How to market your products without the sleaze
Thanks to millennials, a new era of marketing has begun to dominate. The once popular and effective approaches of selling your products are no longer effective. Pushy, hard-sell tactics that used to work no longer do.
This is because millennials don’t see the traditional advertising pitchman or woman as a trusted authority figure. They also value different things in a company. Price is still a selling point, but it isn’t the only point, nor is product quality, although that is important as well.
Millennials want to do business with companies that reflect their values, help them solve their problems, and that they feel they can trust. The following guide will help you to adjust your approach so that you can appeal to the largest marketing audience in the world.
Be Aware of Shifting Social Views
As a whole, millennials embrace diversity, gender and racial equality, and acceptance of any and all sexual orientations and gender identities. They are keenly aware of social justice issues, and they want to know that you care about these things as well.
To begin, you can take a look at the current state of your social media content, website, and advertising. Then, without defensiveness, ask yourself the following questions:
- Do the images and videos I’m using reflect diversity and acceptance?
- Am I using inclusive language?
- Am I engaging in gender based stereotyping?
- Have I demonstrated my company’s values and the causes that we support?
- If I was a member of a minority group, would I feel valued and welcome here?
If you find anything that needs to be updated, do so. Remember that intent isn’t the important thing here; reality is.
Don’t be Cool be Authentic
Millennials hate dishonesty. Whether you are marketing to a millennial directly via a person to person conversation, indirectly through your content marketing efforts or thinking of products to sell online, don’t create a false persona in order to appeal to them. Instead, be genuine in your approach. This authenticness should be reflected in your content, your advertisements, and in your products themselves.
For example, many companies that make and sell food products have begun to remove artificial colors and flavorings from their products. For the most part, these efforts are the result of millennials expressing a desire to consume foods free of unnatural ingredients.
Embrace a Cause
Brands such as Toms shoes, LemLEm, Headbands of Hope, and Raven + Lily all have one thing in common. If you purchase a product from any of these companies, you are helping to support a charitable or social justice cause of some kind.
Each of these brands has also gained lots of traction with the millennial because of their philanthropy. If you’ve already embraced a cause, make that known. If you haven’t, you should strongly consider doing so.
Don’t Treat Millennials as a Monolithic Entity
Remember that millennials range in age from 19 to 36. There’s a lot of diversity within that group. Because of that, you might want to ask yourself, which millennials do I want to target with my marketing efforts? Is your ideal customer, the single college student with limited income, but who prioritizes social experiences and entertainment? Is it the thirtysomething professional with a family? Here are some interesting stats.
- 24.6 Percent of millennials don’t speak English at home
- They are more likely to identify as politically independent (51% white millennials 47% non white identify as independent)
- However, their voting patterns sway strongly democratic with 60% voting for the democratic candidate in the last presidential election
- They are waiting longer to get married (median age for men is now 29 and for women 27)
- They are less interested in homeownership as one in five men still live at home
- They are waiting longer to have children as the mean age for women to have their first child is age 26
Members of this generation have lots in common, but many differences as well. Age is only one of these traits. Millennials are vary by social group, ethnicity, values, and lifestyle as well.
Focus on Experiences
Given a choice, millennials would rather spend money on experiences than products. So, what do you do if you happen to be in the business of selling products?
You can still appeal to millennials by focusing on experiences in your marketing efforts. This begins with focusing intently on user experience on your social media pages and your website. Personalization is very important, as is mobile friendly design.
If you have a brick and mortar location, experience matters there as well. For example, Macy’s is appealing to millennials by staging concerts and installing cafes in their stores. Kate Spade and Chipotle have both produced entertaining video series as a way to promote and entertain at the same time.
To be frank, millennials care more about what their friends have to say about your brand and your products than what you have to say. This means your job is to influence those conversations.
You can do this in several ways, including:
- Encouraging satisfied customers to leave positive feedback on review sites
- Answering questions on forums such as quora
- Posting engaging and relevant content on your social media pages
- Responding to comments on your posts
- Crowdsourcing content from your audience
- Finding relevant content to curate to your audience
- Identifying your audience’s needs and creating content to meet those needs
- Using tools such as BuzzSumo to find trending content
- Create videos and infographics along with other visual content that is likely to be shared
If your content isn’t mobile friendly, you will lose the millennial audience. Whether it’s your website or your social media content, prioritize mobile.
For example, how quickly can someone find your location and contact information using a mobile device to access your website? What about your blog posts? Are they scrollable and scannable? Are you using geolocation to customize your site for local audiences and to make finding your place of business as easy as possible?
A mobile first strategy is absolutely imperative to win over the millennial minds and wallets.