In my previous post, I explored my daughter’s first trip to college, and how the experience for my generation centered on the question “Could I or should I be a part of that school and what it represents?”  For my daughter, it was more about “Could or should the school, become a part of my life?”

So the question becomes, how do you market to Millennials?  Research suggests that they tend to be more socially liberal than previous generations, believe they can have a real impact on the world, enjoy the integration of work with their personal lives, and believe government is highly inefficient (who doesn’t?).

There are a few things that marketers can focus on going back to the basics of the 5 Ws:

Who – Analytics can help.  Make sure you are spending your marketing dollars on the right Millennials, or those who are most likely to purchase.  All Millennials are not the same, and all do not offer the same propensity to interact with your brand.

What – Tonality is important, and brand affinity building is paramount.  Today’s brands need to connect personally with Millennials, and build and maintain brand affinity relentlessly.  This will involve establishing a persona for the brand that connects with MIllineals.  Public relations, charitable contributions, strategic alliances, and even fun can play a role.  Yes, I said fun (case in point the “Ice Bucket Challenge” for ALS).

Where – The answer is EVERYWHERE (Online and Offline).  Well, everywhere where a communication or communication platform (such as a web page) provides relevance.  The key is to create engagement, allowing MIllineals to share and/or create content.

When – At or just prior to the point of relevance.  This can be realized as a results of efforts in organic and paid search.  It can also often be driven by life events, which is one tried and true trigger strategy used in financial services.  Despite perceived or aggregated perceptions about Millennials, they all still will go through live events just like previous generations.  Examples include graduating from college, moving into a new home, getting married, and having children.  These events impact the need for auto insurance, rental insurance, homeowners insurance, life insurance, banking, and investments in particular.  More to come on this in a future blog entry.

Why – This brings us back full circle to the reason for the post.  The Millennial generation demands a new marketing paradigm, and more than any other generation will dictate terms to marketers on if, how, and when they will engage with brands.  It is now up to brands to create a consistent and personal brand experience that builds and maintains affinity.  Brands who are successful will benefit from a multiplier effect given social sharing and engagement.  Those who fail will fall far behind.

The stakes are high as evidenced by the soon to be 2.5 trillion dollars in buying power at stake.  My daughter and many, many, other like her have now changed the game forever.

Steve has 14 years of database marketing experience, inclusive of cross-functional leadership, strategy, and sales positions.  He has worked across numerous verticals to help develop and execute successful campaigns for both mid-tier and large organizations. Steve has a MBA from Rochester Institute of Technology and resides with his wife and two children in Webster, NY.  He enjoys tennis, golf, reading, travel, and is an avid Buffalo Bills fan.You can reach Steve at