When Marketing To Millennials: Be Real

Tech savvy and born into the post-50’s advertising world, people born between 1980 and 2000 (Millennials) believe they’ve got businesses pegged. They know when a company is abusing advertising and they know when things are too good to be true. I think I know a bit about this, as I was born in the early 80’s myself.

Another critical finding that businesses, especially those in the B2C sector, can leverage to attract Millennials is family habits, with 75 percent of the generation living within 30 miles of their parents.[1]

With that many people living  that close to their parents, marketers that want to build relationships with Millennials should understand the importance of family to those in this generation. Millennials have grown up with a daily bombardment of advertising. My mom loves sharing a story about how I used to love watching commercials on TV, especially the ones where I could say “ooh la la” to the bikini-clad product pushers.

I grew up enjoying watching commercials. They were short enough to keep my attention. This probably led to my pursuit of a career in marketing; I digress. Millennials are familiar with advertising, we are definitely no stranger to it. And with $200 billion in purchasing power, as a marketer, you need to be aware of that fact. No longer is a catchy ad enough. You have to find ways to engage Millennials. You have to find ways to stand out to them.

Millennials Still Love Getting Mail

We haven’t quite gotten so jaded by receiving junk mail that we don’t still get a twinge of excitement when we receive a letter in the mail. It’s still fun going to the mailbox and seeing if any fun surprises have been delivered. I don’t get excited about e-mail.

Despite reports of Millennials having a distrust of marketing, [they] will respond to direct mail via multichannel efforts when receiving a properly executed, relevant and valued marketing message. They want the opportunity to respond by following a personalized link, using a QR code or sending a quick text message. Many are more than willing to try new methods with the hope of an advanced user experience.[2]

Using mail, especially with Millennials, when done correctly, can still drive sales and form relationships. The key to doing it right: be real. The more you own up to the fact that Millennials are not blind to all the “tricks” of advertising, the better response you will get. As much as possible, your message should be targeted, focused, personalized, and easy to respond to.

Modern technology makes this easy with things like PURLs (Personalized URLs) and digital printing services that allow personalization that feels incorporated directly into the piece. Send me a letter with “Dear Sir,” as the salutation, I’m probably not going to read it. Send me a letter with “Michael,” as the opener and you’ve got much better odds.

Millennial Marketing Key Takeaways

  • Be authentic. Perhaps the single-most important factor in successful marketing to Millennials is authenticity. Another way to look at this is through the lens of transparency. Be as open as you can be, and we’ll learn to trust you, even if we don’t like you on a personal level.
  • Connect with us. Businesses have a tendency to forget that they are actually comprised of a group of individual people and they are marketing to a group of individual people. Remember that and use it to your advantage. Put information about your actual people on your about page of your website. Don’t just say, XYZ Company was founded in 1970 by Tom and Steve. Instead tell the story, and if you can include the downs as well as the ups, even better. Make it easy for us to get to know you and for us to talk with you through social media and feedback forms.
  • Stand out. Don’t just force your way into our mind through shotgun approach advertising. Instead, find ways to make us intrigued by your company and by you personally. We want to have the ability to have our hands on the next cool thing.
  • Personalize. With today’s technology, personal connections are easier than ever. Through social media, you get to know exactly who your customer is, by connecting with them and forming a relationship. You have the ability to use personalized marketing messages that speak directly to our core wants, needs, and desires. Blanketed approaches are dying.


1. http://www.brafton.com/news/report-profitable-marketing-campaigns-must-evolve-as-tech-savvy-millennials-come-of-age
2. http://www.delivermagazine.com/2012/01/making-sense-of-the-millennials/