October 12, 2015
John MulderJohn Mulder

I'm Not a Millennial, but I Have to Play One on TV

Understanding your audience is a critical component of marketing.

Even if you are not your client (and you’re probably not), you need to think like they do. Speak their language and be where they are. Unless you do, your message will not resonate with your audience. I’ve seen it happen time and time again. Understanding the psychology of your customer is the portal of success.

I understand it’s easier said than done. Especially when there is an age or gender gap. The best thing to do is to do your best to walk in their shoes. Open your eyes to their experience and try to understand why they do the things they do.

For me, the most confounding age bracket has been Millennials. Millennials grew up in an electronics-filled and increasingly online and socially-networked world. Having been raised under the mantra "follow your dreams" and being told they were special, they tend to be confident. While largely a positive trait, the millennial generation’s confidence has been argued to spill over into the realms of entitlement and narcissism.

Millennials have proven to be plain hard to market to, period - Until the moment you understand what makes them tick. And that’s what I’ve been doing with my spare time.

It turns out that Millennials aren’t as disengaged as the generational stereotypes suggest. In fact, they are just as engaged as anyone — they just choose to engage differently.

To make it easy, I’ve boiled it down to 4 things you need to do to reach them.

1. Go Mobile – You need to be where they are. And that's connected. Research has shown that they are on their smartphones at least 43 times a day. Allow your audience to text rather than call or even email you with questions. Millennials would rather text than speak on the phone.

2. Engage with Them – Millennials are eager to join communities, collaborate amongst themselves, and crowd-source their lifestyles by utilizing services. Convenience is key. Millennials are becoming evermore in favor of live chatting, self-service, and social media troubleshooting when they encounter issues. If you want to be there to help, you need to listen and be part of the conversation.

3. Be Authentic – Online search is a primary driver of Millennials’ sales. 93% report reading product reviews before purchasing and trust in community input is strong. Brands are shrinking in importance: 62% of 18-34 year olds trust brands less than people. The reason is because they don’t want polished rhetoric. They want an honest, warts-and-all look at your brand. Be honest. It goes a long way.

4. Make a Proclamation – Millennials respond to charitable initiatives and wellness campaigns, striving to better society and themselves. They align themselves with brands that support or believe in a cause they have in common and stand for something more than their bottom line. Make a bold statement. Take a stand. That builds respect and creates a nearly unshakable bond.

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