I get really disappointed when I hear a professional (especially someone with a marketing function) tell me that they don’t understand or care for search, social media, and mobile marketing. Let’s face it, whether you like it or not, search, social, and mobile marketing are here to stay and can’t be ignored for a simple reason – that’s how Millennials roll!
It seems like just yesterday that I was listening to my Paula Abdul record (and if you’re with me, I bet you’re humming “straight up now tell me”) and trying my best to keep my bangs as high as possible with cheap hair spray (diligently contributing to the world’s ozone layer problem), and killing my brain cells watching music videos on MTV and VH1. Meanwhile, babies were coming into this world left and right. These babies, born between 1980 and 2000, now comprise the largest generation by number, 79 million people, with a purchasing power of over $170 billion per year, according to MarketingProfs. Do I have your attention now, or are you still humming Paula Abdul’s greatest hit?
Millennials are different from Baby Boomers and Generation X because they were born and grew up in the midst of the internet revolution. While some old timers were still arguing the value of a home computer and the Internet, these kids understood new technology, embraced it, and helped change the world we knew at the time. Just think about two web giants out there today and how young these companies are – Facebook was founded in 2004 by a Millennial (yup, just a decade ago), and Google was founded in 1998 by two Gen X guys, who are both only 41 years old today.
Simply put, marketers have to embrace and understand social, search, and mobile marketing if they wish to keep their job; or in the case of a small business owner, if they wish to keep their doors open. Millennials have their unique corks and preferences – just like Baby Boomers and Gen Xs do. Most importantly, Millennials have a huge impact in the decision making process of the previous generations – so you better pay attention to them, even if they’re not directly your target group.
Before you commit to your 2015 marketing plan, think about young professionals, college kids and some high school kids who either are part of your target group or have influence in your target group. Take a moment to consider the following:
Millennials are savvy online shoppers. Don’t think that a banner ad at a local news website will make you cool. In fact, they’re just about useless nowadays because we became incredibly adept at ignoring online ads and pop ups. Try search marketing instead, and spend time and money optimizing your web content for search engines.
Millennials consume media on the go. A good chunk of youngsters don’t care for cable TV, print media, or traditional radio. Instead, many of them consume media on the go, when they want it, in the format they want it. Think about their preferences and find new ways to reach out to them.
Millennials prefer real time communication. Understand and become a part of the social media marketing world. Millennials like to be in constant communication with their friends, on the go, in real time. Posting once per week, or even once per day, won’t help your brand. Millennials are looking for creative, relevant content – that’s how posts become viral.
Millennials care about peer reviews. Don’t be afraid of bad online reviews, in fact you should be encouraging online reviews. Millennials are savvy online researchers and able to forgive a brand as long as they see that the problem was well handled within a reasonable timeframe. Millennials trust their friends and family’s perceptions and opinions, which makes them valuable brand ambassadors.
Millennials love the ‘#nofilter’ view of businesses. Go ahead and show who’s behind the curtain. Explain your unique selling proposition in an informative manner that is relevant to them. Remember that this generation is very well educated and tech savvy – they don’t care about the alphabet soup after your name, but rather what you can do to help them solve their challenges. Transparency with a smidgen of modesty will help your brand in the long run.
Even if you’re targeting Baby Boomers, remember how much influence Gen X and Millennials can have in their decision making process. It’s important to remember that pretty soon Gen Xs (people born between 1960 – 1979) will be taking the place of Baby Boomers in the market, which means that today’s middle schoolers, or Gen Z (people born after 2001), will be soon dictating how they’ll like marketers to reach out to them. In other words, get on the bandwagon now, because tomorrow, well tomorrow belongs to Millennials and Gen Zs!