Answering audience questions is a huge part of my work as a keynote speaker.
At each of the last three presentations I’ve given on content marketing tactics, an audience member has raised their hand and asked a version same question:
“How do we market to the younger generations? They’re so different.
Specifically, these audience members were asking about Millennials or Generation Y.
This question is always prefaced by a statistic or idea regarding the younger generation’s disinterest in building relationships with the people and brands they do business with.
This is a common perception about the habits of younger generation consumers with mid-sized and small business owners.
Now if we believe that Millennials are truly not interested in building relationships with the people and brands they do business with, then business owners (and content marketers), would have a serious problem.
Fortunately, the belief that younger generation consumers don’t value relationships with people or brands is complete crap.
What these audience members are really asking is:
“I have no idea how to harness content marketing tactics or social media or email marketing and the idea that two entire generations of consumers are using these tools scares the shit out of me… What am supposed to do?”
Marketers and business owners are lost in the sea of content marketing tactics.
Understanding these tactics is the foundation of evolving from amateur to professional content marketing.
The Connected Generation
The Millennials aren’t 17 anymore.
I’m 38 years old. I’m a member of the Millennials. Most of my friends are Millennials.
I can tell you, with conviction, Millennial consumers are starving for a deep relationship with the people and brands they do business with.
I’m just not sure we should be thinking “Millennials” as a target market.
According to Think With Google, we shouldn’t be focused on demographics at all.
Rather than focus on flawed demographics, Google suggests an intent (or use) based content marketing strategy.
It is a waste of time and resources to focus solely on demographics such as, Generation Y, Generation X or the Baby Boomers.
Generational groupings should have no bearing on how we position our value message.
In better aligning with Google’s suggested “intent-based marketing,” today there are only two generations:
The Connected Generation defined as individuals willing and open to communication, build relationships and make buying decisions based on digital content and customer experience.
The Unconnected Generation, or everyone else. Consumers with a proclivity for in-person transactions, an unwillingness to communicate via email or other digital tools and general skepticism about the Internet.
We market to the Connected Generation based on their purchase intent… not their age.
Nowhere in these two generations is there any defining characteristic based on the year a person was born.
According to Socialnomics the fastest growing population on Facebook is 45-55-year-olds with almost 55% of this population now active users on Facebook. That’s elder Generation X, younger Baby Boomers.
They shouldn’t be on Facebook? They should be reading the newspaper, listening to the radio and waiting for the postman to drop off the day’s mail.
Isn’t that the characterization we lay upon this population?
The only way to explain the fact that this consumer group is the fastest growing on Facebook is that age doesn’t matter when it comes to digital adoption.
You either communicate, build relationships and make buying decisions online (Connected Generation) or you do not.
Whether you’re 17, 37 or 67 makes no difference.
Marketing to the Connected Generation
Mad Men taught us how to market to the Unconnected Generation. All the traditional marketing techniques used by businesses for the last hundred years work on the Unconnected Generation.
- Cold calls
- Newspaper advertisements
- TV commercials
- Radio ads
- Direct mail
These are just a few of the traditional interruption style marketing efforts that are crucial to attracting the Unconnected Generation.
Remember, consumers who don’t leverage the Internet are unable to research the products and services available in the marketplace unless their life is interrupted with advertisements or unsolicited phone calls.
These traditional marketing tactics will not work on the Connected Generation.
The Internet has changed how Connected Generation consumers decide what to buy. Google calls this online decision-making moment the Zero Moment of Truth.
To grow your business in the modern marketplace, you must capture the Connected Generation consumer in their Zero Moment of Truth.
The following 5 content marketing tactics will help…
5 Content Marketing Tactics the Connected Generation Can’t Resist
The Connected Generation wants to know that there is a human being behind your brand.
Building intimacy into our content marketing strategy is as simple as injecting a bit of personality into your messaging.
You have kids? Mention them.
You like the Buffalo Bills? Describe your sorrow.
You do homemade taxidermy? Weird, but I’m sure there are some interesting stories.
The point is, a little bit of personality… a little bit of behind the scenes… a little bit of who you are as a person (even if you’re one person in a huge corporate brand) builds intimacy with readers and the deeper relationship the Connected Generation is looking for.
2) Vulnerability / Humility
Failure can often be our most powerful content marketing tool.
The ability to admit the mistakes we make and help others learn from those experiences shows vulnerability and humility.
The authority we’re trying to convey through content marketing loses value if we can’t admit and be honest about failure. No one believes we are perfect and by showing vulnerability and humility we disarm our audience.
When we step off our soapbox and discuss the years of struggling and learning it took to achieve our expertise, success becomes more attainable to our audience… and we’ve positioned ourselves to be a resource.
3) Rich Media
The Connected Generation wants to build deeper connections with the people and brands they follow and do business with online.
A stock photo stolen from Google Images and 450 words of text can only do so much to build a relationship. To take relationships deeper our content needs to move beyond simple text to audio, video, and slideshows.
These types of rich media show dedication and commitment to your work, a trait the Connected Generation is looking for in brands.
4) Social Proof
Not every piece of content with value to your business will be created by you.
Testimonials, recommendations and reviews are the Connected Generation referral. The social proof you collect on your own website as well as on review sites Google Local, Facebook and Yelp is vital to convincing the Connected Generation your business is legitimate and trustworthy.
Social proof and its must-have component in marketing to the Connected Generation.
Comments and customer feedback are vital content marketing tools as they provide a completely different yet equally powerful form of social proof.
Comments happen on your blog, on social media outposts like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and email marketing.
Comments are the conversation that used to happen solely across a desk.
Comments are where the magic happens in content marketing engagement.
When the Connected Generation is willing to comment and have conversations with a brand it shows engagement and the brands they’re engaged with, they do business with.
The Connected Generation is searching to build relationships through the content they consume from brands online.
This requires businesses to adopt a completely new and different set of marketing tactics than required to capture the attention of previous generations.
By transforming our marketing from traditional to content marketing, we can develop a strategy that Connected Generation consumers cannot resist.
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