Why Content Marketing + Millennials = A Match Made in Heaven

This month is all about the trends that are shaping the future of the content marketing world. This week, we’re focusing on the rise of the Millennial generation … and why that’s terrific news for us content marketers.

Poor Gen Y. Over the last decade or so, Millennials (currently the 18-to-34 age set) have been slapped with labels like “entitled,” “narcissistic,” and even “lazy,” just to name a few.

But guess what? Millennials now make up the largest demographic in the U.S. workforce — and not just in low-paying entry-level jobs. As Gen Ys rise up through the ranks, that means more decision-making authority (for you B2B types) and more disposable income (for you B2C types).

They also have a very different view of marketing from that of previous generations … and that’s wonderful news for content marketers.

Because if you think content marketing resonates with Baby Boomers and Gen Xes, you’re gonna love what it does for you among Millennials. Why?

1. Millennials are “over” traditional marketing.

Gen Ys have been exposed to more marketing than any generation in history … and they’re over it. As a Gen X, I can still recall a time when the ability to advertise was reserved for established brands with big budgets. Not so my Gen Y colleagues.

Most Millennials can’t remember a time without the Internet — some can’t even recall a time without social media — and they’ve seen every possible banner ad, popup, and promoted post possible. They can smell a marketing message a mile away, and they can tune it out before you can say “supplies are limited — call now!”

So, what’s the solution? Content. Only after they get to know and trust you will Millennial audiences even think about listening to your marketing message, and the only way to build that foundation is by delivering value-driven content on a consistent basis. It had better be good, it had better be useful, and had better not be a thinly veiled sales pitch.

2. Millennials expect transparency.

Millennials grew up in a world of Photoshop, where anyone with a computer and some basic skills could make themselves look thinner, younger, and drop-dead gorgeous — even if they were, y’know, not.

Gen Ys also grew up in an online world, where any yahoo with a computer and a modem could create a slick website and claim to be the greatest thing since sliced bread — even if the “company” amounted to one barely-employed “consultant” living in his mom’s basement.

So it’s no wonder that when brands come on with their ad-agency-designed, branding-department-approved, focus-grouped marketing messages, Millennial audiences respond, hands firmly on hips, “Yeah, but who are you … really?”

Again, the solution is content. Content marketing done well answers that question and shows who you really are. You share your story — yes, including the failures — the names and faces of your people, your values, your principles. You illustrate that story with un-retouched photos and videos. And you speak in a voice that doesn’t sound like a press release.

3. Millennials are all about relationships.

Millennials are the Facebook generation, having grown up following their friends — and their favorite brands — via social media on a daily basis.

With Millennial audiences, it’s not about having that one viral video or blog post. It’s not about that one witticism that got retweeted 3,642 times or that photo that got favorited by Lady Gaga.

It’s about relationships — relationships built through conversation over time.

When marketers put down the bullhorn and pick up the telephone (figuratively speaking), they put themselves in a position to rock the Millennial market. These folks don’t want to see your marketing messages blasted over and over again. They want to get to know you — and they want you to listen to them. All that takes time, and brands who are willing to commit over the long haul will be the biggest winners.

A content marketing program that not only delivers value-based content consistently, but also encourages engagement and community building, is poised to gain fans, advocates, and yes, paying clients among Millennial audiences. We need to get out of the campaign business and get into the relationship-building business if we’re going to survive, let alone thrive, in the world our Gen Y brethren are creating.

OK, your turn: How is your brand engaging Millennial clients and prospects through content marketing? Tell us about it in the Comments — we’d love to hear from you!