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Keep It Real and Other Proven Ways to Market to Millennials

Members of the millennial generation are expected to spend $10 trillion over their collected lifetime. This is a generation even bigger than the baby boomers, and quickly becoming the most important market segment for advertisers. So big, in fact, Goldman Sachs has identified which brands are most poised to capitalize from this demographic shift.

Unfortunately, they’re also one of the most difficult groups for advertisers to target. The millennial generation has been saturated with ads their whole lives. They’ve watched Mad Men, they know they’re being manipulated with every piece of marketing material they see, and so they tend to put up a wall and tune out anything and everything promotional.

Here are a few ways marketers can break through that wall and reach the millennial generation.

Create a Conversation

Millennials don’t like to be sold to. However, they are willing to engage with brands online. The benefits of social media marketing are numerous. For one, it’s an incredibly cheap way to get your message out to millions of potential customers. Each person that likes your page or shares your content in effect becomes an unpaid marketer for your brand, spreading your message to their friends.

The interactivity of social media also means your message has a better chance of making a real impact on millennial consumers. Engage with them on social media and determine who your biggest brand advocates are. Email them, acknowledge them publically, and use other tactics to keep these key millennials engaged with your brand.

Online display ads have notoriously terrible conversion rates. So place less influence on them. Instead, get your consumer to take part in a discussion involving your brand with the content, and through the channels they like.

Let’s Get Visual

Engaging visuals can be a great way to connect with millennial consumers. Young consumers enjoy interesting videos, artwork, or photographs, even if they are explicitly promotional. Visual marketing works on a much more emotional level and can bypass the ingrained skepticism towards marketing that many millennial consumers share.

It’s no wonder why visual content sites and apps such as Instagram, Snapchat, and Tumblr have taken off over the past few years. 

Keep It Real

Viral is the buzzword most commonly used when talking about marketing to Millennials. Every company wants their content to “go viral,” and so they end up trying to piggyback on every internet craze as it comes along. Unfortunately, too few companies take the time to think about whether this attempt at going viral is true to their brand.

Millennials crave authenticity. They understand that any interaction with marketing is artificial in nature, but they still want brands to be authentic to themselves within that context.

Think about the brand that you’ve built up. A brand with a reputation for high-quality, functional, no-nonsense products might not lend itself to viral content, but it’s still a great brand. Do you really want to mess with that by describing your company as anything other than being a great brand?

Disguise Your Marketing

Native advertising and sponsored content are among the biggest trends in marketing right now. Both terms describe paid-for branded content that is published on a third-party site and is formatted to look like that site’s own content. Major publishers from both old media (New York Times, Wall Street Journal) and new media (Buzzfeed, Gawker) have jumped on board and have divisions whose sole responsibility is creating quality branded content for advertisers.

By integrating your own content into a respected website, you can get consumers to experience your marketing with the same enthusiasm that they consume media for their own pleasure. It also increases the odds of consumers sharing your content on social media, as roughly a third of consumers said they would share native advertising with friends and family.

Getting your own social media followers to create marketing content for you, either through hashtags or photo contests, can be another good, cheap way to get branded content out there that doesn’t look like advertising at first glance. Millennials are mostly savvy enough to figure out when they’re being sold, but if you at least disguise that fact a little they’ll be more willing to engage with your brand.

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