THE BLOG
05/16/2016 06:41 pm ET Updated May 17, 2017

5 Essential Tips for Marketing to Millennials

As Millennials come of age, companies around the world are starting to realize the immense buying power that this generation contains. With around $1.3 trillion in buying power, companies that want to succeed over time need to decide how they're going to engage and connect with the modern Millennial. Here are our top 5 tips for making sure you can attract the eye of the generation currently between 18 and 38 years old.

1. Go digital; specifically, go mobile
With 85% of Millennials owning a smartphone, businesses that want to engage with this powerful generation absolutely need to have a viable digital sales funnel, but even more than that, they need to make sure that their presence on the Internet is optimized for viewing on a small, mobile device. This means:

• Making sure that your website has mobile optimization enabled. Most modern web platforms offer this as a simple option to click in your settings, but if you've been using a webpage for a few years that was built from the ground up, you might need to hire a designer to optimize your website for mobile delivery.
• Having a presence on social media beyond Facebook and even Twitter. Stay on top of what social media is on the cutting edge - like Snapchat and Periscope - and think about how you can experiment to create content for these platforms.

2. Tell a story to create a connection

In general, Millennials have no patience for traditional outbound marketing. Flyers, TV and radio ads, and general mailings don't make much of an impression. Instead, Millennials respond well to inbound marketing, things like newsletters, video channels, and content that they have subscribed to. They want content, they want opportunities to learn and be educated, and through these things, they build a relationship with your brand that makes them more likely to be customers in the future.

So when you create content for Millennials, remember:

• Focus on educating and informing instead of selling
• Spread information about your content across several social media channels
• Give viewers a way to take the information with them (favorite the blog post, subscribe to your channel, etc)
• Ask skilled employees to spread the word through their network

3. Focus on social groups instead of life stages

For previous generations, marketing often focused on someone's stage of life. 20-somethings were buying their first house, 30-somethings were starting a family, 40-somethings were sending their kids off to college, and 60-somethings were preparing for retirement.

Between the modern economy disadvantaging the Millennial generation and the differing ways that these young adults see community and family, companies that try to focus on selling based on life stage are likely to find that they miss their market.

Instead, target social groups and communities. If you're selling editing services, connect with writing groups. If you have a new baby product to sell, find parenting groups online. More than any previous generation, Millennials connect and create social interactions online. Many Millennials consider their "online" friends just as real as the ones they know "in real life."

4. Take advantage of sharing instead of owning

The sharing economy is in constant conversation. From couture clothing to all-you-can-watch Netflix binges, Millennials often prefer to borrow rather than own. Attribute it to being more likely to rent and less likely to own their homes, or the overall state of the economy for the youngest workers, or even just a sense that their parents were wrong, and owning all the stuff in the world won't bring them happiness, Millennials are absolutely the driving force behind the sharing economy.

Need to understand how to engage the sharing economy for your business?

• Look for opportunities to barter. Swap a logo design for website copy, for example, or rent out an unused office in your suite for a discount on the services that the workers offer.
• Look at your equipment as assets. Can you charge the business across the hallway a per-page rate to use your printer so that they don't have to buy their own?
• If you want to start a business, look for niches that could be shared but aren't. Gardening equipment in your neighborhood, for example, or a different line of couture items online.

5. Don't underestimate them

Above all, don't fall into the media trap of underestimating Millennials. Although they're often described as lazy, entitled, and too demanding, we're also seeing that Millennials are ecologically motivated like no other generation before them, determined to make something of the world around them, and absolutely convinced that they deserve to be more than just another cog in the machine. Millennials are a huge and powerful force in our modern world, and the business that understands how to appeal to them is likely to find longstanding success.

What tips would you offer to a business that is ready to make its marketing interesting to the Millennial generation?