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10 tips for marketing to millennials

Millennial buying power is up to $200 billion, which makes them one of the most lucrative markets today. Generation Y should be a top priority for marketers.

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Don’t roll your eyes just yet

Marketing successfully to a specific audience isn’t always easy. Knowing your target audience is only half the battle for moving product and making a profit.

You also have to market toward that demographic in a way that appeals to its members’ particular tastes and wishes. Millennials have proven to be a particularly choosy group.

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It’s a quarter of the buying power

Millennials, also known as Generation Y, encompass Americans age 18 to 35. There are currently 80 million millennials in the U.S., which equals a full quarter of the population.

Furthermore, their buying power is up to $200 billion, which makes them one of the most lucrative markets today. These statistics dictate that Generation Y should be a top priority for marketers.

10 tips for reaching Gen Y

As you seek to make them a more prominent goal of your marketing efforts, here are a few worthwhile tips to remember.

1. Renting beats owning
For the most part, millennials prefer renting over owning, which is a powerful fact for marketing. When given the choice, most millennials would rather pay full price to purchase or rent something when they need it rather than own it. This new “sharing economy” orientation can be useful for directing your marketing efforts.

2. Organic products move
The greener and more natural, the better. Today’s generation is all about saving the environment and reducing carbon footprint. If you truthfully market products as being clean and Earth-friendly, it gives you an initial foot in the door with these consumers.

3. Interconnectivity is a must
Smart technologies were invented when these customers were kids, which means they grew up expecting them in both marketing and products. Integrate interconnectivity into products when possible, and select marketing strategies that bounce off each other.

4. Authenticity sells
Millennials spend approximately 25 hours per week online, and much of that time involves reading content and viewing multimedia that informs and entertains. Because they have so much experience in the market, they can tell when you’re being fake in your advertising efforts, and it’s a major turn off.

5. The focus is on fun
Instant gratification and memorable experiences score high for most people in their 20s. When they interact with companies and their content, they want to enjoy the process. They crave the experience of shopping sometimes more than the purchase itself, so everything from the layout of your website to the pop-ups should be geared to entertain and please.

6. Build responsively
If you’re targeting millennials, you can’t escape responsive design. As of now, more than 85 percent of millennials in the U.S. own smartphones and use them daily for Internet browsing, social media, shopping, and more. When they encounter a website that’s not optimized for the small screen, they don’t stick around.

7. Social groups generate leads
Traditional styles of marketing rarely apply to this younger generation. Targeting social groups is one of the best ways to appeal to your audience and generate leads. Generation Y tends to have a strong attachment to social media and the identities they’ve built there, so it’s wise to market aggressively to that group.

8. Engagement comes with relevance
If you want millennials to engage, you have to be relevant. Reference current events, trending topics, and evergreen articles to help consumers solve problems and encourage them to engage with your content. Continue the conversation through social media, forums, emails, comments, and any other forms of communication.

9. Involvement makes them feel special
Approximately 42 percent of millennials said they wanted to help companies develop their products and services. These people don’t understand limitations; they want to see their grand ideas come alive in new products. When companies enable their fantasies, they love them all the more.

10. Content marketing rules
Videos, photographs, memes, infographics, gifs, blog posts, white papers, ebooks, and other forms of multimedia will always hold a special power for millennials. The content companies provide offers the kind of entertainment this group craves.

Stick with what works for you

Content marketing has been going strong for nearly 130 years, and it will continue to convert for the foreseeable future. Stick with what works when you’re marketing to millennials, and you’ll see the profits follow.

#MarketingToMillennials

Larry Alton is an independent business consultant specializing in social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship. When he's not consulting, glued to a headset, he's working on one of his many business projects. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Business Marketing

Snapchat’s study reveals our growing reliance on video

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Snapchat released a report that shows some useful insights for future video content creation.

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Snapchat is taking a break from restoring people’s streaks to publish a report on mobile video access; according to Social Media Today, the report holds potentially vital information about how customers use their mobile devices to view content.

And–surprise, surprise–it turns out we’re using our phones to consume a lot more media than we did six years ago.

The obvious takeaways from this study are listed all over the place, and not even necessarily courtesy of Snapchat. People are using their phones substantially more often than they have in the past five years, and with everyone staying home, it’s reasonable to expect more engagement and more overall screen time.

However, there are a couple of insights that stand out from Snapchat’s study.

Firstly, the “Stories” feature that you see just about everywhere now is considered one of the most popular–and, thus, most lucrative–forms of video content. 82 percent of Snapchat users in the study said that they watched at least one Snapchat Story every day, with the majority of stories being under ten minutes.

This is a stark contrast to the 52 percent of those polled who said they watched a TV show each day and the 49 percent who said they consumed some “premium” style of short-form video (e.g., YouTube). You’ll notice that this flies in the face of some schools of thought regarding content creation on larger platforms like YouTube or Instagram.

Equally as important is Snapchat’s “personal” factor, which is the intimate, one-on-one-ish atmosphere cultivated by Snapchat features. Per Snapchat’s report, this is the prime component in helping an engaging video achieve the other two pillars of success: making it relatable and worthy of sharing.

Those three pillars–being personal, relatable, and share-worthy–are the components of any successful “short-form” video, Snapchat says.

Snapchat also reported that of the users polled, the majority claimed Snapchat made them feel more connected to their fellow users than comparable social media sites (e.g., Instagram or Facebook). Perhaps unsurprisingly, the next-closest social media platform vis-a-vis interpersonal connection was TikTok–something for which you can probably see the nexus to Snapchat.

We know phone use is increasing, and we know that distanced forms of social expression were popular even before a pandemic floored the world; however, this report demonstrates a paradigm shift in content creation that you’d have to be nuts not to check out for yourself.

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Business Marketing

Technology is helping small businesses adapt and stay afloat

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Small businesses need to utilize digital platforms to adapt their businesses during COVID-19, or else they may be left behind.

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While many may not have imagined our present day back in March, and to what extreme we would be doing things “remotely” and via “hands-free contact”, we have to give some credit to small business owners who remain flexible and have pivoted to stay afloat. They deserve major credit on adaptations they have made (and possibly investments) in new technology (ordering online, online payments) especially at a time when their in-person revenues have taken a hit.

There are various marketing buzz words being used lately to say “let’s keep our distance”, including: curbside, to-go, hands-free, no contact, delivery only, order via app, social distancing and #wearamask.

The thing is, if you really think about it, small businesses are always in evolution mode – they have to pay attention to consumer consumption and behaviors that can shift quickly in order to stay relevant and utilize their marketing and advertising budgets wisely. They heavily rely on positive customer reviews and word of mouth recommendations because they may not have the budget for large scale efforts.

For example, we use Lyft or Uber vs calling an individual cab owner; we order on Amazon vs shopping at a local mom-and-pop shop; we download and make playlists of music vs going to a record or music store. Small business owners are constantly fighting to keep up with the big guys and have to take into account how their product/service has relevance, and if it’s easy for people to attain. In current times, they’ve had to place major efforts into contactless experiences that often require utilizing a digital platform.

If stores or restaurants didn’t already have an online ordering platform, they had to implement one. Many may have already had a way to order online but once they were forced to close their dining areas, they had to figure out how to collect payments safely upon pickup; this may have required them to implement a new system. Many restaurants also had to restructure pick up and to-go orders, whether it was adding additional signage or reconfiguring their pick up space to make sure people were able to easily practice social distancing.

According to this article from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, “Studies have shown that 73% of small businesses are not aware of digital resources, such as online payment processing tools, online productivity tools, e-commerce websites, online marketing and other tools, that can help them reach customers around the world. If small businesses had better access to global markets, it could increase the GDP of the United States by $81 billion and add 900,000 new jobs. During the pandemic, this could also mean the difference between thriving and closing for good.”

There are some larger corporate technology companies offering ways to support small businesses whether it’s through small business grants from Google, resources and grants from Facebook or Verizon giving them a break on their telecom bill. The challenge with this may be whether or not small business owners are able to find time from their intense focus on surviving to applying for these grants and managing all that admin time. Many business owners may be focusing on what technology they have and can upgrade, or what they need to implement – most likely while seeing a loss in revenue. So, it can be a tough decision to make new technology investments.

It does seem like many have made incredible strides, and quickly (which is impressive), to still offer their products and services to customers – whether it’s a contactless pay method, free delivery, or even reservations to ensure limited capacity and socially distanced visits. There are still some that just haven’t able to do that yet, and may be looking at other ways to take their business to a wider audience online.

We would encourage, if you can, to support small businesses in your community as often as you can. Understandably there are times that it’s easier to order on Amazon, but if there is a way you can pick up something from a local brewery or family-owned business, this may be the lifeline they need to survive and/or to invest in new technology to help them adapt.

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Business Marketing

There’s a shortage of skilled workers, so get learning

(BUSINESS MARKETING) COVID-19 may end up justifying training funds for lower-class workers to learn new skills. Skilled workers are desperately needed right now.

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The COVID-19 pandemic (yes, that one) has ushered in a lot of unexpected changes, one of the which is most surprising: An increased call for skilled workers — a call that, unfortunately, requires a massive retraining of the existing workforce.

According to the New York Times, nearly 50 percent of Americans were working from home by May; this was, reportedly, a 15 percent increase in remote work. The problems with this model are expansive, but one of the greatest issues stems from the lack of training: As employees of lower-class employment transitioned to working online, it became increasingly evident that there was a shortage of skilled workers in this country.

The Times traces this phenomenon back to the Great Recession; Harvard University’s Lawrence Katz points to some parallels and insinuates that this is an opportunity to elevate the lower class rather than regressing, and it seems fair to put the onus of such elevation on lawmakers and senators.

Indeed, Congress has even addressed the issue of skill equality via “bipartisan support” of a $4000 credit for non-skilled workers to use toward skill training. For Congress to come together on something like this is relatively noteworthy, and it’s hard to disagree with the premise that, given the invariable automation wave, many of our “non-skilled” workers will face unemployment without substantial aid.

COVID-19 has accelerated many trends and processes that should have taken years to propagate, and this is clearly one of them.

Supporting laborers in developing skills that help them work within the technology bubble isn’t just a good idea–it’s imperative, both morally and economically speaking. Even middle-class “skilled” workers have had trouble keeping up with the sheer amount of automation and technology-based skillsets required to stay competent; when one considers how lower-class employees will be impacted by this wave, the outcome is too dark to entertain.

It should be noted that non-skilled workers don’t necessarily have to scale up their training in their current fields; the Times references a truck driver who pivoted hard into software development, and while it may be easier for some to focus on their existing areas of expertise, the option to make a career change does exist.

If we take nothing else away from the time we’ve spent in quarantine, we should remember that skilled labor is integral to our success as a society, and we have a moral obligation to help those who missed the opportunity to develop such skills fulfill that need.

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