Okay, well, maybe not every brand. Nursing homes, funeral homes and incontinence solutions might be exempt. However, for the rest of you, Millennials might be more important to your marketing strategy than you ever imagined.
Because Millennials haven't yet made up their minds about how they're going to spend their money, or to what brands they're going to pledge their loyalty.
Maybe you've noticed that beer commercials, vacation resort advertisements and other such campaigns appear to be targeted at younger generations…even though those people are barely of legal drinking age, or don't have the income for a fancy week-long vacation to the Caribbean. That's because Gen Xers and Baby Boomers, for the most part, have their minds made up. They have named their favourite brands and aren't influenced as much by marketing as younger people are.
Does this mean you have to change your entire marketing strategy to now target Millennials…who may not even be your target demographic? No, it doesn't. What it does mean is that your marketing campaigns will be far more effective if you understand the role Millennials play in your industry and market.
A Millennial-Friendly Marketing Strategy
If your brand is one that Millennials might use (or will use in the near future), you're going to have to make some considerations for how they like to absorb information, as well as what's important to them.
Here are some points that will help you get started:
- Think in Terms of Social Groups, Rather than Age. In the past, marketers focussed on age to determine what target markets would be interested in. Modern society is shaking that up. Go to any hipster hang-out and you'll see people who have lots in common…and very rarely does that have anything to do with age. So, for your purposes, I would suggest that you talk less about age and life stages, and more about common interests.
- Avoid Defining Family. Millennials are growing up in a world where family is no longer defined with gender, numbers and DNA. They refuse to pigeonhole the definition of family, and instead leave that to individual preference and circumstance. What does that mean for you, as a marketer? I would recommend speaking about family in terms of love, affection and teamwork, rather than in terms of Mom, Dad, son and daughter.
- Forget About Traditional Milestones. If you're older than the millennial generation, you probably remember the typical 'formula' for growing up and going out on our own. You went to college, got a job, rented an apartment, met a nice guy or girl, got married, bought a house, had kids, sent them to college, upgraded the house, had grandkids…and so on. Millennials are not only doing these things later and without a predetermined order, they are skipping steps. Keep this in mind as you work to empathise with your ideal customers. They aren't going to be following the same roadmap as previous generations.
- Give them Testimonials. Millennials are highly reliant on the recommendations of friends, and when no friends can relate, they go straight to the Reviews tab. Invest in some brand advocates that are willing to sing your brand's praises in lots of different places. Identify those loyal customers who love to talk about your brand, and give them times and places in which to do so. This will attract a general audience, certainly; however, it will appeal particularly to the millennial crowd.
- Support Social Causes. Any brand that wants to appeal to Millennials would be smart to show support of a social cause that complements the brand's corporate values. Millennials are highly conscious of who's getting their money; they want to contribute, not just make a purchase, and their social status practically depends on it.
- Embrace Mobile. Millennials love staying digitally connected; and what's more, they like to do it on-the-go. Not only should your website be mobile-friendly, you should maintain a presence on social media (where your ideal customers, who happen to be Millennials, are hanging out). Skip this, and either they'll never come in contact with your brand or they'll assume your brand is irrelevant because it's not, well…relevant.
- Understand that the Internet isn't Supplemental. Millennials have never known a world without internet connectivity, and therefore, they're not using it to simply verify information or to find a contact number. For them, the internet is a true representation of the real world, and it is their lifeline to everything they need. They use the internet to plan, to solve problems, to find necessities…and to shop for just about everything. Instead of trying to fight their dependence upon the internet, be empathetic in the fact that this is how they communicate, how they look for support, and how they gather just about every piece of information they've ever digested.
These are a few ways in which you can maker richer, more trustworthy connections with Millennials. Too many brand-builders have lumped these young people into a group and disregarded them, assuming they're all just spoiled digital addicts who can't be reached, and who really don't make that many buying decisions anyway. This couldn't be further from the truth, and I trust that once you start incorporating the above advice into your marketing strategy, you'll discover what a valuable additional the millennial generation can be to your list.