Marketing to Millennials: The Do’s and Don’t’s of Authenticity

Millennials have different values than previous generations. This is especially true when it comes to how and why they spend their money. Marketing to them requires a different approach; not just in where you reach them, but also in what you say and how you respond when things go wrong.

Authentic Content

Marketing is easy, right? You just need to tell potential customers why they need your product or service and cha-ching: you’ve got a sale! Not so fast. What you say, your messaging and voice, makes a world of difference. Gone are the days when gimmicks and urgency would push people to make a purchasing decision. Today’s marketing is all about authenticity.

According to Forbes, 38% of millennials said brands are more accessible and trustworthy when they use social rather than traditional advertising. Millennials  want content that focuses on them and their best interests, rather than messages prompting them to spend money. This means your social media posts shouldn’t look like traditional ads.

So what should you post? Here’s a sample DO and DON’T:

DON'T: Post gimmicky ads on social media.

"Lose weight fast! Only $49.95 for a limited time! Call now!"

If you’re marketing to millennials, nothing will turn them away from your brand faster. 

DO: Post user-generated content, client feedback, and reviews.

"How lovely is our client, Sarah, who lost 2 dress sizes last month with our FIT Bodywrap?"

Accompany your post with a well-lit, not-too-staged photo of a happy client, maybe on a vacation or having a night out with friends. Messaging like this will show potential clients a glimpse of the lifestyle they could have if they, too, try your services.

Millennials value real clients opinions and experiences when deciding whether to trust a brand. The best thing you can do is encourage your clients to share their experiences. For example: run a campaign offering a monthly giveaway to clients who tag you in Instagram photos or Facebook posts about their results. Get permission to use these photos and share all of this genuine, user-created content with your followers.

Encourage interaction on your social media posts by asking questions, asking followers to tag friends, and responding and engaging with them in the comments. This has the added bonus of displaying that your company has personality, and that it values customer input.

But what happens when that customer input is negative?

Brand Authenticity

Authentic and genuine are key buzzwords in marketing these days, which is ironic, because, by nature, marketing is hardly authentic. Of course you want to showcase your brand and service in the best possible light. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is sweeping negativity under the rug. The desire to outshine any competition may lead you to shut down negative reviews, delete negative comments, and pretend unhappy customers don’t exist.

Instead, turn those negative experiences into positive PR for your brand.

DON'T: Ignore, delete, or respond negatively to an upset customer.

"Our policies are clearly stated, I don't know what else you expect us to do."

This not only alienates the upset customer, but it shows potential customers that you might not be willing to work with them if anything goes wrong – regardless of who is at fault. The phrase “the customer is always right” isn’t meant to be taken literally. It suggests that if you validate your upset customers, apologize for their negative experience, and offer them options to make it right for them, you may have a good chance of keeping them as a customer.  Not only that, but going above and beyond could actually turn them into one of your biggest fans.

DO: Respond to all comments and feedback positively, helpfully, and publicly.

"I am so sorry to hear you had anything less than a stellar experience with us. I will be revisiting our policies to ensure that this doesn't happen again. I'd appreciate an opportunity to make this right for you. Can we offer you another service on us?"

Whether or not the customer is actually right, a customer service issue gone public can cost you business. Weigh the cost of a free service, product, or refund over the bad PR for your brand. A positive, helpful, and accountable message not only can calm an angry customer, but it also shows you put your customers over profit.

This kind of honesty and transparency will win over millennial customers. A company that actively addresses all feedback undoubtedly cares about their customers. This is much more appealing than a business that mysteriously has no negative reviews or feedback, or, even worse, responds angrily or defensively to criticism.

Authenticity, whether in ad messaging or in your brand’s interactions on social media, can positively influence potential customers. Show followers, millennial or otherwise, that behind your brand are real people who care about the well-being of their clients, and you can win them as customers for life.