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How to Market to Millennials

While the age range varies depending on the source you choose, the term "Millennial" typically refers to individuals born between 1980 and 1992. This generation is highly educated, but because of student loans, they are also riddled with debt, and as a result of the Great Recession, Millennials are vastly underemployed.

But despite the struggles they face, don't discount the spending power of Millennials. According to Inc.com, by 2015, Millennials’ annual spending will reach $2.45 trillion and $3.39 trillion by 2018. It's predicted that they'll surpass Baby Boomers in both numbers and buying power in the next few years.

Unless your product or service is strictly for another demographic, chances are Millennials will be your target market. To leverage this emerging group, it’s important to understand marketing strategies that drive Millennial purchasing decisions. Let’s take a look at a few simple tactics that can garner their attention.

Ensure a Positive Customer Experience

Millennials sometimes get a bad reputation for being lazy or entitled. But if you treat them as such, they'll notice. They expect and deserve a good customer-service experience, so be sure to give it to them. If you do, they'll recommend you to their friends and praise you online. If you don't, they'll let everyone know about your poor service practices, and that's publicity you don't want. The key is to make things easy. Make it easy for them to buy from you, easy to talk about you and easy to reach you in case something goes wrong. They expect openness and accessibility, and without these aspects, your brand can expect them to seek out a competitor.

Always Keep Reviews in Mind

Millennials have grown up with the internet and all sorts of gadgets, so they are highly informed. Before they make a purchase, they will thoroughly research the product or business online, ask their friends and family members for advice, and scour reviews from top sites like Yelp.com, ConsumerSearch.com and CNET.com. Don't think that you can capture this cohort's attention with silly special offers and subpar product features. Instead, monitor review sites and be aware of all reviews, both positive and negative; quickly respond to any negative feedback, and if practical, inform the reviewers of any action you take to alleviate their concerns. Not only will it improve your business, but Millennials will notice and appreciate the effort.

Don't Disguise Your Ads

Funny or heartwarming videos might make the rounds on social media sites, but if you want Millennials to actually buy something from you, be direct about what you are selling. Perhaps more than any other age group, Millennials want to know what’s in it for them, so answer that question upfront.

Build a Robust Website

Many Millennials won't even consider you a viable option if they can't find you online. They'll doubt your professionalism and competence if you don't have a website. Furthermore, you have to make it possible for them to order your products or services online. If you can't afford a full website overhaul, PayPal makes it easy and affordable to offer online payments.

Start Conversations

Seventy percent of Millennials talk about, consult, react to or post about products and brands on social media. They're looking for positive experiences and good feedback from their contacts and other social media users. However, you can't just set up a Facebook or Twitter account and leave it at that. You have to give Millennials something to talk about and connect with. So find ways to start conversations. Ask them to share an experience they had with your brand, or you can hold a contest or run a special promotion for your followers to get them talking and sharing.

In addition to this, ask for their feedback. Millennials want to tell you what you can be doing better, so ask. Moreover, work their doable ideas into your plans. If you make positive changes because they requested them, you'll build brand advocates for life.

Don't Overstate or Exaggerate

With access to so much information at their fingertips, Millennials are prone to being skeptical and won’t hesitate to dispute an advertiser’s claims. As such, don't oversell or make sweeping claims like "Best Bakery in Raleigh, N.C.," or "Cheapest Car Wash in the State." At best, they’ll pay no attention to such claims, instead choosing to use review websites to find their information. At worse, they’ll see you as desperate or gimmicky, immediately lowering the value of your brand in their eyes. As with most advertising, it's always best to be honest and to showcase what makes your brand and its products and services unique.

Be Visual

Use photos, videos, infographics, gamification and other interactive and visual-driven media to attract this audience. You'll engage them much more quickly this way than by simply providing straightforward marketing copy. For example, a restaurant could include a video of a chef preparing his or her top-selling dish. Or better yet, you can include photos or videos of your best customers using your products or describing how your brand made their lives better; you can even make a contest out of it. Just make sure that everything you put in your marketing collateral is authentic. Anything else will drive Millennials to other options.

Be Socially Conscious

Millennials are open-minded, liberal and socially conscious. If you want to attract this group, you may have to leave your political and religious beliefs out of your marketing promotions altogether. Furthermore, tell them how you are doing your part by supporting local causes and taking steps to reduce your carbon footprint.

Recruit Industry Experts to Speak on Your Behalf

This group values the feedback and opinions of celebrities and industry experts. Invite a well-known person in your industry to publicly endorse your product or service. Share interviews with those experts on your website and through social media, or ask them to contribute a guest blog you can share with your customers. If you have the money or connections, hire a celebrity—either local or on a larger scale—to endorse your product in a TV, radio or online advertisement

 
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