Marketing to everyone, from mid-20s, first-time homebuyers to elderly homeowners moving into retirement can be challenging because each group has varying values, needs and communication styles. Truly understanding each can make your marketing much more meaningful and effective.

Who is your ideal client? If you’re working with a marketing analyst, this is one of the first questions you’ll be asked. However, for real estate agents, this is often one of the most difficult questions to answer. That’s because most real estate agents serve a wide variety of clients throughout their careers.

The magic age range for most marketing tends to be 25-34, but real estate marketing requires a much broader demographic. Indeed, many real estate agents might be working with everyone from mid-20s first-time homebuyers to elderly homeowners moving into retirement.

This presents a challenge because marketing to these various groups must be segmented to improve conversions. That’s why we are bringing you a survey of various demographic groups, along with their key needs and values, communication styles, and effective marketing techniques drawn from scholarly works and real estate professionals across the country.

By differentiating your marketing, or expanding it to encompass more potential clients, you can make it much more meaningful and effective.

 

 

To skip ahead to the generation that interests you most, click on it below:

Photo by Matthew Bennett on Unsplash

Silent generation

Who they are

Born between 1930-1945 these consumers came of age during the Great Depression and World War II.

What they need

Many of these consumers are selling the large home where they raised their family to move to a retirement or assisted living community. This might necessitate updating and staging to properly market their listing, along with significant downsizing on their purchase.

What they value

They are very patriotic and traditional, placing an emphasis on family, peace and security. They do not like change and tend to trust more in the tried-and-true ways of doing things.

How they communicate

You’ll find many of these consumers on Facebook, which they joined to check in with friends and see the grandchildren’s baby pictures. They value the personal touch and will want you to spend time communicating with them by phone or in person to stay informed about their transaction.

Because many of them have bought and sold a few homes over their lifetime, they will feel comfortable and knowledgeable about the general process. They might be more concerned with traditional marketing strategies like open houses and yard signs rather than online and social media marketing.

How to reach them

Many of these clients will depend on personal referrals or recommendations from trusted friends and family members. Networking in church or civic organizations can help you make connections.

If you choose to market through content like blogs or video, you might want to direct it toward children assisting their elderly parents with their real estate needs.

Consider

Getting a Senior Real Estate Specialist (SRES) Designation.

What the experts say

Ophelia

Ophelia “Opey” Angelone

“I work with a lot of senior sellers in our market. With marketing to them, I feel like they still like the handwritten notes or personal phone calls,” said Ophelia Angelone, broker-owner of Action Realty in Sebastian, Florida.

“They love to get trinkets in the mail as well. There are still a good number of the older generation who do not want to get text or emails (flip phones are still a thing).

They want the face-to-face interaction. Angelone said she always asks her clients how they want to be contacted upfront and how often. She also lets them know that if she doesn’t answer her phone to leave a message, and she’ll call them back ASAP.

She finds that some seniors are as savvy with technology as their grandchildren are, and some don’t want anything to do with it.

“We need to respect how they want to be contacted and when. In our ever-changing profession we must adjust to the needs of all of our clients whether they are old, young or in between,” she said.

The best method is to ask early and honor their wishes.

“Follow through is so important. If you say you will do something then do it. No one appreciates being forgotten about, and you may be the only person your seller has close, so don’t be a disappointment,” Angelone said.

 

Photo by Katarzyna Grabowska on Unsplash

Baby boomers

Who they are

Born between 1946-1964, this generation prides itself on individualism and self-expression.

What they need

As many baby boomers enter or begin planning for retirement, they too are selling the family home in the suburbs where they raised their families.

Unlike their parents, however, fewer boomers are downsizing. Instead, they’re moving to large homes with greater convenience, accessibility and more amenities, often in urban areas where they can pursue hobbies and second careers.

What they value

Boomers generally think of themselves as perpetual rule-breakers and paradigm shifters, so they approach retirement the same way. They are focused on wellness, beauty and an active lifestyle.

Many boomers plan to skip retirement in favor of starting a business, being a consultant or becoming an expert in something. Although they can be price sensitive, they are often willing to spend more if they perceive that there is true value in the expenditure.

How they communicate

Marketing should focus on lifestyle. Content tied to the lifestyle available in a particular place or through a particular decision can be very effective.

Because many baby boomers still have elderly parents, they might favor a two-stage retirement plan, with retirement in place for a few years, then an eventual move to a warmer, more resort-like community.

Baby boomers are used to having music and media geared toward their interests and respond well to messaging around how special and unique their generation is.

They have strong connections to music and nostalgia, so content featuring a concert by their favorite band, for example, can be quite effective. In addition, many still feel connected to their alma mater, so content related to college athletics or alumni events can work well for this group.

How to reach them

Baby boomers pride themselves on their grasp of technology and many are quite adept at using online and social media resources. They still favor television and can be reached effectively there. In addition, they enjoy social events and networking, and can respond positively to events like wine tastings or wellness events.

Consider

Earning your Pricing Strategy Advisor (PSA) or Real Estate Negotiation Expert (RENE) designations.

What the experts say

According to authors Kaylene C. Williams and Robert A. Page in “Marketing to the Generations,” Journal of Behavioral Studies in Business:

  • Present information in terms of categories and options. Make your website information-based and easy to navigate and use text rather than images for navigation.
  • “Personal gratification and public recognition are important to this generation, that is, they respond to statements such as ‘You’re important to our success’, ‘Your contribution is unique and important to us’, and ‘We need you,’” the paper reads.
  • Baby boomers respond especially well to word-of-mouth communications from trusted friends and elders. Focus on referrals, recommendations and testimonials.
  • Take time to answer questions thoroughly. Explain how doing business with you provides an advantage. In addition, boomers tend to be price sensitive, so focus on value and cost savings when possible.
  • Baby boomers want more information before making a decision. Keep it positive and emotional. Tell a story.
  • While they respond to green products and services, they are more concerned with how these save them money rather than saving the environment.

 

Photo by Christin Hume on Unsplash

Generation X

Who they are

Born between 1965-1980, this generation is often called the Sandwich Generation because they are a small demographic cohort between two giant groups — baby boomers and millennials

What they need

Saddled by unprecedented levels of student loan debt and having endured the Great Recession during their prime earning years, Gen X is often more value-oriented than other groups. Because they tend to have a higher number of self-employed and entrepreneurial types along with more debt, Gen-X might need more creative strategies for home financing.

In addition, Gen X is still balancing the care of their teenage and college-aged children with the needs of their aging parents. They are more interested in multigenerational living and might be contemplating a larger home with additional living space to house elderly parents or 20-something, college-educated children.

What they value

As the first generation of latchkey children and children of divorce, Gen-X tends to be cautious and wary. They value security but are fairly cynical and untrusting of traditional norms.

They are the first generation to take globalization, multiculturalism and technology for granted. They frequently see the materialism of baby boomers as responsible for the environmental and economic problems they grapple with.

How they communicate

This is the generation that created the dot-com boom, so they are very used to using technology in their daily life. Because they are naturally cautious and untrusting of the advice of their elders, they seek out information online and often trust crowdsourced expertise over that of people they know.

They value honesty and distrust a hard-sell approach. They respond well to humor and irreverence in communications and messaging.

How to reach them

Because they value expertise and problem-solve online, Gen-X responds well to content marketing like blogs, videos and podcasts. Informality and authenticity will always win with this group as long as you know what you’re talking about. Remember, they might have been burned on real estate in the 2008 meltdown so messages that acknowledge their fears and provide reassurance can be especially effective.

Consider

Earning the Graduate Realtor Institute (GRI) or Certified Residential Specialist (CRS).

What the experts say

Dave Nimick

“This is the generation that serves as the touchstone between the non-tech and tech-reliant generations,” said Dave Nimick, broker with Keller Williams Lincoln Park Realty. “They know what a VCR is, have used an actual answering machine and were around before MTV, the internet, email or social media.”

Here are some of Nimick’s thoughts on effectively communicating with them:

  • Many Gen-Xrs are still comfortable with the phone as a form of communication, given their use of an actual phone throughout their lives. For Realtors, calls are likely best for nitty-gritty, detailed subjects that need explanation (like the details of an offer) and that they would probably want to talk through or for reaching out about a client event. Calls are best for “high-touch” activities.
  • As with many different generations, texting is best for anything that just requires a quick answer.
  • Longer form, detailed answers are best done via email.
  • Some Gen-Xrs only use LinkedIn to communicate while others favor Facebook Messenger.
  • Personal notes are also very effective for communicating with this generation. It’s somewhat of a lost art and one that might seem downright foreign and uncomfortable to younger generations. A handwritten note (including written envelope) doesn’t get thrown out, it gets opened — and the recipient knows you took the time to write it.
  • While still relying on the phone, text and email for the majority of communication, Gen-Xrs are the most adept at using the largest number of different communication channels based on their being familiar with most of them.

 

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Millennials

Who they are

Born between 1981-1996, the millennials is the largest demographic group — and thus is frequently blamed by the media for a variety of economic and social paradigm shifts

What they need

In general, millennials often feel frustrated by the media and marketers who present them as a cohort stuck in a state of perpetual adolescence. Hampered by a bad economy upon graduation, many millennials still struggle with the frustration of being overeducated and underemployed.

In addition, stagnant wages have undercut their buying power, causing them to enter the real estate market later. They might need help with financing and down payment assistance.

What they value

Millennials differ significantly from their parents in terms of social and economic values and tend to be much more focused on inclusiveness, multiculturalism, and environmentalism. In addition, they make up much of the military, so might need help with relocation and remote home searches.

How they communicate

Millennials have been somewhat unfairly vilified for having killed a variety of industries, from diamonds to napkins to doorbells. It is important to provide consistent and positive messaging and feedback to millennial clients. They will be more comfortable communicating through email, text or even social media messaging platforms rather than through phone calls or face-to-face communication.

How to reach them

As the first group to grow up completely immersed in constant access to technology, millennials seek out information and confirmation online before making major decisions.

Because of their access to information and a tendency to check people and businesses out online before making that first contact, it is essential that your digital footprint is properly managed. Instagram is currently the favored social media platform and requires an emphasis on both aesthetics and personalization.

Consider

Getting the Military Relocation Professional (MRP), At Home With Diversity (AHWD) and GREEN Designations.

What the experts say

Shawn McAskill

“We’ve had multiple conversations with our clients as well as our internal team in regards to communicating with those of us born in the mid-’80s and later,” said Shawn McAskill, COO and co-founder of boutique marketing agency Keenability in Boca Raton, Florida.

“One of the most important things, in my experience, has been demonstrating to members of these generations that they aren’t perceived as too young, ignorant or naive to be able to make big life decisions — whether that takes the form of choosing health benefits, advocating for themselves professionally or even considering the purchase of a home.”

“Many are afraid of what they don’t know, but when they realize they’re being talked with instead of talked to, they tend to engage fairly quickly,” he said.

 

Photo by Amplitude Magazin on Unsplash

Generation Z

Who they are

Born between 1997-the present, Gen-Z is just beginning to enter the market as renters or first-time homebuyers. Having grown up under the cloud of 9/11, global and domestic terrorism and economic uncertainty, they are considered the new traditionalists.

What they need

Gen-Z is looking for security and has little use for compromise. They will expect high quality, aesthetics, environmental responsibility, location and affordability — it will be up to you to help them focus their search realistically.

Because they value expertise more than personal recommendations, it will be important for you to ensure that they see you as a trusted and experienced adviser.

What they value

Gen-Z values environmental and social responsibility and will welcome marketing that recognizes these concerns. Your website, content and social media should reflect your concern for the community and offer an authentic and relatable image. This is a highly optimistic and irreverent group, and they respond well to positive and fun messaging.

How they communicate

Gen-Z communicates almost exclusively through technology and might in fact become uncomfortable with too much face-to-face or telephone communication.

You might need to remind them to check their email for documents as some see even email as an antiquated technology. Communication through text or other messaging platforms is favored, as is video messaging for more complex or lengthy communication.

How to reach them

A beautifully designed and maintained website and well-managed social media platforms are essential for this group. They respond well to testimonials and reviews, so reaching out for positive reviews through Yelp or Zillow can work for this group.

In addition, sponsoring events that are near and dear to their hearts can make you a trusted ally — Gen-Z believes in people who believe in something bigger than themselves.

Consider

Earning the Digital Marketing: Social Media Certification.

What the experts say

“Real marketing means not only tactics and clickbait but marketing with a purpose: What does the company stand for, how does it help the world become better?” said Anne-Héloïse Pagliardini, founder and owner of AHBC Group.

In real estate, for example, it might be through partnerships with charities like shelters for the homeless or people who’ve lost their homes after a natural disaster, giving a percentage of commissions or profits to charities, or simply volunteering as a team.

“Both millennials and Gen Z have short attention spans and are trained to recognize ads,” she said.

Moreover, don’t be pushy and fake, she added. And optimize your websites for mobile devices because this generation lives through their phones.

“Make sure you are on the relevant social media platforms (Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and possibly Facebook depending on your strategy) to target these groups and make sure your site is responsive!” she advises.

Christy Murdock Edgar is a Realtor, freelance writer, coach and consultant with Writing Real Estate in Alexandria, Virginia. Follow Writing Real Estate on FacebookTwitter or Instagram

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