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2 min read

Marketing to “Millennials”? You’re Doing It Wrong (Part 1)

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Oh, boy! Another article to help marketers crack the code on Millennials. Is it filled with trends, and myths, and tricks (oh my)?

Nope. Sorry. (But really, #sorrynotsorry)

I know it’s a little early for Festivus, but I have a major grievance to air:  If your goal is simply to “market to Millennials”…YOU’RE DOING MARKETING WRONG.

As a marketer (and a Millennial), I think it’s high time we all get real about this.

So, while there won’t be any quick secrets for how to win over an entire generation of hearts in the next 300 words, there will be some (hopefully) thought provoking ideas presented with a healthy sprinkling of humor. As the first installment of an ongoing series, I'll aim to focus on the underlying problems we marketers create for ourselves when we get too wrapped up in the over-simplified idea of "marketing to Millennials."

Problem 1:
Do We Even Know Who We’re Talking About?

There are more than 30 million search results for the term “Millennials” on Google. THIRTY MILLION. Everyone is talking…but what are we really saying?

Millennials-SERP Sample results for a Google News search of the term "Millennials."

Sometimes they’re (we’re?) “Millennials,” sometimes they’re “Gen Y.” Some people characterize them as a generation whose births fall into a specific range (from as early as 1976 to as late as 2004). Some people consider it to be more of a psychological mindset – that Millennials are a behavioral cohort, where birth years don’t matter as much.

And don’t ask me if you’re supposed to capitalize the word or not. I’ve seen it written both ways.

The point is, everyone is going around spreading ideas and assumptions about a group of people that isn’t all that clearly defined in the first place.

“Millennials” is an overused, yet, imprecise term. And it’s exactly this imprecision that creates an abundance of other issues for marketers:

  • How do we create compelling messages for an audience we can’t clearly define?
  • Who are we alienating by lumping such a large, diverse group of people into one big audience?
  • What kind of assumptions and decisions are we making based on skewed (or just plain false) data and headlines?

Next week, I’ll dig into what I consider to be the most glaringly obvious problem: Millennials, however you choose to define them, are NOT a homogenous group of people. So why do all the headlines seem to paint them with such broad strokes?

If you have thoughts on the topic of “Marketing to Millennials” - please share in the comments below, and I will do my best to respond promptly. (Contrary to popular belief about Millennials, I gladly welcome feedback).

Read Part 2 of the series, “Marketing to Millennials? You’re Doing It Wrong" here.

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