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10 steps to Millennial marketing success

The future of your advertising is changing and Millennials are driving that change. Read part one of Alita Harvey-Rodriguez’s analysis of how Millennials are shaping the future of advertising here.  

What has changed
People are still buying and consuming, but why, and how, has changed.

One crucial element is word-of-mouth, at the speed of wireless communication. Millennials ask their friends and social networks for purchasing advice, rather than relying on the messages touted by slick and sexy ads. This social conversation relies on peer influencers. The conversation becomes a collective filter of incoming information, that includes research as well as personal experience.

Traditional advertising may not work because it is estimated that two thirds of Millennials block ads, so even the most appealing or compelling ad may simply never be seen!

Brand reputation is important. Millennials identify with brands, and say that their brands help them express who they are, their values and where they fit in. Millennials are often willing to pay extra for a brand or product that conveys the image, style and personality they wish to portray.

Millennials, while image- and culture-conscious, are also increasingly environmentally aware and will preferentially buy from companies that demonstrate environmental or social responsibility.

What hasn’t changed
Millennials are still influenced by gender differences that are not significantly different than preceding generations. Beauty, wealth, professional success, luxury, adventure and travel are important. Millennial women tend to focus more on beauty, anxiety and stress, fitness, health and “me time.” They also value local communities and local businesses. Millennial men tend to focus more on wealth, status, external recognition, professional success, luxury and quality.

What you can do: 10 steps to Millennial marketing success
More than anything, cultivate relationships with Millennials and inspire them to refer your brand.

  1. If you have an advertising budget, hire Millennials, or an agency full of Millennials. They know what they want, they know what resonates with them, and they know where and how to pitch to their peers. “If you want to speak to a millennial audience, hire millennials to create the content for you,” says Havas North America chief creative officer, Jason Peterson.
  2. Be agile and keep up with social media trends. Millennials often feel like they’re missing out if they’re not connected – the question is, where are they connected? Facebook is becoming increasingly old-school (and full of Millennials’ parents) and so is Twitter. Snapchat, Instagram and Vine are current social media darlings… but wait a couple of months to launch a campaign, and you might miss the boat.
  3. Reach out. Engage them directly through two-way conversations, reward them with discounts and, recognise them. Ask for “likes” to generate engagement with your brand, post product reviews and encourage Millennials to post and share reviews.
  4. Have all of your product/service information instantly available and easily accessible. Many Millennials do their research online while in a store.
  5. Be relevant. Many Millennials get their product advice from friends and spouses/partners, parents and celebrities rather than “experts” such as doctors or financial advisors. Millennials are also less likely to view advertising as a trusted source of information. Speak to their generation, attitudes, preferences, values, beliefs and personalities. Hot topics are the environment, social responsibility, craftsmanship, adventure, happiness, wellness, humour and positivity about the future.
  6. Be authentic. Through your storytelling, personality, actions and through community support (causes, volunteering, being socially responsible, etc.) express the values and image that Millennials wish to project about themselves. Millennials are more likely to buy from a socially or environmentally responsible company whose focus is on helping others, than from a company that appears solely profit-oriented. Millennials can smell fake social responsibility from far away! If your actions and values are aligned and you are clear in your environmental stewardship and social responsibility mission, then you will attract the attention of Millennials.
  7. Use visual imagery that is ethnically and racially diverse, accepting of alternative gender roles and family structures, and even sexual orientation. Images of traditional nuclear families don’t resonate with Millennials; instead, think “tribes” of people working together for a common cause, non-traditional families and groups of diverse peoples. Millennials are generally group-oriented, especially when it comes to experiences.
  8. Create a tribe around your product or service. Because Millennials are often about inclusion, set a positive and optimistic tone about feelings of inclusion in your group or “tribe.”
  9. One-on-one or community connections are more powerful than “spam” marketing. Events, referral programs, social media presence, public relations, company-supported causes and social programs, customer recognition programs and testimonials from influencers speak volumes!
  10. Ask! Crowdsource talent, ideas, solutions, products, services and even marketing strategies. Long-established companies that are accustomed to a certain marketing presence may have to rethink their strategies to keep up with the growing Millennial market. Companies that can master the reciprocity principle and authentically help Millennials express themselves and share their own values, will have a competitive advantage.

Alita Harvey-Rodriguez is a leading Australian Digital Marketing Futurist and the brains behind Milk it Academy.

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