Each new generation of consumers brings with it new cultural expectations. When the baby boom came of age, advertising began using film techniques, humor, story telling, and music in ways that advertising had never seen before. Generation X infused marketing communication with irony, satire, and cynical humor. The best branding agencies understand and accommodate these cultural demands. In fact, with both content and technology, it is smart to get out ahead of the upcoming generation.
So, whether you’re engaged in bank branding (where the future is now in terms of marketing to millennials), consumer products (where the future is ten years ago), or hospital branding (where the future is the day after tomorrow, as healthcare marketing focuses on building patient bases and young adults on building families), it’s never too late to consider how millennials consume information, goods, and services.
1. Brand me.
Demographers like to think about what whole generations of people have in common. Boomers are consumers. Xers are cynical. Millennials are … whatever. But this generation, more than any group before it, thinks of itself not as a generation, but as individuals. So, if we’re going to reach the 20-somethings and 30-somethings, we’ll need to get out of the “y’all” mindset and into the “you” mindset.
This means finding ways to customize the product, the purchase experience, and even the communication. This is one reason inbound marketing methodology is so relevant. All of the components of inbound have existed for a while. But demand drives innovation. And companies like Hubspot and SharpSpring have carpéd the diem, as millennials, the first generation to live their entire lives with access to smart technology, have taken control of their information consumption. They look at what they want. And then they decide based on what their peers say.
2. Give me an experience, please.
Banks, to a great extent, and hospitals, to a lesser extent, have long used community involvement as a means of expressing their differential advantage within a community. But just as we are entering a new era of virtual communities, we are also entering a new era of actual communities. As we have said before, the best way to use social media to make connections is a hybrid strategy of virtual and actual. Well, this is especially true when marketing to millennials.
This is a social generation and a generation of adventurers. So, as you consider your community involvement strategy, think about how you can create opportunities (events) that can involve your 20-something and 30-something employees and customers. A project—an adventure—that associates your brand with a cause and that creates personal connections among staff, customers, and prospects, will seat your brand in a unique, experiential way. And you will leave your competitors on the sideline, wondering what hit them.
3. Mobile. And once again, MOBILE!
A while back, when GOOGLE began to give preference to mobile-friendly sites, they were not creating a trend. They were following one. For people under 35, smart devices are ubiquitous. They search all the time, everywhere, via mobile. If you want to reach them without mobile friendly technology and messaging, you’ll have about as much success as trying to reach them via semaphore. Good luck with that.
This starts with smart mobile web design. But that’s not where it ends. Also important are dynamic content, offers, exchanges, and interactivity. This generation wants it in their pockets. They want it customized. They want it experiential. And they want it fresh.