Each generation has trigger words that reveal the ideals we admire and the things we strive to be. Whether you market to Booms, work with them or want them to support your cause, use these words to win friends and influence people in the 50+ crowd.
First, full disclosure. I’m a Boom, and as such I hesitate to give the game away. But fair is fair, and I’ll reveal Gen X trigger words in a coming blog. So go ahead, pluck the heartstrings of our deepest generational fears and values.
Trigger word: Individual
As a generation, the Silents were irrepressible joiners. They wanted to fit in, not stand out. They joined everything from Rotary Club to alumni associations and PTA. When you called a Silent a “Regular Joe” you meant it in a good way.
Not so for Booms. We made a big deal of pushing back against institutions (Stick it to the man) and challenged authority (Don’t trust anyone over 30).
Yes, lots of us eventually became suits, but we’re talking aspirational values here, and even inside the machine we liked to think of ourselves as singular. Like Holmes in the PBS series Sherlock , we loath being ordinary.
want a BooM to hear yoU? assume he clears an individual path through the corporate jungle with a customized machete. uphill. in the snow.
Even when Booms joined the Army, we did it to “Be All That You Can Be” as individuals. Inspire Boomers to do the right thing by appealing to individual conscience--not duty (nasty, nasty word), not rules and regs, nor the good of the commonwealth, not even winning one for the Gipper. Tom Wolfe dubbed Boomers the "Me" generation for a reason.
Remember Marlboro Man? He sold nicotine to Booms by the trainload (before he died of cancer) by being a sunburned maverick who made his own rules.
Trigger word: Original
Booms are drawn to novelty. We bought 73% of the hybrids sold in the US last year. (You plug it in? Cool.) Ads featuring 93-year-old Iris Apful appeal to Boomers because she is utterly her own person. Apple’s Think Different ads pierce Boomer amour so effectively that nearly half the Ipads sold last year were to Booms.
Use words like unique, original, new and novel. Whatever you do, don’t invoke tradition. Strike time-honored, historic and long-established (yuk, yuk, and yuk) from your vocabulary. They're not in the Boomer dictionary.
Trigger Word: Discovery
Look at Boomer celebrities—George Cooney, Oprah, Springsteen and Madonna. They all have one thing in common. They’re still producing work and championing causes. That’s how we Booms see ourselves. We’re not done yet.
Booms are going back to school, starting 2nd and 3rd careers, divorcing, marrying and moving for work, fulfillment or to be near the grandkids. The configuration of our lives keeps changing.
When you want our attention, remember that we’re still aspirational. Boomers used to say old age began at 60. Now we say 80. So, NEVER MENTION AGE. FOR THAT MATTER, NEVER MENTION LIFE STAGE. Never.
Discovery is a good word to use when you propose something to a Boomer. Don't even talk about legacies unless the Boom you're talking to is very rich or on the far side of 69. Use expansion, growth, change and building instead. Find ways to ask "What’s next?" and no Boomer can resist you.
Generational expert and keynote speaker, Amy Lynch helps the generations understand each other. She has spoken to 100s of groups from MTV and Comcast to Boeing, J&J and the staff of the U.S. Senate. Contact Amy about your next event.