Marketing to Millennials 101

Marketing By Giving

Millennials are a fickle group to market to. What most marketers have found, is that traditional marketing doesn’t work on us. I don’t read the newspaper. I don’t listen to the radio; I plug my phone into the stereo instead. I watch Netflix instead of regular TV so there’s no commercials, and if I do happen to watch TV, I record it beforehand so I can just fast forward through commercials.

The question is then: why isn’t traditional marketing effective with millennials? Personally, as a millennial, I can say I do not want to be sold to. Advertising, in any medium, makes me feel like I’m being taken from; like a company or organization is just after my money, and doesn’t actually care about me as a consumer. A funny commercial is not going to get me to buy your product. It’s no longer that simple. For me to buy something from you, you are going to have to give to me first. We’ll go more in depth on this in a bit.

The next question is: if I’m not paying attention to any of the traditional advertising mediums, as a marketer, how in the world are you going to reach me? The simple answer is social media. I’m on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and YouTube all the time. All day every day, that is where my attention is at. With that in mind then, the typical thought for small businesses and nonprofits is that they need a social media presence on these various platforms. But you have to realize that simply having a presence on social media is not enough; you must strive to have influence. Presence and influence are two very different things.

Presence means updating your status on Facebook, tweeting inspirational quotes every so often, or posting a funny picture on Instagram. Presence will make consumers aware of who you are, but ultimately it won’t go beyond that and it won’t have a significant impact on sales.

Influence means producing something of value on social media that has an impact on me. This is where we get into the “give to me first” concept. Before I buy something from you, you’re going to have to give me valuable content to consume before I feel invested in your mission and believe in what you’re selling. Valuable content can be created and then distributed on social media through three different mediums:

  1. Blog
  2. Podcast
  3. Video

Human beings have always communicated in variations of these forms: written, spoken, visual.

If you’re a small business or nonprofit, you have to become an expert in your field (I’m assuming most of you already are). The next step is to produce educational, entertaining, or inspiring content around your specific area, and then give away that content for FREE to your audience. As a millennial, only after I’ve been impacted by some of your content will I buy your product.

Giving away your content for FREE does four things for you:

  1. Establishes your credibility
  2. Builds relationships
  3. Creates engagement
  4. Builds influence (not awareness)

Now, I hear your argument already, creating content is a lot of work. You’re right, it is. But here’s your motivation to do it: if you don’t start creating content, your competitor will, and at that point you’ve lost. Constantly creating new content can be a daunting task. Instead of “creating,” do this instead: document, don’t create. Produce content around your journey, and document your experiences. At the very least it will make you seem more human, and that alone will increase your sales.

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