A generation is a group of people who live at the same time and experience similar events at a similar age. They have a common social, political, historical and economic environment.
As a lawyer, you serve clients from five generations:
#1. Generation of the economic crisis of the 1930s
This generation includes people born in 1930-1945, currently over 74 years old. During World War II, they were young children. They value rationing, saving, morality and ethics. Social peace and the family community are important for them. They rely on tried and tested ways of doing things. They barely accept new products and are distrustful of changes. Many of them still enjoy good health. Some have significant resources in the form of equity and savings.
In conversation with them, put emphasis on a lifestyle that breaks with stereotypical portraits of seniors. Do not depict them as helpless or dependent on someone else. Emphasize traditional values such as discipline, self-esteem, hard work, obedience to authority, compliance, commitment, responsibility, celebration of victory and financial and social conservatism. Representatives of this generation are sensitive to authorities, celebrities and respected institutions. They also appreciate romantic motifs, patriotism, team building and dedication to the common good. They like to be treated with honors.
When communicating with them, use official written forms and ask how to take care of them. Listen to their needs. A strong handshake, straight posture and direct eye contact will make a good impression on them. Reach them through traditional media. Take advantage of face-to-face, email and phone conversations. When writing, do not use a font smaller than 12 points and present the information in a clear and easy manner. Use an easily digestible message and avoid controversial information.
Show your clients gratitude through such messages as "I respect your experience", "I appreciate your perseverance" or "You deserve it".
Use terms such as "us" and "ours" - this will help build a sense of trust.
#2. Baby Boomers
These people were born in 1946-1964 and are 55-73 years old. They value individualization, self-expression, optimism and "being here and now". They often define themselves through a professional career, and many of them are workaholics or very active retirees.
Baby Boomers want activities that require little change and immediate improvement. They do not like bureaucracy. They focus on building value - it will be easier for them to accept a higher price for the service if they believe they will receive a high quality product. They like options and flexibility. Preservation of health is a serious problem for them, and the search for the source of youth and slowing down the weight gain are becoming more and more important. They like things that are important and relevant to their stage of life (not to their age). Do not call them "seniors" and do not direct their attention towards the "autumn of life". Many of them are guardians of both aging parents and their children.
Baby Boomers like information presented in terms of options, i.e. simple facts on the basis of which they can make their own decisions. They have considerable confidence in oral communication from their advisors and friends close to them. Although they commonly use cellular technology, they usually do not understand functions that go beyond ordinary voice calls and text messages. They are more sensitive to the use of text than images. They use social networks, they also read blogs.
Use communication methods such as face-to-face conversation and telephone contact. Be open and direct, and answer your questions precisely. Explain to them how contact with you will give them a competitive advantage. Give them a lot of information because they like it. Use positive, emotionally expressed concepts, words and images, eg tell them a story.
Personal rewards and public recognition are especially important to them. Your clients will react well to such statements: "You are important to our success", "Your contribution is unique and important for this matter", "We need you".
A story will be of interest to them, for example: "Someone must have been telling lies about Josef K., he knew he had done nothing wrong but, one morning, he was arrested." (Franz Kafka, "Process").
#3. Generation X
Generation X was born in 1965-1977 and is aged 42-54. It reached adulthood in difficult economic times. A significant part of its representatives are self-employed professionals. They value the family, but they are less traditional than other generations. Many of them had to grow up quickly, experiencing divorce and violence. Usually, they cautiously enter into relationships. Multiculturalism and global thinking become the norm for them. They witnessed the growing impact of personal computers on everyday life. They are educated, but at the same time pessimistic, skeptical, deprived of illusions. They do not believe in spending time, energy and relationships for progress, but prefer the balance of family, life and work. They generally feel like free electrons, not team members. They question the conventions.
They may be insecure and need confirmation that their choices are right. They often think collectively and make joint decisions. They like initiatives that will make things more useful and practical. They prefer an informal style of communication, however, they are critical of open advertising.
Put them into a long-term engagement and give them the opportunity to learn, grow and improve: give them lots of information and ask for feedback. Treat them like family. However, be aware that they have a reputation of being disloyal to brands and companies. Use such means of communication as e-mail, multimedia, whispering messages. Be honest and use simple facts. You must show them that you know what you are talking about.
It is very effective to speak in a direct and non-threatening way, eg: "You are different and we respect it".
Motivate them with such statements as: "There are not many rules here", "This is not a formal requirement", "Do it your way".
#4. Generation Y
Born in 1978-1994, they are currently 25-41 years old. These are children of the Baby Boomer generation. They grew up in times of radical and rapid changes in social awareness, including the acceptance of different types of families and the increase in respect for ethnic and cultural diversity. It is estimated that as many as one-third of the members of this generation belong to a minority.
They are hard on the ground. They were born in a technological, electronic and wireless society. They have a strong sense of independence and autonomy. They are used to a world where everything seems possible. They want results and they are not interested in the causes. They learn by perception of image. They have a great need for peers to accept and create a social network. They are open-minded, optimistic, goal-oriented and highly motivated to succeed. They are accustomed to multitasking. They are impatient because they grew up in the world of technology and immediate gratification. Rather aware of themselves, they live today and are often wasteful.
They easily understand new concepts and are strongly oriented to learning. Many have graduated, and most plan to experience lifelong learning. They react strongly to examples taken from life - they like the truth and the realistic. Honesty, humor, and uniqueness are important features of communication with them. They value instant messaging, text messages and interactions on social networks.
Refer to their belief that they can improve the future. Give them systematic feedback because they appreciate positive reinforcement and want to have as much data as possible on all matters in which they participate. Encourage them to discover new paths or options because they are people who want challenges.
A variety of communications is attractive to them. Use pictorial language and dynamic verbs. Get closer to them via e-mail, but also use visual communication. Show that you have a sense of humor and do not take yourself too seriously.
Emphasize the spirit of the team, for example: "In the collective process you will be cooperating with other smart, creative people" or "You and your team can make this case a success".
Use pictorial nouns: "Smith" instead of "claimant".
Use dynamic verbs: "We are moving forward like a storm", "I've run the case", "We're fighting to the end", "We need to restore justice".
#5. Generation Z
They were born after 1994, meaning they are under 25 years old. Their parents got married late and are less likely to divorce. "Z" fight against global terrorism, school violence, economic uncertainty, recession and the mortgage crisis. These people are new conservatives who accept traditional beliefs, value family, self-control and responsibility. They are accustomed to advanced technologies and messages bombarding them from all sides. They do not know life without the internet - new media, virtual friends and information technologies have a big impact on them.
The "Z" generation likes authenticity and truthfulness. Group approval is very important to them. They value security, and they consider education one of the ways to provide them. Privacy and secrecy are important to them. They are confident, optimistic and inventive. They think that they can influence the world. They feel good by serving others.
Use visualizations in communication. Instead of explaining a complicated process, show a simple sketch. Appeal to meet immediate needs and liberal social values.
"We will bring this matter to a conclusion as soon as possible - we will find a new way, because the society has long been waiting for the outcomes of this case".
Each generation has unique expectations, experiences, generational history, lifestyle, values and demographics that affect their behavior towards the lawyer. When you consider the characteristics and behaviors of a given generation, while directing your legal services to its representatives, it will be easier for you to gain the trust of your clients and build lasting professional relationships.
You may also like:
Williams K. C., Marketing to the Generations, Journal of Behavioral Studies in Business, Volume 3 - April 2011.
Fishman, A.A. (2004), “Understand Generational Differences,” National Underwriter, 108(2), 4.
De Paula, M. (2003), “Jumping the Gap: Marketing to Multiple Generations,” USBanker, 113(9), 38.
Rosenburg, J. (2008), “Mind Your Generation,” Journal of Property Management, 73(6), 41-44.
Posnick-Goodwin, S. (2010), “Meet Generation Z,” California Educator, 14(5), 8-18.