Marketing Monday – Marketing to Millennials

Marketing Monday is a weekly-ish feature about how to grow your business through the delicate and subtle science of telling people to buy your stuff.

One day around 400 BC, Socrates was hanging out in Athens, getting a tan while being fed grapes by mythical creatures and watching lions eat soldiers (or so Saturday morning cartoons and my fine arts education would lead me to believe) when he decided that he needed to declare his opinion of the younger generation. “The children now love luxury,” he lamented, probably while shaking his fists and yelling at kids to get out of his yard. “They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise.”

And then his culture became the basis for all the most debauched parties you ever attended in college.

Ephebiphobia (roughly translated as “the fear of youth,” because everything sounds cooler in Latin) has been around for millennia, but as we can see, the world is still more or less turning and we’re all mostly alive. And with a spending pattern of around $200 billion yearly, marketing to millennials is quickly becoming a vital part of any business strategy.

But old marketing strategies aren’t working for these kids any more. They’re extremely smart, they know when they’re being targeted in advertising, and they’re changing the face of marketing forever.

So how do you get through to this brave new market? By remembering this:

They shouldn’t be underestimated.

Millennials, like every other young generation in history, are often shown in an unflattering light. Unfortunately, as the first internet generation, they get exposed to a lot of that criticism almost constantly, as opposed to just hearing it occasionally from angry older people or on the news. These kids are solving world problems, championing causes, and shaping the future, and they’re getting pretty tired of being told that they’re entitled and stupid. An effective marketing strategy needs to keep in mind that this generation wants to be spoken to, and not yelled at. Which brings me to my next point:

They’re looking for authentic content.

Kids these days (I just aged ten years writing that) grew up knowing that they have access to all the information in the entire known universe available at their beck and call. They practically bleed online content, and they’ve seen enough of it to tell when they’re being condescended towards or lied to, or when they’re seen as nothing more than a wallet with a wifi connection. Your genuine personality has to show through in all of your marketing efforts.

It’s a good strategy to consult one or two millennials on what they want to hear and what sounds authentic to them when coming up with a marketing campaign. If you don’t know one personally, just stand in the middle of a skate park or shopping mall (that’s where kids hang out now, right?) or log on to any internet comment section and yell about dank memes (I actually have no idea what that means) and snacks. That should bring them running.

And on a related note, it’s wise to learn to speak their language. I admit, I don’t  know what a “fleek” is (I assume it’s some kind of trendy antelope) or why memes are suddenly becoming so dank. But if I’m working on a campaign for millennials, I know that I have to make a sincere effort to learn that stuff in order to effectively communicate with them.

And from now on, you will hear “fleek” and see this. You’re welcome.

They’re consulting each other on everything.

Millennials know how to mine a crowd for resources. They’re looking for advice from their friends and network of friendly internet strangers on nearly everything, from things as small as makeup brands or dinner suggestions, to whether or not they should go into certain careers or move to different states. You aren’t just marketing to one small group of Generation Y-ers; you’re marketing to all of them.

They want an interactive experience.

The thing about growing up with the entire world available to them is that now the youths (I’m going to be 90 years old by the end of this blog) know that their words and experiences and opinions matter. They want to be a part of the experience. They want to see tutorials and testimonials from other shoppers. And most importantly, they want the opportunity to talk about themselves. The more involved they are in their own marketing, the better.

They prefer to share.

The increasing popularity of sites like Spotify, Airbnb and Uber is an indication that the younger generation would rather share than buy. They have no problem paying to access a service temporarily, as opposed to buying and owning something that they won’t always need.

They aren’t reading newspapers or opening mailers, so stop using them.

The key to marketing to millennials is to use the same platforms that they are. They’re reading e-books and blog posts, and spending time on social media. Any money spent on millennial campaigns that use “traditional” methods will probably end up being a waste of money.

We have seen the future, and it looks… kinda silly, to be honest.

They know what they’re looking for.

When a millennial goes looking for something online, they probably already have a pretty good idea of what they’re trying to find. Distracting things like pop-ups are just going to irritate this generation, and put them off of whatever it is you’re selling. They want, and will only tolerate, suggestions, not proclamations. This is why content marketing is so effective with this generation. Content marketing, to put it simply, presents an idea and concept through platforms like videos, blog posts and articles. The idea is discussed, and most importantly, it doesn’t try to sell anything outright. Millennials want to come to conclusions on their own, they don’t need their hands held.

Does this all seem a bit complicated? No worries! PayGo’s Marketing Services will speak to the millennials for you (toga parties optional).

Want to see more Marketing Monday posts? Click here!