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How to “Own” the Millennials (and Their Wallets)


Born between 1982-2004, Millennials pump over $2 trillion into businesses every year. Yes, two trillion dollars! That’s $40 billion a week. This will nearly double by 2018, according to Dan Schawbel, a Millennial pundit. At 77 million people strong, this cohort is going to outspend any other generation – even the mighty ‘Boomers. But they aren’t just giving their cash away.

So, does your marketing department know the way to the wallets of the Millennials?

In this blog, we look at what the kids want, how you can give it to them, and why you should feel confident that your business will see a positive return on investment.

Content, It’s What’s for Dinner

In 1996, Bill Gates wrote an article titled Content Is King. In it, he laid out this über-prediction:

Content is where I expect much of the real money will be made on the Internet… over time, the breadth of information on the Internet will be enormous, which will make it compelling… Those who succeed will propel the Internet forward as a marketplace of ideas, experiences, and product – a marketplace of content.


Fittingly, on September 16, 2013, Forbes recognized Gates as the wealthiest American for the twentieth year running, as well as the world’s richest person. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg, Twitter Founder Jack Dorsey, and a heap of other tech-savvy tycoons also made the list of billionaires. This is no coincidence.

As of 2013, Millennials are spending an average of 25 hours per week online – and they’re craving content-driven media, as cited by AdAge blogger Bonnie Fuller. They’re scouring blogs, social media and websites because they feel empowered by all the blockbuster content they’re discovering on Google, through Facebook links and in Pinterest posts. They’re also sharing, liking, pinning, tweeting, forwarding, bookmarking and otherwise commenting on all of their findings. Interacting in a user-centric environment is what engages them – and in the end, it’s what makes them spend their dough.

According to Schawbel, great content is grabbing the Millennials’ attention so much that 63% of Millennials stay up to date on brands through social networks; 46% depend on social media when buying; and 43% like more than 20 brands on Facebook. In other words, consumer behavior in Millennials is quickly moving away from traditional media and advertising efforts.

So, what can your marketing department do to catch up and cash in?

Now Serving Fresh Content

Savvy marketing departments have learned how to engage online prospects successfully because they’ve realized and responded to two basic values in Millennials:

  • Millennials want to feel connected and involved in their purchases, and traditional marketing does not enable or foster this. So, “outbound marketing” is out – magazine ads, direct mail campaigns, and radio spots do not impress Millennials. In the mind of a Millennial, these campaigns are impersonal and company-focused, filled with taglines and logos and void of any real substance. This generation demands more customer-driven, personalized marketing… which means:
  • Millennials support businesses that are dedicated to improving the customer with informative content. So, “inbound marketing” is in – rather than product and service listings, Millennials want e-books, whitepapers, blog posts, videos and other how-to information. They want thought leadership and expertise, and when they search Google, they are giving you permission to be the industry buff! They want to feel like you created remarkable content with their interest (not their wallet) in mind. When they feel this way, they are more organically introduced to the purchasing stage.
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