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The ultimate guide to reaching millennials

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Millennials and buying power

Although one in three millennials rely on their family for financial assistance and many have moved back in with their parents due to this demographic having the highest unemployment rate, this will not always be the case. Millennials are aged 18 to 29 and various studies say their buying power has already exceeded the baby boomer generation, despite economic struggles.

This generation is highly connected, with almost the entire group owning a device that connects to the web (laptop, smartphone, computer) and they are extremely brand aware with some opining that this generation is more socially conscious as a whole than past generations.

Three reasons millenials are a challenge

Millenials are not difficult to reach, they are almost all online, but getting this generation to latch on to a marketing message is trickier than simply mailing a postcard. The digital natives grew up with computers and are far from impressed with technology as it is something they have always lived with. This sentiment of being unimpressed applies to digital marketing as well, as this generation is cynical but not in the way Generation X is cynical, no, millenials tend to be cynical of all marketing not because it is part of the corporate or government machine, rather, having grown up in the era of email spam, everything that contains a marketing message is seen as dubious. Being part of the email spam generation and never knowing life without it, millenials are also part of a generation that had a cell phone in grade school and got in trouble for responding to spam text messages promising them fun ringtones but not making it clear they were signing up for a $9.99 monthly fee.

The amount of spam that millenials have had to learn to distinguish from legitimate marketing messages has made a generation that is dubious of all forms of marketing, even traditional forms. Additionally, because millenials grew up with Google and some grew up with Wikipedia, so the generation is conditioned to be internet researchers which often comes across to non-millenials as a “know it all” attitude and professionals find it annoying that every detail they share, Google is how millenials verify. This is not because millenials do not believe you, rather, it is because they are conditioned to use the web to verify everything from what device they’ll buy next to what the service is like at a restaurant they want to try, to what this rash is, all the way to how much they should be saving to buy a home.

Further, millenials have very short attention spans having grown up surrounded by digital devices delivering various messages, combined with diverse and complex video games and the rise of cable television with thousands of channels. This very theory is why Twitter initially experienced mass success as 140 characters is a reasonable amount of content for a mind used to taking in thousands of marketing messages every day.

Overcoming obstacles

How do you as a business professional market in a climate where every message is suspect, everything you say is validated via Google and attention spans are short? Millennials do not want your instructional DVD and they do not want you to blog about how to tweet or when a local carnival is, they want straightforward facts. This generation is drawn to minimalist design after growing up being bombarded by clunky websites and spam over text and email.

Combine straightforward facts and minimalism in your message, and mix in some of what is appealing about video games and digital publications in the form of humor or pop culture, and your message could get through.

The secret ingredient, however, is still the same secret ingredient that has worked since the dawn of time – getting face to face with a millennial will cut through the clutter and improve your chances of doing business with this large and soon to be wealthy next generation of buyers. How do you get face to face? You do not have to go to concerts and hand out your card, you are not required to go to hipster coffee shops and offer to buy coffee for trendy dressers, because millenials are dubious of any forced marketing.

Having a strong online presence and presenting yourself as the expert in something specific will set you in a position to be discovered and vetted online first and then closing the deal in person. While it doesn’t hurt to be where millenials are, like young networking events, the generation is still being primed for major purchases and when they are ready, they will start online with any purchase before emailing or texting, they will read through your blog to see what you offer and “creep” your Facebook and LinkedIn to see what you are like as a person. Getting millenials to buy from you means showcasing a specific expertise, being concise and cutting out the fluff and cheesy marketing messages, and through that expertise, earning their contacting you which should then be converted to an offline meeting as soon as possible to finalize the trust bond.

Millenials – data

As told by a millennial below, the generation is well educated, hopeful, but held back by the current economy. In the next few years, when the generation improves its buying power, it will be a force to reckon with and you will be ready by knowing about the generation (below) and understanding that they are a dubious generation that vets everything online and has a short attention span which has nothing to do with you, but must be considered in your marketing.

This article was penned by a millenial to give you a better understanding from an insider.

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92 Comments

92 Comments

  1. Ryan Schattner

    December 17, 2011 at 2:37 pm

    Finally an accurate article.

  2. ARG

    December 29, 2011 at 12:06 pm

    I found this fascinating. We have representatives from each generation in our office (except the "Silent" one) and we all found this infographic fun and interesting!

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Business Marketing

Video is necessary for your marketing strategy

(BUSINESS MARKETING) As technology and social media move forward, so do marketing opportunities. Now is the time for video content social media marketing!

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video content

As an entrepreneur, you’ve surely heard the phrase “pivot to video” countless times over the last few years. It’s the path a lot of media companies are on, but even brands that aren’t directly talking about this pivot have increased their video production. This shift stems in part from studies showing users spend more time on pages featuring video content. Social media has also played a significant role, and recently, new social platforms have made the pivot to video even more important.

Snapchat and TikTok are leading the social video sector as emerging social media platforms, but the audiences for these platforms skew especially young. The content on these platforms also tends toward the meme-worthy and entertaining, raising the question: are these platforms a good use of your time and resources? The answer depends on your industry, but whatever your field, you can certainly learn from the pros dominating these new platforms.

The promotional angle

One of the primary ways that businesses use video content across platforms is by creating promotional content, which range widely in style, cost, and content, but there are a few strategies that can really help a promotional video succeed.

First, a great promotional video hooks the viewer within the first few seconds. Social media has shrunk everyone’s attention span, so even if your video is on a longer form platform, the beginning has to be powerful. Having a strong start also means that your video will be more flexible, allowing it to gain traction across different platforms.

Audience matters

What you’re promoting – what your business does and who it serves – plays a critical role in what kinds of video content you make and what platforms you use. TikTok is a lot of fun, and it’s playing a growing role in business, but if your entire audience is age 30 and up, there’s not much point in trying to master the form and build a viewership there. You need a sufficient youth-heavy market to make TikTok a worthwhile investment, but Snapchat, which also serves a youth-heavy market, might be a different story.

Even if you don’t intend to make heavy use of Snapchat, the platform recently made a big splash in the video sector by opening up its story tools to other platforms. That means businesses will be able to use Snapchat’s tools on platforms like Facebook and Instagram, where they may already have an audience. It will also make crossover content easier, allowing you to maintain consistent branding across all platforms. You may never download Snapchat proper, but you may soon be using their tools.

It’s all about strategy

However you choose to approach video content, the fact is that today video is a necessary part of your content marketing strategy. In part this is because, while blogs aren’t going anywhere, and short-form social media is definitely ascendant, both make use of video, but that’s not the only reason. Video is so powerful because it’s deeply personal. It makes your audience feel that much more closely connected with you and your brand, and that alone is enough to change buying patterns.

Another key advantage of video is that, consumers genuinely enjoy well-made videos. Unlike blogs, which most users will typically only seek out if they need information, there are brands out there who are known for their video content. They’ve found a way to hook viewers and make them feel like they have two products: entertainment and whatever it is they actually sell. You, too, can do this with enough creativity and today’s social media tools.

It’s critical that you don’t let your brand fall behind on video right now, because if you even stop for breath, you will be left behind. As TikTok and Snapchat have made clear, video doesn’t stop for anyone. At this point, video isn’t the future of social media or ecommerce – it’s the present.

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Business Marketing

Marketing amidst uncertainty: 3 considerations

(BUSINESS MARKETING) As the end of the COVID tunnel begins to brighten, marketing strategies may shift yet again – here are three thoughts to ponder going into the future.

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Open business sign being held by business owner for marketing purposes.

The past year has been challenging for businesses, as operations of all sizes and types and around the country have had to modify their marketing practices in order to address the sales barriers created by the pandemic. That being said, things are beginning to look up again and cities are reopening to business as usual.

As a result, companies are looking ahead to Q3 with the awareness they need to pivot their marketing practices yet again. The only question is, how?

Pandemic Pivot 1.0: Q3 2020

When the pandemic disrupted global markets a year ago, companies looked for new ways to reach their clients where they were: At home, even in the case of B2B sales. This was the first major pivot, back when store shelves were empty care of panic shopping, and everyone still thought they would only be home for a few weeks.

How did this transition work? By building out more extensive websites, taking phone orders, and crafting targeted advertising, most companies actually survived the crisis. Some even came out ahead. With this second pivot, however, these companies will have to use what they knew before the pandemic, while making savvy predictions about how a year-long crisis may have changed customer behavior.

Think Brick And Mortar

As much as online businesses played a key role in the pandemic sales landscape, as the months wore on, people became increasingly loyal to local, brick and mortar businesses. As people return to their neighborhood for longer in-person adventures, brands should work on marketing strategies to further increase foot traffic. That may mean continuing to promote in-store safety measures, building a welcoming online presence, and developing community partnerships to benefit from other stores’ customer engagement efforts.

Reach Customers With PPC

Obviously brick and mortar marketing campaigns won’t go far for all-online businesses, but with people staying at home less, online shops may have a harder time driving sales. Luckily, they have other tools at their disposal. That includes PPC marketing, one of the most effective, trackable advertising strategies.

While almost every business already uses some degree of PPC marketing because of its overall value, but one reason it’s such a valuable tool for businesses trying to navigate the changing marketplace is how easy it is to modify. In fact, best practice is to adjust your PPC campaign weekly based on various indicators, which is what made it a powerful tool during the pandemic as well. Now, instead of using a COVID dashboard to track the impact of regulations on ad-driven sales, however, companies can use PPC marketing to see how their advertising efforts are holding up to customers’ rapidly changing shopping habits.

It’s All About The Platforms

When planning an ad campaign, what you say is often not as important as where you say it – a modern twist on “the medium is the message.” Right now, that means paying attention to the many newer platforms carrying innovative ad content, so experiment with placing ads on platforms like TikTok, Reddit, and NextDoor and see what happens.

One advantage of marketing via smaller platforms is that they tend to be less expensive than hubs like Facebook. That being said, they are all seeing substantial traffic, and most saw significant growth during the pandemic. If they don’t yield much in the way of results, losses will be minimal, but given the topical and local targeting various platforms allow for, above and beyond standard PPC targeting, they could be just what your brand needs as it navigates the next set of marketplace transitions.

The last year has been unpredictable for businesses, but Q3 2021 may be the most uncertain yet as everyone attempts to make sense of what normal means now. The phrase “new normal,” overused and awkward as it is, gets to the heart of it: we can pretend we’re returning to our pre-pandemic lives, but very little about the world before us is familiar, so marketing needs a “new normal,” too.

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Business Marketing

Advertising overload: Let’s break it down

(BUSINESS MARKETING) A new study finds that frequent ads are actually more detrimental to a brand’s image than that same brand advertising near offensive content.

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Advertising spread across many billboards in a city square.

If you haven’t noticed, ads are becoming extremely common in places that are extremely hard to ignore—your Instagram feed, for example. Advertising has certainly undergone some scrutiny for things like inappropriate placement and messaging over the years, but it turns out that sheer ad exhaustion is actually more likely to turn people off of associated brands than the aforementioned offensive content.

Marketing Dive published a report on the phenomenon last Tuesday. The report claims that, of all people surveyed, 32% of consumers said that they viewed current social media advertising to be “excessive”; only 10% said that they found advertisements to be “memorable”.

In that same group, 52% of consumers said that excessive ads were likely to affect negatively their perception of a brand, while only 32% said the same of ads appearing next to offensive or inappropriate content.

“Brand safety has become a hot item for many companies as they look to avoid associations with harmful content, but that’s not as significant a concern for consumers, who show an aversion to ad overload in larger numbers,” writes Peter Adams, author of the Marketing Dive report.

This reaction speaks to the sheer pervasiveness of ads in the current market. Certainly, many people are spending more time on their phones—specifically on social media—as a result of the pandemic. However, with 31% and 27% of surveyed people saying they found website ads either “distracting” or “intrusive”, respectively, the “why” doesn’t matter as much as the reaction itself.

It’s worth pointing out that solid ad blockers do exist for desktop website traffic, and most major browsers offer a “reader mode” feature (or add-on) that allows users to read through things like articles and the like without having to worry about dynamic ads distracting them or slowing down their page. This becomes a much more significant issue on mobile devices, especially when ads are so persistent that they impact one’s ability to read content.

Like most industries, advertisers have faced unique challenges during the pandemic. If there’s one major takeaway from the report, it’s this: Ads have to change—largely in terms of their frequency—if brands want to maintain customer retention and loyalty.

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