Millennials: the media’s favorite scapegoats, and the marketing industry’s most frequent headaches. Who even knows what millennials like these days? Last week, everything was fleek, and we were only living once. Now, people are flossing (and not just their teeth) and everyone’s fangirling over Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
If you’re a marketer, trying to keep your finger on the pulse of what’s hot with millennials can seem impossible. But knowing what the latest memes are isn’t the best way to approach marketing to millennials. Read on to learn how to market to millennials and why it may not be as maddening as you might think.
Let’s Talk About Millennials
Before we get into how to market to millennials, it’s important that we answer the question who are millennials? The generation has a reputation for being rather spottily defined. The age range can run from those born in 1987 all the way to those born in 2004.
In general, most people agree that millennials include those born between 1985 and 2000. Most people think of millennials as being teenagers (with all the pesky, entitled traits of that group of people). But some of the oldest millennials are entering their mid-thirties this year, while the youngest are halfway through their college careers.
You’ve probably heard a whole raft of adjectives applied to millennials – entitled, lazy, and cheap being a few. Mainstream marketing has accused them of killing everything from the real estate market to the diamond industry. But moaning about millennials’ many perceived faults won’t help you market to them.
Here are some things you should know about millennials: they’re smart, and they are go-getters. A third of millennials old enough to have completed a college degree have done so. And in the last five years, 87 percent of them took on a management position at their company.
Keep It Personal
So where do you start when it comes to marketing to millennials? The first thing you have to remember is that you need to keep things personal. Generic mass-marketing won’t appeal to most millennials; they’ve seen too much of it to fall for those tricks.
Instead, you need to custom-tailor your marketing to the segment of the millennial population you want to reach. Use integrated marketing communications to reach potential customers who are specifically interested in your product. And tailor your advertising style to suit the personality you’re trying to sell to.
Give Them a Voice
One of the things that drives millennials crazy about mass marketing is the way it gets pushed on them. They feel like brands don’t care about them at all; they’re just another dollar in the bottom line. A good way to avoid that and capture millennial attention is to give them a voice in your company.
A great example of a company that has done this well is Radian Jeans, a company that specializes in women’s jeans with reasonable pockets. A quick search will turn up dozens of articles complaining about and discussing the lack of real pockets on women’s pants. This company has listened to their customers and provided a solution, and it shows; They have raised $216,000 of their $15,000 goal on Kickstarter.
Focus on Use
As the real estate, car, and textbook industries have discovered, for most millennials, use is more important than ownership. A few decades ago, owning a car or a house was seen as a sort of social benchmark; the ownership was an important factor. These days, millennials are looking at those bank notes and saying, “We can’t afford that!”
If there’s a way to let millennials use your product without having to pay for full ownership of it, take advantage of that. Providing a cheaper alternative to buying a product will make millennials more willing to spend their money with you. True, you may make less per sale, but you’re going to get a lot more sales.
One of society’s favorite things to complain about when it comes to millennials is how attached they are to their phones. And in this case, the stereotype has some legitimate grounds; millennials spend more time on their smartphones than any other generation. But if you’re a marketer, this statistic works in your favor.
One of the most important things you can do when it comes to marketing to millennials is to meet them where they are. Make your ads mobile-friendly, and put them on social media platforms. Millennials aren’t going to pay a bit of attention to an ad in the newspaper or a magazine; they will notice one that shows up in their Facebook or Instagram feed.
Have a Cause
Millennials don’t have as much money as previous generations, so they spend a lot more time thinking about where it goes. Not just any company or product is worthy of getting some of their precious resources. So how does a company convince their millennial customers that they should spend their money with that company?
One great way to attract millennial customers is to use part of your company’s proceeds to support a cause. Millennials want to see that their money is helping to make a difference in the world. Agreeing to donate a part of your proceeds to a charity or to help employ underprivileged populations can draw in your millennial audience.
Use Word of Mouth Advertising
As we mentioned before, mass media advertising doesn’t work especially well with millennials. They’ve seen too much of it and spent too much time on the internet to trust any of it. In fact, one study showed that only 6 percent of millennials trust advertising they’ve seen online.
Given that usual advertising tactics won’t work with millennials, how do you get them to trust your brand? The answer is to use word-of-mouth marketing; show them a real person supporting your brand. One great way to do this if you can swing it is to have a social media influencer or popular blog review your product.
One of the most important things to remember about millennials is how inundated they have become with advertising. They grew up in the digital age, with advertising blaring at them everywhere from public restrooms to gas pumps. They’ve learned to distinguish between someone who’s genuinely excited about a product and someone who’s just looking to make a buck.
One of the best ways you can draw millennials in is to be authentic with your media outreach. You believe your product is a good one that’s worth spending money on, right? Let that genuine enthusiasm shine through in your marketing; that realness will get millennial customers’ attention
As we’ve discussed, millennials aren’t the type to throw their money around without knowing what they’re getting for it. They want to be sure their hard-earned dollars are going to a company they trust for a product they like. And in the age of the internet, a big part of this information comes from them reading blog posts.
Providing information about your product and your expertise to millennials before you ever sell them anything is a great way to draw them in. They’ll read your blog, come to trust your expertise and be more likely to buy your products. The fact that you’re reading this right now is proof that this strategy works.
Give Them an Experience
Millennials have grown up in the society of disposable products; from cameras to plastic bags, they learned that everything material winds up in the trash. In fact, they’ve learned this lesson so well that they’ve begun to push back against it. But what this means for your company is that you should be more focused on selling millennials an experience than selling them a product.
The Maya Angelou quote holds true when it comes to millennial spending: “I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” You want to focus on the experience your product will give millennials. Focus in your marketing on the emotional benefits or the great memories your product can provide to them.
Focus on Video
These days, with video capabilities available to every person with a smartphone, the format has become a powerful tool in marketing. It seems like every other post on social media is an auto play video. And it’s working; 64 percent of consumers make a purchase after watching a branded social video.
With video marketing being such a powerful tool, your company can’t afford to ignore it. Make video a central part of your marketing efforts. It’ll draw millennials in, and then you have a chance to tell them why they should choose your company.
If you’re in marketing, you’ve probably seen some of the tweets that have gone viral after a company responded to a customer. Everyone loves reading these, because it strips away the professional façade many companies maintain. (We’ll talk more about how to use that in your marketing in a minute.)
The popularity of these tweets provides another powerful marketing tip: be responsive to your customers. Millennials are going to be more willing to spend their money with your company if they feel like you’re listening to them. Responding to them on social media as often as possible can help build a rapport (and a customer base) with them.
Think Outside the Box
In an age where advertising is everywhere we look, millennials have gotten good at tuning most of it out. They ignore billboards, mute television commercials, and throw out direct mail pieces without so much as a second glance. In a world of ten million other advertising voices, how do you get millennials to pay attention to yours?
The answer is to get creative with your marketing; if you can come up with something really unique, it’s going to grab millennials’ attention. Try to find a fun way to get your name out there that doesn’t rely on traditional advertising methods. Here’s a hint: if it involves them getting something free, millennials are likely to love it.
Don’t Take Yourself Too Seriously
The defining characteristic of all those tweets that got so popular is that the companies broke out of their professional shell. A lot of times, we feel like we have to be polite, articulate, and inoffensive to maintain credibility as professional organizations. But these tweets show that every now and then, letting someone know what you really think can grab some attention.
In your social media campaigns, and especially on short-form platforms like Twitter, don’t take yourself so seriously. Be willing to be genuine and maybe a little sassy with people who tweet at you or in announcements about company news. That air of approachability will help millennials feel more connected to your company and will drive up sales.
Learn How to Market to Millennials
Marketing to millennials is less a matter of knowing what’s currently hot on social media and more a matter of knowing what influences millennials. As a generation, they grew up in an era where money was tight, nobody was to be trusted, and anyone who puts on a professional face is probably lying to you for their own gain. Be genuine, respect their frugality, and meet them where they are, and you’ll see your millennial sales rise faster than the retweets on that one egg photo.
If you’d like to learn more about how to market to millennials and other advertising tips, visit the rest of our site at BitBranding. We provide video production, website and graphic design services, and advice on social media marketing and reputation management. Get in contact with us today to start growing your company’s online presence.
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