If you have followed TomorrowToday’s e-zines, Blogs, Tweets, website and Facebook page, or have attended TomorrowToday’s ‘Mind the Gap’ presentation, you will have been exposed to ‘the generation gap.’ This generally effects our behaviour towards one another, the way we communicate, and our attitudes to our working environments. You probably also have some idea then, of what social networking means and what social media implies; and for some of you who shall remain ageless, the new world of work that we find ourselves living in, is an unreachable reality. This leaves us with the daunting realisation that we know we have to adapt, but don’t know how.

In the last six weeks TomorrowTraining has had more than one request from desperate Baby Boomers needing to know how to sell, advertise and market to young Generation X and Generation Y’s, as their current strategies are only being heard by one generation. Hence the choice to discuss ‘retelling retailing into millennial marketing’ this month.

But before I begin to elaborate on how to market to millennials, it is important to understand that each generation has a set of values that are pertinent to them. Gen Xer’s and Y’s sometimes come across as rebellious, obstreperous, difficult and belligerent. This is because they are dealing with their world the way they understand it, which is a far cry from the world that Baby Boomers grew up in. Take Elvis, for example. When he hit the big time, and you loved him, your parents freaked out. Then, when your kids shut themselves in their room and insisted on blaring Marilyn Manson through their walkmans, you freaked out. Now your younger children and maybe even grand children are doing and saying things that would freak me out (and I am a reasonably young, open minded Gen X’er). The point is we’re not overreacting to Elvis or Marilyn Manson, we are battling to come to grips with how the world keeps changing. The shift to something new or unknown is always difficult, but once we’ve made the shift, things get easier to handle. And, for the most part, our imaginations are much more terrifying than actual reality.

So shifting the way you sell, advertise and market to target specifically Generation X and Y, requires some subtle mind shifts in this order:

a)                  Awareness that things have changed and therefore you have to do things differently

b)                  Acceptance of this new found awareness

c)                  Action to bring about change

Firstly you have to understand the basics about the Generation X and Y’s value systems (which do differ). Here are some key key points:

  • Don’t treat us like a target market, we’re individuals
  • We don’t trust big stories (or brands) full of hot air
  • We don’t buy just because everyone else is
  • Gen Y’s like team work, but that doesn’t necessarily mean face to face
  • We care about the world we live in
  • We want to feel like we have a voice
  • We understand the global village (and don’t mind buying on-line)
  • ‘Working hours’ don’t really apply to us
  • Change is normal, next?
  • We need to know why?

So how do you respond to this? Tap into our world via technology. Use social networking and social media. But not just as on-line ways to do what you have always been doing. But by really understanding the millennial value system (and by that I mean young Gen X’ and Gen Y’s), you can begin to understand millennial marketing.

I shall conclude with a few key key ideas:

  • Don’t sell products, sell a platform to engage us in conversation
  • Be honest: what do you really stand for?
  • Don’t spin a story, be clear about what you’re doing (and not what you’re selling)
  • Emotions are key, create an emotional attachment to who you are
  • Customers are your brand: if they love you, they’ll stay loyal to you and do your marketing for you and this begins with you being loyal to us
  • Give us practical reasons to get to know you
  • Don’t throw money at huge ad campaigns, start a movement, create a fan-base, be a pioneer, tell a story

In short, don’t say it; we’ve heard it all before. Live it, show me, and lead me. Give me a reason, and a choice and I might just follow you forever.

TomorrowToday Global