Does a Millennial Approach at Marketing Actually Work?
It’s a question every business has asked at least once. The answer, however, is a bit more complicated than a ‘yes’ or ‘no’. A younger approach at marketing isn’t for every business but can be the key to a successful business if executed properly. So, what does a younger approach at marketing entail and what cases require this approach more than others? By answering these two questions, you can decide whether younger marketing tactics will be beneficial for you and your company as well as where to begin with these tactics to see the best results.
What Does the Younger Marketing Approach Entail?
According to USA Today, millennials represent the biggest demographic in the United States. Yet, most companies still target as though they’re trying to appeal to the baby boomers and Generation X’ers. Why?
What is wrong with these companies that makes them think that their marketing strategy from the early 200’s is somehow going to work in 2019? Well, the answer is what I like to call the ’emperor’s new clothes syndrome’.
What is ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes Syndrome’?
Remember that old story by Hans Christian Andersen about the emperor that was obsessed with clothing and was eventually swindled into believing that there was a magic cloth that only certain individuals who were smart enough would be able to see? The emperor was given this ‘outfit’ and everyone, including himself, pretended that it was gorgeous and that they could see it even though it didn’t exist.
No one wanted to look stupid so they all pretended to see something that wasn’t there and the king proudly walked around his kingdom thinking he had a full outfit on even though he was just in his underwear and nothing else. Meanwhile, the thieves reaped the benefits of the lie and the money that came with making the awesome outfit.
What’s the Takeaway?
So, what the hell does this have to do with marketing? It’s simple. Imagine the old marketing tactics as the outfit and the people that use them as the thieves (sorry, guys). Now, imagine all those people that are modern marketers using this same method as the emperor, and you along with all the other business owners trying to be successful as the many townspeople.
These modern marketers are obsessed with knowing the key to marketing and making money. They look to the past methods for advice and are told they are sure to work. Although they’re hesitant because they don’t possibly ‘see’ how this could work in this day and age, they do it anyways (wear the outfit), and you along with all the other business entrepreneurs like you trying to fit in and look favorable to these marketers applaud them.
This is how it starts:
old methods are repeated and everyone knows they don’t work but, because we’re told we should only give positive responses to competitors and that doing what your competitors are doing is the way to succeed, we praise these concepts and never bravely step out of the status quo and try something different.
Being Unique Actually Pays in Marketing
I’ve said it before in my previous millennial marketing for small businesses article but it pays to be bold and unique in marketing when it comes to the millennial generation. This generation is used to the boring, bland marketing techniques of the past and it’s also tired of old school marketers trying desperately to wrap their heads around them and instead creating horribly cringey content.
Instead of creating content that is standard or cringe-worthy, here is my personal millennial marketing techniques list that you can use to stand apart from the crowd as well as examples of businesses that already do this successfully.
This approach is one that has worked for various companies in the past including Gold Bond (although their best video for this was fanmade actually), Old Spice, The Texas Law Hawk, and Arby’s. The technique is simply aggressively stating what you’re selling over and over in such a way to where it becomes humorous and ensures that the viewer does not forget you and what you represent.
The big key to this kind of marketing is bold social media campaigns, strong video campaigns, and leaving your website to do the rest of the talking for you.
Random Humor With no Sales Pitch
Once again, this is one that focuses more on letting your website do the actual sales. This technique is best for newer companies that don’t have much of an edge over competitors. This is a way to get your name out there without having to prove what makes you unique and without having to pitch to just the demographic you think is best solely.
For this one, I’m not even going to say a particular business but rather a country. Japan is known for their weird videos that have little to nothing to do with the products they’re selling but that’s what makes these products so popular. The weirder the better when it comes to Japanese commercials—and maybe your business too.
Have you ever seen those incredibly cheesy videos that talk about ‘trips to Dubai’, expensive cars, ‘making six figures in minutes’, or other buzz words that make your eyes roll into the back of your head?
Unfortunately, this is absolutely a product of the ’emperor’s new clothes syndrome’ I talk about above. Marketers nowadays use this ‘video template’ of sorts to showcase that they are living a successful life. It also shows they are still down to earth. Lastly, it proves they have the answers you need and want desperately. So, you go to their webinars, download their eBooks, and you may even sign up for their classes. But, why?
Instead, this millennial marketing technique predicates on making fun of these videos. It’s a surefire way to become viral for a business. It’s also a surefire way to showcase that your company is different from the countless others in your industry.
Intentionally Dumb Marketing
Marketing is all too often about making high-quality content chock full of information. But this isn’t always the best way to sell a product. Instead, some companies try to focus on intentionally dumb marketing tactics to create advertising that is sure to become viral. It confuses people enough to want to know what it is about.
You’ve surely seen those videos that make you think ‘what?’. For instance, think about the weird Mtn. Dew commercials and Lunchables commercials that were absolutely moronic but you couldn’t stop watching them. You wanted to share them with friends. You wanted to share them on your social media accounts. This is how a brand gets word of mouth recognition just by making a video.
Proper Usage of Memes
For this example, I could have used other company’s meme marketing techniques but I chose to use my own instead. This Ugandan Knuckles meme was popular at the start of this year and was pretty much everywhere. It’s a known fact that PewdiePie killed the meme (just kidding) but, whilst here, I took advantage of it.
Why? Because one of the most commonly searched keywords on social media at that time was ‘Ugandan Knuckles Meme’. Now, I could have easily continued to target solely my keywords but I didn’t. Instead, I took a keyword with wide popularity and created content that catered to it. Then, I made a social media post that targeted this audience. In turn, I expanded my reach as a marketer and social media influencer.
Although I could probably talk your ear off about how successful this is, I’d rather just provide proof. There is a highly visible spike in my unique visitors after the fact.
For this, I don’t even want you to watch the video. Instead, I want you to look at how many views it has. This video has over 22 million views. Is that something you’d want for your business? Yeah, I thought so.
A commenter named Nature Man 11 perfectly summed up this format of marketing. He said, “If you think about it, it is marketing genius! They purposely make it bad, so it would go viral, thus bringing more business!”
The truth is that intentionally bad videos like this don’t require money or advertisement at all. Instead, they just require a level of cringe that makes them go viral. Once viral, they’re shared everywhere and you can sit back, relax, and enjoy the thousands of new customers.
Remember when the Squatty Potty commercials were everywhere? That’s because the commercials were just weird enough to take an awkward product and make it fun and completely viral.
When it comes to small businesses, your product may be something completely new or something done a million times before. Either way, using a weird approach is a great way to stand out. It gets your message across without the huge and expensive marketing campaigns your competitors have.
Sarcastic Marketing Approaches
Honestly, when it comes to the ultimate sarcastic roast session, all you need to do is look to Wendy’s for advice. Wendy’s began specifically roasting individuals using their Twitter account and even roasted their competitors as well—and the result was millions of views, thousands of new followers, thousands of videos about it, and hundreds of pieces of fan art dedicated to ‘sarcastic Wendy’.
The truth is that millennials love the sarcasm and the clapbacks because it is an approach they have not seen done by other companies before them. They couldn’t believe this professional company was laying them out on social media and thus began a trend of trying to get Wendy’s to take you on Twitter giving the company more views, comments, and shares than ever before.
I’m pretty sure we’ve all seen this video before. In fact, Badfinger was even on Tosh.0 after this video aired. Now, you’d think this pepper spray neutralizer company would have failed terribly after this video but it turns out, it only made them even more popular. Why? Because the video is outrageous and the fail went viral.
The company ended up ‘perfecting the pepper spray neutralizer’ after the fact, so they say, but this video gave them the exact traction they needed to succeed and grow their company enough to get the backing necessary to provide a real product.
Attention to Trends
Did you know that Wish showcases their stuff on Good Mythical Morning? Although it may not seem like much when you first think about it, GMM is a highly popular show that people watch every single day. In fact, this video alone has accrued over 1.5 million views.
However, the whole video is dedicated to products by a company that has no true affiliation with GMM other than advertising. This is where the magic happens. Wish, knowing that GMM is trending, uses their popularity as a marketing tactic to gain new consumers from the Good Mythical Morning viewership.
For this, I added an example of a physical marketing tactic I myself used locally. This marketing tactic is nothing more than an extremely stupid poster I threw up everywhere in town during a local festival called Treefort.
The results of this were countless new likes on Facebook, an increase in site traffic, and multiple new clients from out of town. The beauty in this is that printing and posting these took me very little time and effort. However, it gave me a whole new untapped market and many people even told me just how happy they were to see physical ad copies still being used in business! Pretty cool, right?
Now that you know more about how to use these tactics, the question is what industries are using them currently—and does your industry connect to these tactics appropriately?
Which Industries Currently use Millennial Marketing?
There are many industries that utilize this format of modern marketing to their advantage. However, below are some of the ones using these methods more often than others. If your industry falls into these categories, simply look at the businesses succeeding in this technique currently. By doing this, you can determine how to use millennial marketing to your advantage.
However, if your industry is not related to these, the best way to determine if it will still work is to look at your demographic, determine if a younger demographic is favorable, and try executing a few campaigns using these techniques.
The Food Industry
Just like Wendy’s, Arby’s, Burger King, Mountain Dew, Lunchables, and Denny’s, having a sense of humor and the ability to target a younger demographic is key to millennial marketing.
Whether it’s randomness, stupidity, sarcasm, or plain humor, these brands have found ways to create ads that stand the test of time. As a food company, learning from these campaigns is a great way to begin your new marketing strategy.
The Clothing and Accessories Industry
For this, I want to target two companies in particular that are doing this modern fashion marketing right: Vans and Dia&Co. So, what makes these two brands stand out to me? Well, the answer comes in the new uplifting approaches they took.
For Vans, the company began to hire artists and promote them. They are choosing influencers that are lesser known and are celebrating them and their personal styles and beliefs. In this way, they are creating a campaign that is uplifting and supporting the very people that wore them for years.
Similarly, with Dia&Co, they never try to be what they were not. They celebrated body positivity, showcased their styles everywhere, targeted the right demographics, and used powerful and truly plus-sized influencers to prove their worth.
These companies are great examples of what you should be doing with a fashion business. Supporting communities, diversity, and the boldness that is the millennial generation.
The Tech Industry
‘What’s a computer?’ If you haven’t seen that horrendous marketing advertisement for Apple, you’re lucky, trust me. The video is exactly the kind of campaign that millennials hate. Instead of targeting their generation, it makes them look as though they are completely out of touch with past generations entirely.
However, quality tech marketing campaigns to take into account if you are a tech company are those of Netflix, T-Mobile, and Uber. Why? Because these companies are paying attention to trends, getting involved, and recognizing old school marketing flaws.
For instance, T-Mobile, the ‘Uncarrier’, provides countless people nationwide with free food, Uber rides, movie tickets, and more. This is great for college students in need of a free meal on a Tuesday night.
Similarly, look at Netflix using memes to their benefit. I mean, Bird Box, Haunting of Hill House, and You memes were everywhere. And Netflix involves themselves in the fun!
Using these modern trends to your benefit is a great way to make your technology stand out. No matter what your product or service is, if you tap into the right markets, you’re sure to have a loyal millennial audience.
The Marketing Industry
Lastly, like myself, some marketers are beginning to use these techniques for themselves and their clients. By doing this, they are gaining an entirely new demographic that is younger and fresher.
In turn, they are becoming widely recognized and their influencer statuses are growing. This is great for them and their clients combined.
As a modern marketer, you will want to take all of this into account, find the methods that best fit your personality, and target them specifically. It also all depends on the clients you want to gain. Are you looking to work with tech companies? The food industry? Home improvement businesses? Find their trends, make them comical, and you are sure to see more warm leads and traffic.
So, What’s the Millennial Marketing Conclusion?
The conclusion is simple: Marketing should absolutely target a younger demographic. Businesses should stop falling for this outdated format and begin addressing that ‘the emperor is naked’, so to speak.
By doing this, they can set themselves apart from their competitors. The can also spend less on advertisement and more on ‘sealing the deal’ after the lead comes to them. This gives businesses the upper hand in their industry and leads to more profit and notoriety.
For Those That Need a Push…
However, even with all of this said, finding the right approach can oftentimes be difficult. That’s where having a marketing professional on your side is ideal. Especially one such as myself that knows how to target this younger demographic effectively.
If you need help creating a modern millennial marketing strategy, simply contact me! I will help you turn your bland business into a profit-making machine and expand your brand significantly! By targeting your social media and using all of these approaches combined, we will grow your audience and your profits!