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It’s not scary: An introduction to millennial marketing

Look at these two in the picture above. They’ve got a scarf, a pug, fancy coffee mugs, and they’re sitting on a plush wooden bench leaning on hip wood. What is even happening, and how can you reach them with your message.

Great question. Watch the video and read below as we explore what the ‘millennial marketing’ hot button phrase is, and where you can get started with your marketing.

It’s important, like in many things in life, to not get caught up in the minutia. “Millennial Marketing” is a trendy phrase right now. Overused, and often misunderstood, it’s a hotly sought after ‘service’. Like ten years ago, when people would ask for something without knowing why they needed it: “Someone said we need a video on our website.” I’m always happy to help, but lets chat about why we may need something.

1. Millennial Marketing Definition

Millennial Marketing is often looked at in two ways. The first is that it is a style of marketing. The second is that it is a target for your marketing. When you look at it through the lens of style, you think more about the end product: something edgy, or flippantly funny, or authentically artistic to name a few.

When you look at it through the lens of a target, you think about a certain age group, and the mediums which they often consume content.

The reality is that it is both of these. This is an important distinction, now more than ever. We live with a greater level of differentiation in medium, which didn’t exist 50, 20, even 10 years ago.

For the marketers of yore, you could market on TV, or in a magazine (or newspaper etc). Likewise, if you weren’t on TV then you weren’t relevant. The three major networks (ABC, CBS, NBC) were the place to go for over 20 years! Then in the 70s we started getting cable tv with more channels and national premium offerings like HBO. Now you’ve got thousands of channels across a huge variety of platforms. Not to mention the streaming services that don’t have ‘channels’ like Netflix and Amazon.

Media aside, there is the whole social aspect of things. Before 2006 there were no social networks as we know them. Now there are hundreds, many with very small niche followings.

This means we have to think critically about:

  • all the mediums they consume content on
  • how they consume content
  • what style and themes they respond best to.

This is actually how we approach marketing to any group, but millennials are unique in the quantity of mediums they consume and what they respond best to. Millennial marketing is a new way of thoughtful creative that spreads across a diverse array of mediums.

2. Millennial Characteristics

When we first think about millennials, it’s easy to think about the negative:

  • They’re always distracted on their phones
  • They spend too much time on social media
  • They’re not loyal to a company, they’re loyal to their own career

And on and on. I’m sure you could easily think of several more. What we do, however, is to speak to the positive side of that coin.

  • They’re hungry for a social connection. With most types of one-on-one and group communication now taking place in a digital space, you have to hunt for the human connection amidst the 1’s and 0’s.
  • Too much of any one thing is rarely good. With a lot of social media being directed at ‘tabloid news’ there’s a great opportunity to create and grow a positive community! How can you connect in a unique way to this engaged audience, how can you create a positive emotional response with your viewer?
  • Gone are the days of staying at a company for forty years. Millennials are honest about their career goals and they don’t want to mess around. They’re not un-loyal, they just need to find a company who is loyal to them and can help them with their goals.

Now that we’re looking at the positive side of the coin, we can start to understand how this target identifies itself. Taking a step further we can start to extrapolate unique characteristics of this group:

  • They don’t want to be advertised to, they want authenticity
  • In some cases they describe themselves as oblivious to ads! If it looks like an ad, or smells like an ad, they’ll look right past it. Conventional advertising is going to say you should repeat your brand in a :30 a bunch of times. You may be able to do it in a witty and authentic way that engages, but chances are you’re just shutting the door for this audience. Conventional techniques are a good place to start but you have to understand where to deviate for your audience.
  • They have short attention spans. You better package your message in a timely fashion with a great hook.
  • They have long attention spans. This contrary to the previous point, but hey, people are complex. If you give this group something engaging, they’ll watch longer than what conventionally is recommended.
  • If they like it they share! 10 years ago if you liked something, you could share it with a few friends, maybe a dozen. Now you can instantly share with hundreds, or thousands. From that reach you can connect with even more!

Conclusion

Once you can start really identifying your audience, then you can better craft your message. This group is a great group to target, if it’s right for your brand. They’ve got more disposable income, and more time to enjoy it than other generations. They are, however, going to demand you create some great content in order for them to notice.

Millennial Marketing is not scarier than trying to market to any other group. It’s just different, and it’s new. Now Generation Z marketing… well, we’ll talk about that in a different post.