Millennials this, millennials that, “we’re strategizing how we’ll reach millennials this year; they’re vital to our growth. “We’re holding millennial focus groups to better understand ‘these people’ for the future success of our company…” “They are just so hard to reach because they’re fickle, lazy, ignorant, flip-flopping, narcissistic, undependable people.”
Blah blah blah.
Google “Millennials are” and see what comes up. It’s shocking. It makes me wonder if the mystery and myth surrounding millennials are ancient grey-haired once-was marketers that haven’t had an original idea in a decade. Do the people that write these articles truly belief what comes out of their fingertips?
My friends, so-called “Millennials” are first and foremost, people. Millennials truly aren’t a mystery any more than Van Halen were a mystery to your parents in the 80’s or Nirvana in the 90’s. If you don’t understand the customer, it’s likely that either you’re using age as an excuse, or sloughing off on the job. Either way, the challenge is predominantly between your ears.
WHAT TO DO?
If you want to reach this exciting, affluential and influential new crop of clients and customers, start with the basics and lose the social label. Open your ears and mind. Understand that messaging to millennials is messaging to the older customers that you understand.
Yes, the older generation frequently takes their cues from the younger generation; it’s always been so. Except now, it’s even moreso. Older generations pay attention to what millennials are doing in great part, as older generations have seized upon social media as a means of communication and information. Although millennials are moving beyond the standard fare of Facebook and Twitter, they will remain strong influencers over these channels for many years to come.
So how should you speak to this group?
-Start with the Customer. What happens when they evaluate your product next to the competition? Is the product useful? Does it live up to your promises/marketing messaging? This is called “Truth.” Truth and transparency matter to the next generation. More than to any previous generation. This generation is somewhat jaded by comparison.
-Focus on the right segment with your products. Have you clearly defined the segment of the market you want to win? Does your core deliverable benefit young adults? If so, aim to be different, not necessarily better.
-Attract talent to your marketing group. Brand and Category influencers are important, but having people that can communicate with these influencers, having people that understand both the inbound marketing needs but also understand implementation are not necessarily easy to find. Avoid worrying about someone being overqualified for the role; if they’re good, they’re good out of passion and passion will give you more than you bargained for. Including the occasional challenge that comes from stretching your own corporate boundaries.
-Invest in innovation, be nimble with opportunity. Invest in your company by bringing on movers and shakers that make you uncomfortable. Discomfort indicates growth or potential for growth. When the market trends indicate a shift around your core, move with it instead of observing and strategizing. By the time you’ve gathered enough data to create a strategy, the trend will have already again shifted. Social media/inbound marketing trends move fast. Be ready.
-Being nimble doesn’t mean not planning. Plan and then plan more. Rather than planning the details, plan the department, plan the scrum, plan the means in which the organization will respond to shifts in trends.
-Be brief in your messaging. You hated it when your parents or professors went off on long rants about this, that, or the other thing. The popularity of Vine and Twitter (you do know these applications, yes?) are popular is found within their brevity. Brief does not equal “clever.” Brief means short and to the point, which goes to the afore-mentioned transparency. Social media appreciates brevity.
-Offer unique value, and be prepared to sell on the value vs marketing the product. What is the clear, concrete, definable value that puts your product on the leaderboard?
-Be honest. Seemingly too easy when it’s not. Consider a 50 year old man using words like “dude” or “groovy.” Aside from being incongruous, it’s hollow, fake, and underestimating the intelligence of your client or customer. Messaging that is truthful and transparent transcends hollow messaging that attempts to speak the “millennial language.” Tell and sell the benefits of your offering. Millennials are if nothing else, intelligent and loyal so long as you’re communicating truth. Keep it real in your social media messaging, provide content that demonstrates the differences, solutions, opportunities, experiences, or whatever else your company offers, and you’ll be surprised at the increase in “millennial” engagement.