3 Tips for Marketing to Millennials

3 Tips for Marketing to Millennials

Marketing to millennials is a daunting task: in many ways, we’re the most diverse, least homogenous demographic ever. Plus, we’ve grown up so inundated in advertising that we’ve adapted by learning to ignore it. So let’s recap: millennials’ defining traits are that we’re incredibly diverse and ignore overt marketing messages. Piece of cake, right?

Ok, so we’re kind of a mystery, but that doesn’t mean you should neglect millenials. Don’t underestimate our spending power, for one. Businesses with veteran marketing managers make the mistake of ignoring us and trying to speak the language of their own generation. Communicating with an age group unlike your own doesn’t come naturally. But take heart–it can be learned.

Here are a few tips for marketing to millennials:

Study Group

If you were to make up flashcards to remind you of millennials’ shopping and spending preferences, they’d surely include the following hallmarks of the 18 to 28 year old set.

To begin with, millennials expect to interact with their brands. The more you invite their input the more likely they’ll consider you one of “their” brands. Post questions on your social media properties, for example, and show them how you’ll implement changes based on their positive or negative feedback. Millennials are also immersed in digital culture—print and online marketing that doesn’t mesh will hurt your credibility.

Double Major

Yes, marketing was simpler when there were fewer marketing channels. But it was a lot less interesting—and millennials agree with us.

Grip your millennial audience by diversifying your marketing plan. For example, print QR codes on marketing materials and direct individually minded millennials to a personalized landing page. This set grew up wired—to them technology is as natural as green grass or fresh eggs. So remember that from a millennial’s perspective you can’t have print marketing without technology to back it up (and vice versa).

Smartest Kids in Class

Millennials are more informed as customers than any generation before them. Before they do business with you, they learn about you. Make sure that your online reputation recommends you. For example, downplay any negative online reviews by inviting happy customers to review you online (and highlight your good report). Sometimes all it takes is an invitation to make quiet customers more outspoken.

Knowing your audience is a classic marketing tip. And marketing to millennials is increasingly important. Don’t let the youngest and largest buying demographic pass you by—revise your marketing plan now to make it more millennial-friendly tomorrow.


Caleb Ulffers

4:05pm, February 25, 2013

QR Codes. Good call. Recognized by the AMA and the rest of the world of marketing as dead in 2013.

Marc Koenig

4:40pm, February 25, 2013

Hi Caleb! Thanks for your comment.

I’d submit that as professional marketers, most of us live on the bleeding edge of marketing best practices, so our perspective on stuff like QR codes can be a little warped by marketer tunnel vision. QR codes are no longer novel to US, but every day I see more of them on restaurant table tents, beverage packaging and informational posters. Marketing that general business owners are currently excited about tends to be something marketers proper have been bored with for months, if not years.

Caleb–I’d be interested to see what you think of articles like this (and others of its kind still regularly published): http://www.printinghub.org/qr-codes-still-got-it/

Also, there are more articles out there about the death of blogging than I can comfortably read in 40-hour work week–but then again, you commented on THIS blog as recently as February 25th, 2013. So perhaps a grain of salt is due.

Thanks again for being a reader!

Caleb Ulffers

11:44am, February 26, 2013

Marc, thanks for your comments back.

I agree that marketers can be affected by marketing tunnel vision, but there’s no tunnel vision when it comes to data. The data on QR codes isn’t that “they suck” or “they’re stupid” it’s that people do not use them. Yes, they are on table tents and and menus and all sorts of silly places, but the raw data comes down to lack of engagement because they are more trouble than they are worth. I can type the address into browser on my phone, or even just google what I’m looking for faster than I can open my special “QR code reader” app that will open up another app.

The big problem with general business owners being excited about old marketing tactics is that the marketer advising them is doing them an injustice by allowing them to use those tactics. What quality advisor in any realm of business allows their customers to choose what they want? Sounds like a good way to fail.

As far as your article goes on printinghub.com I do not read casual blogs about people’s thoughts on things. I follow a few top level tech-marketing businesses and the AMA – who’s report for 2013 cites the actual death of QRs (we’ve all been hoping for it since they came out). It is one of their top five marketing suggestions for 2013, quit using it.

I do not know about you, but as a marketing degree holder and someone who strives to stay on the “bleeding edge” I want to help people and companies further enhance their marketing, not be left behind while everyone else moves on

Marc Koenig

2:27pm, February 27, 2013

Thanks for your detailed response, Caleb.

It’s always good to have dialogue on these issues–and challenge our audience to improve on their existing marketing initiatives. I’m sure our readers benefit from the added perspective.

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