Six o’clock is about the time I come home from a full day of class, work and a mildly maintained social life. With a coffee in hand, I sink into my 70’s style sofa crammed against the wall of our microscopic college apartment and begin my nighttime ritual. Phone? Check. Laptop on? Check. TV on and season one of “The Office” blaring? Check. Indie rock playing from my tablet? Check. Doing homework while all of this is happening? Check. Sensory overload? Definitely check.
However, I find solace in knowing I’m not the only one. Millennials are masters of multitasking. Our brains constantly flicker from one concept to the next, all day, every day. This behavior combined with a new level of technological literacy introduces a unique audience to the market. How so? Marketers must fight for our attention more than ever before. That is no easy task in a world where the millennial eye sees between 4,000 to 10,000 advertisements each day according to digital marketing experts. These advertising messages include the radio, television, billboards, email blasts, social media messages, magazine covers, newspapers and even brand names filling up the food pantry. The stream is so constant it becomes hard to point out, and more importantly, to pay attention to.
So, what must marketers do? Do brands have to dance on their heads and cartwheel across the lawns of customers to gain their attention? With 83.5 million millennials owning over a trillion dollars’ worth of buying power, the cartwheel across the lawn might seem worth it. However, and luckily for modern marketing, there is a better way.
It is no big secret. Marketers must simply change the way they communicate with, not to, their customers. It’s called inbound marketing, the opposite of old-fashioned outbound marketing. Millennials want to feel connected and involved when it comes to their purchases. Outbound marketing methods do not encourage this feeling of involvement, rather, millennials find magazine ads, direct mail, radio spots and billboards unimpressive. Moreover, they don’t pay attention to them! In the minds of young consumers, these bygone techniques come across not only as dated, but impersonal and company-focused.
Unlike outbound marketing, with inbound marketing, a company does not need to fight for a customer’s attention. The goal of inbound marketing is to attract, delight and engage consumers. Not just any consumer either, but those who are most likely to become leads and ultimately happy customers. Inbound content is not designed for forceful placement in the faces of potential customers all over. Rather, the customer is attracted through websites and blogs with creative, helpful and relevant content placed in the right spot at the right time. Once the customer is attracted, engaging with him or her by utilizing tools such as email or chat provides interactive, fulfilling conversations. This modern communication between company and consumer promises value and voices concern over individual customer’s needs. This delights those engaging with your site (from personal experience, I couldn’t agree more!) Millennials are all about experience, so give them just that, and make it good. If a company acts as an empathetic advisor and expert instead a person trying to sell something, the problems and needs of customers are easily answered and therefore, they gain trust and acknowledge the credibility of a business. Moreover, this two-way conversation makes the customer feel special. What better way to keep a qualified prospect around than to make them feel as though their needs matter? And as a customer of your company, their needs do.
Millennials simply want more out of the brands they buy from. Why? Because their attention is limited, and they will only allot it to those they deem most deserving. Are they feeling a bit entitled? Maybe. Or are they a group who’s simply asking for a more personal focus rather than profitable? They are the generation of shameless entitlement or so they are told. “Me! Me! Me!” screams the millennials. If a company wants to succeed then it must change its focus from company, company, company to customer, customer, customer! No more flashy signs claiming to be the best, make the best and sell the best make a company “the best!” in the eyes of this enormous mass of consumers. You say you’re the best? Put us first and prove it, is what the millennial mind thinks next… once we’ve put our phone down.