Talkin’ ‘Bout My Generation: The Market You Should Be Targeting

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The Who

I was recently celebrating the birthday of a friend over dinner. At the table, were 10 people all under the age of 35, a.k.a millennials. Our conversation ebbed and flowed about what we were watching on Netflix, reading on our Kindles, listening to on Spotify, and writing about in our vision journals.

As I was off having a separate conversation with one of the other guests at our table, I overheard someone in our party say quite passionately, “I hate Millennials!” I politely pardoned myself from the conversation I was having and not so courteously went to bat for my generation. I first wanted to hear his explanation for making such a caustic comment. Sure enough, he had none; he just spat out rather dull adjectives such as “lazy,” “entitled,” “ungrateful,” and “stupid.” Little did he know he was dealing with me, a pugnaciously proud millennial, who has embraced both the positive and the negative connotations of my generation’s identity.

Needless to say, I put him in his place. Whether it has affected his opinion of my g-g-gen-er-a-tion, I’ll never know, but at least I stood up for what I believe in– one of my favorite character traits of millennials.

So how does my story tie in to the funeral profession? It’s common knowledge that millennials do not have a great reputation among baby boomers, and generation xer’s. I don’t know why that is, maybe it’s because we work smarter not necessarily harder, or, because we utilize technology every-which-way we can, or maybe it’s because they just don’t “get” us. But hear this: we represent the largest living generation of people, more than even the baby boomers!

Instead of pushing us away, embrace our differences and celebrate our autonomy because we are your customers. You need to know how to market, sell, and most of all communicate with us; the future of your business and the profession at large depends on it. Below are my top 9-1-1 areas that should’ve been addressed yesterday.
First things first, cut the negative vibes: You need to stop thinking of us with a “When I was their age…” mentality. We know times were different, but that doesn’t mean we are less valuable than you, or not as hard-working. In fact, we work more hours than any other generation because of technology! Think of all the emails you never had to answer while you were walking back and forth to school/work, up hill, with no shoes on, in the snow. Or how about the cell phone you didn’t have glued to your palm while you were watching Dynasty; God forbid we didn’t answer while we were binge-watching Stranger Things when someone wanted to get in touch with us, or if we dared not to respond to a text message immediately, I think the world would end, or at least our careers.

Second, embrace our need for experiences, not things: It’s all about experience and innovation. We’re restless. We need options, newness, and experiences. We also yearn to post things on Instagram and Snapchat (notice I didn’t say Facebook, that’s for old people…I kid I kid, sorta!) Therefore, you need to constantly be on the verge of the next trend, constantly on the cool-hunt. What can you offer at your funeral home that will attract us? And news flash: it isn’t lower prices. In a study by Goldman Sachs, (you can read this awesome info graphic here), millennials value quality over lower price. And quality to a millennial means an experience. Are we going to want to share with all of our Instagram followers about the experience we had? That’s what you need to be thinking about as a funeral professional. We aren’t going to brag about the great deal we got on a casket, but we are going to share the personalized touches that created an experience within the funeral home. (and PS: we’re also going to write a reviews all over the internet!)

Lastly, utilize technology: We are digital natives. So don’t scare us away with words like fax machine or stamps. We don’t fax. Ever. We scan and email. We fill out forms electronically. The more tech-friendly, the better. Instead of spending money on a new casket showroom, invest in technology to display your caskets and urns within an app. Is your website from this century,
I’m not kidding, is it literally from the 2000’s? Nothing turns a millennial off from purchasing or making a buying decision faster than an ugly, clunky, and/or basic website. Do you have a social media presence? We want to read real, unsolicited reviews, otherwise you lose our trust and with a flick of a fingertip, or a click of a mouse we’re on to see what your competitor has up their sleeve. Another one of my favorite traits about millennials: we don’t settle for less than what we want, because we can find exactly what we’re looking for in a nano-seconds all thanks to the internet!

I thought that was going to be the last tip, but just like that, I thought of one more! Steve Jobs once said, “It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and then tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.” What does your staff look and sound like, are you a team? You should look at your staff as talent. Are they smart? And further more are you looking to them for direction, ideas, and improvements. Is your team happy? There’s nothing worse than sensing dissension amongst employees; it’s a gigantic red flag that says, “hey look at us! We’re dysfunctional and we’re probably going to do a lousy job!” Everything should look, sound, and feel positive especially in the death care biz. Again, always circling back to the experiences you create.

If you want more advice on how to provide experiences, shoot me an email scummings@lifecelebration.com We have the coolest products and people to help you start transforming funerals! I’m always looking to help funeral professionals in any way I can. Except I can’t help you use a PC, I’m an Apple-loving millennial.

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