Marketing to Millennials: The 3 Ingredients that WORK

Marketing to Millennials is a challenge marketers can’t ignore. Whether we are talking about the audience of a start-up tech company, new app, product or service, those born between 1982 and 2004 currently hold a Titanic sized load of America’s buying power.

As a millennial myself, I love helping brands reach 90’s kids! When it’s done effectively, it’s always with a mixture of these three ingredients:

  1. Heart
  2. Honest Engagement
  3. Competitive Uniqueness

The Millennial Heart

The millennial heart

It’s not enough to throw information at Generation Y. They’re 100% aware and desensitized to boring marketing tactics, and they likely have a bad taste in their mouths for straight promotional content.

I’ve had an email address for about as long as I can remember. I know how to use it, and I know where to find the unsubscribe link, spam button and filter settings. If I don’t want someone’s content, I know how to keep it out!

Is this because I’m more savvy than those around me? NO! I grew up in the digital age – along with my millennial peers.

The fix is emotion.

If you want people to share your content, they need a reason to care about it. Easier said than done, I know!

It’s got to be emotional as well as interesting, actionable and informative. Your prime tools should be stories (the more real, the better) and emotional triggers like important causes or humor.

One mantra I share with my GMT clients is, “feelings over function.” In my work with non-profits, I’ve found that we can easily earn social shares on documentaries, short videos and even written articles. Why are these so much more likely to go viral than other content?

Because they appeal to the heart in an authentic way.

Figure out how your business helps people. How is it relatable? How does it reduce customer’s stress or make them feel better than they did without it? When you know the answers to these questions, you can strategically frame your content to appeal to the millennial heart.

Honest Engagement

authentic engagementMy big brother once told me that if a guy really likes a girl, he will make an honest effort to simply be around her a lot. This woo-ing is how I think of social engagement (but less cheesy, of course) with Gen Y.

You’ve got to rock it on their platforms and be a sincere person or human brand. To do this, you’ve got to research your target audience and know them well. You’ve got to drop the sales-y, self-promotional posts and move forward with the times.

Be where they are, start conversations that interest them and simply engage naturally.

The Buzzfeed approach is a great example. Buzzfeed uses a mixture of social sharing and clever content. The most useful content is written in a conversational tone that feels more relational than blandly informative.

Think funny, nostalgic and/or relatable when you post or engage with your audience. This comes right back around to being emotive in your actions. It just can’t be stressed enough!

 Unique Enough for a Trophy Kid?

Trophy wall of a millennial

Photo credit: Doc Willie, Aug 17, 2009

If you’ve taken the time to read to this point, it’s likely because a fat chunk of your audience is made up of millennials. How do you turn them into your hot leads?

You turn millennials into customers with the third ingredient: Uniqueness.

If you’re not the most creative cookie, make sure someone on your leadership team IS.

You are marketing to people who grew up in extremely competitive environments. In order to win a spot on the high school baseball team, they had to battle against a gym full of kids who’ve been practicing at the bat since they were three years old!

For these people, fitting in was never enough. In order to stand out, they had to win the trophy, take the AP class, join more clubs than the next person and definitely have over 500 Myspace friends.

Millennials take this mindset into the workplace. What does this info do for marketers? It tells us that a product or service better stand out as the best and for some concrete reasons.

Because if it doesn’t, this market will move on quickly and find something better.

So are you savvy enough? Have you gone completely mobile? Have you adopted an attractive, unique style for your brand? Have you found the niche interests of the social group you’re after?


Marketing to millennials doesn’t have to increase the grey hairs on your head. Yes, Generation Y buyers are important, but they are completely available and always looking for new, exciting content, information, products and etc.

They love to share with their friends…and you can work this to your advantage! If you fall short in any of the above areas, you’re not alone! Re-evaluation is part of forward movement!

If you need help humanizing your brand and relating to Generation Y, contact us! Either way, we would love to stay connected on Facebook and Twitter!

What have YOU learned about marketing to millennials? Let us know in the comments below!

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