The marketing world is changing, and millennials are stepping up to help brand managers embrace it.
A recent millennial marketers study by Adobe revealed there is much on the horizon for brand managers and marketers who are ready to adapt. The change has started; nearly half the survey’s respondents have encountered a new marketing channel or term within the last month.
However, more than half feel challenged to keep up with marketing trends, with some feeling underprepared or overwhelmed. This could be due to many millennial marketers’ feeling they not only have to know digital, social media and mobile trends inside and out, but also must convince brand executives of the value of using such channels for marketing campaigns.
Despite these challenges, however, most millennial marketers believe this is the start of a golden age in marketing.
Nearly 80 percent believe young marketing professionals understand social and mobile marketing better than their older counterparts (a necessary skill for today’s digital campaigns), and more than half believe audiences are more open to marketing because it’s become entertaining. A whopping 93 percent of millennial marketers look at changes in the industry as an opportunity.
But do brand managers unintentionally create a divide between millennial marketers and veteran communications pros? That’s what Lisa Nirell, author andchief energy officer of EnergizeGrowth, asked during a millennial marketing panel discussion at Adobe’s digital marketing conference Wednesday.
— Maria Poveromo (@mariapoveromo) March 11, 2015
“Millennial is a mindset, not an age demo[graphic],” says Brian Wong, founder and CEO of Kiip, who took part in the panel discussion. “Marketers should look at behavior, not at age.”
Here are three ways both marketers and brands can embrace millennial marketing, regardless of age:
1. Reinvent your brand’s campaigns.
“The best products we see today are typically not the first entering the market,” says Jerry Jao, CEO and co-founder of Retention Science.
Jao calls these improved products and services “remixes,” but the advice to take something good and make it even better can be applied to marketing and PR campaigns as well.
“There are so many different ways to market to your customer,” Jao says. “It’s just figuring out how to get to them.”
Marketers can make sure these “remixed” campaigns are successful by first finding out what their consumers want and need.
2. Don’t wait for perfection.
Matt Scharf, Adobe’s manager of display media operations and analytics (who explained he was speaking on his own behalf, not the company’s), said innovation that used to come from necessity now comes from inefficiency. Millennials expect things to work quickly, and when that doesn’t happen—for all or part of a campaign—millennial marketers will set about improving the process.
However, that doesn’t mean they’ll have all the right answers, at least not right away. In a situation where marketers battle to get executive approval, to be heard over the noise of social media messages and to effectively measure their efforts, it’s unwise to expect perfection.
“Since most ideas aren’t perfect right away, taking action on an innovative solution is important even if it doesn’t solve 100 percent of a problem,” Scharf says.
Why is waiting so detrimental to marketers and brands? The solution may never come to light; worse yet, marketers waiting for a perfect fix might find their competitors have launched something comparable in the meantime.
“‘Perfect’ is the enemy of ‘done,'” says Nirell.
Millennial marketers work by trial and error, especially with social media and mobile platforms. This doesn’t mean brands should make a go of every idea; rather, they should launch viable campaigns that they can continually improve upon.
“The key is taking the initial action on your innovation so you’re not sacrificing your business while you wait for something better,” Scharf says. “That’s a killer for your forward progression.”
3. Create consumer experiences.
Wong’s app enables brands to “reward people in the moment,” such as completing a run or using a financial app to organize their finances. In like manner, Wong says marketing should be centered on “moments of achievement.”
“No one has intentionally tapped on a banner ad,” he says. “How twisted is it as a consumer that we have to buy tools to remove [these ads] our industry has created?”
Instead, marketers should focus on providing their audiences experiences and moments that reinforce customer satisfaction and brand loyalty. Not only does this help brands build and strengthen relationships with current and potential consumers, it also better encourages people to share their stories with others.
There are several more lessons to be learned from millennial marketers. Nirell said young and successful entrepreneurs have similar traits that lead to more innovative approaches, including business functions and marketing.
Ultimately, marketers will succeed when they embody these traits and lessons rather than simply adjusting campaigns to fit new criteria.
“It’s not about doing more,” she said. “It’s about being more.”