We know what you’re thinking.

Another article about millennials?

In a recent survey, four out of four millennials at Bouvier Kelly said that they, too, were tired of seeing articles about themselves. (And we thought millennials were supposed to be self-centered?)

We know you might be tired of hearing about the country’s largest generation — but when you’re pushing your brand out to them, are they tired of listening to you?

Here’s the thing: if you haven’t taken the time to understand the group of consumers who came of age during the dawn of the internet and social media, you’re running the risk of either ignoring an extremely powerful customer or crashing-and-burning with an #epicfail of your own.

So don’t wait around until the next generation becomes the darling of the marketing world. Check out four ways you can make sure you’re talking to millennials, and not at them.

 

1. Be Authentic

The last time you had a chat with a close friend, chances are you didn’t need to rely on conceptual language or jargon to move the conversation forward. You just talked. And if you were to toss out erudite language (like using the word “erudite”), you’d probably get called out for it.

Talking to millennial consumers is no different. They can smell a pitch from a mile away. They grew up as the advertising world was cutting its teeth on digital media, so they know how to tell when they’re being advertised to. It’s up to you to speak in a way that comes across like a trusted friend—not a capital “b” Brand.

If you refrain from putting on airs about who you are as a brand and don’t talk down to your audience, millennials will respond to it. And if you do pander, they’ll respond in a much less welcome fashion. Don’t believe us? Exhibit A.

 

Crocs2

Croc’s awkward tribute to the late David Bowie

 

2. Be Transparent

While the word “authenticity” tends to dominate the conversation around millennials (and for good reason), we’d also like to think of “transparent” as just as fitting a concept for what this generation is looking for.

Some of the brands embraced most heavily by millennials are those who draw no veils around their company culture and identity. Brands like Warby Parker showcase much more than just eyeglasses — they introduce their followers to the people behind the brand. Scrolling through their feeds, you’re just as likely to meet a new customer support rep as you would see their latest product offerings.

Another company excelling at the transparency game is clothing company Everlane. In addition to killing it on the social media front, they also showcase the exact production, labor, and transportation costs for each item. They even go so far as to list what the “true cost” of each piece is and then show you what they’re charging you. This level of transparency has lead them to become one of the internet’s (and by extension, millennials’) most celebrated brands.

 

Everlane's transparent pricing model

Everlane’s transparent pricing model

 


3. Keep Creating Content

When it comes to marketing in 2017, content is king. Without a steady stream of quality, original content, you’ll find it harder and harder to grab the attention of the social media generation. According to one study, social media accounts for the majority of millennial’s news-gathering efforts.

So how do you cut through the clutter of an increasingly noisy newsfeed?

You create content that attracts instead of panders. You create videos and blog posts that help your audience answer questions and solve problems instead of bluntly stating, “We have this product for you to buy.” You utilize national and global trends and conversations to introduce your brand’s perspective in an authentic way (hey, there’s that word again!).

This is the central tenet of the inbound marketing theory, but it’s no surprise that this strategy evolved out of the millennial-focused social media era. If you are talking to your audience and offering information that is helpful and educational—not salesy—your millennial audience will respond.

4. Have Fun

Look, we get it. It can often be daunting to think of how you’d project your brand as “fun.” It’s tricky, to be sure, but it’s not impossible. Even if your brand doesn’t naturally lend itself to fun, clever marketing (like an eyeglasses company might), there are plenty of niche, B2B industry players who are embracing a lighthearted approach when talking to millennial customers and potential recruits.

And fun doesn’t always have to translate as cat videos and viral memes. It simply means demonstrating that your company is still run by human beings who laugh, engage, and think critically about your industry.

So if you’re only ever using your Facebook or Twitter accounts to post white papers or glossy product silhouettes, why not try looking around your office for some human inspiration? We know it’s hard to put yourself out there, but trust us — people (and especially millennials) will appreciate it.

And hey, here’s something a lot of blog posts don’t tell you: marketing and appealing to millennials doesn’t have to work for every brand. If they’re not a part of your core audience, don’t fret! But if you want to learn more about how you can capture the attention of this unique audience, get in touch.

 

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