Marketing to millennials: Age is Just a Number.

By Ideawörks Staff

When you hear the term “millennial” who comes to mind? Is it a 22-year-old college student? A 28-year-old young professional?

What about the 48-year-old creative director who uses Instagram more than the average college student and sports Warby Parker glasses? The 55-year-old Twitter addict? Don’t these people probably share pretty significant commonalities with their younger cohorts?

Typically identified as people born between the early 1980’s and 2000’s, the term “millennial” already applies to a projected 75.3 million people, according to the Census Bureau. If you take age out of the equation, you may be surprised to realize that people from older generations can also be characterized as millennials when you consider similar values, interests and habits — overall, a mindset.

When it comes to marketing to this mindset, you have to dig a little deeper. Since it’s more complex than age range, average yearly income or even level of education, the real marketing sweet spot lies in what’s beyond the surface-level demographics — reaching millennials of all kinds on a personal level.

As Forbes points out, it doesn’t have to be difficult, either. Ultimately, effective millennial marketing just requires companies to think a little differently — and a little change can go a long way.

So how can you adapt to the millennial mindset, no matter the age? Here are a few starting points:

1. Be authentic.

In the battle between real and fake, real wins every time when it comes to marketing to the millennial mindset. This group of consumers has been proven to pay close attention to brand values and messaging. When your marketing messages build authenticity for your brand, you can actually extend your reach beyond just the millennial, as described in another Forbes article.

How can a company be authentic? Identify your company’s competitive advantages and values and make sure everyone knows what they are by incorporating them into your company culture.

2. Change the channel.

Traditional marketing tactics have proven ineffective in reaching millennials, as discussed in Huffington Post. As with any demographic, visibility plays a huge role in marketing, but the distribution channels that reach millennials are different than the channels that reach other generations.

Brands such as Everlane and West Elm have been able to win over the minds of millennials by including non-traditional platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat in their marketing strategy. By featuring recognizable key influencers who appeal to each company’s specific niche audiences in Instagram posts, these companies are able to create authentic engagement with their brands.

Interested in applying this to your business? Consider incorporating diversified channels into your millennial marketing strategy or utilizing sponsored content instead of traditional paid ads.

3. Lead with purpose.

Contrary to a lot of criticism suggesting millennials are selfish and “selfie-obsessed,” Fast Company suggests millennials are more likely to make purchases from brands that practice social responsibility. Companies like TOMS, whose strategy leads with a philanthropic focus, have been able to create a lasting connection with millennials.

Small businesses, especially, can find ways to lead with purpose. Does your product or service benefit your community in some way? Do a portion of your proceeds benefit a local or national charity? If nothing else, is your product or service useful? Find or create your company’s purpose and communicate it to your target audiences.

What is your business doing to reach millennials? Tell us on FacebookTwitter or Instagram.