Millennials continue to mystify marketers. Millennials are a massive buying power, but also notoriously hard to reach. They skim content, sniff out deceit and only engage on their terms.
The best way to market to millennials is by not marketing. At least, not using conventional methods. Here are some stealth tactics you can try to reach this key demographic.
1. Send Personalized Print
If you look at the 8+ hours of content consumed each day, the vast majority of the content is through digital media—online, television, podcasts, smartphones, social media, etc. In the crowded digital media environment, print has a tremendous advantage. It exists. Millennials see print as the quiet among the noise, as something to take their time with and enjoy. Marketers who can provide personalized printed content that gives them what they want when they want it can hit a home run with Millennials. Take advantage of the tangible qualities of print with value-added print effects, texture, paper and quality writing and imagery tailored to their interests.
Are you skeptical of the fact that digital natives actually crave print? Look at the current trends with Millennials that involve tangible experiences, like subscription boxes, vinyl records, niche magazines and fanzines, Pinterest crafts and artisanal food and beverages. Millennials are actively searching for sensory experiences, and in study after study, have indicated that they value print, enjoy reading (real) books and magazines, and appreciate mail.
2. Add a Human Touch
Another marketing trend is the humanization of a brand. The popularity of this technique is due to Millennials’ reliance on friends for information (as we saw in the statistic above) and the desire to see people like themselves, rather than a corporation, when considering a brand. You will see this technique in almost every marketing medium:
In a catalog, the models might have names and interests/accomplishments next to their photos.
In an email blast for a clothing company, the lead designer may provide her favorite picks for the season.
In a store, “staff favorites” sit in their own designated section. “If everyone who works here likes the product, maybe I will, too.”
This technique uses a form of peer association that ties into the desire to get group feedback, and to feel connected to similar people (or the kind of person they want to be) who also participate in the brand.
3. Create a Lifestyle
Somewhat related to the human touch is the lifestyle side of un-marketing. For example, think of the old Williams-Sonoma catalog. It used to be a catalog filled with stunning kitchen appliances and tools. The Williams-Sonoma catalog of today sells a lifestyle—recipes and entertaining tips and stories from world-class chefs—and all of the premium tools and products to help you emulate that lifestyle. Williams-Sonoma complements the catalog with a blog, an entire recipe section of their site, interviews with featured chefs, and lines of ingredients and products that customers can use to create the exotic dishes featured in their online and print content. Look around and you’ll see lifestyle integrated everywhere.
4. Be An Expert / Be Inspiring
Content marketing is definitely the name of the game these days, and the creation of shareable content is a stealth way to get discovered. In B2B scenarios, it’s hard to get much traction in social media. After all, who’s going to actively follow a manufacturer or distributor? Instead, leverage your knowledge in your area of expertise to answer questions, provide tips and tricks and powerful thought leadership. The blog post then leads back to your company and allows for discovery. According to Google, about 70 percent of B2B decision-makers today begin their product research through a generic online search. Post frequently, share other good content and comment in group discussions, too. Millennials like authenticity and transparency. If you’re sharing your knowledge and helping them, they’ll be open to learning more about you.
On the B2C side, aspirational imagery and quotes, tips, lifestyle ideas and humor all resonate and give your brand a personality.
5. Support a Cause
Millennials (heart) companies with a heart, which has led to the explosive growth of cause marketing. For-profit companies who partner with non-profit companies to do good things for the environment and for humanity can win huge points with Millennials. In fact, over 85% of Millennials correlate their purchasing decisions to the responsible efforts a company is making (SquareSpace).
Now, remember, un-marketing is under the radar and I’m not suggesting that every company that engages in cause marketing does it just for good PR. There are many, many companies that do good because it’s in their company culture, which is awesome. However if we’re looking at this solely for its strategic value, what makes cause marketing so effective is that your company gets discovered through the good work it’s doing. A positive impression is made, and a brand is elevated in the eyes of the customer. Everybody wins.
The key is to make sure that what you do correlates with the cause you’re supporting or the customer will forget about it. For example, Warby Parker makes eyeglasses, and they have a “Buy a Pair Give a Pair” program that helps people who need glasses and eye care get the help they need. It makes sense. If Warby Parker donated to green energy programs instead, the correlation would be lost.
As you plan your marketing strategy, keep these tips in mind while marketing to millennials.
Note: This blog was originally published 09/2015, updated 08/2018.
The John Roberts Company is a full-service marketing execution company, providing a variety of services including: commercial printing and packaging, mailing and digital marketing services, and more. To learn more about our company and how we can help you succeed, get in touch today.