A Guide to Millennial-Focused Marketing

Millennials. For those unfamiliar with the term, it’s a word used to define the generation born in the early ’80s. They are the children of Baby Boomers and “kids” who have developed very different habits from the previous generations (especially when it comes to spending money)! It has been estimated that upwards of two hundred billion dollars flow within this market segment. It’s no wonder that companies are doing their best to earn this generation’s trust and business.

Every generation has its own special twist. Millennials however, require a slightly different approach when marketing to them. You see, they grew up with television and mass media. They have been exposed to advertising for a large part of their lives. They are smart enough to know when they are being sold to and their overexposure to marketing has allowed them to develop tolerance to a marketer’s message. So if you want to win a millennial, the first thing you must do is look at them as a human being. Not as a prospect. They prefer a personal touch. And when they become satisfied with your efforts, you can rest-assured that they send out social signs like crazy and rave about you in a positive manner to their peers.

In other words, if you appeal to them the right way and gain their trust, not only will you be granted their business, but you will also receive the benefit of word of mouth advertising on a massive level.

Surprisingly, one of the hardest things companies are facing right now is figuring out the correct ways to win a millennials business.

But don’t worry. We can help you.

Here are 5 sure-fire strategies that’ll put you in the right direction.

Follow their attention span – Go Mobile

This generation has been hardwired to keep their eyeballs glued to a smartphone. Ask yourself: is my marketing strategy able to effectively reach millennials according to their behavior?  Start with the basics.  Are your landing pages optimized for mobile? People are impatient these days. Their attention spans keep getting smaller. So make sure your pages load quickly, are mobile friendly and have a clear call to action. This will allow you to have their attention.

Once that’s taken care of start thinking about different and innovative ways in which you can use mobile for your marketing campaign.  An example would be Kiip.  They are a mobile rewards network that connects companies with users during significant moments of online gameplay.  One of the things that they offer is to allow brands to sponsor a game with an in-game reward.  This sort of advertising is extremely welcomed by millennials.  They’ve grown used to being bombarded by intrusive online advertising.  Once you place your brand inside the game (in a way that does not interrupt them), then you will most likely to get their attention.

Follow the leader

In a world where everything you’ve ever wanted to know is just a search away, traditional advertising is seen as an unnecessary and unwanted interruption. We don’t need to be educated about your products. Millennials can tune out your ads with the click of a button. They go online to seek out the information that they want. They don’t need your explanation and intrusiveness.  This alone has caused a major shift in how we market to them.

Instead of relying on traditional outbound advertising, where you aggressively place your product or service in the face of your prospects, you should be developing a strategic partnership with online influencers that this generation loves and trusts. YouTube personalities, instagrammers, bloggers, podcasters, and other relevant web celebrities are a great way to tap into the lives of millennials.  As a matter of fact, a recent study found that millennials are largely influenced by their friends and the people they follow on social media.  So if you are able to successfully penetrate into their sphere of influence, you can build your reputation through word of mouth on a massive scale, very quickly.

Be connected on social media

Just about every business is present on social media in 2016.  Unfortunately, not everyone is using the correct strategies to properly engage with millennials in the marketplace. What most people fail to realize is that just being present on these platforms is not enough.  You need to engage with your customers and be able to communicate with them as clearly and effectively as possible.

When this process is done correctly, the messages you send out to your audience on these channels should be extremely personal and should make them feel very unique and special. (After all, this is the most self-centered generation we’re talking about).

Here 4 tricks you can use

  • Develop a loyalty program for fans
  • Engage with customer comments by using a more human approach (no canned responses).
  • Hold sweepstakes
  • Feature your user’s content on your own channel.

Many successful Instagram campaigns feature photos taken by their customers. Let’s take the retailer Apt2B for example. They encourage their customers to take pictures of their purchases so other people can see their products in someone’s real home.  This is a win-win strategy because people get a raw overview about the product (not something in a show room) and at the same time, the person feels good about being seen, heard, and appreciated by the company.

A Guide to Millennial-Focused Marketing

Create content that’s real

While millennials have developed the ability to abolish any form of traditional advertising influence from their brains, they still value any type of information that seems to be authentic.  So rather than trying to pitch and hard-sell them at any chance you can get, try providing your audience with genuinely useful, informative, and entertaining content.

The more they interact and engage with this type of information, the more your message will slowly seep in, (especially if they feel that your business shares the same core values as them).

In order to have an effective marketing campaign, it’s pretty obvious that you need to know your audience in order to speak their language. When millennials hear words that sound as if they have come from their friends (rather than a TV commercial), they are much more likely to trust and hear what you have to say.  If you can provide this type of information on a regular basis,  not only will they respond favorably to it, but you’ll be one step closer into building a long-lasting and genuine relationship with them.

A great example of this process being implemented is Chipotle’s Farmed and Dangerous web series.  It features a self-sufficient millennial farmer battling against a giant food production corporation.  They were able to get their message across in a sophisticated and entertaining manner. And best of all, it got shared. A lot.

A Guide to Millennial-Focused Marketing

Let them speak

Millennials are more than just consumers.  They are interested in getting their hands dirty too. They want to be responsible for helping create a better product.  It wasn’t so long ago that companies would simply create products and hope that people would buy them. Now, since there are so many options in the marketplace, it makes sense to get a first-hand perspective and live feedback from your target market. This approach gives them a sense of importance and a feeling of satisfaction knowing that your product was built with them in mind.

Take the Lay’s “do us a flavor” campaign for example. For the last couple of years, they asked their fans to suggest new flavor ideas and vote on the best ones. (I personally love potato chips, so the more the merrier).

By personally reaching out to your target audience and allowing them to be a part of your product creation process through sweepstakes or social media campaigns, you are allowing them to directly influence the process.  This gives them a sense of ownership, which leads to an increase in brand awareness and loyalty.

Final Words

Marketing to millennials isn’t brain surgery.  In fact, it’s actually quite intuitive.  All that they ask for is a personal touch.  They have gotten tired of canned proposals and a robotic sense of communication.  The most important aspect that one can gain from all of this is that you should not really talk to them, but actually engage with them.  By listening to what your customers have to say you provide them with empathy and allow them to discover your brand through a permission based marketing approach.

After seeing such a major shift in marketing and witnessing companies gravitate towards this new model, I think we can safely say that this is more than just a simple trend. We can expect this approach to continue through generations to come. And the sooner we learn it, the faster we will reap its rewards.

Reference: Many thanks to Wes McDowell who has been a great help in the writing of this post. He works as the head of web strategy at a Chicago web design agency. In addition to helping client navigate the murky waters of internet marketing, he loves sharing his knowledge on design, usability and marketing through blogging and his podcast.