So, you are marketing to Gen Y. You know, the text-messaging, multi-tasking, advertising-wary, trendsetting, sarcastic, blog-reading, information-addicted, social media-savvy, tech-embracing, fast-moving, highly ambitious, quick-talking, well-educated, iPod, iWhatever-listening crowd.
Yes, I’m talking those insolent little brats who are entitled to everything (And yes, I’m a Gen Yer, so stop laughing.)
There is a tremendous opportunity as these newly spending information gatherers are a gold mine if marketed to correctly. On the other hand, ill-fated attempts can result in a barrage of negative publicity for your business.
Is there some secret sauce for bursting through the clutter?
Here are a few ways you can gen-yify your marketing efforts:
1. Lose the formality: Be a human.
Dearest Young Customer,
It is with exceeding pleasure that I invite you to become a loving customer of ours. If it is agreeable to you, I would be most appreciative if we could connect via these new “social networking websites” and do business in the utmost of fashions.
Out of Touch
Seriously? The jargon. The fluff (if you want some fluff, go pet a bunny). You can take off the suit (or pantsuit) and tie.
Have a personality. Don’t be afraid of self-deprecation and poking a little fun. This doesn’t mean you should not be yourself and start wearing skinny jeans, but show that personality…through and through.
Where does this apply? Everywhere. On your website. On social media sites. In the videos and content you make. In person. Everywhere where you are communicating.
People trust people, not stiff companies (big or small).
2. Go for the long-term relationship, not the one-night stand.
It used to be your job as a business owner was to create a product (or service) and sell, sell, sell, sell. Without sales, you had no business.
Now, in every industry, there are more options available than ever before. More competitors. More noise. What do you need to do to stand out?
The answer is create trust. Believe it or not (and contrary to popular belief), Gen Y’ers are very loyal. But we aren’t loyal to product pushers looking for the quick sale or to overbearing salespeople (think of the used car salesman with the mustache and tweed coat).
Are you going for the hot, sexy one-night stand, or do you want to build a relationship with a customer for life (or at least a long time)?
What are some ways you build trust as a small business owner? One key point is never making the first point of contact an attempt to make a sale (unless someone of course inquires). Offer something of value instead. This value, of course, varies.
A great way to build trust is to create content around your knowledge, not your product. Perhaps it is a blog. Or a webinar series. Or an online radio or video show. Or a series of speeches and workshops. Or fun events. Something that screams trusted resource, not sketchy salesman.
3. Rethink advertising.
Is advertising dead to Gen Y? No. Is traditional advertising ineffective (especially for the small business owner/entrepreneur on a budget)? Absolutely.
Are there paid options that work? Yes.
What are they? (Stellar question!) Here’s the thing. Gen Y eyeballs are online and on mobile phones, consuming blogs, watching and listening to online shows and participating in online communities. And we trust the writers of our favorite blogs and the hosts of our favorite shows. They are like friends to us.
Contrast that with traditional TV, radio and print…all of which have essentially have become irrelevant in many cases to our generation. This just isn’t how we get our information and entertainment.
And just because the location of eyeballs has changed doesn’t mean all you have to do is apply the same principles of traditional ads (which essentially means interrupting people with “clever” ads).
Effective advertising online to Gen Y is based on trust and authenticity. There is a new rise of trusted resources online in every niche.
Let’s pretend you sell sausages. The old school approach would be to buy an ad in food magazines, on the Food Network and maybe on a food show on the radio. Problem? These ads are expensive and there is no guarantee the audience actually likes sausages. You pay for 100 percent of the audience, but probably only 2 percent like what you are selling. And you have to spend money on creative (graphic designers, videographers, etc.) all to take a risk.
Now, a simple Google search and maybe a little sleuthing would reveal BBQ blogs, online sausage shows and more. Perhaps their audiences are big. Perhaps they are small. But, either way you are laser-focusing on your niche.
If someone reads a sausage blog every day, it is safe to say they like sausages (or they are nuts) and they trust the blogger. Nobody forces them to read it. It isn’t like browsing through TV channels.
Perhaps the blogger, for a fee far less than traditional media, will allow you to sponsor a series of posts, or interview you about your sausages or plug your sausages before each Sausagecast. I promise cost and benefits will destroy the traditional way of thinking about advertising.
Of course many of these principles are generation-shifting. In many cases, Gen Y is more of a mind-set as opposed to an age (you know…those people who act really old and others who are young at heart).
But, by shifting your mind-set and strategy regardless of your generation, you can tap into the new world of marketing and promotion that rewards the passionate entrepreneur and small business owner.