by Kenneth Rudich
The social and technological influences of the Millennial Age have ushered in a new era for marketing.
They’ve created an inflection point, which, in business terms, means a time of significant change in a situation. As a result, marketing in the Millennial Age is about navigating the gyrations of this evolving dynamic.
Born roughly between 1980 and 2000, the Millennials – also variously known as Generation Y, Generation Me, Digital Natives and the Baby Boom Echo – are estimated to be about 88 million strong in the United States.
Substantial figures like these are bound to rouse a good deal of interest. Chalk it up to an awakening of sorts, but the Millennials have gone from being scoffed at not so long ago, to being wooed in earnest as of late.
But if you’re a marketer, or in marketing, there’s a caveat to heed. Unless you’re willing to embrace a strong customer-centric point of view, don’t expect a piece of this ginormous pie.
Studies show Millennials are a unique breed as compared to their earlier counterparts. They behave more like prosumers than consumers, and early indications suggest you’d be well-advised to cater to their specific wants and needs with the utmost attention and care.
The longstanding practice of piecing together customer profiles (and now personas) takes on even greater significance when pursuing the hearts and minds of Millennials. While the notoriously elusive objective of 1:1 marketing hasn’t arrived just yet, we are closer than ever to achieving it.
And though technology deserves a lot of credit for this development, it’s the Millennials themselves that deserve the bulk of the credit. They’ve been the ones to decide how technology gets used, what is useful (to them), and whether or not your brand fits into the world they’ve fashioned for themselves.
But what Millennials have mostly decided is: if you’re not interested in what interests me, then I’m not interested in you.
It’s important to recognize that the “me” in this framing has a dual meaning.
There’s “me,” as in the selfie understanding of it; and then there’s “me” as in being part of the bigger collective that defines this generation. Think of it as the zoom in, zoom out functionality of “me.” In this sense, it’s a multifaceted construct.
From a marketing standpoint, it creates a tapestry-like landscape in which market segments are self-forming, starting with a segment of one and then growing out from there. At the same time, they’re also dynamically assembling and re-assembling themselves as they grow out, not unlike what you see when peering into a kaleidoscope (hence, agile marketing).
Bottom up vs Top down Segmentation
While this may sound paradoxical, you have to tease out your market segments by first striving to reach the Millennials on a nearly 1:1 basis (a healthy degree of personalization, like virtual handshakes), and then figure out how to scale up from there so as to also leverage the efficiencies that can be derived from the accumulation of touchpoints.
This is a twist from what has been done in the past, where the mass market often got divided into segments and sub-segments based on top down corporate thinking, as opposed to following the path of bottom up consumer behavior.
So now the idea, the strategy, is to forge a marketing initiative that moves in concert with the Millennials – a tricky combination of coaxing them forward, while also following along. One of the better tactics for attempting to do this is to engage them with content marketing.
With that in mind we’re going to leave you with three free resources for delving deeper into this topic. They, collectively, will round out your understanding of what this challenge entails.
1. The first is a pdf that covers the subject of Content Marketing for Millennials. “Content Marketing Best Practices Among Millennials” by Yahoo and Tumblr, in partnership with Razorfish and Digitas.
2. The second is a short-course introduction to the basics of content marketing. It consists of 4 Stylized PowerPoint Video modules, with each roughly 4-6 minutes in duration: Content Marketing Basics
3. The third is a blog post that takes a slightly more advanced look at content marketing, moving forward: Uber Content Marketing Entails Multidimensional Thinking
And lastly, we want to provide you with an example that illustrates many of the concepts captured in the above marketing tips graphic (as well as the additional resources). Frankly, after seeing the metrics this video has scored, we had to climb out of a pool of envy before we could post it:
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