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Three tips CMOs need to reach millennials

May 21 2015

Tim Smith

If you are a Chief Marketing Officer attempting to reach millennials, the job you face is extraordinarily difficult. But if you are the CMO of an entertainment brand, and you are hoping to engage millennials with a meaningful experience, the challenge you face is monumental.

Connecting with 18-34 year olds is complicated, but it’s not impossible if you are willing to step away from the safety net of the traditional marketing formula and experience the world as millennials do.

Last week, I took a trip out to San Francisco for the Experiential Marketing Summit (EMS). While there I gained a lot of valuable insight from inspiring entertainment marketers like Dima Ivanov, the CMO of Bacardi, and Kevin Allocca, the Head of Culture and Trends at YouTube.

After 72 hours with some of the world’s largest entertainment leaders, I left California with a handful of valuable tips:

  1. React fast. At EMS, I witnessed how successful CMOs are re-making their brands, and re-tooling strategies so they communicate more effectively and generate amazing results. They are literally rebuilding their brand message and reworking their communication tools in real time. Remember Oreo’s blackout tweet during the Super Bowl? It’s the perfect example of a brand reacting as fast as their customers.
  1. Be willing to give first. Today’s millennial consumer is savvy, digitally sophisticated, and very skeptical of traditional marketing. If you give first, you can begin to form a trust that will lead to them “liking” you and eventually being a fan and “friend” of your brand. Bacardi, as an example, focuses on converting bartenders into brand fanatics by giving them ideas for their craft, and then honoring their efforts in the world-wide Bacardi Legacy Cocktail competition
  1. Authenticity is the strategy. Millennials want to form relationships with brands that value them and their contributions. They don’t want relationships with brands that say one thing and do another. Or brands that ask for their input then disregard it. The authenticity of both your message and your actions has never been more important than it is today. To connect with millennial consumers, you need to follow through. If you ask them to participate, you need to make them feel at home. YouTube embraces this message and encourages their users to control the message and delivery of content within the system. Remember how quickly the Ice Bucket Challenge spread last year? That only happens when you let go of control.

Clearly, the path to successful millennial marketing is a complicated road with very few rules. While there are plenty of potholes and hidden landmines, it’s not for the CMO who relies on the safe rules preached about in MBA programs a decade ago. Those days are long gone.

So if you are feeling like your marketing efforts are in need of a refresher, drop me a line. I’d love to share more specifics on how you can move in the right direction and communicate with the millennial audience looking for an entertainment experience.