I’m pretty new to the business world. In fact, I graduated from a huge party school (University of Central Florida) with a degree in Marketing pretty recently.
That specific combination of events usually leads to someone who’s moved back home with their parents, working retail, looking for a job once they wake up at noon, partying every night, and repeating the cycle. They can’t find a job because most entry-level marketing positions want candidates to have at least 2 years of experience (something that blows my mind) and/or very specific internship experience. And when they do get interviews, they never seem to go the way they thought it went in their head. Lucky for me, I didn’t fall into this cycle — well, I didn’t stay in this cycle past my initial 3 post-graduation months.
Fast forward a year, I’m working at one of the top ad agencies in New Orleans as a Social Media Coordinator. Every day, I’m reading up on the latest digital advertising and social media news, making sure I stay on trend with everything that’s happening in my industry. And it seems like everyday, I see a new article that’s titled some variation of “How To Market To Millennials.”
But the common denominator I find in all of these articles comes in the fact that the author is typically over the age of 40. The author is almost always NEVER a millennial themselves. And if they are, they’re a “millennial” that was born in the early 80's, one that shares similar characteristics with the generation before them. Can we all agree that someone who’s 34 is probably not into the same clothing, TV shows or home products as someone who’s still in college or high school?
So why is it that these are the so-called “millennial experts” we listen to when we want to know how to market to millennials?
To me, if you want to market to a millennial, that means you want to market to someone like me: a single, college-aged guy who’s just starting “adult life.” Someone who doesn’t necessarily want to pay for cable, so I stream TV shows on my phone via Netflix and HBOGo while my Uber driver takes me to the airport. Or maybe you’re wanting to market to that 17-year old girl that listens to Meghan Trainor on Spotify and watches make-up tutorials on YouTube to learn what’s on-trend.
Here’s what you Gen X’ers should do:
1. Get online.
This one is a bit of a no-brainer, but oddly enough, a lot of companies have a god-awful digital presence. WE live on our phones. WE take them everywhere: to the bathroom, to the pool, to bed…everywhere. We check social media every waking chance we get, due to F.O.M.O. — Fear Of Missing Out. So take advantage of that.
2. Appeal to our emotions.
Wow us. Make us laugh hysterically. Make us cry. Make us want to show our friends what we’ve just seen. If you’re not appealing to our emotions, you’re not getting you’re full money’s worth. If I see a hilarious ad on TV or during the pre-roll of my YouTube video, I’m going to go find it on Youtube and share it with my 3,000 followers on Twitter and BOOM — your commercial’s potential reach just multiplied exponentially. Same applies to anything you post on your social media channels. Don’t just post to say you posted. Post with a purpose.
3. Give your brand a voice, a personal voice.
WE don’t follow brands that sound like robots on social media. If you’re target demographic is college-aged males, we don’t want to see copy that is super PG and grammatically correct. Tell a joke, curse every now and then. Relate to us. A great example of this is Frank Body Scrub. The target demographic for this coffee-based body scrub is the college-aged female, so in all of the marketing efforts, “Frank” is a male voice talking to the audience, and “Frank” is very cheeky and flirtatious with his delivery. And Frank Bod’s fanbase absolutely loves that.
No one likes a lazy brand that schedules out generic social media posts. Brands should actually care about their customers. Prime example: Chipotle. If you take a gander at Chipotle’s Twitter page, you see that they are answering nearly every tweet they get. And that makes people happy. They’ve tweeted me a few times, and every time I feel like I’ve made it in life and I suddenly crave burritos. It’s the little things.
4. Tell a story.
Whether you’re doing a TV commercial or an in-store experiential marketing event, tell a story. If you’re a soda company, I don’t care to see your soda can every 5 seconds. Give your product a lifestyle. When you go on dates, you want to get to know a person’s hobbies, what they like to eat, where they like to travel, who their favorite celebrities are. You don’t just go to see more pictures of that person.
Bring that same line of questioning to your brand. I’m not telling you to make a Tinder profile for your product, but give it some personality. Imagine the interests of a person that would buy your product, and use that in your marketing plan. If you sell snowboard parts, imagine the lifestyle of someone who would buy your product. Market not only your physical product, but the freeing feeling your customers will get when they’re racing down a mountain; the heart-pounding adrenaline they’ll feel. Market the cold air hitting their skin. Hold contests where your fans send in their best snowboarding pics, while using a branded hashtag that you’ve created.
The best example there could ever be for this is what Redbull does on any given day. They are the masters of lifestyle branding. Redbull itself is an energy drink, but they’ve aligned themselves heavily with extreme sports and travel to curate the lifestyle of someone who would drinks Redbull. So when you think of Redbull, you think of so much more than just a can of liquid energy that’s sold at gas stations.
5. Free Trials
Let us try a product for free before buying. This has worked wonders for companies like Warby Parker, an online eyewear company that sends you 5 pairs of glasses to try on at home (on a trial basis) before you ever have to purchase anything from their site. Genius. In an age where the Internet is King, WE still want that tangibility factor when making purchases.
6. Hire Us!
Once you take into consideration everything I’ve mentioned above, it’s time to take action. But in order to achieve full millennial sales potential, you’ll need an actual millennial or two or ten.
You need us, just as much as we need you.
We want to learn and grow. We’re the most diverse generation in history. Our generation is the most accepting of change, something that is vital for the continuous progression of your business to heights it has yet to reach!
We’re essential to your brand’s future. We’re the ones buying your products, so don’t you think we should be involved in the sales process? Research shows that by 2020, millennials will make up nearly 50 percent of the workforce.
Don’t get left behind; hire us and take us serious as soon as you can! Don’t just hire us to file papers and make copies, take our opinions and seriously and let us contribute to your products growth. ESPECIALLY if we are you target demographic to begin with!
These are just a few, but probably the most important (in my young, 23-year old eyes) ways to connect with and market to millennials. Connect with me on Twitter, and we can chat even more about millennial marketing!
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