There still seems to be a huge disconnect between marketing to millennials – the generation I belong to (and boy, are we sick of this label!) – and I think I may have figured it out. We just don’t want to buy your stuff or use your service if you press a sell on us and have a sleazy personality.
We don’t care too much about statistics, how many people trust your brand, and how long you’ve been in business. What we care about is what kind of relationship you can build with us first, and maybe what you can offer us that could solve a problem in our lives or make it better – last. Your brand does this through its personality. Personifying a brand, and making entertaining, funny, or just plain cool content, and giving it a presence we can interact with makes us much more engaged. We’ll stop treating the brand as 'just a boring old company’, and more like a friend. And honestly, companies trying to grab millennial attention are making this much harder than it really is.
Companies that are ‘doing it wrong’ are trying to sell a product or service to us based on what drove older consumers – ads. We hate ads. We especially hate ads that try to sell us something with a brand that doesn’t feel approachable and doesn’t really in account of what we want, or what we may want in the future.
We also don’t watch TV or read printed media as much as our parents did (and still do). We live on the internet. Our main outlets for consuming content are on social media and video streaming services, and the two share a healthy relationship that’s effective and easy, which is why we’ve been fast to adopt them. This, and the internet at large, greatly influences our purchases.
You can engage us by setting up accounts on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, and make awesome content (that’s relevant to us) that get us excited about your brand and products or services, and makes us want to share your content with our friends and family.
Making said content however, depends on the brand, with some needing to make more effort to change their image than others. There’s actually a nifty little list I put together that I covers some key areas:
• If you are marketing to millennials, you need to have millennials in your marketing department making decisions and giving feedback. Leave your ego at home. We can give crucial feedback and smart decisions on your marketing endeavors.
• Hire millennials to run your social media accounts. This is our element. Give us hard rules on what we can and can’t say, and we’ll take those for account, but let us be creative. We can be hilarious, witty, and helpful towards your customers or potential customers, but more importantly, we can create the personality and voice for your brand.
• Update the brand, but don’t change everything. If your appearance looks outdated, then it might be a good idea to update it. We’re not saying you should change absolutely everything, but if the personality and image “fight” each-other, then it may be a good idea to give your band’s appearance a refresh.
• Don’t be afraid of being entertaining. Funnel those ad dollars into to making original and entertaining digital and video content. The more clever, funny, or awesome, the better! Show us something we’ve never seen before, or poke humor with your brand. A great example of this being done effectively is Old Spice’s marketing efforts, or the Arby’s Twitter account. (A growing amount of fast-food restaurants are crushing it through their efforts on Twitter.)
• Lastly, don’t try too hard! We can spot someone being fake fairly quickly. If you’re coming off as not doing research, not having the right people in your marketing team, not having an approachable persona on your social media space (and if your use of memes suck, odd as this sounds, it’s actually a good indicator), you won’t rub us the right way, and we will leave. Take your time. A bad first impression on us can make us not trust you.
Now, you can do everything on this list and still not do well if the product or service just doesn’t fit with us, or needs work at a mechanical level. You can polish a turd, but if you the stuff you’re actually selling, or the service you’re offering isn’t that great, no amount of marketing is going to save it.
Did I mention we also read reviews? At the end of the day, if we read enough people hating on your stuff, we won’t bother, so keep vigil over popular sites like Yelp, Angie’s List, and the like. If you’re also selling products on vendors such as Amazon, their feedback is crucial to take into account as well.
I didn’t go into too much detail here, but the key takeaway I’d like you to get is – don’t be afraid to evolve and open your brand to a younger audience, and don’t feel ashamed of asking said audience for feedback on how to better market yourself.