One cleaner in the Midwest, living and working in a fairly affluent city, discussed with a few friends what he called “the perfect customer.”

According to him, this perfect customer would be 55 years of age or older, a homeowner with a steady job with plenty of disposable income… with a spouse who also works and adds to that disposable income.

A close second would be someone retired with a nice home and substantial savings account, with no desire to do any type of “do-it-yourself” carpet cleaning. Any type of water or fire damage prompts a quick call to a restoration contractor as well.

Sounds kind of like those baby boomers we have heard so much about.

What a great feeling it is when you land what some call the perfect customer. Maybe the descriptions above include the types of customer you target.

The perfect customer, however, may add to what could be called “short-sighted” marketing.

Widen your aim

At a recent trade show, I had an enlightening conversation with Fittlebug creator Steve Mastio. We both noticed that most cleaning companies (and some restoration companies as well), spend their marketing efforts — virtually all of them — trying to get the baby boomer generation to be their client list.

This makes sense, since they have more money than the younger generation. I ran across a quote from the Washington Post a couple of years ago that said, “The wealth gap between young and old Americans has never been so huge. Households headed by 65-and-ups have 47 times the net worth of those headed by people under 35. Median net worth for 65-and-older households? $170,494. For us younger folks? $3,662.”

From a marketing standpoint, going after the “old Americans” (hey, not my words) is a smart financial move.

Right behind the baby boomer generation is Generation X. That’s my own crowd, as I am happy to say I missed the baby boomer generation by the skin of my teeth. As a Gen Xer, I do get plenty of targeted solicitations for all types of products and services specifically for homeowners who are solidly entrenched in a “regular job.”

Something to consider is this: Could a marketing strategy that concentrates mainly on the boomer and Gen X crowd — lucrative as it may seem — be shortsighted?

After all, both are an aging group of people. Not trying to be morbid here (I think the last of the baby boomer generation just turned 50), but these folks won't be around forever… They, as customers, will need to be replaced. The Gen X group will be around longer, but as a business owner, you have to think about the long term.

That means it may be time to take a good, close look at the next up-and-coming group: The Millennial generation, or Generation Y. This group is generally acknowledged to have birth years from the early 1980s up to the late 1990s. You find all kinds of different opinions on that, but let’s just say they were young people around the turn of the century.

Does the younger generation have money to spend? Should you market to them? And if you do, how will you do it?

Let’s discuss this in more detail next month…