My generation has a bit of a bad rep.

Or at least that’s what you’d assume after reading this article from PR Daily. We’ve been labeled as self-involved and overly entitled, but perhaps these over generalizations about my generation are why marketers are struggling to figure out how to appeal to us. And with a purchasing power of $170 billion per year, we’re a demographic you want to appeal to. So here are some tips on how to market to millennials from a millennial herself.
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Your marketing plan should in no way involve Snooki.

Contrary to what MTV and AdAge would have you believe, the MTV reality star is not a millennial icon. The article, titled “Want to Reach the Millennial Market? Start with Snooki,” advises marketers to look to reality stars and “edgy” content to connect with a media-obsessed generation, but they have it wrong. Ironically, the article also mentions that millennials crave authenticity, but with her fake tan and lack of a legitimate talent, Snooki is far from authentic.

So what works?

My first suggestion: Beyonce. When in doubt, Queen B, an example of an authentic influencer, can do no wrong. However, if your advertising budget does not extend that far, there are other options. And here’s a hint: it’s not Snooki.

First of all, know who the influencers are for the consumers of your product. The millennial generation is a diverse group with a wide-range of interests. An influencer for one group may not work well for another, and it’s important to pick the right one for your brand. Clothing retailer Madewell (J.Crew’s hipper, younger sister) was successful in this when they hired style maven Alexa Chung to guest design and be the face of the brand. The result? The line selling out and the retail site crashing on the day of release.

Just as influential as the celebrity endorsement is the blogger. In fact, millennials are more likely to rely on advice from strangers on the internet than their own friends and family. Yes, really. This means that digital word-of-mouth is key, and a good word from a popular blogger can do wonders for your brand.

We’re smarter than you think we are.

We know when we’re being marketed to, and we know when brands are trying too hard to “get with it.” Case in point: these cringe-worthy tweets from brands trying to stay relevant on social media. Having an online presence is a good step toward engaging millennials, but it has to be done right.

There are some brands that do get it right. Free People’s instagram and Red Bull’s youtube channel are some examples of brands utilizing social media successfully. The key to this is creating creative and engaging content for your brand’s social media sites. Don’t “do social” just because everyone else is “doing social.” It can be a powerful tool if done well, and millennials will embrace a brand’s successful social media campaigns.

Yes, we’re a little media-obsessed, and I’ll even admit to watching an episode or two of The Jersey Shore, but don’t let over generalizations inhibit your marketing campaigns. In short, millennials appreciate witty, humorous, and original marketing just like you do.

Oh, and hey baby boomers, remember when YOU guys were the “me” generation?

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