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Back-to-School: Marketing to Millennials 101

College towns look a little different when the end of August hits. Campus is suddenly more crowded than shopping malls or swimming pools. Now that it’s back-to-school season, college kids line up for used books and school-age children stock up on crisp uniform shirts. And as they prep for the school year your company can tailor its marketing strategy to suit them.

The back-to-school season means it’s time to get back to marketing basics, like knowing your audience. Today’s lesson will teach you the fundamentals of marketing to millennials.

But first, a word of caution: don’t underestimate the spending power of millennials. Businesses with older marketing managers make the mistake of ignoring them because it’s easy to speak the language of their own generation. Communicating with an age group very unlike themselves doesn’t come naturally. But it can be learned. Even by you.

Study Group
If you were to make up flashcards to remind you of millennials’ shopping and spending preferences, they’d surely include the following hallmarks of the 18 to 28 year old set.

To begin with, millennials expect to interact with their brands. The more you invite their input the more likely they’ll consider you one of “their” brands. Post questions on your social media properties, for example, and show them how you’ll implement changes based on their positive or negative feedback. Millennials are also immersed in digital culture—print and online marketing that doesn’t mesh will hurt your credibility.

Double Major
Yes, marketing was simpler when there were fewer marketing channels. But it was a lot less interesting—and millennials agree with us.

Grip your millennial audience by diversifying your marketing plan. For example, print QR codes on marketing materials and direct individually minded millennials to a personalized landing page. This set grew up wired—to them technology is as natural as green grass or fresh eggs. So remember that from a millennial’s perspective you can’t have print marketing without technology to back it up (and vice versa).

Smartest Kids in Class
Millennials are more informed as customers than any generation before them. Before they do business with you, they know you. Make sure that your online reputation recommends you. For example, downplay any negative online reviews by inviting happy customers to review you online (and highlight your good report). Sometimes all it takes is an invitation to make quiet customers more outspoken.

Knowing your audience is a classic marketing tip. And marketing to millennials is increasingly important. Don’t let the youngest and largest buying demographic pass you by—revise your marketing plan now to make it more millennial-friendly tomorrow.

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