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How to Impress Friends and Influence Millennials

I feel like ever since I have entered the advertising world, a common question I am always hearing is “How can we grab the attention of millennials?”

We (myself included) are the generation du jour. We’re tech-savvy. We’re influencers. We’re the target audience that marketers want to speak to, but can’t always find the most effective ways of doing so.

Speaking as a millennial, there is so much more to it than social media and digital marketing.

While these are two major ingredients to cooking up an effective marketing strategy, they’re really only the icing on the cake.

Take these four helpful millennial marketing lessons (from a millennial) into consideration for the next time you want to capture the attention of this younger demographic.

Be Bold

One way to implement a successful marketing strategy that targets millennials is by pushing the envelope a little bit. Sometimes it is okay to take risks and see what happens.

By playing it safe, you can never truly see a notable change in results. By pushing boundaries, you may find that results can be groundbreaking.

Being over-the-top and yet still relatable is something that can capture viewers’ attention – especially millennials.

For example, the McKenzie Institute® USA wanted to raise awareness of its unique method of physical therapy through a campaign that would draw aspiring PTs and recent grads to their online resources.

The creative team at ABC then started to cook up ideas of how we can address this young audience and cover the spectrum with ads that will draw students and recent grads just getting started in the industry.

How did we achieve this? We made a bold statement. We showcased McKenzie in a way that would attract their targeted audience by showing them how they are different.

By creating meme-like messages focused on digital resources, ABC created content that pushed the envelope a bit. One of these messages was ‘Wanna Hook Up?’ While potentially crass, we took the chance on selling a message that we knew would capture the attention of this younger demographic while still selling McKenzie and highlighting their program.

Age Is Just a Number

Though we’re all lumped together under one category, millennials don’t necessarily want to be classified as one entity. When selling to millennials, it works best when you pinpoint unique needs and desires as opposed to age demographics.

Growing up with the web has allowed us to discover and form communities around infinite different interests. Well, that’s because when you focus on individuality, you can appeal to specific people. When you focus on conformity, you’re speaking to the masses.

It’s best to narrow down your audience as best you can to make it sound like you’re having a conversation with one person specifically.

This way, millennial’s feel as though they’re being spoken to directly. This appeals to millennial’s because we admittedly like to feel special. Particular niches within this generation can make your brand come off as more reliable, relatable, trustworthy and, well, cool!

Dove’s "Choose Beautiful" campaign joined an ongoing national dialogue with a creatively interpreted true story. The video shows women in five global cities being offered the option to enter a building through one of two doors labeled "beautiful" or "average."

Though the video starts off with most women choosing the "average" door, it continues on to show women beaming with confidence and inspiring possibilities for women to choose beautiful instead.

It shows real women in real life, all while having an inspiring and uplifting message that really speaks to its audience – millennials who gravitate toward content and storytelling as opposed to ads.

Speak Up!

Word-of-mouth marketing is something that oftentimes flies under the radar. Seems old-fashioned, right? However, the power of word-of-mouth marketing is highly underrated when it comes to marketing toward millennials.

Millennials are more likely to engage with a brand and find it trustworthy if they learned about it or heard about it from someone close to them – so add your voice to that conversation.

Statistics show that only 6 percent of millennials consider online advertising to be credible, while 95 percent say their friends are the most reliable source for recommendations.

Owning the brand, standing up for something and breaking norms are all potentially risky moves, but worth trying. Figuring out how to engage with this age bracket can be difficult, but these approaches can increase your potential of reaching them in the way you want to.

And, Yeah, Social Media

Like I said earlier, social media and digital marketing is the first place your mind goes when you think of marketing to millennials – and it should be. This is where that word of mouth is at its loudest.

According to the Pew Research Center of online millennials from the ages 18-29 in the U.S., 82% are on Facebook, 55 percent are on Instagram, 32 percent are on Twitter and 37 percent  are on Pinterest.

With these stats in mind, it is imperative that marketers understand just how powerful digital marketing can be. It’s important to take full advantage of the ease and exposure of these mediums.

But, don’t just insert your voice in a social community just for the sake of it. Millennial marketing is really niche marketing within a niche. So, you want to use the social formats that engage your subgenre of millennials the most.

When it comes down to it, it’s not just about breaking it down by the year someone was born. There are so many subcategories that one needs to take into consideration when marketing to millennials.

It’s not just about staying up to date with social media or knowing the latest trends.

It has to be relevant to your brand and the individual you're speaking to. It’s about being willing to take risks, standing out, sharing your voice and engaging with individual niches hidden under the general millennial umbrella.