storyworthy)
  • Dan Kennedy (“greatest hits” of No B.S. Marketing…live with the guru himself)
  • Rita Shankewitz and Michelle Cohen (offline marketing and media that still works…from their over four decades working at Boardroom Inc.)
  • David Garfinkel (making your prospect read every word you write…from one of the country’s top copywriting coaches)
  • Chris Evans: (from success to failure and back to success from a marketer with conviction)
  • Tracy Childers and Micah Mitchell (membership/subscription models that work…from two guys who built successful programs for hundreds of clients)
  • Mandi Ellefson (being a “Hands Off CEO” …and the size of your company doesn’t matter)
  • Joe Polish (what’s in it for them based on his new book by that title…he spent 2.5 hours with us…sharing his career as the ultimate “connector”)
  • Lori Haller (why design matters…in both marketing and customer service and fulfillment because all of those things are marketing functions…from one of the best designers in the world)

About the author 

Brian Kurtz

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

Title Goes Here

Get this Free E-Book

Use this bottom section to nudge your visitors.