Monthly Archives: June 2009

Reaching Millennials: Don’t Believe the Hype – YOU HAVE THE RESOURCES

In keeping up with blogs, research, and ideally all things Millennial, I generally tend to come across well-intentioned but TERRIBLE advice. The latest was on a staffing company’s website encouraging human resource departments to create new, Millennial-friendly corporate handbooks. A fine idea for corporations, but incredibly flawed in execution – which is why I’m pointing out an alternate solution that everyone can use.

To keep things short(ish) and sweet,  I’ve decided to summarize below (though if you REALLY wanted to see the original in all it’s glory, you MIGHT find it in my @millennier tweets, and it MIGHT be under TRAGIC MILLENNIAL ADVICE: PIMP MY CO.S HANDBOOK…).

Everyone in the wine industry can learn from this far too common mistake.

The information was found on the company’s website  from June 2009.  The title of the piece was Create a GenY-Friendly Employee Handbook, and like many of these pieces, it was fairly insulting in an odd, benign way.  In the How to Write a Handbook section, the writer suggests personalizing it with current events and fads in order to really get through to us.  It gives the following suggestion as an example:  “compare customers to stars competing for ‘American Idol’ stardom.” While I realize that we may be younger than the person giving this advice, WE ARE NOT CHILDREN.  We do not need a company to create a mascot and a “let’s pretend” example for every single situation we may encounter in the big, bad world.  While I have plenty to say on this topic, I’m going to stop because the point here is that this NOT GOOD ADVICE.

I do want to say in all seriousness GOOD FOR YOU, STAFFING COMPANY. Thank you for putting in the effort to encourage your clients to support their Millennial employees. Unfortunately, you COMPLETELY MISS THE BOAT.

Not on a boat

Not on a boat

Is it a bad idea to want a handbook for a company that will resonate with Millennials and get them excited about the company that they work for?  No. In fact it just might work, if it’s done well.  What will that take?  American Idol allusions?  In depth research on gen Y?  Watching Family Guy reruns from the first season?  NO.  It simply takes a Millennial.  If these companies selected a couple employees in their target group to actually write the new handbook, it would be completely customized to their own tastes and interests while communicating all the information a handbook needs to get across.

I don’t understand this trend.  Business has realized what a powerful consumer group we Millennials are, enough to launch campaigns for millions of dollars just to win gen Y hearts – and yet most don’t even think to reach out to us to help shape these campaigns.

Everyone in the wine industry can learn from this far too common mistake.  Many businesses are creating their Facebook pages, holding events (hooray!), and thinking of new ways to reach out to gen Y.  Yes, research is great – I recommend that you check out the links on the side of the blog for some awesome resources. However, an invaluable tool that we all have ARE THE MILLENNIALS THEMSELVES.  Consult your gen Y children, your neighbor’s kid that’s back from college for the summer, your intern, your new tasting room employee – these people can give you valuable feedback and help to shape each of your projects.  Listen to their critiques, learn from their approach – it will save you time and energy and give you a direct line in to the consumer group you want to reach.

If you want to reach out to gen Y, don’t overlook the Millennials right in front of you – they could be the most valuable resources at your disposal.

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Filed under Basics, Growth, Marketing, Myths & Legends, Outreach, Tragic Millennial Advice

Some Serious Advice: Carol Phillips Speaks Out About Millennial Marketing

A couple weeks ago, Pete Krainek of The CMO Club posed questions to Millennial Marketing guru Carol Phillips about how companies and CMOs can more effectively reach out to the Millennial consumer group through marketing.  On May 29th, Ms. Phillips posted the conversation on her fabulous blog, Millennial Marketing, and the results are short, sweet and worth their binary 1’s and 0’s in gold.

Below are some excerpts of the interview (many of these topics have been discussed recently here on The Millennier).  If reaching out to Millennials is something that you – or your company – is trying to do (and you’re reading this, so it IS), this is some important information that will be crucial in building your successful approach.

“Millennials are literally begging wine makers to market to them.”

– Carol Phillips

For the full posting of the interview, go here. (For those of you who have not taken a look at Ms. Phillips blog, I highly recommend. Like, HIGHLY.)

Photo: Carol Phillips and friend, Emily Fleming. Carol is President of research and consulting firm, Brand Amplitude, and teaches marketing at University of Notre Dame.

Carol Phillips answers  questions about marketing to Millennials.

More and more companies are looking to engage, market and sell more effectively to Millennials. What are the most important things CMO’s should consider as they develop their marketing plans?

The most important thing is to take time to truly understand their core values. It’s easy to get caught up in studying their buying behavior, media use and latest-must-have technology. But if you study their values, you will have a better idea of how to connect with them. Obama and Apple won their hearts because they ‘think’ like Milllennials.

In study after study — on beer, education, social media, philanthropy, workplace needs and news media — we find that understanding Millennial values helps shed light on behavior. Taking the time to really ‘get’ the way they think is well worth the effort and pays dividends in how you manage, communicate and ultimately market to them. Without those insights, the paradoxes can be baffling.

Who does a good job in engaging millennials and why?

Millennials love brands, but are cynical about marketing. They distrust commercial messages, so any effort must be authentic and come from a trusted source. The absolute best way to engage them is through each other. Our advice to clients is to engage them by giving them ‘social currency’, in the form of experiences and information, and then make it easy to share. Starbuck’s Red promotion at the holidays, Taco Bell’s long running late night promotion, and the Ford Fiesta car giveaway contest all have great Millennial appeal because they are about sharing. In the entertainment area, ABC Family did a great job of repositioning ‘family entertainment’ to be more Millennial-friendly.

What are some examples of approaches that didn’t work or miss the boat?

An iconic brand currently popular with Millennials, but is due for a makeover, is Corona. Millennials love sophisticated tastes in beer, wine and spirits, and they prefer imported beer. But their idea of relaxation is not going on vacation or sitting on a beach. Relaxation is something that needs to happen every day, like watching Family Guy, throwing a frisbee to a dog or making a great meal.

Beyond specific brands, there are whole categories that are missing the boat. Millennials are literally begging wine makers to market to them. Casual restaurants also are missing an opportunity to build community around their brands. Realtors, travel and financial services need to start clueing into their future target.

Any myths you think out there on Millennials that CMOs should not believe as fact?

Yes, there a lot of myths. Unfortunately some of them have a grain of truth to them so it can be hard to sort out what is real and what is not. The main caution is not to make the mistake of thinking Millennials are simply younger, more techo-savvy versions of Boomers and X’ers. If you have teenagers or young adult children, you know this is true. They simply ‘think different’. Their sheer numbers make it inevitable that they will shape us – marketers and managers – more than we will shape them.

What final words of advice do you have for CMOs looking to improve engagement and sales results with Millennials?

Listen to your own Millennials, at home and in the office. They will give you the best advice about how to reach others like them. We learn from our younger colleagues, our own kids and my students every day. There are also a lot of great blogs written about marketing by Millennials. Finally, its not a challenge to talk to them online – they love to talk and they literally ‘live’ online.

AMEN CP!

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Filed under Basics, Marketing, Outreach, Social Networking