How to Sell a Business

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From the Silent Generation to Baby Boomers to Millennials, what can we learn from each generation?

As a business owner, the importance of marketing can be cutthroat for sales. Each generation moulds their own business model, and in 2019, we can learn from previous advertising tips and tricks. Perhaps we can even leave an imprint for future marketers to follow.

The Silent Generation: Born 1928-1945 [marketing a business in the late 50s/60s] In the early 40s, the Unique Selling Proposition or USP was a marketing concept first proposed to explain a pattern in successful advertising campaigns. USP’s differentiate a business from its competitors. In the 50s, the rise of TV advertising saw a dramatic surge in sales for businesses. A short 30-second spot on TV meant that business ads had to evolve from being densely informative to clear and concise. Skilled advertisers had to condense their USP without losing any value. Business owners recognised the fight for airtime, and so came the era of bold, attention-grabbing advertising, still used to this day. Marketing techniques showed advertisements moving into more imagery and less copy. Although ads can be a huge reflection of the era, businesses today could learn from such condensed content.

Baby Boomers: Born 1946-1968 [marketing a business in the 90s-00’s] Customer relationship management or CRM started coming into its own during the 90s. Soon after the internet, came the inception of email. Businesses could compile chain emails, which lead to a faster, efficient way of distributing marketing campaigns. Co-founder of Hotmail and former Baby Boomer, Sabeer Bhatia, introduced a personal email address free for everyone which transformed the way we consume digital marketing. But, with such a massive audience came great responsibility for businesses. In the battle to be at the top of the inbox, it became vital for companies to be strategic and compelling in their emails. The late 90s encouraged an internet free for all, a content marketing revolution; the chance for companies to experiment with their own personalised content. Businesses recognised the need to hire digital marketers, bloggers, social media executives - anyone who can create readable content. Bloggers popularised other content like white papers, e-books and case studies. In return for free content, businesses received interest from the customer, and sometimes even a sale.

Millennials: Born 1981-1996 [selling a business in modern times] Bill Gates on Revolution – ‘Because it’s so easy for someone with a great idea to share it with the world in an instant, the pace of innovation is accelerating -- and that opens up more areas than ever for exploration.’ As said by the founder of Microsoft, modern marketing still uses traditional tools, but as we accelerate forward at such fast pace, businesses must adapt to change quicker than ever before. Influencer Marketing has revolutionised the way we consume content marketing. We have evolved from the company and the consumer being two entities into becoming one. An influencer plays the role of the buyer themselves, making the advertising campaign more relatable for the consumer. The instantaneousness of social media combined with ordinary people makes the customer feel more attached to the product. The power of relatability encourages a regular person to see him/herself reflected in the product advertised. Since its inception in 2010, Instagram has evolved from a personal use platform to a global stage, an app where 50% of its 800 million users follow at least one business. On the surface, Instagram uses more imagery and less copy, but one photo can lead to more photos, accessing videos and further business links. Millennials are at the top of the marketing game, but there are still levels to be unlocked, new tools to be explored and vast scope for the future of marketing.

But what can businesses learn from such elite marketing history? Do not reinvent traditional methods – innovate them.