Forget the Kids – Write For Decision Makers


Years ago, the focus on marketing was almost always “young”.

In short, unless you were selling walkers or such, you wanted to be attractive to young people. That 18-35 demographic was vital.

Back then, it really mattered. Today… not so much. In fact, today, going young might hurt you. Here’s why:

In the old days, young people were desirable because A) They spent money, whereas old folks didn’t, and B) the thought was if you get adult buyers when they are young, you have a shot at lifetime brand loyalty.

And it made sense. My father was a parent and a homeowner at 25. You wanted him buying your brand of TV – if he liked it, he’d probably be a customer forever. 

But today… how many 25-year olds own a home? Heck, how many 30-year olds own a home? Not many, I’ll tell you that.

And surprise surprise, old folks outspend younger folks today. The truth is, younger people are broke, while their older homeowning, pension-having counterparts are traveling, dining, and spending on hobbies.

(Note: this isn’t a social commentary on fairness or income disparity. It’s simply what is. I am a marketer, and interested in selling to people who can buy stuff.)

The worm has certainly turned. Young people are still desirable… to young people stuff they can afford.

And that second part is very important – young people today, due to their tenuous financial situation, are very value conscious. And they have zero brand loyalty. Show them a better price, and they will likely bounce. They have no idea what brand TV they own – LG, Vizio… whatever.

(Heck, do you even know what brand TV you own these days? I just had to get up and look – it’s an LG. I thought it was a Samsung.)

It’s the same in the B2B world.

I know everyone wants to seem young and hip. But here’s the problem – the people making the majority of B2B buying decisions are 40+. And they are still sitting in front of a desktop or a laptop. You need to speak to them in their language.

You would think this would be basic. Write for your customer demographic. Marketing 101 and all. And it is basic for many consumer products.

But it gets weird in B2B. I have seen companies who have products like production machinery, but they wanted language that sounded like it needed to be on TikTok (one company wanted to use the word “Rizz“, which the CEO heard from his grandson. Ok then.)

Another financial investment company had ads with lots of imagery of their 20-something workers, all dressed in their club-casual best with lots of tats and piercings… nothing wrong with that of course, except you’re apparently selling to people 50+ interested in retirement investments. And they are not interested in the Gamestop Meme-stock crowd handling their money.

I know you don’t want to sound “old”, and that’s fine, but also remember your buyer is probably closer to retirement than they are the prom. In short, they have a 401k, but no Rizz. 

One last note to this: in this day and age of micro-targeting demographics, you can serve ads to the right aged people anytime you want. I noticed that particular financial company stopped serving me ads with Goth Girl (“it’s not Witchcraft, it’s Wicca“), and started serving me ads with khaki-wearing Thomas, who probably ate a sensible breakfast this morning. Good call. Somebody is awake in the marketing department.

I’m squarely in GenX myself. I’m pretty techie and on top of trends, and can effectively write for people about 30 years to either side of me. But I’ll cut it off there – I don’t shizzle, I don’t Rizz, and I have no idea who Bae is (ok I kinda do but Maryellen doesn’t like being called that.)