By now, it's common knowledge that content marketing is a smart strategy. A full 92 percent of marketers embrace content marketing as a choice method, and 58 percent of them plan to increase content marketing budgets (source).

Like any marketing method, however, content marketing needs focus. It's not enough to simply publish content. Instead, marketers must define who they want to reach and how they're going to do it.

Millennials are a great marketing target. The question is: How do you conduct a content marketing approach that will connect with them? Here are the five techniques proven to get results.

1. Listen before you speak.

The first technique isn't much of a technique at all. It involves listening.

Why is listening so important? The key reason is differentiation.

Millennials are not a homogenous group. Many marketers make the mistake of developing Millennial stereotypes. In reality, Millennials are diverse. You can't expect to target them and come away with a streamlined strategy. Such a strategy is, in effect, not a strategy at all. Your marketing net is too wide.

The antidote is social listening. Social listening allows you to understand the nuances of your particular Millennial audience as distinct from the Millennial generation as a whole.

Invest in social listening tools that allow you to keep a pulse on what Millennials are saying how they are interacting, and what they want more of. As a result, you'll come away with real information, not Millennial market myth.

Generalizations are impossible to avoid. The sections that follow are, in part, guilty of making generalized recommendations regarding a Millennial strategy. For this reason, it is important to front-load the hard work of understanding your audience before unleashing a strategy.

2. Make it personal.

Content needs a personal vibe in order to truly resonate with Millennials. Few people are going to engage with disembodied corporate jargon. Instead, shape your content in such a way that it refers explicitly to two people -- yourself and your audience.

The best way to create personal content is through the use of personal pronouns -- "you" and "me." When you create content, refer to yourself as the writer. As an author, you have a place in the marketing process. A trend I will identify below -- the personal brand -- is part of this strategy. Refer to yourself. Tell personal stories. Use "me," "my," and "I."

In addition, refer to the reader. Words like "you" and "your" are virtually the only way to refer to the reader. Make smart use of them as you create your content.

3. Grow your personal brand.

Millennials have demonstrated a proclivity toward the personal brand. Personal branding is the development of a public identity that achieves an intended marketing result. To put it crudely, it's selling yourself.

Take, for example, the trend of lifestyle marketing. Lifestyle content marketing is a hybrid of personal branding that focuses on one's own identity, achievements, possessions, etc., with the goal of selling stuff.

Entrepreneur magazine declares that lifestyle content can "revamp your company's marketing strategy." Large corporate brands such as Red Bull, Subaru, and Whole Foods attempt to drive a corporate application of the lifestyle marketing approach.

The technique works best, however, for individuals. Individuals can be personal. Individuals can be authentic.

Personalities like the Food Babe, Kim Kardashian, Ramit Sethi, and even Barbie, use their lifestyle, voice, and personal brands to sell their products and services. My own approach, by virtue of my personal blog, has elements of the lifestyle approach.

People love other people, not corporations. By replacing mere "content marketing" with personal branding or lifestyle marketing, you'll go much further in the minds of Millennials.

4. Keep your visual quality top-notch.

As digital natives, Millennials pass judgment on websites that lack visual panache. A shoddy design job is an instant turnoff.

Content alone is not a strategy. Such content must be accompanied and enhanced by a full-orbed design, UX, and information architecture. Give due worth to the process of planning, wire-framing, and iterating each stage of your website development. Design, usability, and visual appeal matter, especially for this generation.

5. Use a multi-device, multi-channel presence.

Marketers love to throw around jargon like "multi-channel" or "multi-device." When it comes to Millennial marketing, these aren't just buzzwords; they're de rigueur.

Marketing has evolved to the point where it's not merely enough to have a responsive design, or a mobile-friendly website. You need a robust strategy that engages users wherever they are (multi-channel), and however they do it (multi-device.)

The Millennial generation does not engage brands via a single method. They engage brands in a broad, holistic way. They may engage through a mobile Twitter follow, a tablet Facebook ad clickthrough, or an organic informational query.

The possibilities are endless. Thus, the content strategy of the Millennial-targeting brand should be equally ubiquitous.

Admittedly, this is a tall order. Omnipresence is impossible. That's why I introduced this article with the importance of listening. To realistically define your marketing parameters, select the places where your Millennial audience is likely to spend most of its time and where it is most engaged with brands. In addition, focus on what you do best.

A well-executed marketing presence in one place is better than a half-baked presence in every place.

Final thoughts.

The key takeaway is this: To reach Millennials with your content, you must target Millennials with your content.

This statement demands a caveat. Millennial is a catch-all generational term that does not itself comprise a target market. Millennials are a wider, broader, and more diverse audience than one might initially think. Listen before you speak.

How do you target Millennials with your content marketing?

Published on: Aug 13, 2015