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Refreshing Email Strategies for Cross-Generational Event Marketing

Email still works for marketing event companies--just make sure it works for everyone you want to reach.

Email marketing is the bread and butter of many event marketing and sales professionals trying to attract older generations.

But that leaves the question: Is email marketing out of style for younger generations, who thrive in a world full of texts, chats, Kik and Instagram? Does anyone younger than 35 even check their inbox anymore?

Despite the need for instant gratification, younger generations do still check email, especially for work and personal projects, such as planning a wedding or buying a house. In fact, they prefer business correspondence, such as project proposals and contracts, to come through email, where it can be easily organized and saved.

This means there’s still plenty of opportunity to reach your potential clients or maintain contacts via good old-fashioned email marketing, whether you’re targeting younger or older generations. 

That is, as long as your content isn’t actually old-fashioned. Your message needs to reach across generations and catch attention whenever you hit “send.”

That might seem like a big ask. After all, the oldest members of Gen Z are 22, and Gen Xers can be 54! How can any single message span that huge age gap and the different cultural expectations and experiences?

The key is to remember that, no matter what, certain tactics speak to everyone. And they are:

1. Make them an offer they can’t refuse.
When it comes to marketing messages, the main trick is to create content that can't be found anywhere else.

No matter the generation, people on the Internet have access to a vast sea of information that’s only a search away on their phones. They don't need more of the same information; they need better information--information that’s unique to you and your business.

Sound too difficult? It’s not. Remember, most events happen in a single city or town. To offer something inherently valuable, focus on putting standard advice into a local context or, better yet, offer insider information about your locale.

Create a download, a video mini series, a checklist, or any other tool that will help them plan their event. Maybe that’s a local in-season food checklist or the top vistas for wedding portraits by season.

Whatever you do, break it down to a local level, and be sure to be generous to build up trust and goodwill.

2. Beware of TL;DR (too long; didn’t read).
Generally, it's better to have a few shorter emails than a long-winded one that nobody reads through and nobody takes any action on. Take a cue from chat and direct messaging and offer highly valuable, snackable information. Be generous with a couple of great tips and insider insights, then ask to meet for 30 minutes for free to answer their biggest question about whatever service or product you offer. (Hint: This is actually your client consult.)

3. Show your personality.
Email doesn’t have to be the platform of stiff writing and buttoned-up formalities. It’s not only OK to be fun and show your personality--it’s essential for marketing to younger generations.

Young clients especially want to know more than “can you do the job”--they want to like you!

So go ahead, have fun with emojis (especially in the subject line). Get playful with gifs and adopt a more casual and conversational voice. This not only shows off your personality, but it also gives prospective clients a glimpse of what it’s like to work with you.

Also, forget about straight pitching your product or service and focus on how they’ll feel doing business with you. How will their situation be transformed for the better by working with you? Talk about the benefits and the potential for your collaboration, not just the nuts and bolts of your business.

Remember: In the beginning, people don't really care about you--yet. They care about their own situation and their own challenges, wishes, and desires. By recognizing the needs of potential clients and sending a message that can help transform their situation, you'll keep their attention and be in a better position to win their business in the future.

4. Be mobile-friendly
In the 21st century, your marketing must be mobile friendly--including emails.
Everyone from teens to grandparents is on their smartphones: checking social media, reviewing email, texting friends, watching videos and catching up on news. You name it and it’s probably being viewed on a smartphone.

Be sure to optimize your images down to small file sizes. (Hint: Changing the resolution does not change the file size.)

Use short paragraphs that are between one and three sentences. On a phone, a full sentence looks like an entire paragraph. That means you should chunk out your information so it's digestible and scannable in small doses.

All these tips can keep you in the loop--no matter who you’re speaking to. Don’t abandon your email marketing just yet! With just a few adjustments to your email content and style, you can still reach all of your potential clients regardless of age. 

Christie Osborne is the owner of Mountainside Media in Mammoth Lakes, Calif., a company that helps event industry professionals brands develop scalable marketing strategies that bring in more inquiries and leads. Osborne is a national educator with recent speaking engagements at NACE Experience, WIPA and the ABC Conference.

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