millennials sitting on steps taking to each other.

Millennials are defined as anyone born between the years 1981 and 1996 and this generation currently makes up the largest percentage of the population in Canada. In this post, we’ll be taking an in-depth look at how to market your business to millennials while outlining some millennial marketing mistakes to avoid.


Let’s get started!

Why is Marketing To Millennials Important?


You might be wondering… what’s with all the hype about millennials? What about baby boomers? Or gen X? Or gen Z? Why shouldn’t we be concerned about these markets?


Your marketing strategy should account for all generations, however, millennials are particularly important because they just surpassed baby boomers as the largest generational group in Canada, totalling nearly 10 million!


At the time of this blog post (2020), millennials are between the ages of 23 and 39. Most of them will have graduated from college and will continue to increase their disposable income in the coming years.


This means that they’ll be the largest economic driver in our country for many years to come and that you need to have a marketing strategy that accounts for this shift in the market.

How to Successfully Market Your Business to Millennials

1. Use Multichannel Marketing


Since the smartphone boom, many companies are jumping ship on tried and true advertising methods like direct mail and other print strategies. We get it, it can be tempting to chase after the latest shiny new thing.


However, this is a big mistake. Recent research shows that, despite the widespread popularity of digital devices, half of millennials ignore digital advertising and pay more attention to direct mail and print.


It’s not that mobile devices aren’t as popular as we think (you’d be hard-pressed to find a single person without a smartphone in their pocket). The misconception is how we think consumers are using these devices. It turns out they’re not using it to consume advertising as much as we thought.

This presents a great opportunity. If your business focuses on targeting customers through multiple channels – digital and print – you can gain the upper hand over competitors who are only focused on digital advertising.

2. Provide Value Upfront


Technology has provided millennials with endless opportunities throughout their lives. However, it has also made them hesitant to trust the companies that ask them to spend their hard-earned dollars.


And who can blame them? In the early days of the internet, scammers were about as common as snow in January. It’s nearly impossible to find a millennial who hasn’t lost at least a few bucks to a cyber-criminal.


That’s why it’s extremely important for your business to provide value upfront. Show the customer exactly how your products or services solve their problems, then minimize the risk to get started. This can be done by offering a free trial, a welcome discount, or a money-back guarantee.

3. Have a Strong Brand Story


Storytelling is a skill that can increase customer loyalty, provide brand recognition, and boost profits. The reasoning behind this is simple – people remember stories.


Any successful brand story shares a few common elements.

      • A problem

      • Underdog status

      • An element of social good

      • A concluding explanation

Start With A Problem


The problem should be the starting point of your brand’s story. Usually, this involves explaining how your company discovered a particular gap in the market and then took steps to fill it.


For example, Shopify is a platform that allows regular people to set up their own eCommerce stores with no technical knowledge.


Shopify was created because its founders were looking for an eCommerce shopping cart solution when setting up an online store to sell snowboarding supplies. They couldn’t find one, so they decided to create their own.


Today, Shopify is worth billions of dollars – all because they created a solution for a single problem!


Embrace The Underdog Status


After outlining the problem, most businesses start out as an underdog. They’re a small fish in a very large pond.


Here’s the thing – everyone loves an underdog.


That’s why it’s important to share the struggles you encountered when trying to build a successful business. Doing so will create a sense of authenticity within your message. Millennials like to see personal characteristics in the companies they do business with. If you show that you’ve overcome real challenges through sheer grit and determination, you’ll win their respect and attention.


Add an Element of Social Good


Do you make it a priority to give back to the local community? Do you have environmental initiatives in place for your business? If so, it’s important that you share these things with your customers.


Social change is one of the largest influences on millennial purchase decisions. If you can prove that your business helps facilitate social change, millennials will choose you over competitors.


A Concluding Explanation 


Finally, you need to tie all of the points mentioned above together in a way that tells customers why you’re the best choice. Why do your failures and successes make your company worth their time and money?


Don’t forget, a quality product is still important but if you have a compelling brand story, it makes it much easier to sell. Social responsibility is one of the most important buying factors for millennials. If they like what your company stands for, they might even overlook small imperfections in your business to show their support.

4. Have A Sense of Humour


Many baby boomers expect a certain level of professionalism from the companies they purchase from. However, with millennials, this attitude is shifting.


Yes, millennials still expect you to deliver on your promises and provide them with a quality product and excellent customer service, but they also crave a personal connection with your business. They don’t want to deal with a suit, they want to deal with real people they can relate to.


One of the best ways to create this connection is by using relatable humour. For example, with the help of actor/comedian Kevin Hart, Hyundai released this commercial to help advertise their new car:

Of course, you probably don’t have the budget to hire a famous celebrity for your marketing campaign. But it’s not the people that make this commercial funny, it’s how they exaggerate a common life situation – the overprotective father on his daughter’s first date.


When using humour to market your business, it’s important to tread carefully. For example, you might think something is funny but others might consider it completely tone deaf or simply out of touch.


That’s why it’s always best to put new marketing materials in front of a test group and get their opinion before actually launching a campaign. Make sure this test group includes people from the demographic you’re targeting.

5. Explore Alternate Marketing Channels


Twenty years ago TV commercials were one of the best ways for businesses to advertise their products and services. While this strategy might still work for baby boomers, it’s unlikely to resonate with millennials.


Just as radio was replaced by TV, TV is getting replaced by content consumed on other devices through apps like Youtube and Netflix.


In fact, a recent study commissioned by Google found that millennials watch 47% less TV compared to adults over the age of 35.


That’s why it’s crucial for businesses to remain agile and be on the constant lookout for alternate marketing strategies.


One of the most popular ways to attract the attention of millennials is influencer marketing. This involves paying prominent figures on social media to recommend your products and services to their following.


This strategy works because it allows your business to leverage the trust built between the customer and the influencer to sell your products.


But this is not the only route you can explore. Direct mail is also an extremely effective tool for capturing the attention of younger generations. Perhaps this is because they’re simply overwhelmed by the amount of digital content they consume every day and are looking for something different.

6. Encourage Reviews


The purchasing process has changed drastically over the years. Today when most millennials need to buy something, they hop over to Google and do a quick search.


For example, let’s say they’re looking for a restaurant. They might search: restaurants near me.


Then they’ll browse through the results. But how do they know which one to choose? Most of the time it comes down to which business has the most positive reviews. According to a report published by the Medallia Institute:


“Millennials are highly networked consumers who consistently look for information and third-party feedback on the products and services they purchase. Three out of four Millennials do extensive research before making a purchase decision, and 50 percent report that online reviews were the most influential factor driving a recent purchase. In fact, online reviews influence Millennials’ purchase decisions almost three times as often as Boomers”


There are a number of ways you can encourage customers to leave positive reviews for your business. One of the easiest is simply to ask them. “If you’re happy with our product/service, would you mind leaving a quick review on our website? This really helps us attract new customers and share our product with more people.”


As long as you provide them with a good experience, most customers will be more than happy to leave a glowing review.

7. Adjust Your Pricing Plans


Millennials are much less likely than baby boomers to spend money on things. This doesn’t just include basic living items like cars and houses, but it also includes products and services.


It’s important to take a close look at your pricing and see if there’s any way to reduce the upfront investment for your products and services. For example, do you offer an option to set up a monthly payment plan? Have you considered a subscription pricing model?


These are good questions to ask when trying to create a pricing structure that attracts millennials.

Mistakes to Avoid When Marketing To Millennials

1. Assuming All Millennials are The Same 


One of the worst things you can do when marketing to millennials is to make the mistake of treating all millennials the same. This happens when you use cliches in your marketing materials.


For example, if you say all millennials spend too much time on their smartphones or wear beanie hats and sunglasses, you’re going to rub some people the wrong way.


Not only that, but using cliches seems forced and inauthentic. It feels like the business is trying to relate to something they don’t understand.

2. Neglecting Print


Marketing teams have a bad habit of getting seduced by the latest new strategy. Over the past two decades, digital marketing has taken the world by storm. However, we’re reaching a point where millennials are suffering from information overload. They’re looking for ways to disconnect and spend more time away from their phones.

This presents a golden opportunity to take advantage of good ol’ fashion print marketing. There’s already an abundance of data that supports print as a viable approach to marketing. For example, direct mail has been shown to have a response rate 36x higher than email marketing.

3. Not Connecting Your Brand or Business with a Cause


A growing trend amongst millennials is the idea of voting with their dollars. They want to buy the things they need while simultaneously making an impact on the world they live in. In order for this to happen, your business needs to be connected to some sort of larger purpose or goal.


This could be as simple as supporting a local charity in your community or donating a portion of your proceeds to environmental initiatives. Look for the most successful businesses in the future to have a perfect balance of profitability and social responsibility.

Wrapping Up – How To Market Your Business to Millennials 


In this article, we covered some of the best millennial marketing strategies as well as a few things to avoid.


How to Market to Millennials:

      1. Use Multichannel Marketing

      2. Provide Value Upfront

      3. Have a Strong Brand Story

      4. Have A Sense of Humour

      5. Explore Alternate Marketing Channels

      6. Encourage Reviews

      7. Adjust Your Pricing Plans

Mistakes to Avoid When Marketing to Millennials:

      • Assuming all millennials are the same

      • Neglecting print marketing

      • Not connecting your business with a cause.

Incorporate this information into your business’s marketing plan and you’ll be one step closer to attracting more millennials to your products or services!

Struggling to find customers? If you need help creating a data-driven, multichannel marketing strategy that gets results, the team at ION would love to help you out. Please contact us today to learn more about what we can do for your business.


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