Millennials are a major market segment for brands around the world. With more than $600 billion in buying power in the United States alone, individuals born between 1982 and 2004 have become major players in the global economy.
As a marketer, it can be challenging to reach millennials. They watch less traditional TV than the previous generation, and avoid advertisements like the plague.
So if you can’t pay to put your brand in front of them, how can you tap into their buying potential?
Well, unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re aware of how quickly content marketing has become a dominant force in brand engagement. It’s interesting that this form of reaching and engaging audiences has exploded just as the Millennial Generation began maturing, a correlation that I’d argue is no coincidence.
In fact, it’s my belief that the rise of content marketing has been directly influenced by the impact that Millennials have had on the world we live in.
Content marketing discards the old-school approach to marketing, which favored constant brand bombardment and cheap psychological trickery to influence people’s purchasing behavior. Millennials have a nose for that sort of marketing – 99% of them state that traditional ads don’t influence their purchasing behavior!
Image Source: The McCarthy Group
Millennials don’t, as a general rule, see advertising as trustworthy. Content marketing is therefore an effective way for brands to overcome the stigma of advertising through providing useful, actionable information that guides Millennials towards a purchase.
To reach Millennials with your brand messages, content must be a focal point of your marketing strategy. However, you’ll find that reaching such a sizeable audience with content is not as simple as posting daily blog posts.
In my work with brands around the world, I’ve found that there are four key pillars to engaging with Millennials through content marketing.
1. Have a specific audience in mind
Millennials interact online more than any generation before them. They’re comfortable with their digital identities and value communication over exposure. This means that they’re a deeply personal demographic that expects brands to connect with them on a more granular level than ‘consumer’.
Therefore you’ve got to focus your audience targeting more than ever if you hope to move the needle with Millennials. You need to aggressively segment your audiences far beyond the year in which they were born.
At Risr Marketing, we create multiple personas when we’re targeting millennials based on their online activity, education, hobbies and socio-economic background. This allows us to craft content that feels personal to everyone we’re pursuing.
As a general rule of thumb, the specificity of your targeting should be limited only by your budget and time. The more you focus on specific identifiable traits, the more success you’ll find with Millennials.
The image above was used in an ad for a dental workshop in Australia. Note that the copy targets a profession, a geographic location, and a proficiency level (‘No Orthodontic Experience Necessary’). This type of targeting will make your content more effective than if the ad above were simply targeted at all dentists.
2. Offer transparency and value
I’ve already mentioned how wary Millennials are of traditional advertising. When we asked Millennials to describe advertising in a single word, they overwhelmingly answered ‘fake’.
Millennials prioritize authenticity and transparency, and expect every interaction with a brand to deliver value to them in some form. When you craft your Millennial-focused content marketing strategy, understand that ‘being real’ isn’t just a goal, it’s a requirement.
To achieve this, you need to transform your brand into one that feels authentic and human. Your content should center on that identity, and always focus on delivering value to your audience in one of two ways:
Note that neither of these forms of value have much to do with money. That’s because Millennials are far less budget-focused than older generations, and are more willing to swear loyalty to or aversion for brands based on how they perceive them.
If you want Millennials to latch onto your brand, ‘be real’ with them and offer them a brand that they can identify with.
3. Understand the ‘WIIFM’ attitude
Millennials are often called the ‘distracted’ or ‘short attention span’ generation. There’s more content out there than anyone can reasonably be expected to wade through, so it’s not really surprising that it’s hard to keep the attention of digital ‘natives’.
Many brands find it hard to stand out. The vastness of the entertainment and information available online today means that Millennials have a very strong What’s In It For Me (WIFFM) mindset that you’ll need to address when crafting your content.
When you create content for Millennials, always start by identifying the value your content delivers. Then make certain that what you’re offering is something that a Millennial audience will desire.
Once you’ve identified the value you’re delivering, focus on crafting your content in a manner which surfaces or transfers that value as quickly as possible. Blog posts over a thousand words long are great for SEO, but an infographic accompanied by a bulleted list of key points is far more likely to be well-received by Millennials with their short attention spans.
4. Take advantage of social amplification
Millennials are more social than any generation ever before them. They have a strong desire to be informed, and to be the first to share new information.
As a marketer, you should always be aware of how the right content can drive exposure in the hands of a Millennial audience – an audience that is more than twice as likely to share branded content than any other demographic if they feel it’s clever and unique.
When creating content for Millennials, consider how they’ll feel about being associated with it. Will it make them feel influential? Will it entertain their friends? Is it ‘original’ or ‘quirky’ enough to warrant sharing? Checking these boxes off will help you tap into an audience that, via sharing, can vastly amplify your brand’s reach.
Image Source: Media Insight Project
Understanding how social sharing affects your content’s reach and trustworthiness is key to reaching a Millennial audience. Content marketing is an entirely different ball game to traditional advertising. For the demographic that now makes up a majority of the United States’ workforce, authentic content is far more important than a snazzy logo or a discount.
When you consider how your brand can leverage content marketing to engage a Millennial audience, keep the points in this post in mind. Doing so will help you reach and engage an audience whose spending power will only grow as we move into the future.
Millennials are an extraordinary marketing target, a new breed of consumers who have – in my opinion – changed the way we consume information, products and services. By using content marketing to get them in your corner, you will rapidly increase your business profits.
How do you target Millennials with your content marketing? Let me know in the comments.
Guest Author: Rob Boston is the Founder and President of Risr Marketing, a full-service digital marketing agency. Rob’s passion for brand marketing and engagement is surpassed only by his love of board games.