4 content marketing lessons from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

The ‘lean, mean, green fighting machines’ aren’t just a popular piece of pop culture. They can also teach marketers how to successfully tailor content to millennials and build stronger relationships. 


For many content marketers, millennials—who have $1.3 trillion in annual buying power—are an attractive (but challenging) audience

John Boitnott wrote in Inc. that millennials’ resistance to content marketing occurs when they think the content is unoriginal, boring, irrelevant or deceptive. Simply calling it “content” and not “marketing” doesn’t mean they’ll find it more valuable than a typical ad.

Fortunately, one pop culture trend is rich with insight into millennial personalities and what moves them as consumers. Enter the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Though it might sound trivial, everyone’s favorite “lean, mean, green fighting machines” are a phenomenal starting point to unlocking the four basic personality types of millennials. This can better inform your personas and ultimately help you create valuable content that resonates with this demographic.

Here are the four turtles-as-millennials profiles along with stats, tips, and tools for reaching each one:

Michelangelo: The artistic one

Michelangelo is easygoing and easy to get along with. A fun-loving and free-spirited turtle, he has a Southern Cal-style with a creative, artistic and adventurous side.

He’s also the most frustrating type of millennial: a fickle demographic easy to dismiss as a class clown.

In financial terms, those who fall under this archetype spend money they don’t have, buy experiences instead of things and quit jobs they must have because they don’t “feel” fulfilled.

They’re also single. Only 26 percent of millennials in the United States are married, compared with 36 percent of Generation X, 48 percent of Baby Boomers, and 65 percent of the Silent Generation.

To market to Michelangelo, focus on these tips:

  • Collect, curate and share fun content that doesn’t come from your own content marketing team. Use tools like memit that enable your marketing pros to collect, tag and share their favorite finds across departments and within teams.
  • Go the extra curation mile and create an online hub that’s both an internal resource as well as a customer-facing sub-site. Pressly specializes in designing beautiful two-for-one interfaces, like this one for the enterprise Deloitte.
  • Get playful with memes games and quizzes. The more frivolous, the better. Fun equals fans.
  • Prioritize responsive (mobile-friendly) email and hyper-localized SMS marketing with a conversational and irreverent tone. JackThreads, a fast-growing clothing retailer, writes subject lines that are perfect for getting Michelangelo to open emails: “It’s Baaaaack” and “Stop What You’re Doing … and PARRRTY.”

Donatello: The innovative one

Donnie is a Renaissance man, though his persona can work for both genders. He’s a scientist, an engineer, and an inventor. In other words, he’s the brains.

Millennials can be bright and ingenious. Growing up as digital natives has given them a unique position in the marketing world.

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Not only do the vast majority own smartphones, but more than 85 percent of millennials use them when making purchase decisions. Add to this the fact that U.S. millennials touch their smartphones an average 45 times a day, and you have the makings of an undeniable marketing opportunity.

To market to this type of millennial, follow these pointers:

  • Prioritize free and in-depth webinars that attract early adopters and dig into practical how-to examples. Always include live surveys, polls and Q&A sessions.
  • Consider the advantages of a mobile or web app that can help you gamify data gathering and the purchasing process.
  • Don’t discount content and wearable tech. Many millennials have been dreaming about wrist communications devices since they first watched the Power Rangers.

Leonardo: The orderly one

Leonardo is logical and strategic. He’s slowly growing into his role as commander and believes in the greater good.

Like Leo, this type of millennial is methodical and educated. One-third of older millennials (ages 26 to 33) have earned at least a four-year college degree, making them the most-educated young adults in U.S. history. What’s more, 46 percent request price matches from online retailers prior to purchase.

Here are suggestions for approaching the strategic Leonardo type:

  • Provide detailed explanations of product features backed up by impartial data.
  • Create custom offers based on each visitor’s digital body language. In-depth segmentation tools like Fanplayr take real-time factors such as product views, price ranges, past purchases and referral sources into account when creating calls to action.
  • Highlight social proof from authorities and thought leaders whom your audience respects. Don’t violate their trust with hype. Create valuable conversations and no-nonsense calls to action.

Raphael: The dangerous one

Raphael is the bad-boy turtle. Never one to bite his tongue, he’s sarcastic, fierce, and has a sense of humor that is totally deadpan.

Likewise, some millennials can come off as cynical, egotistical and self-consumed—the so-called “selfie generation.” Eighty-seven percent of 18-25 year olds in the U.S. use Facebook. Fifty-three percent are on Instagram, while 37 percent are on Twitter and 34 percent are on Pinterest.

These statistics are why social media platforms can be extremely successful. When it comes to reaching Raphael, don’t underestimate the power of the following:

  • Make your content marketing story-driven. Focus on your brand’s artistic side, your passions and especially your failures. Authenticity matters.
  • Crowdsource ideas and contests. Last October, Sock It to Me was able to rake in 4,600 submissions for its simple design-a-sock contest.
  • Beef up social campaigns. Use a post-management platform like Oktopost, which is especially vital for tracking real-world ROI—not just “likes,” shares, retweets and pins.

Not all millennials are created the same. Far more than four subtypes exist, but this division is a profitable and fun starting point. Line up the four Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles with your own buyer personas and see what tips work best for you.

Aaron Orendorff is busy “saving the world from bad content” at iconiContent. A version of this article originally appeared on Content Marketing Institute, the leading global content marketing education and training organization that hosts the world’s largest content marketing event, Content Marketing World. Sign up to get their email newsletter. (Image via)

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