As the largest and most diverse generation in the U.S., your small business will undoubtedly encounter Millennials (adults between the ages of 18 and 35). The question remains: Is your brand prepared to market to this information-age crazed, social media literate crowd? By 2020, 1 in 3 adults will be Millennials. With $1.3 trillion in yearly spending power and smartphones at their fingertips, you will need to ensure that your business’ marketing message does not just capture the attention of Millennials but also sustains it. The following pointers will prevent your brand from excluding this emerging group of consumers from its audience.
No. 1: Avoid traditional selling tactics. Eighty-three percent of Millennials agree with the statement, “There is too much power concentrated in the hands of a few big companies.” Overall, this generation tends to distrust big corporations and brand names that are driven solely by profit. Instead, they choose to spend their dollars and invest brand loyalty into smaller, local businesses that have strong core values. Because of Millennials’ overwhelming aversion to corporate greed, blatant advertising will most likely be lost on them. This is where content marketing comes in. In order to earn and keep the trust of Millennial consumers, your brand will need to offer informational, entertaining, and valuable content in the form of blog posts, webinars, podcasts, live streaming videos, and life hacks related to your industry. For your content to strike a chord, your brand will need to shift the focus away from direct selling/advertising to serving your audience with information from the get-go (i.e. before purchase and during the product research phase).
No. 2: Make sure your business’ online content is mobile friendly. In general, Millennials use their smartphones more than any other generation. In fact, this age group prefers to use a mobile device over a desktop or laptop. With solutions and information just a touch screen away, it will be key for your brand to be available through this technology. This means your business’ website ought to be mobile-friendly and should exceed Google’s minimum standards. Furthermore, all the content your business generates on the Web should load easily on a mobile device, and mobile users should be at the forefront of your target audience.
No. 3: Maintain content and engagement on social media. Though you might be tired of hearing it, social media is marketing’s modern terrain and will become an indispensable tool for business’ to reach their audience. Already, 34% of adults between the ages of 18 and 35 look to their social media networks when weighing purchase decisions. This percentage will undoubtedly grow. Instagram and Snapchat are the preferred social media outlets among Millennials and ought to be included in your social media strategy when producing, distributing, and promoting brand content. These channels will serve as a lifeline between your brand and its Millennial buyers.
No. 4: Wear your values on your sleeve. Seventy percent of Millennials will spend more money on a brand that avidly supports a cause they are passionate about. With this in mind, your small business shouldn’t just pick and choose random causes and charities to support. Above all else, the Millennial generation is a proponent of authenticity. Think about your company’s mission statement, then 1 or 2 causes your brand can stand behind that are in line with your already established values. You will want to continually demonstrate a commitment to your values and share your efforts with your audience. These efforts can include but are definitely not limited to: running a charity drive at your place of business, donating to a specific non-profit organization, volunteering within the community in your free time, and even going the extra mile to “go green” and reduce your carbon footprint. To get the most out of your brand’s cause marketing endeavors, consider launching a press campaign to generate awareness about the causes and organizations you support.
No. 5: Exhibit social proof. The internet and social media networks have redefined how consumers relate to their communities and friends, but social proof remains an underlying and powerful tactic that appeals to our nature as social creatures. When marketing to your audience, keep in mind that Millennials are far more likely to trust friends, family members, credible third parties, and even strangers over what any business or brand claims. A staggering 95% of Millennials state that friends are their most trusted source for product/service information. As a result, you will want to highlight your brand’s results and interactions with consumers and even other businesses. This is best done through customer reviews, case studies, user-submitted content, and guest bloggers/vloggers.
No. 6: Focalize your niche groups. The least traditional generation to date, Millennials are putting off major milestones such as marriage, buying a house, and having children. In fact, a lot of Millennials have traded in these traditional life stages for non-linear paths that include working for themselves as independent contractors and traveling. Furthermore, notions such as “family” and “community” have dramatically changed for many individuals within this age group. When marketing to Millennials, you will not want to target them generally, as this will give off the impression of “selling” and might get your brand’s content lost in the internet’s noise. Instead, you will want to narrow your small business’ engagement to specific social groups. Think of segments that are drawn to your brand’s social causes as well as groups that are drawn to your brand’s underlying lifestyle. While developing niche audiences within the Millennial generation, your brand will want to interact with users and consumers on an individual level every chance it gets. To see more statistics and useful information concerning Millennials and marketing, visit this infographic: http://www.goldmansachs.com/our-thinking/pages/millennials/