Every major company, entrepreneur and member of our modern workforce should care about a generation of consumers who will outspend Boomers by 2018 with almost $3.4 trillion in spending power. However, while everyone has an opinion about marketing to this increasingly-dominant age demographic, few people ask Millennials themselves about new marketing trends influencing their generation.
Knowing how to effectively reach a generation that receives thousands of marketing messages a day from dozens of different platforms allows your products and services to stand out. Today, marketing to Millennials in sleazy, salesy and scammy ways will hurt your brand more than not marketing at all.
20-year-old entrepreneur and TED speaker Jared Kleinert and 24-year-old award-winning writer and Millennial expert Caroline Beaton have recently teamed up through a new partnership between their marketing consulting firms to help the world more effectively market to members of their generation. They recently shared with me some of their experience and research on how you can better market to Millennials.
Transparency and Authenticity
Transparency and authenticity should be at the core of your marketing efforts. For one, we can easily fact-check every claim, story and presentation of products and services we learn about. What happens when people or brands aren't authentic in their presentation or lack transparency?
Last August, Jared penned an article in TIME about "How 2016 Candidates Can Win Over Millennial Voters" discussing the savvy of Millennial voters who have the same computing power and connectivity in their pockets that the U.S. government used to put man on the moon a few generations prior. He asked politicians over six months ago to, "Stop wasting our microwave-like attentiveness exaggerating statistics you haven't researched that will be fact-checked and called out by the media and public at large."
If you want your business to fare better than many of the politicians and their campaigns in the 2016 Presidential race, be transparent about what you do and why you do it. Take consumers behind the scenes. Show us how your products are made, and why it is important. Give Millennials the opportunity to share their authentic selves through your brand. One great recent example is the "Straight Outta" campaign used to promote the Straight Outta Compton movie, for which people were able to slap an editable filter on top of their pictures to proudly share their hometown.
Part of being transparent and authentic is calling out problems when you see them-and then fixing them immediately. Whether this means confronting problems with your own brand (like Dominos did with advertisements asking the public for feedback in making new pizza recipes) or attacking problems in the marketplace (like Taylor Swift calling out Apple for not properly compensating artists for their music), healthy confrontation will lead to problem-solving and better products and services.
Confrontation also means polarizing consumers with your story and what your brand exists to serve. With so much noise in the marketplace, getting consumers to buy from you over other providers requires you to focus on the ideal customers you want to work with and speak directly to them about why they should buy from you. This is uncomfortable because generalizing your marketing may feel better in the short term as you logically think that "casting a wider net" will result in more sales. But, in the long term, this strategy doesn't work because it won't capture anyone's attention.
Implementing confrontation is simple. Jared explains, "Learn more about who buys from you, focus your messaging specifically to your ideal customers only, and confront their problems with your solutions rather than generalizing."
Getting Everyone In The Room To Make Decisions Quickly
When marketing to Millennials, many companies waste precious time, energy and money thinking about what medium to market through--whether it's what social media platforms to use or what strategies to consider (social media marketing versus content marketing versus event-based marketing). Instead of testing different mediums haphazardly, Jared emphasizes that "a better use of resources and brainpower is to get everyone in the room together to make decisions quickly and strategize the process for testing new marketing channels."
Running various marketing campaigns without having a strategy for determining their effectiveness or a baseline for how to decide what to spend money on versus what to hold off on is suicide to your marketing budget. A quick meeting with all internal stakeholders and a few external consultants or industry influencers will set the tone for 3-6 months of marketing efforts, and is a great use of face time in a digitally-dominated world.
Notice how getting everyone in the room and making decisions quickly only works if you commit to a plan of action for the next few months after such meetings. "Marketing, like everything else, becomes exponentially impactful the more you invest in it," Caroline says. One-off articles about your business isn't going to drive new business, but a dedicated content marketing plan with scheduled posts on various guest blogs, platforms like Medium and YouTube and consistency over six months should bring you business (if you're transparent, authentic, and confrontational).
The best personal brands out there right now are from people who have daily vlogs on YouTube, send out five snaps a day on Snapchat, tweet religiously, release a new song every Friday, or otherwise find ways to be consistent in their marketing efforts. The companies with the best brands are blogging a few times per week, creating commercial series that build off one another and tell a story over time and committing to a new way of speaking about their brand to show commitment to their consumers (such as Millennials).
One Super Bowl ad won't make your brand, but strategic marketing over the next year using the latest marketing platforms focused on learning from the data of target consumers will result in new business at alarming scale.