Millennials Don’t Like It When You Try Too Hard

You know that look kids give their parents when they co-opt their slang, trying to close the generation gap and appear hip? That’s how Millennials feel when you try to shove down their throats how well you know them.

As a demographic, the wariness Millennials feel toward marketers is justified. Just do a quick Google search with the words “Millennials are” and you’ll see adjectives like, lazy, doomed, narcissistic, immature, entitled. How can they not feel the love?

Of course, marketers are starting to look deeper at Millennials, and as they do they are recognizing their rush to judgment. Suddenly Millennials are the next big thing, socially savvy and fashion forward, caring and charitable, ripe for the picking.

Nothing says trustworthy like a 180-degree change of heart – and a brand thinking that using Snapchat is enough to win them over. Sigh.

What Do Millennials Value Most?

So how do you reach them? Is their skepticism of advertisers so deeply ingrained that it’s not worth trying?

Absolutely not. You just have to be you.

Millennials, if we’re painting with broad strokes, value authenticity. You can’t fake them out, because they research everything, and they will know. They know the wizard is just a guy pulling levers behind a curtain, so you’re better off showing them how sweet he can be when he’s just himself.

So what’s your strategy?

  1. Don’t call them “Millennials” in your marketing. Labels are for clothes, not people. They know who they are, and they know you want their attention. Give them a reason to offer it.
  2. Talk less, do more. Start marketing via social media, start offering mobile incentives, just START. Throw a ton of spaghetti against the fridge and see what sticks. Then do more of THAT.
  3. Focus on the people, not the demographic. Take all that data on what Millennials like, and offer it to them. Get their opinions, make adjustments, and above all make it personal.

These tactics will serve you better than any attempts to win them over by trying to blend in with them. And it’s wise to sort out your approach now and get some good practice in. Because if you think Millennials are tough, just wait until Generation Z comes of age.

They don’t know a world without the Internet, and they’re growing up faster than any generation before them because they’re exposed to more adult influences. They’ll be able to sniff out desperation so fast – trying to be anything other than real will have you failing even faster.

So try a little less, and respond a little more, and you’ll do just fine.