It’s worth your time to develop a strategy for winning the business of millennials (18 to 34-year-olds) because they bring big bucks to the table — an estimated $200 billion annually. Catch their attention, win their trust, and your business stands to gain — big time.
The added value of finding ways to appeal to this generation and gain their trust is that they have an unprecedented level of engagement with their peers. Win them over and they’ll tell all their friends. It’s definitely worth your time to understand and engage with millennials.
But, your marketing messaging needs just the right touch to be successful. Millennials resist traditional advertising. You’ll need a game plan.
Millennials live in a digital world, which means your website and other aspects of your online marketing need to be in tune with them. It also means you can learn about them through digital engagement. Understanding customers and prospects is of critical importance to your marketing plan. Fortunately, if you pay attention, millennials will teach you to appeal to them!
So, let’s get started with five strategies guaranteed to head you in the right direction.
Take a look around and you can easily see that millennials are practically hard-wired to their smartphones. Your marketing strategy needs to keep this in mind.
Do you use landing pages? If they’re not already, you need to optimize them for mobile. They need to load quickly and your call-to-action (CTA) needs to be bold and mobile-friendly.
Beyond that, you need to elevate your mobile engagement. Look for ways to be involved in their digital lives. As an example, a “mobile rewards network” called Kiip gives you a way to connect with millennials while they’re playing online games. Games reward players when they achieve a new level, for instance, and Kiip allows brands to sponsor the in-game reward.
It’s an example of a way to connect with millennials while they’re doing something they like to do, but it’s subtle and a better way to approach them than bombarding them with web ads that intrude on their activity.
Connect With The Connected
With a world of options for information and entertainment literally at their fingertips, millennials have learned to tune out traditional advertising. They’re online to meet their own needs and they don’t want interruptions.
Understand this and you will gain a great marketing opportunity.
Forget old-style outreach advertising. Instead, discover the people with online influence who millennials have come to trust. This will include YouTube personalities, podcasters, Instagrammers and bloggers. Most likely they are also millennials who have jumped onto the digital wave to amuse their peers or share their thoughts.
Given their huge audience, can you imagine how many millennials you can reach with just one mention of your product or service in these venues?
As affirmed in a recent study, and as no surprise to anyone, younger consumers are very much influenced by the opinions of their peers. Find ways to connect with those who have the attention of millennials and can get the buzz going about your business very quickly.
It’s not too difficult for a business to develop a social presence. But to reach millennials it’s important to properly engage. Remember, they’re a savvy bunch and resistant to being sold to. This is why it’s critical that they perceive your social involvement to be in their interest.
Make sure your YouTube, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook channels make those who engage with you there feel special. It could be said that millennials are the “me” generation, but really it’s basic psychology; no matter their age, you’re always going to do better if you can find ways to have your customers believe they’re special.
Here are some ideas that have been proven to work:
- Loyalty programs
- Featuring content from users
- Sincere engagement with comments
As an example, many businesses have had great success with Instagram campaigns featuring photos taken by followers. An example is Apt2B, a Los Angeles-based furniture retailer. Their customers are encouraged to take pictures of the sofas and accessories they’ve purchased in their own apartment. Customers like it because they get to see how the product will look in an actual apartment instead of the showroom. And the customers who provide photos feel valued by the company that is sharing their contribution.
Millennials may have tuned out traditional advertising, but that doesn’t mean they don’t want information. They value any information they deem to be authentic. Remember, they’re very tuned-in and don’t want to be conned.
Don’t bother trying for a hard sell, it won’t work. Instead, develop believable content. Be trustworthy. They’re actively looking for information that will entertain or inform them.
With a soft sell, you’re looking for opportunities to get your message to them in the context of experiences they already value and appreciate.
In today’s digital world, and especially when targeting millennials, you need to adapt your game to reach them where they are, through content they trust. If they perceive that your business understands and respects their core values, you’ll have them hooked.
Chipotle’s “Farmed and Dangerous” online video series did a great job with this. An entertaining satire, the series featured a millennial sustainable farmer fighting a battle with big corporations. Other than including the company’s mission statement, “food with integrity,” there was hardly any reference to the restaurant chain in the videos. Instead, Chipotle counted on consumers seeing the company as a healthy dining choice. Did millennials share the video through their social channels? You bet!
Lay’s “Do Us a Flavor” campaign is a great example of reaching millennials’ by involving them in the creation of products you want to sell to them.
Since 2012 in the U.S., annual campaigns have offered a $1 million prize and encouraged the public to suggest new flavors for potato chips. Outreach through various channels including Facebook and Twitter resulted in millions of submissions, each representing engagement with Frito-Lay.
Most companies can’t manage a promotion on that scale, but the take-away is that it helps to have a direct relationship with your audience and make business decisions based on input.
What does it take to market to millennials? It’s pretty simple, really — the human touch. Authentic engagement will score high here. Engage with them to learn more about their wants, needs and desires — then keep these in mind when developing your products or services and you’ll be ahead in today’s new marketing game.
About The Author: Therese is a web consultant specializing in internet and social marketing. In addition to working with clients to build their brands online, she enjoys learning and sharing all the latest tips in the fields of web design, online marketing and usability.