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Know Your Audience
By Dan Schechner on August 7, 2018

Here’s a fun exercise: Enter “Trying to explain technology to your parents” into Google and see what comes up.

Among the 906,000,000 results are countless articles, videos, drawings and diagrams that attempt to simplify concepts like downloading images to a desktop, opening email attachments, or visiting a page on “the Facebook.”

This, of course, falls into the it’s-funny-because-it’s-true category of highly relatable experiences. We’ve all gone through it at some point, right? (“No Dad, I said right-click on the picture and hit ‘Save As’… OK, what just happened? … That’s not what I said … Did you right-click? … No, you have to RIGHT-CLICK … How are you not getting this???”)

Eventually we come to realize, however, that it’s not really our parents’ fault; it’s more our mistake in assuming they were as tech-savvy as we were. Shame on us. So we take a deep breath, hit redial, and start again, from the beginning, slowly.

While parents can be very understanding, in business we aren’t usually given more than one opportunity to convey the right message. Maybe you’re confronted with a new customer who enters your shop looking for more durable bump stops, or lighter brake rotors. Or maybe your off-road prep shop is launching a digital marketing campaign aimed at attracting a new class of clientele.

Whatever the case, as a supplier or service provider you must be sure the pitch is on point—and not just in terms of the information you provide. In fact, consumer behavior studies through the years have shown that how you say something is just as important as what you say. Put another way, the message must first be received before it can be believed.

Which brings us to the latest installment of our ‘Better Business’ column. Penned by regular contributor William F. Kendy, ‘The Basics of Generational Selling’ identifies our nation’s five primary age groups and examines their priorities, preferences and philosophies, as well as expert advice on how to effectively communicate with—and market/sell to—each one.

As consumer myself I found Kendy’s report to be spot-on and well worth the read. For instance, it was easy to identify with the characteristics typical of my peer group (Generation X), as the article cites Cam Marston, a recognized expert on generations and author of Generational Selling Tactics THAT WORK: “[S]ince they were basically ‘raised’ by television they have been exposed to the full gamut of advertising and sales pitches. That background, combined with skepticism and a dose of cynicism, results in a ‘built-in phony detector,’ which makes Gen X practically sales-proof. They don’t respond to pressure or blatant selling but do respond to straightforward and transparent dialogue. And once respect, credibility and trust are earned, they exhibit loyalty.”

Obviously there are exceptions to every rule—don’t assume that just because a customer falls into one of the aforementioned generations that they’ll automatically exhibit the behaviors outlined in our column. But it does offer some solid insight into why certain sales and/or marketing techniques tend to resonate with some customers better than others.

Perhaps something to consider when putting together that next sales promotion, or approaching a racer who may be a good deal older or younger than yourself. It might also help alleviate some stress the next time you’re explaining to Mom and Dad why it’s really time they ditch that dial-up Internet.

About the Author
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Dan Schechner is the Editor of Performance Racing Industry Magazine.
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