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February 29, 2016

The most non-traditional generation so far, millennials (young adults who are currently between the ages of 18 and 34) offer an annual buying power of $200 billion, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation. If that’s not enough to get a marketer’s attention, the U.S. Census Bureau reports that millennials are also a massive generation with a population size of 83.1 million, surpassing even the baby boomers.

While there are many common misconceptions about the group—mainly that they are single, narcissistic, “selfie-lovers”—they are a diverse group that requires a tailored marketing approach. Quite simply, not understanding them, not finding ways to be relevant or engaging to them, and not adapting to their new expectations are the easiest ways for a brand to fail. The real challenge in this is figuring out how exactly to do it. At the most basic level, here are some tips to keep in mind if you’re trying to grow your brand among millennials.

Be Authentic

The word “authentic” has become a general buzzword when it comes to millennial marketing; however, it is still worth emphasizing its real value and power. Millennials love content that was crafted with their best interests in mind rather than with the aim to open up their wallets. They are absolutely resistant to traditional advertising in all its forms and shapes. Forget call-to-actions focused on buying; instead, take the longer route to present consistent value, empower them and gauge their interest. At the end of the day, it’s the transparent ad campaigns that win.

Be Social

Millennials are focused on solving real life problems through online research, both in search and social media. According to a study by Market Strategies International, millennials are about three times more likely than other generations to reference social media networks when making purchasing decisions.

This means your online (and particularly mobile) presence simply needs to rock. And you can’t just “be” on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter. You need to use these platforms effectively and truly be engaging. Brands that can be relevant and offer simple solutions to real problems are the ones who will come ahead with this generation.

Earning a millennial’s attention on social media means creating the impression that each consumer is special. There’s a number of ways that your company can do so: offer special discounts and loyalty programs to social media fans, run creative contests or (perhaps most importantly) curate on-brand, user-generated content. Those tactics should seem pretty obvious, and hopefully you’ve tried them in the past, but find ways to connect with Millennials through social media in ways that feel authentic (for reasons discussed above) and really make sense given your brand’s personality.

Be Mobile

We are increasingly living on our smartphones–catching up on emails, tapping social networks and sharing everyday events on the go. According to a Nielsen study, 85 percent of millennials in the U.S. own smartphones, so it’s essential when you are targeting this generation to have a strong mobile game plan.

To excel at mobile marketing, first consider the basics. Are your landing pages optimized for mobile? Are they too graphics-intensive, making load times longer with slower connections? Is your call to action clear, even on a smaller screen? After you’ve done these things, it’s time to get creative.

I often recommend influencer marketing campaigns to my clients who are trying to reach millennials because they often form an opinion or make a positive judgment about a product or brand based on the opinions of those they follow on social media. We know that millennials no longer trust traditional forms of advertising, yet they are particularly prone to expert and peer opinions on products, so start working with online influencers (bloggers, vloggers, Instagrammers) to build a solid base of brand evangelists.

Always remember that winning the minds of millennials—and their dollars—happens through their hearts. Marketing to this generation doesn’t have to be hard. Remember to be authentic in your communications, be thoughtful with your social media, and have a strong mobile marketing strategy. And, if you’re not completely confident in your millennial strategy, I suggest you find a marketing-savvy millennial and start asking the right questions.

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