Understanding How to Market Your Event to Millennials
Millennial Characteristic: Millennials are the largest, most diverse generation in the U.S. population. The largest one-year age cohort is only 25.
What it means to you: Millennials are very young in terms of purchasing power. Many Millennials are establishing themselves in the workforce, paying off student debt, and making substantial money for the first time in their lives. This means that their impact in the marketplace is going to be felt for years to come. Millennials will determine the success of your events for years to come, so make it a priority to cater your event towards Millennials. If your events are Millennial friendly, you will capture the attention (and wallets) of the largest generation in the U.S.
Millennial Characteristic: Millennials have grown up with technology and expect you to use it.
What it means to you: Millennials are not just tech-savvy, they are tech dependent, as FreemanXP president Chris Cavanaugh says. Nielsen reported that as of September 2014 over 85% of Millennials own smartphones, which means that if your event website isn’t optimized for mobile, you will be missing out on effectively reaching Millennials. Your ads, landing pages, and images need to thumb-friendly, sized correctly, and easy to navigate. Don’t ask for too much information because typing on a phone is much more cumbersome than typing on a computer.
Millennial Characteristic: Millennials are impatient.
What it means to you: You need to plan ahead to overcome one of the most talked about millennial characteristics by eliminating the obstacle of waiting. Millennials don’t have the patience to sit and wait, so provide them with something to do during your event whenever there is downtime, whether that is registering for your event, or waiting in line to enter your event. As an event maker, remember that Millennials have their phones on them at all times, and use this to your advantage. Engage with Millennials through their phones via social media or another creative way so that during those moments where they may have to wait an extra minute or two, they have something to do.
Millennial Characteristic: Millennials are optimistic and hopeful.
What it means to you: Despite growing up through difficult economic times, Millennials are more optimistic about the future than other generations. Their hopeful disposition makes them more likely to go out and participate in social events as they have confidence and trust in the future state of their economic positions.
Millennial Characteristic: Millennials want experiences and to share them with friends.
What it means to you: According to research, 78% of Millennials would rather spend money on experiences than on things, which is good news for event makers. Events provide a way for Millennials to have an experience and create a memory. They firmly believe the data that suggests “things get worse over time while experiences get better.“ Sharing an experience with friends has a very different meaning now than it used to years ago. While sharing an event with friends still means attending an event, going on a trip, or spending time together with friends, it also means posting a picture on Instagram, uploading a video to Facebook, sharing an update on Twitter, or blogging about an experience. Millennials have turned to social media to share their experiences. Use this information to create a specific hashtag or place where Millennials can share pictures, videos, or write reviews about your event.
Millennial Characteristic: Millennials love to travel.
What it means to you: Combined with craving experiences, Millennials want to travel the world. Keep that in mind as you are planning and marketing your event because Millennials will travel to attend your event. As travel becomes easier and a greater priority to Millennials, your marketing efforts will increase to reach them across the globe. Events are no longer a local affair with Millennials willing to travel near and far for events. As you are marketing your event, remember to keep in mind how your event can enhance the experience of Millennial travelers as they crave unique, sharable experiences.
Event Characteristic: Minimize cost.
What it means to you: Millennials are quite frugal despite wanting to experience so many things in their lifetime. Because of their desire to experience so much and travel the world, they look for affordable events so that they can experience more, instead of paying a high price and experiencing less. This means that your event will have to minimize its cost to appeal to Millennials. Mitra Sorrells of Bizbash suggests event makers may want to “offer discounts, scholarships, social media contests, or virtual experiences” that will encourage Millennials to attend.
Event Characteristic: Transportation friendly.
What it means to you: With Millennials, parking isn’t the problem, easy access to your event is. Event makers need to make sure they are planning their events in areas that are easily accessible for public transportation, bikes, or car sharing services such as Uber and Lyft. Millennials are opting out of buying cars and using public transportation, bikes, or Uber to get around town instead. Millennials see a large price tag associated with cars, and know that they could spend their money on things that matter more to them when they can get around just fine with other modes of transportation. Make sure your event is near a bus or subway stop, and bring plenty of bike racks to your event to provide a safe place for people to store their bikes at your event.
Event Characteristic: Mobile friendly.
What it means to you: Your website isn’t the only place you need to be mobile friendly; your event is too. Millennials love their smartphones. Provide wifi at your event and publicize it to draw in positive raves from Millennials. Nobody likes wasting data when they don’t have to, and often packed venues provide very slow cell service. If you can provide wifi, it will make sharing pictures, videos, and twitter updates an easier and more enjoyable experience. Another way to win the hearts of Millennials is to provide charging stations at your event. If your event lasts the full day or multiple days, providing charging stations is a must. The bonus of having charging stations isn’t just a one-way street, you, as the event maker, also benefit. If people have battery life on their phones they can share more from your event and provide great free marketing for you.
Event Characteristic: Give back.
What it means to you: Millennials love companies and organizations that give back to the community. Think about brands such as Toms, Warby Parker, and Cotopaxi, which run programs that give a pair of shoes, glasses, or clothes to people in need for every purchase made. Millennials strongly believe that companies have a duty to give back to society. Now take that information and see how your event can give back to society. Maybe you are a nonprofit hosting a fundraiser and your event or organization already gives back to society. That’s great! However, if your event is strictly for profit, find a way that you can give back to better help the community you live in.
Event Characteristic: Make it interactive.
What it means to you: Isn’t your event already interactive just by the intrinsic nature of being an event? Not quite. With Millennials, being interactive takes on a whole new meaning. When planning events, event makers need to find ways to get Millennials involved from the beginning of planning to the closing of the event. One way to make an interactive event is to invite people to help create the event. Ask Millennials what they want and execute on it. If they helped create the event, it provides a personal connection with them and with your event. They will be more likely to want to attend and share it with friends.
Marketing Characteristic: Use pictures.
What it means to you: Pictures speak louder than words. A lot louder. Event makers need to use high quality, engaging pictures to advertise their event. There is a trend to keep things simple from websites to clothes and this applies for pictures as well. Instagram has become one of the most popular ways to share information, and it is all through pictures and a tiny bit of text. Millennials want to see high quality images that aren’t pushy or in-your-face. They want you to show, not tell. If your picture can capture how spectacular your event is without saying a word about it, you win in your advertising.
Marketing Characteristic: Blocked out banner ads.
What it means to you: Millennials have learned to block out and completely ignore banner ads. They have a knack for knowing what doesn’t belong on their Facebook feed. Make your advertisement natural, like it belongs on Facebook or Instagram. Event makers need to be wary of posting banner advertisements for Millennials because many of them get ignored. Many more event makers are posting advertisement in the Facebook Newsfeed, which is a more natural place for sharing relevant information. As you do so, you’ll see more clicks on your advertisement.
Marketing Characteristic: Be authentic.
What it means to you: Don’t be sneaky, but be genuine. Millennials will sniff out and ignore any messaging or advertising that doesn’t belong. Don’t try and trick them into wanting to go to your event, but rather be honest, open, and human with Millennials. They want to connect with you and your event, so don’t scare them away by being corporate. Millennials don’t want to be sold. Instead, if you make your event exciting, interesting, educational, good natured, and an experience that they will want to share with others, it will speak naturally to them. Inform and educate them, don’t try and hide information about your event.
Marketing Characteristic: Listen.
What it means to you: Traditional one-way advertising isn’t the best way to sell anymore. Social media has changed how you talk to and communicate with your customers, and it is no surprise that Millennials make up the largest demographic of people actively using social media. David Meerman Scott, author of The New Rules of Marketing and PR discusses how social media has changed the game from traditional interruption marketing to two-way conversation based marketing. Having a constant social presence where you read, listen, and respond to what people are saying about you is one of the best forms of marketing to Millennials. It may be more time consuming, but it also has great effects. When you develop relationships with your potential attendees, they are going to think of your event when the time comes.
Marketing Characteristic: Make friends with bloggers.
What it means for you: Almost three-fourths of millennials do online research before buying a product or service according to Bloomberg Business. That means that they are checking and double checking to make sure your event is fit for them. Millennials read reviews, ask friends, and turn to trusted bloggers to find out more information about you and your event. Traditional marketing suggests you spend lots of money to advertise repeatedly to get people interested about your event, but a simpler, less expensive option exists. Make friends with bloggers and journalists. When people research your event, they are going to look at unbiased opinions to see if it is right for them. If content exists online about your event from local newspapers, online bloggers, or trusted resources, Millennials will make their buying decision based upon what these writers have to say about you. If you leave a good impression with bloggers and journalists, they will have good things to say about your event.
- Colin is a Creative Director at SpinGo. He is a Pay-per-click and Search Engine Marketing expert who is committed to placing ads in front of the right people, at the right place, at the right time. He is Skilled in segmentation, audience creation, and campaign optimization.