How to Engage Millennials: Influencing the Influencers

written by

Red Sky Team

December 8, 2016

You may have noticed that millennials are dominating today’s headlines, causing a stir for companies tasked with hiring this growing demographic, and poking holes in traditional marketing and economic models. So what’s all the fuss about?

Depending on whom you talk to, the term millennial (or Generation Y) applies to individuals who reached adulthood around the turn of the 21st century — so anybody born between 1980 and 2000, roughly speaking.

Dubbed narcissistic, lazy and entitled, the truth is this generation is just different. Millennials are social, progressive and innovative. They seek collaboration and are interested in working environments where their ideas and opinions are heard and valued.

The Millennial Worker

According to Forbes, by 2020, roughly half of the U.S. workforce will be made up of millennials. By 2030, that number will rise to 75 percent globally.

Millennials have little interest in climbing the corporate ladder to have influence, but rather feel the work they are doing right now should matter and make a difference. This sentiment poses an employee-retention challenge for many companies. Millennials want to have responsbilities they can own while working towards a common goal – one that should have influence outside your company’s profit margin. Put simply, if the work your employees engage in isn’t collaborative, innovative and doesn’t serve a purpose larger than themselves, millennials will seek this need elsewhere.

The Millennial Consumer

There are a few factors that play into a buying decision for a millennial consumer: research, ease and values. Younger generations are seasoned researchers. They’ve scoured your entire web presence and sought out reviews before they make their first point of contact with you. That’s why making it easy to find answers and engage in a call to action will benefit your brand for the long run.

When it comes to values, your consumer should clearly understand what your brand stands for. Millennials will use their buying decisions as self-expression. They want to have a positive influence on the world and will use purchases to express what they care about. If your brand doesn’t align with something they can support, they will go elsewhere. What you do and how you do it will be obvious from the very beginning, but why  you do what you do is what will inspire action.

Why do you do what you do?

Why does your company exist?

What is the story behind your company or product?

These answers play into your brand’s authenticity – a term you’ll be hearing more and more often if it’s not already buzzing around in your world. Creating authentic content can be the ticket to reaching the millennial audience with your marketing tactics. Real, relevant content created to inform your consumer will not go unnoticed. It’s your chance to be a thought leader for your customer, brand and industry.

While not all companies are able to have a stellar blog, there are other forms of content marketing that work towards the same goal. Infographics, E-books, how-to tutorials, videos and social media all lend the opportunity for you to educate and inspire your audience.

Here are a few important steps to keep in mind when positioning your brand to reach younger generations:

  • Know your “why” and be able to communicate it clearly and succinctly.
  • Identify your target audience(s)
    • Millennials are an incredibly broad, diverse generation. An 18 year old is going to engage with brand differently than a 35 year old. Identify whom you are targeting and why they would want to buy your product or service.
    • Most brands will not only be marketing to millennials. Position your brand’s why and call to action clearly and succinctly online and offline to make it simple for consumers to engage with you.
  • Build a community around your brand
    • Create a relationship with your consumers. They are talking about you on many channels, whether you are present to engage in that conversation or not.
    • Be innovative and creative in the ways you get in front of your target audiences and sell the experience during those interactions.
    • Evaluate how successful companies do it, like TOMS, to learn and generate new ideas.
  • Bridge the gap between your online and offline communication
    • One of the most common misconceptions of Gen Y is that everything needs to be online. Although information is accessed and shared online, the in-person experience is what will seal the deal.
    • Companies that invest their time and energy into the community do not go unnoticed. Sponsor local events, offer exclusive deals for your social media followers, host an open house event or partner with local companies or artists. Being seen as a community partner, rather than simply pushing a product, draws interest in what your company is, what you have to offer and reflects what truly drives your brand.

These steps help attract millennials seeking to be an instrument of change, both in their actions, career paths and purchasing decisions.

This doesn’t mean you should nix your current marketing strategy. It means that things need to change for you to stay viable and these changes may be uncomfortable. With open thinking and a willingness to adapt, brands can embrace a mindset that will draw in a broader and more engaged audience than ever before.

Interested in learning more? Red Sky regularly presents on the Millennial Effect to a wide range of audiences. Get access to our presentation and future video highlights by signing up with us.

About Red Sky

Red Sky is a strategic partner skilled in illuminating the key audiences and most effective channels for sharing your story. We align communication strategy with your business goals.