Marketing to Millennials


Why are we still banging our heads over how to reach Millennials?

Ah, Millennials. We love to hate them yet can’t deny that they now represent a nearly a quarter of the population and a whopping $200 billion in buying power. Yet, many marketers still struggle with how to resonate with the elusive Millennial mind. What makes it frustrating, is that what works with Millennials is often in direct opposition with traditional marketing tenets. The truth is that reaching this audience isn’t rocket science, but it does mean marketers need to start thinking a little differently.


A static digital presence isn’t enough.

Having a website isn’t enough. A broad base social strategy isn’t enough. Updating your company blog isn’t enough. If your target market is Millennials, just showing up to the party isn’t enough. If there are two things that Millennials appreciate, it’s timeliness and personalization.

Let’s get straight to the point here:

• Your website needs to be updated regularly. Yes, even the homepage. Remember that notoriously short Millennial attention span? Well, a typical user will return to your website several times before converting. If your homepage gets stale, count on another brand grabbing your prospect’s attention.

• If you only have a certain amount of time to devote to your social strategy, and your target market is Millennials, ditch the scheduled posts and instead opt for a more personalized, interactive approach. Find your customer, for B2B businesses, find your prospects, and start a conversation.

• Content is king. Millennials crave content that delivers value without trying to “push the product” too hard. Which brings us to the next point.

GE hit the nail on the head with its podcast, The Message. The science-fiction drama drew inspiration from old-timey radio shows, but more importantly, it took advantage of the fact that 38% of Millennials listen to podcasts. 

You may be trying too hard.

Forbes said it best, “The old regime of traditional advertising is fading as Millennials focus on experiences and interactivity over hard sells.” For Millennials, it’s about authenticity.

If you’re really jonesing for a big, fat eye-roll from the nearest Millennial, just pitch them your USP. In fact, pitch them anything. More than likely you’ve already started off on the wrong foot: with a monologue instead of a dialogue. When you boil down the generational divide into just one thing, it’s this: Millennials want to be part of a brand’s conversation, not a passive witness to an ad. (Forbes)

This isn’t to say you totally give up on your pitch. It just means that many businesses will need to shift their selling paradigm. Here’s what this means:

• Shift your communication style. At first, it may seem unnatural to not lead with your brand, service, or product. Unfortunately though, if you don’t begin with “this is about you, not us” you’ll quickly lose the Millennial interest you worked so hard to get.

• Reassess how you’re allocating your advertising budget. Chances are, you don’t have money to burn, so making sure your efforts aren’t falling on deaf ears is important. When appropriate, trade out traditional methods with unconventional techniques that will help you create a conversation with the right clients.

• Did we mention that content is king? Businesses should consider that Millennials are 44% more likely to trust experts, who happen to be strangers, than advertisements and 247% more likely to be influenced by blogs or social networking sites (Hubspot).

Communicating effectively with Millennials pays dividends in the long run. One of the biggest myths about Millennials is that they tend to be disloyal to their brands. The truth is that Millennials live and die by their favorite brands. According to this study, 50.5% of of Millennials say they are extremely loyal or quite loyal to their favorite brands.

AirBnB scores big points in any Millennial’s book with messaging that always leads with the experience: a sense of belonging, community, and adventure. 


All hail the second (third, maybe even fourth) screen.

Millennials have a reputation, mostly well-deserved, for being on their smartphones constantly. According to Elite Daily, nearly 90 percent of Millennials actively use two to three devices a day, and about half use social media or internet-based tools to influence buying decisions. On a related note, Millennials are also often the first to adopt new technologies.

This poses both a challenge and an opportunity. The opportunity lies in experimenting with novel marketing concepts, like social TV viewing (okay, this isn’t really that novel anymore). Friends and family have long gathered around the TV screen to bond over their favorite programs and events. With the rise of smartphones, social viewing has morphed into a unique opportunity for brands to interact with customers.

The challenge, however, is that the second screen phenomenon is just proof of how hard it is to maintain Millennial mindshare. Businesses will have to learn how to maintain the dialogue as users toggle between devices, platforms, and apps.

• This may be a no-brainer but we’re going to say it anyways. Make sure your mobile experience is as impressive as your desktop experience. If you’re exclusively targeting Millennials, you should adopt a mobile-first approach.

• Implement cross-device tracking. By gaining insight across devices, marketers can connect the dots to understand how those devices, interactions, and user sessions are related to each other.

• Leverage the power of live events. It seems that the exception to second-screen behavior is live streaming and real-time events. Live events benefit from much higher engagement rates than on-demand content.

The Superbowl blackout in 2013 alarmed most, but for the savvy marketer, it was the perfect, real-time opportunity to catch their Millennials fully tuned in to their second screen.

The truth is that, as technology advances, the way we all consume media will continue to change. As marketers, it’s our job to stay ahead of trends so we can stay in front of the right audience. If all else fails, slap a slice of avocado on it and you’re sure to attract a Millennial or two.

Struggling with how to reach Millennials? Start a conversation with us and find out how the right branding, messaging, and marketing strategies can help you be more than just white noise.