Relax. This isn’t yet another in a long line of Internet think pieces on how millennials are “Destroying the (Insert Industry Here) Industry.” They’ve received enough blame already for destroying, among other things, the automobile industry, the diamond industry, the bar soap industry and even the napkin industry. You read that right – the napkin industry is dead, mercilessly put down by the Snapchat-filtered horde of youthful murderers known as millennials. What a victory for the “using your sleeve” industry.
Instead of looking at industries that millennials have killed, we’re going to look at what millennials could possibly bring to life. Namely, your business.
Now there’s a good chance you haven’t been marketing to millennials because you haven’t needed to. You could be in one of the industry’s they’ve “killed” through their generation’s circumstances. Custom homebuilders, just to name one example, probably don’t market much to millennials because this generation doesn’t have the money yet to build custom homes (although to their credit they haven’t gone so far as to kill the homebuilding industry). But the day they do, they’re not going to stop consuming content just because they’ve aged out of their skinny jeans phase, and the savvy marketer will be one who’s been reaching out to them all along.
If you haven’t looked at how your business is marketing to this more tech-savvy generational subset, you could be shortchanging yourself in the future. Writing for LinkedIn, Jim Higgins presented some startling data about millennials and their potential impact in terms of sheer purchasing power. It’s expected that this will be the year when millennial purchasing power eclipses that of the baby boomer generation, with the younger generation earning $3.4 trillion vs the $2.8 trillion of their parents. That’s to say nothing of the $41 trillion they will look to inherit as the baby boomer generation passes away.
In short, regardless of your industry if millennials aren’t your customer base now, they will be.
And knowing how to reach them effectively will only make you better at reaching them when they mature into your demographic.
The first and most obvious is to meet them where they live, on the social media channels that dominate their every interaction. While millennials haven’t killed Facebook yet (that’s apparently their little siblings’ job) they are far more likely to engage you if you’re engaging them across multiple platforms, telling your story on Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter.
And the key word there is to engage. Involve your audience in the stories you tell, whether it’s for an invitation to comment, a question you’re throwing out for them to answer, or simply giving them a peak behind the scenes. Your audience on social media, particularly the millennial audience, is far more interested in being involved in a story than they are in being shown an ad.
“They can spot an ad from a million miles away,” said Mahesh Chaddah, co-founder of Reservations.com. “They are keenly aware of what is marketing speak versus real talk.”
That not only speaks to their wariness toward ads, it speaks to a need for authenticity that should drive everything you do online. Share your business’ story through social media in a way that draws people in organically, inviting them along on a journey with you. In many ways, that interaction is far more valuable in courting millennials than simply presenting them with a cost/benefit analysis.
“Parents of Millennials want to know a product’s features and benefits. Millennials require a second layer,” said Annette Rubin, CEO of HydroPeptide. Their line of personal care products makes it a point to partner with charities, donating $3 from every sale of their best-selling item to deliver clean drinking water to developing countries. And they make sure this charitable aspect is front and center on their social media efforts. “Lead with your purpose. At our company, we believe in doing everything possible to offer solutions for the health and well-being of others. Sometimes that’s through our products, but first and foremost, it’s through who we are as people.”
Your purpose may vary, but the point is the same: millennials require something more than the typical sales pitch. They need to be invited into a conversation, brought behind the curtain and shown the values of your company. It’s your job to bring them into that conversation, show them behind the curtain and outline those values. And you’d better learn to do it soon, if you haven’t already. This generation isn’t going anywhere anytime soon and they’re only going to get bigger and more enjoy greater purchasing power.
That’s assuming that they don’t wind up killing every industry in the process.
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