Reaching Generations X and Y Through Direct Mail Postcards

A frequently challenged marketing myth is that it’s becoming increasingly difficult to reach young people via traditional marketing. Many marketers are seemingly convinced that Generations X and Y simply won’t respond to traditional marketing tactics.

From TV and radio to direct mail, the reality is that the most effective ways to reach Gen X and Y are surprisingly traditional. Yes, there’s social media, email, and several other digital platforms; there’s also traditional direct mail marketing.

77% of Generation X and 63% of Generation Y consumers have purchased products via direct mail. The idea that today’s young adults don’t respond well to non-digital marketing couldn’t be further from the truth.

In this guide, we’ll share four simple but effective tactics that you can use to reach Generation X (people born from 1965 to the mid-1980s) and Generation Y (people born from the early 1980s onwards) using direct mail postcards.

Understand Generation X’s natural skepticism

Gen X and Gen Y both grew up during times of economic prosperity and large-scale recession. As such, they’re often more skeptical of an offer’s value and need more of an incentive to buy than Baby Boomers and older generations.

Cam Marston of Generational Insights notes that Generation X “stalks products” and tends to carry out detailed research before acting on an offer. As such, your postcard campaign could benefit from copy that emphasizes your offer’s security factor.

From money-back guarantees to quality demonstrations, the skeptical and cautious nature of Generation X – and to a lesser, but still significant extent, Generation Y – is one of the biggest factors you should consider when creating your campaign.

Avoid using trends to appeal to a young audience

Generation Y is the first generation to grow up with social media, and its trends are often shorter lived than those of past generations. What’s cool one minute is out the next, and being behind the curve as a marketer can cost you dearly.

While capitalizing on technological trends is a great idea (your audience is sure to respond well to online offers and opportunities to connect with your company via social media) latching onto a temporary trend isn’t a great idea.

Avoid obvious cultural references in your marketing, unless you’re certain that you are tapping into a fad that has staying power. Generation Y knows advertising when it sees it, and disguising your marketing as part of a new trend just doesn’t work.

Combine traditional direct mail and digital marketing

Both Generations X and Y are heavily involved in social media, with 89% of 18-29 year olds and 82% of 30-49 year olds regularly interacting with a social network each and every day.

Capitalize on Gen X and Gen Y’s heavy social media usage by combining traditional marketing with social marketing. Add hashtags, QR codes and other digital features to your direct mail postcards to make them more interactive.

If your small business has a Facebook Page or Twitter account, include your account URL in your postcard. Many of your recipients will connect with you online to learn more about your business or respond to your offer.

Understand each generation’s unique needs and desires

Generations X and Y both differ significantly from the Baby Boomers, and adapting a campaign designed for an older audience often won’t cut it. Gen X and Y have unique needs, desires and ambitions that differ from those of other generations.

From the struggle to establish a career and become financially independent to a lack of trust in traditional media, many of the unique characteristics of Generation X and Y are very different from those of Baby Boomers.

Does your marketing cite newspapers as authority references instead of blogs and other forms of new media? Does your offer solve a problem that Gens X and Y face?

Is your direct mail campaign Generation X and Y compatible?

Far from being blind to traditional marketing, both Generations X and Y respond very well to smart, action-focused direct mail campaigns. Does your direct mail campaign have what it takes to attract their attention?