As a part of my role at Media Junction, I understand the need to keep up with marketing trends. Lately, the buzz has been all about the millennial generation, and the new challenges and opportunities they bring to the marketing world.

Who are millennials, and why do they matter so much? While there isn't an official consensus, millennials are typically described as being born between 1981 and 2000. They are thus far the largest generation, covering 25% of the US population; and it's estimated that by 2017 they'll be spending $200 billion dollars in discretionary spending a year!

7 Tips for Marketing to Millennials

Millennials have changed the game of marketing with their rapid adaptation to technology – and their loyalty to social media – making it difficult for marketers to keep up.

But don't fear marketers! Pinning down what millennials want to see is not as hard as you think. Here’s 7 things to know:

Traditional Marketing Methods Aren’t Enough

Before you begin, you must accept the fact that traditional marketing is no longer going to cut it. Once you’ve done that, you can start with a clean slate and brainstorm creative marketing ideas that millennials will engage with.

Focus on Sharing, Discovery and Connectivity

The next step in marketing to millennials is to understand their values and needs. According to consumer strategist Katie Elfering, happiness, passion, diversity, sharing and discovery are the top things millennials value. These look quite different compared to the top values of baby boomers which include justice, integrity, family, practicality, and duty.

Elfering also notes that millennials feel the need to be informed as well as interact. The traditional marketing route of pop-ups, commercials, or print ads are no longer enough to gain brand love. In fact, millennials consider these to be interruptions and will find ways to get around them. They invest in premium memberships for video or music apps to avoid commercials or download digital versions of their favorite magazine to avoid print ads. If your blog includes a giant pop-up prompting readers to subscribe, there's a good chance this will immediately get exited by a millennial reader.

Instead, gear your efforts to things that can be shared or that prompt discovery and connectivity. If done properly, millennials will even take care of your marketing for you.

For example, each year millennials share pictures and statuses of Starbucks' pumpkin spice latte without being asked. The coffee drink has become a shareable experience year after year and has even branched off into a love for the seasonal red cups exclusively from Starbucks. Starbucks doesn't allow the coffee lovers to do all the work, however. They make sure to interact with those that share and talk about their products. Take note. This is a great way to delight the customer and create some buzz.

Show How Your Product Benefits a Greater Cause

Almost 50% of millennials would be willing to make a purchase from a company if their purchase supports a cause. Brands that stand for more than their bottom line receive greater millennial brand love.

Iheartdogs.com is an online store that provides a great example of this. They sell clothing and accessories geared towards dog lovers and give a percentage of the profits towards feeding shelter dogs, which they promote on their advertisements and website.

Don’t Make the Hunt for Information Too Difficult

Millennials will lose interest if they have to jump through hoops to find what they’re looking for. Provide some basic information up front and allow them to build interest and respect for your product or service. Once they're able to do some searching, make finding the details fast and simple.

If an online store requires visitors to become a member via email before being able to view any products, chances are a millennial will pass on the site altogether. Instead, offer entertaining or informative blog posts and include links to your products or services that readers can browse as they please.

Stay Away From a Sales Pitch

Millennials will see right through that. They're used to being marketed to everywhere they turn. It's easy to tune it out if it seems too salesy. "Try this workout program now!" is not going to grab a millennial’s attention.

Asking a question or telling a personal story is a much better approach. Iheartdogs.com prompts viewers to answer the question, Do you believe all dogs are equal? Yes or no? If the viewers answer, then a call to action is presented.

Interact With Millennials on Their Terms

By 2019, video is expected to own 80% of all internet traffic according to Cisco. The Hamburger Helper mixtape that General Mills produced is a great example of using video and social revenues effectively – two mediums favored by millennials. General Mills used video and social to promote a product of theirs, provide entertainment, and give their audience the power to share. An overwhelming 80% of millennials want brands to entertain them – by doing so, you will gain brand love and loyalty.

Instagram and Snapchat are two other platforms to keep your eye on. These apps are less about advertising and more about interaction and promotion, which millennials crave. Find someone with a strong social presence to review your product or service on his or her own account. Allow them to be honest and bring their own personality to the review. Millennials lean heavily on word of mouth or online reviews while in the decision-making process of the buyer’s journey. In fact, 93% of millennials say they read online views or asked peers for advice before making a purchase.

Whatever You Do, Don’t Call Them Millennials

Trying to segregate a millennial into a certain group is not going to fly. Remember, diversity is one of their top values. Millennials do not always resonate with other millennials and would rather focus on the unique features of individuals rather than fall into a stereotype. Sounds simple, right? Well, as we know, marketing is never simple and always changing, but the more you try to truly understand your audience the more successful you will be.

I hope this helps you on your journey to better marketing to millennials. I'd love to hear your thoughts or questions in the comments below or tweet us @mediajunction.

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Abbey Calder

Abbey Calder is Media Junction’s Support Coordinator, making her the first point of contact for our clients. Abbey graduated from Minnesota State University, Mankato with her Bachelor of Science in recreation, parks and leisure services. When she's not helping Media Junction clients, Abbey spends her time coaching for the Special Olympics and playing in local summer volleyball and softball leagues.