Marketing to Millennials Hangout – Tampa, FL
Two Wednesdays ago, we at McKay Advertising + Activation invited many of our friends and associates to attend another hangout session, with us, our friends from Google, and a special guest from Base Culture. The topic? Marketing to Millennials. (How’s that for a buzzword?)
Something else happened much earlier on that same day; the results of the US 2016 Presidential Election finally came in and the race was officially ended. While certainly most people have heard enough about politics in the last few months, it’s worth pointing out the symbolism here. Let’s just say that the results of said election were unexpected. Unprecedented, actually. I would argue that this election will result in a paradigm shift in the American political climate for the next decade, and it’s certainly not a shift that most experts saw coming. Similarly, marketing over the past decade has undergone a similar shift.
Marketing to Millennials isn’t a trend; it’s necessary – Millennial consumers represented over $500 BILLION in spending power just this past year; yes, that’s with a “B”. To say that marketing to them is the future is a bit of a misnomer, because really it’s the present. Millennials will represent a majority of the broad consumer base within the decade, which means it’s not a niche demographic to tailor your messages to. Marketing to millennials is going to become the default. Don’t underemphasize their importance.
Mobile is King – As we saw both in Eric Ortiz’s anecdote at the start of the talks and in the Google presentation by Mike Snyder, the millennial (and increasingly everyone else too) functions in society through mobile devices. They are depended on very heavily, which means if you’re not maintaining a presence on mobile, you’re behind. It’s that simple. We discussed the prevalence of “micro moments” and how they are shaping consumer behavior in 2016 and beyond. What is a micro moment? You ever walk down the street in a new city and realize you’re hungry enough to eat a horse, and immediately search for nearby restaurants in your phone’s search engine? You ever suddenly remember you were supposed to get that gift for someone and start searching for items online while on the go? How about just getting exhausted at work and searching for vacation spots or places to go blow off steam? Those are micro moments, and that is the key spot to reach out to consumers.
Understand what “Millennial” actually means – We hosted a fantastic panel discussion involving very talented millennials all acquainted with the digital space. The panel included the aforementioned Mike Snyder, senior account strategist from Google, Sean Kelly, our own director of digital media at MA+A, and Jordann Windschauer, CEO and founder of Base Culture, who has extensive experience in digital and social media marketing. This discussion was so needed because a lot of discussion about “millennials” in popular culture just is surrounded by stereotypes and meaningless buzzwords. But millennials are a very diverse group of people, and often these aren’t accurate descriptors. Here’s what a “millennial” actually is: someone who was born immersed into the information technology age, and thus speaks the “native language” of digital. They are quick to adjust to advances in technology, typically are using the latest platforms, and are very driven to perform well when given something they’re passionate about. Make sure when you try to reach out to them that you’re not being condescending or relying on stereotypes; it can and WILL blow right back in your face.
Be Flexible; Adjust – Our founder Bob McKay gave a great talk about strategies to keep up with the ever-changing digital space and its constant technological advancements. Media consumption is moving away from traditional and towards digital; that’s just a fact. This trend is even more pronounced within millennial consumers. So the first, simplest, and probably the most important step in marketing to millennials is using the right platform to reach them through. They’re not going to newspapers for most of their news, and they’re not going to traditional radio for most of their entertainment, so if you’re trying to tailor your message to millennials in the form of radio and print ads, you’re already way off the mark. Do your homework. Find out where the newest hot medium is. Right now, it’s as simple as going digital, invest in your social media accounts, make sure your ads and website are mobile-friendly, and you’re off to a great start.
Overall, it was an informative evening filled with great conversation on a topic that is too often approached in the totally wrong way. As a final thought, I’d just like to leave this quote used in Bob’s talk from the Great One, Wayne Gretzky:
“A good hockey player plays where the puck is; a great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be.