How To Market WITH Millennials (Not TO Them)
By now, smart businesses realise the Millennial generation isn’t just a bunch of hipsters with smartphones taking selfies, but the world’s most powerful consumers.
We are entering our prime years and we are ready to spend some cash.
Businesses that don’t start tailoring their marketing to Millennials are missing out on a major consumer opportunity.
Actually, forget tailored marketing. Instead, seek interaction, not reaction. Market WITH us, not TO us (the title wasn’t a typo).
Customer is in control – now what?
Companies need to rethink everything they know about marketing.
But what could marketers do to engage with us?
There is no one answer or top 5 tips.
You can, of course, always copy other companies, who have successfully engaged with Millennials, but it’s likely it won’t work for you because you don’t really know what you’re doing and consumers will sniff it out.
It’s always nice to know what’s been done before, but only to come with something better, not identical.
Borrow ideas from different industries, connect the dots and come up with something completely new.
Connecting with Millennials can be extremely difficult for many traditional businesses, but it’s usually only because we are not used to a new in control consumer.
In reality, connecting with Millennials is pretty straightforward.
Here are just some basic tips …
1. Authentic is cool!
Marketers need to master the art of speaking to their audience as they speak to their best friends.
Be conversational and light. Don’t use big words or boast. Millennials hate vague business jargon, it only creates barriers.
Don’t call your coffee “The best coffee in town!” especially if it’s not. And even if it is, don’t.
Understatement is one of the secrets of branding, marketing, and advertising in our social media-saturated, consumer -influenced world.
Understatement in itself isn’t enough to sell something. But it allows room for the customers in your market to feel that they can discover your brand for themselves. And this room for discovery, for co-creation, is where the magic (engagement) happens.
Mission statements and brand platforms sound great in the boardroom, but they mean nothing to a 20-something who will skip your ad after about 0.7 seconds.
The twenty-something consumer does not waste time on people or companies that are not being real with them.
Authentic is cool. Authentic is a bit dorky and awkward. Authentic is hip.
This generation has seen it all, and it takes them all of 3 seconds to pass judgment on you as to whether or not you are the real thing.
2. Social proof: The power of peers!
Social proof is a psychological and social phenomenon where people assume the actions of others in an attempt to reflect correct behaviour in a given situation.
So, when we see a business with no followers, reviews or testimonials, we don’t trust it.
Research by Crowdtap indicates that Millennials spend an average of 17.8 hours a day with different types of media. With social media being a top priority, as 71% say that they engage in social media daily.
User-generated content – which is social-media posts, photos, blogs, email, texting – shapes Millennials’ lives more than any other form of media with it being 40% more trusted than other media.
Anna Kassoway (CMO of Crowdtap) predicts that brands will increasingly rely on “influencers”: consumers who shape their peers’ perceptions through user-generated content.
“The best social marketing is not publishing itself, but inspiring others to publish content about them,” says Kassoway.
Social engagement is more than likes and comments, it’s your opportunity to invite for participation.
You can use social media to add value to their experience of the brand through loyalty programs, speedy customer service, recognition events and special access to sales and other promotional events.
3. Be dead easy to use
With our limited attention span and millions of options to choose from, a quick and smooth buying experience is crucial.
Customers expect immediate problem-solving
The modern buyer expects immediate onboarding, verification and customer support across any channel.
I would always pick a service provider that offers real-time support and troubleshooting over a cheaper, but clunkier competitor.
Simply because I happily pay for convenience & avoid an unnecessary headache.
However, it’s still difficult for businesses to ensure a pleasant & smooth customer service that spans chat, social, email and phone.
By allowing customers to identify themselves online instead of in-person, companies can speed processes, making life easier for customers.
AI software offered by companies like Jumio can help to create a smoother customer experience and safeguard your customers from online fraudsters by relying on advanced identity verification techniques rather than human judgement.
As evidenced by companies like Monzo, younger consumers already enjoy AI verification technology for customer identification and onboarding.
Halifax mortgage lenders utilise video and AI verification technology to conduct everything from account setups to mortgage meetings through a screen.
In today’s convenience economy, video meetings achieve straightforward and immediate online interactions while meeting the needs of younger generations.
It has the power to delight, but most importantly – it drives loyalty.
Great customer experience is your competitive advantage & your opportunity to turn your customers into brand advocates.
Easy to use brands:
4. Take a risk: Be bold, unexpected, fearless
Millennials are a generation raised to accept and celebrate differences, so you don’t need to desperately fit in.
Gen Y like daring brands. We’re looking for something that stands out from the crowd in a real way, which rarely happens when you play it safe.
Find a great idea, and instead of testing it to death, go with your gut, take a risk, and see how we respond to it in a real-world “test.”
It’s why brands like Dove are winning with Millennials.
Generation Y is the most conscious generation, a usual “sex sells” campaign won’t work with us. We see through them.
As this generation continues to mature, brands that portray a message of negativity and body-image shaming will look more and more archaic.
I love this Dissolve fierce branding video:
5. Have a brand purpose. Be bigger than yourself!
I believe that leadership is service to others and that companies can do good while making a profit.
Why does your business exist?
How do you contribute to a wider cause?
We are one of the most compassionate generations with regards to social issues.
This quality extends to purchasing and brand preferences.
Research shows that Millennials will seek out and buy brands that support a cause that aligns with their values. The purchase then makes the buyer feel better about him or herself.
We’re altruistic, optimistic, passionate, and want to be part of something bigger.
Levi’s ( Levi’s Go Forth campaign)
Kellogg’s (Breakfasts for Better Days™ Hunger Relief Initiative )
American Apparel (Sweatshop Free)
Last but not least …
Don’t dare to insult our intelligence
We’re the most informed consumer generation ever to face marketing professionals. Before we’ve made any major purchase, we will have researched it, asked our friends about it and searched your reviews online. Rushed special offers and overpriced products won’t work like they used to.
Advertise, but don’t interrupt
Interrupting is annoying. We don’t want your pop up ads appear out of nowhere when we are concentrating on something else. Advertise through content, natively.
Don’t take yourself too seriously
Serious people and companies scare us!
The power of funny is incredible, especially with Millennials. We love to laugh. It makes us feel closer to each other and closer to your brand. And your brand doesn’t have to be an Old Spice or Burger King to make a joke. Serious brands can still use humour to illustrate a more serious point.
Final words …
Learning how to market WITH Millennials isn’t just good business, it’s a way to prepare for the future of advertising and marketing. Because we’re going to get older, technology will get only more complex, and the next generation – they are even weirder than we are.
Millennials are constantly interviewing your brand online, and your brand has to prove itself, every day.