Using Traditional Marketing in a World of Millennials

According to USA Today, millennials (Generation Y) represent the largest demographic in the U.S. This means that companies and marketers are searching for ways to specifically target millennials—but only a few have been successful.

Recent research has shown that traditional marketing techniques, such as ads, don’t work on the millennial generation. Millennials want to believe in products and the message behind it before investing their time and money. On top of that, millennials are experts at blocking/filtering unwanted messages. They know what they want and what they don’t—and they know exactly how to avoid ads selling them things they aren’t looking for.

They are, as the Huffington Post put it, immune to traditional marketing techniques—because “millennials don’t trust advertisements.”

This doesn’t mean that traditional marketing is obsolete in this day and age. Rather, it just means that traditional marketing needs a new, fresh spin in order to attract millennials.

So what’s the best way to market to millennials? Get their attention.

Signs and images

For the generation obsessed with picture-focused platforms like Instagram and Pinterest, signs need to be eye-catching. The picture/image on the sign needs to immediately catch the viewer’s attention; it should dominate the whole ad and take full advantage of white space.

Additionally, millennials have learned to get their message across in 140 words or less (thanks Twitter)—so on signs/ads, your text needs to be succinct, clear, and impactful. See the section below for ways to make your text appealing to millennials!

Pun, pun, punny puns

Pro-tip: Millennials love puns, wordplay, humor, etc.—anything clever that’s memorable, tricks the mind, made the viewer think, “Oh, that’s different” and do a double take.

Some of the most popular signs or ads for millennials combine an eye-catching, HD photo with wordplay or mind-boggling imagery. The following photos are perfect examples:

23-creatively-ironic-ads-23-530x357 Source: Volkswagen
beat-breast-cancer Source: Safe & Sound

TV advertising


It’s no secret that millennials are relying on online streaming sites like Netflix and Hulu more than ever before. This isn’t to say that they’re not watching regular TV as well, but they’re definitely favoring the more convenient streaming options.

While TV advertising is still fairly effective, it may be more cost-efficient to look into advertisement methods on the sites that are popular with millennials (i.e., Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google Chrome, etc.). Or, if you’re feeling adventurous, you could create your own online videos and amplify your brand’s presence on YouTube!

Cold calling

Cold calling doesn’t resonate with millennials at all. Firstly, many millennials prefer texting/messaging over calling, and secondly, they expect a personalized, engaging experience.

One way to do this is to use cold calling less and less. By lessening the amount of time spent on the phone, you can dedicate more resources to crafting creative content that appeals to Generation Y.
For more tips on marketing to millennials, check out the Huffington Post’s “Millennials Want Brands To Be More Authentic. Here’s Why That Matters.”

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