Ultimate Guide: Digital Marketing to Millennials

digital marketing to millennials

I’m Rob Cressy, Founder of Cress Media, and I specialize in digital marketing to millennials. I am a millennial and thus I think like a millennial. Know thy target demographic!

To get a better idea for how I can help your brand market to millennials I put together this Digital Marketers Guide To Marketing To Millennials.

My philosophy for marketing to millennials has 6 core principles:

  1. Lots of Fun & Awesomeness
  2. Be Authentic
  3. Be Where Your Audience Is
  4. Be Specific
  5. Create Engagement Opportunities
  6. Be Forward Thinking

After each principle I’ll also include an example of where I have implemented the marketing principle so you can see it in action.

6 Principles For Digital Marketing To Millennials

1. Lots of Fun & Awesomeness

I put fun & awesomeness at the top because it’s the most important and is a hallmark of everything I do. Millennials are on social media because it’s fun. While on social media they are inundated with some of the coolest pictures, videos, and events you can imagine. Want to slide down a gigantic waterslide and GoPro yourself having the time of your life? You can do that. Want to watch epic fails, the greatest hip hop dancer, or the cutest puppy? You can see all that as well.

My point here is when trying to market to millennials the bar for capturing attention is incredibly high. If your content doesn’t give them something new, different, fun, and awesome that stands out then you are never going to kick through the clutter.

creative digital marketing

That’s why fun & awesomeness is at the center of how I market to millennials. Every business has something fun and awesome about it. It’s my job to amplify that awesomeness so your message has a better chance of getting consumed by your ideal customer and leads to your desired action.

Reference: The Bacon, Sports & Beer Celebration – I filled Union Station (Chicago) with 20 restaurants serving bacon inspired dished, 25 craft breweries serving beer tastings, Nerf games, pop-a-shot, a DJ bumping hip hop tunes, with 700 bacon loving, jersey rocking sports junkies get down and having fun. You can check out the recap video of the event HERE.  

2. Be Authentic

What’s your story morning glory?

Millennials want to support a brand that has a heartbeat. Where they know there is a person behind it, why they created it, and how it connects with them. They want to envision being able to hang out and have a beer with that brand. Emotionally they want to build that connection to the point where that brand becomes their friend.

building brand millennials

The great thing is brands have the ability to forge this authentic connection with millennials through the various channels, content, and marketing they create. Become a great storyteller. Give people a reason to care. The brands that do so in a fun, engaging, and authentic manner are the ones that will win.

Reference: BaconSports.com – We love sports and we love jerseys so we built a community for sports fans that love jerseys. We also created #shareyourbeer where our fans tweet us a picture of their beer as a way of having a virtual beer together. 

3. Be Where Your Audience Is

Crafting your authentic brand story is only one part of the equation of marketing to millennials. Now you have to tell this story where your target audience can consume it.

We are all familiar with the various social media channels out there. To quote Stan from Office Space (when talking about Joanna’s number of pieces of flair), “What do you think about a person who only does the bare minimum?”

Currently, only posting on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram is the bare minimum pieces of flair.

unique content social media

Millennials spend something like 400 hours a week on their phones. They are looking at pictures, watching videos, chatting, snapping, listening to podcasts and everything in between. Knowing there are so many touch points to reach these millennials wouldn’t it make sense to give them the option to consume your content wherever they are, however they want it, whenever they want it?

So why is it that most brands are laggards when it comes to this? It’s not like creating a blog post, newsletter, video or podcast is hard. You can watch a one hour YouTube video on how to do it and already be more knowledgable than 85% of people out there.

Creating this content for your audience is fun and your audience will love it too (winner winner chicken dinner!) It allows your brand personality to shine and builds that genuine connection you are looking for. All this is assuming, of course, that the content you create is fun, engaging, authentic, and provides value (which we’ll get to in a minute.)

Reference: The Bacon Sports Podcast, Bacon Sports Newsletter, Bacon Sports YouTube channel  

4. Be Specific 

This is another area where I see brands failing miserably. You have the ability to engage with your target audience in a fun, authentic, and engaging way yet many brands post the same content on every social media channel and think that’s a great strategy.

What exactly is the incentive to follow a brand on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter if all of the content is the same?

“But Rob, not all of my followers see all of my content so I want to make sure that regardless of which channel they are on they can do so.”

social media creation
That’s lame as crap thinking ain’t that right Dawson?!

What I hear is, “I don’t care enough about my customers to create unique content on every platform for them to engage with.”

Go ahead an insert the million excuses for why you don’t have the time, budget, knowledge, etc. for treating your customers like they deserve to be treated. You will not win the marketing game if this is your mindset towards marketing to millennials. They have too many choices and there are too many brands that do it right. The brands that do it right will get their attention and dollars. Those that don’t will get unfollowed and good luck trying to win back their attention.

Remember, every interaction and touch point you have with your customer is a representation of your brand. I don’t know about you but if given the chance to create a positive brand interaction every time someone engages with my brand I’m going to take them up on that offer.

This means creating content and marketing that is specific to each channel you are on. Understand the strengths of each channel, create a defined strategy, see what works, optimize, have fun, everyone wins.

Reference: Bacon Sports Facebook, Bacon Sports Twitter, Bacon Sports Instagram

5. Create engagement opportunities

Millennials don’t read newspapers so let’s stop marketing to them like they do. Hitting them with up LOOK AT ME! LOOK AT ME! marketing is a fast track to the trash. We’ve all seen the brands whose posts read more like an annual report than something we’d actually care to engage with.

That’s why when marketing to millennials it is key to put engagement opportunities at the center of your marketing strategy. Once again, the brands that build up that know, like, and trust factor are the ones that are going to win. Social media marketing is a two-way CONVERSATION. No one wakes up in the morning and says, “Man, I can’t wait for some brands to market to me.”

engagement marketing

Ask yourself this. Does your marketing give people a reason to look forward to hearing from you again? The best brands do.

There are hundreds of ways that you can create engagement opportunities (ex. ask questions, contests, giveaways, live streaming, user generated content.) Once you get the conversation going keep it going. Rinse and repeat. Every day you do this will forge a stronger bond with your consumers, making it more likely they will purchase from you when the time is right.

Another thing creating engaging content does is it stands out from all the digital noise that isn’t engaging. Millennials know which brands get them and which don’t. Those that do rise to the top and become leaders.

Reference: Every Thursday on Bacon Sports Facebook page we play a game called #randomathlete. It has become a staple of our Facebook engagement strategy and consistently has the highest organic reach and engagement of any of our posts. 

6. Be Forward Thinking

So I’ve established that millennials want fun, engaging, and authentic content on multiple channels. That’s good enough, right? Nope.

To quote the 16-time World Champion Ric Flair, “To be the man, you gotta beat the man.”

ric flair woo
The way to beat the man is to be forward thinking. What’s new and exciting that isn’t yet mainstream, but gives you an opportunity to experiment and differentiate your brand from others?

With all the digital noise and messages out there, standing out to millennials is not easy. That’s why you’ve got go next level, get creative, and do something that few brands are. It’s one of the reasons why I’m so bullish on podcasting and Snapchat. So many brands are asleep at the wheel, missing what is a giant opportunity to engage on these emerging platforms. It’s also why I’m excited about VR and 360 video.

I’d much rather be a brand that pushes the limits, seeing if I can create value for customers in a new, fun and exciting way. Your customers deserve it and as a millennial consumer that’s what I’d want out of a brand.

Reference: Bacon Sports Snapchat. I even taught a Snapchat For Business workshop that you can check out my notes from. 

BONUS PRINCIPLE: Delivering value

I wanted to add one more principle to the way I approach marketing which isn’t unique to millennials, but applies to any demographic you are looking to target.

At the core of any good campaign is delivering value. Strip everything away and if you don’t deliver value then what’s the point.

creating value marketing

I saw a great quote from Albert Einstein that really resonated with me: “Try not to be a person of success, but rather a person of value.”

It’s when you combine all the elements together: delivering value, creating fun, engaging, authentic, multi-channel, and forward thinking content and marketing that success will come.

Action Item:

You might be thinking, “Holy smokes Batman, this sounds awesome. Where in the world can I find someone that can create fun, engaging, authentic, multi-channel content and marketing to millennials?”

Hi. I’m Rob Cressy and I’m here to be of service to you. You can email me at rob@cressmedia.com, give me a call at 513.238.8219, or hit me up on Twitter @RobCressy. I’d also love to hear any thoughts you have on this guide to marketing to millennials.

 digital marketing resources

Here are a few more marketing resources that I’ve created to help you along on your digital media journey.


Talk to us about how we can help your brand grow by turning attention into action. Contact Rob Cressy at rob@cressmedia.com or via this webform.

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Business  //  Content  //  creativity  //  engagement  //  Marketing


Copyright © 2017 Cress Media Group LLC

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Cress Media is a Chicago Sports Marketing Content Studio. We help brands activate sports fans by telling their story in a fun and engaging way via audio, video, and social content creation. We get your audience talking, taking action, and having fun with your brand online and offline. Whether in Chicago or any other part of the country Cress Media can handle your content creation and sports marketing needs.