Ah the buzz term “Millennials”. We’ve heard it, used it, maybe even cursed it, but the two questions we want to know: who are millennials today and is it easier or harder to advertise to them? And that answer may not be what you’re expecting. There is an inherent problem you may or may not have considered, and that is… are millennials actually a target audience?


Check out the Business Acumen podcast on Millennials

What Is A Millennial?

How To Advertise to Millennials

If you haven’t looked it up already, let me share that millennials are those born between 1981 – 1997 (others have said 1980-2000). In other words, that is someone between the age of 21-37! So, truthfully, the “young kids” are no longer really the millennials. The millennials are growing up, starting families, and maybe even in the middle of their careers. It’s a pretty broad gap, and it’s hard to classify someone in the same way even if they are all “millennials”.

Which brings me to the other question, is it easier or hard to advertise to them?

Easier or Harder?

The truth is, it is not harder to advertise to millennials. It’s just different. Just like advertising to a boomer is different than advertising to toddler. There are a few things worth considering when asking this question however, that can make it even easier.

1. Define an audience, not a generation

First thing is to realize that advertising to an entire generation is slightly foolish. You need to choose your audience carefully which means identifying what segment of the millennials you want to hear your message. Do you want a 30 something who is looking to buy things for their kids and house, or do you want a younger college aged millennial who is more concerned with hanging out with friends and maybe hasn’t even started a full time job yet? Break the “generation” into key audience groups because there are different life stages and buying behaviors spread across this generation.

2. Bring value

Something that is consistent with most internet enabled persons is, their time is valuable. They are multitasking and if you want to interrupt what they are doing it needs to be worth their time. Millennials have often been compared to goldfish with a short attention span, and that is actually true with most people these days. So make sure what your advertising is being presented to the right person. Again, as mentioned in point 1, choose the right segment not just a generation as a whole. And make it valuable to your target. If you’re advertising to me, you might want to pitch something for older, not quite teen, kids. Or something for home improvement, or things that are slightly more expensive and not going to break. When I was twenty something I wanted the cheapest furniture possible because I was a poor college student. Today, in my mid 30s I want things to last because I am tired of replacing broken stuff. If you’re advertising to a 21 year old, they may be a poor college student and wanting that cheap, fast, easy product. We are both “millennials” but we will behave differently.

3 Understand Behavior

And the last piece is to understand the behavior of millennials. In a research study we conducted with Center for Marketing and Opinion Research (CMOR), we found that most millennials will not click on a banner ad they do not know or trust. They will instead do a Google search about the brand or product instead of clicking the banner. So, a banner ad campaign may actually generate interest and action from a millennial, but the PPC, or SEM, campaign will get credit for the conversion.

Also, millennials still live in a physical world, so a billboard, tv commercial, direct mail piece, or other form of more traditional advertising can still be very impactful with this generation. They will not always take the action you want them to, however. As with the example of the banner ad, they may do a Google search instead of calling the phone number or visiting the URL you provide in the ad. Understanding this will help you analyze the results of your campaigns. You may come to find that a traditional ad or physical ad may have a low conversion, but your SEM campaign takes off like a rocket after running these physical ads. I like to call them force multipliers, because they will amplify your other advertising even if they don’t get a direct conversion.

To Summit Up

The key takeaway on advertising to millennials:

  • They are not any easier or harder to advertise to than any other generation.
  • It is, however, important to define your key audience, and that is not a generation called millennials but a highly targeted group of people who will find your product or service valuable.
  • Don’t discredit traditional advertising because millennials live in a digital world.
  • Understand the buying behaviors of your key audience and how they consume content.

You may be surprised to find how easy it is to advertise to your key audience when you work from this point of view!

Stay tuned for our next episode of Business Acumen where we talk about the difference between Instagram and Facebook. Which is best for 2018? Read our previous article to learn more about Business Acumen. Check out all of the Business Acumen social channels and videos by visiting our SummitUp page.

Thanks for reading, and for listening. Do you have any questions or comments? Do you agree or disagree? Leave a comment below and tell us what you think and we may talk about your comment in a future episode!

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