Talkin’ ‘Bout My Generation: How to Keep Your Marketing Strategies Fresh for Any Generation RECAP
by: Marketing Best Practices Committee, Anna Ludwig, Director of Marketing, Lafayette & Kumagai LLP and Jamie Cotera, Director of Marketing, Rivero Mestre LLP
If you attended the Marketing Best Practices Committee session at the NAMWOLF Business Meeting in New Orleans, you know that Millennials recently surpassed Baby Boomers as the largest portion of the U.S. workforce. You also know we dispelled the myth that Millennial in-house counsel are not in decision-making roles in companies. It’s important that NAMWOLF firms understand that there are now three generations they need to market to. Because of the overwhelming response we received after our presentation in New Orleans, we decided to recap our session.
A panel of three corporate counsel, representing different generations, joined us for our discussion about generational marketing: Gilda Spencer from Allstate, Vanessa Watson from MasterCard, and Ana-Paola Capaldo from Laureate Education. Each had a lot of valuable advice for NAMWOLF firms. Below are some characteristics, marketing tips, and advice from in-house counsel for each generation.
Defined by Neil Howe and William Strauss, Boomers were born between 1943 and 1960. They make up 29 percent of the workforce nationwide, but 95 percent of Big Law leadership. Boomers are experimental, individualists, free spirited, self-believing, self-fulfilling, and self-improving. They are optimistic, driven, spiritual, and aggressive. They never feel entitled, are reluctant to reward themselves, and compare themselves to their parents’ and grandparents’ generations. They are trustworthy and loyal, and they are workaholics.
Baby Boomers crave one-on-one interactions, whether in person or over the phone. Conversations with Boomers should be more informal, perhaps over coffee or lunch. They are time stressed, so engage them within the first sentence. Boomers appreciate print journalism and handwritten cards. They tend to see relationships and business results as intertwined. When making a pitch to Boomers, keep in mind that Gilda Spencer wants a pitch tailored to her practice. She wants you to listen to her and understand her business and legal needs. And bring your diverse team with you—she won’t meet with you if you don’t have at least one woman or person of color on board. She prefers to communicate by email, likes written materials, and wants to see your results on your website.
Generation X are individuals born between 1961 and 1981. Almost 20 percent of Fortune 100 and 30 percent of Nasdaq general counsel are Gen X members compared with fewer than 5 percent of Am Law 100 firm leaders. Gen Xers are self-reliant, independent, individualistic, and self-focused. Their childhoods were underscored by legalized abortion, divorce, absent fathers, and working mothers. They grew up without segregation and take pride in acceptance and tolerance of different ethnicities and lifestyles. Unlike their Boomer parents, they insist on work-life balance.
When speaking to Generation X, be direct and straightforward and avoid corporate jargon. When making your pitch, don’t just give them bullet points—you need to tell a story. Get to know your Generation Xers. Vanessa Watson says it’s essential to her that lawyers establish a relationship with her. She loves the NAMWOLF Amazing Race because it gives her a chance to really get to know people. It turns her off when people at networking events are clearly trying to gauge who she is and what they can get from her.
Millennials were born between 1982 and 2005. They represent at least 34% of the workforce. In 4 years, they will represent almost half of the workforce. According to the Association of Corporate Counsel, 11 percent, or 4,400 of their members are Millennials. Millennials are all about technology and communications. They like to work in groups, are ethnically diverse, and schedule everything. They feel intense competition and time pressure because of the constant testing in school and the competition with fellow millennials to gain admittance to their colleges of choice. They were nurtured by their parents and sometimes lack independence.
Millennials like instant communication—texts, emails, and social media. Engage them with content that can be commented on, shared, forwarded, ‘liked,’ ‘pinned,’ ‘tweeted,’ and ‘snapped.’ Values are extremely important to Millennials, so involve them in a cause. Focus on client testimonials from peers, developing referrals, and client reviews. Make your law firm brand discoverable and don’t force-feed it. Ana-Paola Capaldo said she judges law firms harshly on their online presence. It’s essential that firms have a nice website and are on LinkedIn. Clean design in presentations is vital because it shows that you are professional and serious. And NAMWOLF firms MUST have good swag.
Multi-Generational Marketing Strategies
When marketing to all three generations, or across generations, it’s crucial to get feedback on your marketing collateral from members of your target audience. Fonts should always be legible and large enough to read—a good practice for audiences of all ages. Be aware that Boomers are more tech-savvy than some give them credit for: they love videos and they read law firm blogs, so there is some serious overlap in the digital content that all three generations are interested in.
We noticed some common ground: diversity and social responsibility are important to Boomers, Generation X, and Millennials. Opportunities to connect include non-profit work, pro-bono work, charitable fundraising events, and so on. Respect corporate counsel’s work-life balance. While work-life balance can be a flashpoint for generations in the workplace, it is important to different generations of corporate counsel for different reasons. Many corporate attorneys, regardless of experience level, chose to go in house because they were seeking more flexibility, and this is increasingly true for younger generations. For Boomers, a work-life balance is a well-deserved reward after years of sacrifice. But for Gen X, and Millennials, it is expected from the beginning of their careers.
Each generation brings different ideas, challenges, and opportunities. Law firms that embrace generational differences will thrive.
Anna Ludwig is the Director of Marketing at Lafayette & Kumagai LLP, a boutique minority-owned litigation firm in Northern California that specializes in business torts, employment, complex litigation and trials.