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Want to capture a millennial’s attention? Make your message smartphone ready.

Fri, July 08, 2016

by Cindy Baumann, Creative Communication & Design

If you’re like me, you grew up seeing commercials that have stuck with you. I can still envision Mikey eating his brother’s bowl of Life cereal, or the horses running free in Marlboro country. And yes, I did take the Pepsi Challenge.

Think about what the blind taste test campaign did for the Pepsi Generation. The cola wars had been going strong for years and finally Pepsi was winning over taste buds across the country. The ads were proof that Pepsi was just as all-American as Coke, which represented good times and contentment where friends and family gathered around with a smile and soft drink in hand. 

Notice, nobody had a smartphone in their hand back then.

Incredible changes have swept through advertising since seeing my first ad. The challenge of today’s advertiser is to net as many minds as possible at a desired time within the growing digital landscape. We have to be direct and deliberate with our content and aim it with calculated precision.

At 80 million strong, millennials are a huge segment of the information-consuming population. So if you have something to sell, you’ll want to talk their language at some point.

In our business, we’re constantly looking for ways to reach millennials, whether it’s in selling to them or inviting them to join our creative team. 

By some measure, they can be a tough crowd because the same rules of advertising don’t apply to younger consumers like they did when I entered the industry in the late ‘80s. However, one thing is certain, they’re consumed by the need to know NOW, a craving that’s driven and delivered by digital media.

If you want millennials to take notice, here is some advice:

Make a serious social presence.

Millennials live through social media. They trust social media. They check their mobile devices over 40 times a day! Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter and Pinterest are all economical platforms for gaining exposure.

Give them facts, not fluff.

The message is getting shorter, but the content is stronger. It gets right to the point and doesn’t spend time on things that don’t matter to this group. They’re less likely to believe a Taylor Swift endorsement than friends and family referrals or online in customer reviews. 

Unleash them.

Freedom and flexibility are important to millennials. If your products offer these, by all means tell them in as few sentences as possible. And since they’re known to be loyal users, they’ll stick with you (and spread the word) if you establish trust.

Study their behavior.

I’ve witnessed my own millennials who make very different buying decisions than I did at that age. Growing up with laptops, iPads, and smartphones, they go directly to online sources and scope out features and benefits and do cost comparisons. If the website isn’t cool, complete, or easy to navigate, they’re on to the next site.

Smartphones have become an essential part of daily life. I realized this one day when my son was in the garage fixing his car with the help of a YouTube video. 

And that’s how it goes with a millennial. They have an insatiable need to know right away or something else will consume their attention. Your company could be absent from the conversation if you’re not smartphone ready.


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