Courting the Millennial Customer
© Can Stock Photo Inc. / EpicStockMedia If you are in a traditionally “cool” business, like a coffee shop, indy bookstore, or juice bar, it’s likely you have scads of skinny jean-wearing hipsters hanging around your store. But if you’re reading this article, most likely you don’t but you know you need them. There are roughly 75.3 million Millennials in the United States. This number outranks the 74.9 million Baby Boomers. For a successful future, your business needs the younger generation. Here’s how you can get their attention and keep it. Be About More Than Just You In today’s business climate it is also essential you stand for something outside of your own business interests. Millennials appreciate companies that give back like TOMS Shoes that provides a pair of shoes to someone in need in one of over 70 disadvantaged countries each time a pair is purchased here. If there’s a cause you’re a part of, talk about it. Make it part of your business and don’t be afraid to use cause marketing. Millennials respond very favorably to it. It makes them feel good knowing they are contributing to a worthwhile effort. However, there’s a fine line between doing something because you believe in it and doing something because you know it will bring you attention. That line is governed by authenticity. Do not be inauthentic in your marketing. Give Them Opportunities to Have Fun Millennials are still young and many of them are waiting before they tie themselves down with responsibilities. Appealing to their sense of fun in branding opportunities and the tone of your content is important in getting their attention. Don’t market like Don Draper if you’re trying to reach them. Chuck the stiff suits and formal language. Take a look at the pop-up used by the BrandingMuse, a site devoted to helping Millennials with their personal brand. “Kardashian Famous” might not appeal to those of us out of our 20s and 30s but it means something them. In addition to adjusting your tone to be more appealing, look for ways to reach out to them on social media. Create contests that get them noticed for their efforts. Post-a-“selfie” contests have big draws for this generation. Give Them a Say Millennials don’t believe in spending time on the sidelines, waiting for their turn to shine. They are ready to get involved right away. Use that in your marketing by giving them a say in product design, product offerings, and listening to their opinions. If they have input in what you’re doing, they’ll be more invested in your brand. Finally… For the purposes of this article I stuck with generalizations about a generation. Not all will fit every person in that demographic so it’s essential you understand what works for your audience. This information can be applied to creating effective marketing campaigns to help reach Millennials but once you have, this should not be seen as a complete guide to their preferences. Get them in the door with the suggestions here and find out what appeals to them individually to keep them coming back. Christina R. Green teaches small businesses, chambers and associations how to connect through content. Her articles have appeared in the Midwest Society of Association Executives’ Magazine, NTEN.org, AssociationTech, and Socialfish. She is a regular blogger at Frankjkenny.com and the Event Manager Blog. She’s a bookish writer on a quest to bring great storytelling to organizations everywhere.