An article I recently read about the hotel reservations business caused me to think about how we communicate. The article talked about a "new" service that offered a really great rate for a hotel room on the Internet. However, in order to get that really great rate, you had to pick up the phone, call the number provided and talk to a real person who just might have an even better deal for you.

My question is, in today's world of electronic communication, why would any business who wishes to establish customer loyalty impose this painful process on a potential customer? No matter how great the rates might be, there is no way I would go through all that just to save a few bucks. And folks, I'm a Boomer!

What about our younger generations who have absolutely no use for the telephone? These are the people who buy cell phones just so they don't have to make so many actual calls. Thanks to unlimited text-messaging, mobile Facebook, on-the-go Twitter, GPS friend locators and more, the new iPhones (and other such products) technology has simply erased the need to place an actual phone call. And they like it that way!

How Much Will a Consumer Tolerate?

The discussion, as I see it, is this. How many hoops are we (the consumer) willing to jump through to save a dollar? And, assuming the person who answers the phone is exceptionally well trained in phone etiquette and sales, will that make a difference? Not likely, if no one places the call. On the other hand, what marketing and/or advertising genius got paid big bucks to develop this program?

In a world that thrives on 30 second (or less) sound bites and 140 character Tweets, are businesses willing to risk development and training costs for a program that won't be accepted by half the buying population? If I'm planning a vacation, I want the very best prices I can find. But at what cost? What is my time worth? And what are the chances that when I make that phone call, I won't be put through the pain of, "All of our lines are busy, but we value your call. Please hold for the next available representative." That is the best incentive I can think of to never call that company again.

Wouldn't we like to think that the people behind all the new marketing campaigns actually asked us (their target market) what we want and how we want it? Makes good sense to me, but apparently not to everyone.

The Challenge

Marketing and advertising professionals have a tough challenge in today's multigenerational world. How do they communicate their message to four, and perhaps five generations – all who receive those messages in a different manner? Our elder population still reads the daily newspaper and monthly magazines cover to cover. Boomers are used to getting their information from television advertising, and a large number of them are turning to the Internet with increasing frequency. Our Generation Xers don't want a sales pitch – they are looking for a deal, but they will determine how, when and what they will buy. Generation Y (or the Millennials, some call them) demand their information in real time – 30 seconds or less, exciting, and absolutely electronic. Is anyone Tweeting?

I would not want to be in a position of having to determine how to spend my company's advertising dollars under these circumstances. However, those who are getting paid to do just that really need to take a few steps back and consider how, and in what format, they are going to connect with their future potential customers.

Author's Bio: 

Linda Thompson is the author of Every Generation Needs a New Revolution, How Six Generations Across Nine Decades can Find Harmony and Peaceful Coexistence, Planning for Tomorrow, Your Passport to a Confident Future, a common sense approach to life planning; and A Caregiver’s Journey, You Are Not Alone, a survival guide for working caregivers. To find out more about Linda’s presentations, workshops and publications, visit: