In a brilliant article on Inc.com, journalist and digital consultant John Boitnott offers 5 of the most common pitfalls in a typical Millennial marketing effort
1. It looks like an ad. Boitnott suggests that the less a content marketing piece looks like an ad, the better. Focus on being interesting, arresting, high-value and even controversial. Millennials will switch off at the sight of big logos and blatant calls to action.
2. It’s unoriginal. Millennials tend to be fun-loving, irreverent and even a bit quirky – make your marketing the same if you want to connect with them. The more unique, compelling and entertaining the ad, the more engaged the Millennial market.
3. It’s boring. This is particularly relevant if you are marketing through digital media. Through media such as Instagram, Vine and Snapchat, Millennials have become accustomed to quick, media-rich soundbites. If your marketing video is too long, visually bland or static, you will fail to catch and maintain the attention of younger audiences. Keep your marketing messages short, sharp and highly shareable.
4. It’s irrelevant. Millennials are attracted to individualised and customised communication. They appreciate tailored messages and personal invitations – marketing that is inclusive and relevant to them. The more you can segment and target your marketing to this group, the more effective it will be in engaging them.
5. It’s deceptive. Millennials have been raised in an era of excessive branding, social media and photoshop – they know when they are being deceived and they are skeptical about grand, boastful claims. If it appears too good to be true or too convenient to reflect reality (any 99.9% claims for instance), they’ll dismiss your messages outright. Carlsberg’s “Probably The Best Beer In The World” campaign was a good example of a brand not pretending to be anything more than it was. Statistics or more concrete claims about their pre-eminence would never have worked as well as their tongue-in-cheek suggestion.1 Be upfront, honest and even self-deprecating – your authenticity will be appreciated.
Market Through Them Not To Them
Having helped countless brands craft marketing strategies to engage Millennials, the most important principle I can offer you here is this: market through Millennials not to them. Use the established networks of trust that Millennials rely upon to get your messages out to the market. Social media is an absolute gift for marketers when used well. 34% of Millennials report using social media as their primary source of information when making a purchase.2
From a brand awareness perspective, social media is equally powerful. The jackpot is when your marketing messages become so entertaining, shocking or random that Millennials begin sharing them to the point of virality.
While viral marketing is the holy grail, the good news is that social media can be tremendously powerful even if you don’t make the big time.
I remember doing some work in the hospitality sector and speaking to a bar-owner who had used social media very strategically to attract the attention of young patrons. Having taken over a run-down establishment that had almost zero brand recognition, the new owner hired staff to wander around the bar on a busy Friday night encouraging people to ‘like’ the bar’s Facebook page – even offering free drinks to do so. These staff would then take photos of the patrons who had liked the page and tag them in the images.
Within weeks, the strategy began to work magnificently. One photo of two tagged patrons would be typically liked by 24 of their friends. Because of the network multiplier effect, within 2 hours this photo and the bar’s branding would be seen in the newsfeed of over 3,700 people who were in the related networks of those liking the image. It’s hard to put a value on the impact of this, particularly when the only cost had been a few drinks to entice some patrons.
When you involve Millennials in the marketing process, you will engage them as a market. Be original, captivating and personal, and stay authentic. Lose the tried-and-true tricks and speak in their language – let your audience be the author of your brand.
Michael McQueen is a trends forecaster, business strategist and award-winning conference speaker.
He features regularly as a commentator on TV and radio and has written 5 bestselling books. To order Michael's latest book "How to Prepare Now for What's Next", click here.
1 Boitnott, J. 2014, ‘5 Reasons Why Content Marketing Fails For Millennials’, Inc, 24 September
2 Fromm, J. 2011, ‘Millennials and Cause: Seven Things We Learned from 5,493 People’, Barkley, 24 October