I have spent the last 15 years of my professional life working with millennials and my 35 years of life being one. When I was in college, I founded a media organization, Students of the World, and have since been working with millennial creatives around the globe. In my experience, I have found that there are specific marketing approaches that are more effective for brands and causes who are trying to reach the millennial audience.
From the ever-expanding social channels in which we are hyper engaged, the rise of DIY and maker culture and our desire to bring cause and purpose to all aspects of our lives, millennials are moving brands forward in unprecedented ways. As we strive to build our “personal brand” through social channels–whether or not we are always conscious of it, we begin to understand what it is like for companies and organizations to do the same.
Because of this evolution, there now needs to be a shift from “marketing to millennials” to “marketing with millennials.” Successful marketing needs to transition from the one-way conversation to an engaging multi-dimensional conversation with an emphasis on authenticity, entertainment and co-creation. This applies to brands, organizations, companies and nonprofits alike.
Our generation values being a part of a team, being actively engaged in conversations and decisions, all the while striving for efficacy in our jobs, our personal lives and in the media we choose to consume. We grew up collaborating on group projects, participating in sports where everyone got a trophy and now live in an era where anyone with access to a computer and the internet has the potential for a global platform. We want to co-create: be that with stories, conversations, crowdfunding or designing products.
We are a creative generation, according to MTV’s Generation Innovation study. The primary trait we identify with is “creativity.” We see this not just in research, but in the rise of creative social platforms like Instagram, Pinterest and Vine and millennial entrepreneurs like those who founded Mashable, Thrillist, Tumblr and Tom’s Shoes.
We value authenticity, whether it is an increased interest in documentary films or the viral popularity of podcasts like Serial. With access to information everywhere, we have become very adept at navigating messages to discern truth. If we aren’t satisfied as a customer, we no longer are relegated to writing a letter for one or two people to read. We tweet our comments/complaints at companies and the ones who respond well, win. And, on the flipside of that, if we have a terrific brand experience, we will be certain to tell our social networks about it.
Our generation strives for purposeful engagement and meaningful experiences. We want to feel purpose in our professions, which is why many of us choose a smaller paycheck over an unfulfilling job experience. We want to be identified by the causes we choose to support and are volunteering more than any generation before us.
So, whether you are a brand or a nonprofit organization, it is important that marketers of our time provide a space for us to co-create with you. That enables us to be a part of your story, whether on social media or through experiences. Give us opportunities to let our creativity shine bright within your company’s framework. Be honest with us. Bring purpose and meaning to not just your product or your service, but to your stories as well. If you speak with us, rather than at us, and if you bring these four values to the forefront of your communications, we will most certainly respond in-kind.
At CSpence Group, we incorporate this ethos into the work that we create and the projects that we take on. We focus on creating programs or content strategies that engage with our community of creatives around the world, allowing for two-way conversations, whether it’s in creating a Film Challenge, a short documentary with behind the scenes stories, or a robust social media campaign. We are most successful when we can include and engage our audience directly with what we are seeking to create. In turn, our audience is given a platform to share their story, to enhance their portfolio, push their creativity and make meaningful connections they may not have otherwise.