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A Millennial's Take on Marketing to Millennials

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Appealing to Millennial Consumers

I know, I know, (you think) you’ve read this post a thousand times before. “19 ways to Appeal to Gen Y,” or “The Keys to Marketing to the Trophy Kids.” But those pieces usually turn out to be regurgitations of buzzwords (“entitled,” anyone?) and generalizations of buying behavior – with almost no practical instruction how to speak to or act around millennial consumers.

I’m one of the 80 million Generation Y folks in the United States. We make up a whopping 25.4% of the population. Because of the Information Age, we are the savviest consumers in the history of mankind. Are you – as a marketer - keeping up?

Let’s dig in. How should your business speak to millennials?

Be witty

From 1984 through 1992, the cable industry spent more than $15 billion on the wiring of America and billions more on program development. This was the largest private construction project since World War II. This means that cable television was just hitting its stride as millennials grew up. Programs such as The Simpsons, Seinfeld, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, and South Park offered us millennials exposure to quick-hitting comedy like no generation had seen before. We understand and appreciate quick-witted humor.

The use of Twitter is a cornerstone of Generation Y. In fact, 81% of us check Twitter at least once per day. In case you don’t use Twitter, it’s become a staple of witty remarks and funny cheap shots about the world we live in and the people we see on television. What was known as a “one-liner” in 1970 is now just a “tweet.” Even the CIA followed suit, making its first tweet:

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If your brand can afford to show a lighter side, using wit is an excellent tool for capturing millennial business. 

Be calming and open-minded

Millennials are diagnosed with depression and anxiety at a 5% higher rate than Generation Xers. Many experts believe this is caused by the current economic landscape, digital overstimulation and disappointment in how our lives are turning out. Simply put: We’re stressed out! Using loud, fast-paced, over-the-top advertising will fail you. Believe it or not, a calm, direct, customer-friendly approach will stick out compared to your overzealous competitors.

Remember that millennials grew up around a variety of cultures, voted in the first African-American president, and helped make gay marriage legal in 19 states. We are open, accepting and colorblind. If you can communicate that you are just as freethinking as us, you’ll have a better shot at our wallets.

Tell us our buying options

Millennials purchase their products/services in a variety of different ways. They can buy new, used, in-person, online, auction-style, with cash, credit or debit, at night, during the day, and on the weekends with standard or express shipping from a phone, computer or iPad. We don’t like being pigeonholed, because those generous baby-boomers always made sure we got what we wanted (e.g. a trophy after a loss). 

Every business has its limitations, but communicating the variety of ways your products are available will give you an advantage over your more conventional competitors.

Make your products easy-to-use

Millennials get a lot of credit for being a tech-savvy group of people. But consider that we grew up in an era when technology became drastically easier to use than in times past. Apple Inc. is trading at more than $100 per share – primarily because it designs and manufactures the most user-friendly technology available today. Communicate to your millennial customer base that your products/services are easy-to-use.

Have great customer service

We like companies with great customer service. Consider Amazon, a millennial favorite. Amazon offers a 24/7/365 customer service hotline. We are no longer interested in working the traditional 9 to 5 – so we expect our companies’ customer service hours to adapt to this shift. Also, your return policy better be good! We don’t make a lot of money and your competitors are waiting for us online.

We use Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, phone, texting and email. Are you on all of these media 24/7 to help us with our problems? Do you have an app for us to easily view your products/services while we’re on the go (we always are - or at least we think we are)?

Be visual

If the advent of cable television, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, FaceTime and Skype doesn’t make it obvious enough, you should know that millennials like visuals. In fact, 100 million Americans watch video online every day – most of who are millennials. And remember, online videos and photographs are more likely to go viral than written content. Brands like Lowe’s, Chipotle and Starbucks are using their visual properties wisely. To learn more about developing a video marketing strategy click the blue button below.