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Marketing to the Millennial Mind

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Shawnna Kerns- Millennial  
CIC Marketing and Communications Manager 

Ah, the dreaded Millennials/Gen Y/Gen Me. Sometimes suited with the outfit of "lazy, entitled, technology reliant youth," what is it that makes this generation so different and difficult to understand? This group of individuals, born between the years of 1980 and 2000, number anywhere between 52.8 and 86 million and are said to be more than 50 percent of the workforce by 2020. The largest generation thus far in our history will prove to be the most lucrative marketing opportunity yet, begging the question, how do you tap into their needs and wants?

Millennials need to connect. In this age where technology is so rapidly evolving, you can drop a pin to meet up with friends, send a group invite via Facebook, and make your reservations with OpenTable all within the span of three minutes from your phone. This is the generation of multitasking, and this multitasking is evolving the millennialís brain. From a young age, they seem to be increasing their ability to multitask Ė watching television, listening to music, playing video games Ė all while doing their homework. They want their information quickly and efficiently. To millennials, itís all about instant gratification. This means organizations need to make sure the way they deliver information is seamless and precise.  

It used to be about status; now itís all about the experience. Most millennials would rather spend $50 on brunch with friends or $500 on a festival sleeping in a tent in the dirt, go days without showering or creature comforts, than to spend thousands on the latest Audi. This isnít the generation of glitz and glamour. Donít try to wow them with shiny objects and tangible goods, that will only prove successful to a small pool of millennials. Provide them with an experience Ė an experience that they canít miss Ė an opportunity to connect with their peers and the leaders in their field. This wanderlust generation will be much more open and excited about the chance to interact in a fun and invigorating environment, connecting and learning from each other, than being wooed by fancy swag or lectured to for hours through a PowerPoint. Make your presentations and events interactive, use social media polling, Instagram tags and trending Twitter talk. Try to exhibit your information/products/services in new ways that get this generation talking to each other, tweeting to each other, DM-ing each other, anything that makes them excited to share your brand with one another and make part of their own personal brand.  

Speaking of personal brand, one thing individuals of this generation are seeking out is their own brand Ė who are they, how do they want to be seen, how do they set themselves apart? This is displayed through Gen Y and millennials abilities to marry their personal style and identities with their professional one. Empathize with them, give them something to put in their toolbox, and show them how your brand fits into their own personal brand. Give them things that they can take with them, repurpose, shape and mold to fit their own unique style and what they have to offer as a branded, reliable, respectable meetings professional. Everything now is based on customization. Start at the bottom with a basic layout and let them build on what they want. Give them the raw breakdown of what your company offers then connect and work with them on adding the pieces they feel are important that they can use to build their own personal brand to be a more effective professional. You can certainly market to this generation, but take a second to sit back and think about what makes them tick. Utilize the stereotypes behind this generation and use it to your organization's advantage. 

Millennials need to connect on multiple levels, but they need to be spurred to do so. Develop different ways to engage like-minded millennial attendees, maybe through old school "chat rooms" on your event app based on interests or specific sessions, Create networking events that have topic-focused sections with more seasoned professionals there to facilitate millennials in the conversations of their specific interest. Find a way to harness their passion to network and learn, their adaptability and their own personal brand to get what they want out of your meeting. 

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