As a business owner you likely know the importance of reaching millennials—that highly-sought after group that make up 21 percent of consumer purchasers in the country, and have an estimated 1.3 trillion dollars in spending power. However, the diverse ages of the group makes crafting a marketing message that actually resonates with them somewhat complicated.

We talked to Julie Molloy of Block Club, a Buffalo-based branding and strategy agency with a focus in millennial marketing, about the best ways to connect with this coveted, albeit tricky, demographic.

DON’T: TARGET TOO SPECIFIC A GROUP
Here’s the thing—not all millennials have a beard and are drinking small batch whiskey in Brooklyn. Millennials are defined as having been born between 1977 and 2000, which means that while, yes, some are scruffy and in Williamsburg, others have a mortgage, four kids and live in middle America. This demographic—which makes up 25 percent of our nation’s population—should be more defined by their preferences and discerning nature, than their age or lifestyle choice.

I think brands often target a ‘millennial lifestyle’ rather than recognizing that the thing that is actually connecting this hugely diverse group of people is the time and technology era that they were born into, and how they perceive their own specific lifestyle and world through this lens,” says Molloy. “Marketing efforts should have a broader focus to match.”

DO: PAY MORE ATTENTION TO SOCIAL PLATFORMS 
Not surprisingly, social media is king when it comes to millennials today. According to Molloy, it’s key for businesses to put some thought into which platforms are correct for them, and then channel time and energy into those feeds. “We are moving more and more visual on all social media, with less and less time to capture consumers, and I think investing time into good photography is incredibly crucial,” she advises. “Basic advice: play to your strengths. Have a lifestyle product that photographs well? You better have an amazing Instagram feed. Are you so busy getting your start up going that you don’t have time to update consumers daily? Probably best to hold off on the Twitter account.”

While we’ll talk more about messaging below, Molloy adds that, “Language needs to absolutely be concise and human, with a focus on brand engagement over selling. Millennials are incredibly tuned into what it feels like to be sold to on social media, and it becomes more transparent by the day.”

DON’T: USE FLASHY LANGUAGE
Millennials want to be spoken to directly, in a straightforward manner,” says Molloy. “[They] are the ‘research generation,’ meaning that millennials know they have the tools and knowledge at their fingertips to make quick, informed decisions themselves about whether or not to buy into a product or service. Rather than trying to speak in cool or trendy terms, focus on informing, guiding and building confidence.”

Molloy adds that this doesn’t mean there isn’t room for cleverness in your messaging—there is—it just means that any wit you employ shouldn’t overshadow the product’s value.  “I think the most important thing is to develop a taste for authentic messaging, which, yes, is a tough thing to teach, but to me means being authentic to your product. Understand your core mission, leverage your strengths and focus on building brand loyalty because that is the one not-so-dodgy thing about marketing to millennials: They are become incredibly loyal customers to brands, products and experiences that seem to share their values while enhancing their lives.”

DO: OPTIMIZE YOUR MOBILE EXPERIENCE
In 2015, consumers spent an average of three hours a day on their smartphones—an 11-percent increase from the previous year— which means if they come to your page, their expectations are going to be high. “The most crucial thing to focus on is developing a rich mobile experience,” says Molloy. “Invest in developing a beautiful, functional mobile site that considers all of the needs of a user on a small screen and always think about how your product will present when passed around at a party on a five-inch iPhone screen.” As an added bonus, a mobile-optimized site will help boost your SEO.

DON’T: FORGET ABOUT WORD OF MOUTH
Here’s a stat for the books: 95 percent of millennials say friends are their most credible resource. What’s this mean for your brand? It highlights the fact that word-of-mouth recommendations are crucial to your business, and that you need to continue to offer an outstanding product bolstered by five-star customer service. “For a group that values social community and is highly aware of marketing, there is no more ‘authentic’ form of marketing than a heartfelt endorsement from a trusted friend,” says Molloy.

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