In my last blog post, I mentioned that I’m actively studying the Millennial generation, and how to market to them. In doing so, I’ve learned some interesting things. To catch you up to speed, here are a few critical findings:
Millennials actually like print and mail communications; they prefer to read from a printed page over reading from a screen; they like companies that care about the world and its inhabitants; they share socially; they love technology; they appreciate authenticity and personalized marketing experiences; they like to participate in the brand experience; they’re suspicious of the sales pitch; and they value the opinions of others in their marketing decisions.
Now, these are all interesting clues that become tools that we can use in how we communicate with this generation, but if you read that list and think about what you’re sending out, does anything you’re sending actually align with it? These days, as I’m looking at everything from the perspective of “What would a Millennial think of this?” I’m realizing that there are some companies that are not just checking off the items on the list—they’re checking them off like a Boss.
Here’s an example of a company that is really doing it right. The TOMS Shoes catalog is called “Journal vol. 3: This is Haiti”
The catalog follows a group of TOMS employees and friends, and they look like they could be your friends (if you’re not over 35). And, yes, they’re wearing TOMS. Always. And as you might expect, there are pages filled with shoes and accessories throughout, but the merchandise becomes secondary or even tertiary to the subject matter.
The catalog is in the “magalog” format, which is a hybrid catalog/magazine mail product. It tells stories of their travels, of the people they met, and gives voices and names (and Twitter handles!) to the group of travelers. However the strongest theme in the catalog is the many ways TOMS is making a difference in the world. Collectively, the message becomes clear that through the support of the TOMS brand, you can make a difference, too.
TOMS has a “One for One” program, where if you buy one of their bags, you can help save a baby’s life through the company’s donation to the Every Mother Counts foundation. TOMS partners with the World Wildlife Fund to save Rhinos. Buying TOMS coffee ensures that water will be available in regions that produce it. They create jobs (creating shoes) in Haiti and they also donate shoes in Haiti. Buy the shoes to support the people who work hard to make them. It goes on and on, but none of it feels insincere. It’s authentic. I’ll admit that by the end of the catalog, I was looking for a reason to buy something—anything. I spent a lot of time with that catalog, and I liked the company when I was done.
TOMS also invites their customers to take photos of themselves creating a better tomorrow, and to upload them on one of many different social platforms with a chance to be featured in a future catalog. You guessed it, they’re building a community and supporting the growth of user-generated content. They have a rewards program, too, which is also a valued benefit.
It’s marketing, but it’s socially conscious, and shareable, and inclusive, and subtle, and pure, unadulterated marketing genius. That catalog is everything Millennials are looking for these days. Oh, and they make quality, stylish products, too. However that part is a given, because there’s no room for mediocrity.
It is important to note that the B2C space is certainly much different than B2B. Not to take anything away from TOMS, but one could argue that it’s easy to get people engaged when you have a sexy consumer product that (young) people like to wear or use. So, the question is, how can businesses in the B2B space engage Millennial customers by translating some of these powerful techniques into marketing strategies that work for them? I guess you’ll have to read my next blog to find out . . .