Social media and the Millennial generation have changed American culture in many ways, but perhaps one of the most influential has been the embrace of the DIY mindset.
Young urbanites are canning their own food. People who've never built a thing in their lives are building patios and garden beds. Suburban professionals who've never been naturally crafty are trying their hands at wreath-making and candle-dipping.
Like any cultural shift, this expansion of the DIY movement into mainstream, popular culture has ramifications for digital marketers. How do we tap into this newly expanded demographic? How do we make sure we're giving them what they want.
Here are a few important points about the DIY mindset and how to address it in your marketing efforts.
Engagement isn't enough - DIYers want participation and co-creation.
For those with a DIY mindset (which is to say, a majority of Millennials), brands that only offer opportunities to engage aren't going far enough.
DIYers want to participate in something bigger. They want to co-create something with your brand. For this reason, brands that want to connect with the DIY demographic need to push themselves out of their comfort zones when it comes to their typical content.
A perfect example of this is Starbucks' Red Cup Contest.
Playing on the excitement that Starbucks customers express around the annual appearance of their holiday red cups, Starbucks created an Instagram contest inviting customers to use the cups as a canvas to create their own red cup art. Participants uploaded pictures of their creations to Instagram, and Starbucks shared the company's favorites. In 2016, the coffee chain selected several designs to be distributed in Starbucks cafes nationwide.
A bonus to this kind of co-creation is that you can end up with loads of high-quality user-generated content, or UGC. This will, in turn, generate even more interest in your social media feeds, which can generate more UGC, in an ongoing cycle.
DIY is about identity and personalization more than price.
A common misconception about DIYers is that they choose the DIY approach in order to save money.
While this may be true in some circumstances, overall, the majority of DIYers take on DIY projects because they enjoy doing them. It's about the journey and the experience - which isn't surprising, given the research we've seen showing that Millennials, in general, are more interested in experiences than in things.
This leads me to a vital principle that digital marketers have to understand if they want to be successful in today's social media landscape.
I call it Customer Focus, but I don't mean that in the traditional, customer service context.
Instead, as I write about in my book Momentum, modern customer focus means considering what doing business with your brand allows a customer to say about his or her own brand.
People who shop at Whole Foods, for example, do so not only because they like the store's products, or their environmentally-friendly ethos. They also shop at Whole Foods because it lets them showcase a part of their own identity.
This principle is also heavily at work for DIYers. Just like everyone else, DIYers have a drive to share their identity with the world (or, at least, with their social media connections).
To make an authentic connection with them, your brand needs to focus more on this identity question than on product features or cost.
Give them the content they want. If you do it right, the sales will come.
One quandary that many marketers run into when trying to market to DIY customers is the fear that if they give away too much information - in other words, too much of what the customer actually wants - they'll lose in sales. If the customer can get all the info they need for free, what's going to keep them spending money with you?
The truth, however, is that if you're consistently giving your customers the content they want, the sales will come.
Take a look at Lowe's YouTube channel, for example. They offer a huge library of how-to and project idea videos - and all for free. While there's a chance that many people who watch the videos won't head to Lowe's to get the materials they need, you can be certain that a greater number of viewers do - and that they'll probably return to Lowe's YouTube when they're ready to embark on their next DIY project.
What's more, people who weren't considering doing a DIY project may stumble across one of Lowe's how-tos, and find something they want to try. Now Lowe's has converted a new customer.
Don't waste time trying to hide information from your customers. Instead, give them what they want. Not only can this help you find and convert new customers, but it can also help you maintain your current ones. After all, transparency is one of the most important values customers want to see in the brands they support.
The DIY demographic has expanded in recent years, which is greatly affecting digital marketers. Understanding how to connect with these consumers will help you give your brand a major boost.