Stories (Not Ads) Help Brands Connect With Millennials

 In Content Marketing

Intuitively it makes sense: the sooner a consumer is hooked on your brand — loyal to their core — the greater the lifetime value of that relationship. More years means more dollars, right?

That straight line is certainly the case for some companies. There are others, however, for which the value in reaching millennials is far more nuanced. There are companies that seek to cultivate deep, personal, long-term relationships. That goal and how to reach it quickly and at scale makes today’s marketers sweat. Everyone wants millennials’ attention, loyalty and ultimately their dollars. Earning those takes consistency and consideration. I have found that content marketing is at the heart of both of those keys to success with this generation.

Brand marketers would be wise not to underestimate the importance of being in the right place at the right time with the right message to reach millennials. If your company is heavily targeting the group — like Converse or Red Bull — you already know that millennials are everywhere online today and they’re accessing and interacting with your corporate brand from countless devices.

Marketers are smartly investing in content to reach millennials whenever and wherever they may be, via their preferred channel and with messaging that resonates.

In a recent study, my company, NewsCred, surveyed about 500 U.S. millennials and found that 47 percent open up company communications most if not all of the time. They’re listening and receptive. And 62 percent of millennials surveyed agreed that the content that they read and see online (on websites, social media, in the news) from a company makes them feel more connected and loyal to its brand.

They’re willing to engage and they know that when they do, it’s moving the moving the needle on marketers’ goals. Ensuring that your content marketing meets millennials with speed and scale at the moment it counts the most guarantees a long and healthy relationship. If you’re not consistent, a company will be there that is and will eat away at your share of the millennial pie.

Many marketers are probably thinking, How do I know what the right message is for each millennial? With data and the media constantly barraging marketers with tales of millennials being finicky and uncommitted, it’s easy to think that bothering to treat them as individuals, rather than en masse, will not deliver the return on investment you seek.

That couldn’t be further from the truth and content marketing is the key to this puzzle. NewsCred’s survey discovered that millennials want to be spoken to like the unique people that they are; 64 percent of the millennials studied said that they respond more positively to brand messages that are tailored to their cultural interests (music, movies, sports, entertainment) and 62 percent felt similarly about messages that are useful and help them solve their unique everyday problems.

Achieving content personalization at the scale of millennials’ content consumption is daunting. How can you possibly scale to give everyone a unique brand experience. Yet, if you take the time to deliver content that users can care about, 50 percent of the time the survey respondents said they would share it on social media. It’s worth it to invest the time in the content that will make a connection with millennials early and make it deep.

The survey found that millennials significantly prefer company brands that have a great product (77 percent) and that they already know and trust (69 percent) and nearly a third said they’re more likely to buy a product if the brand’s content isn’t sales-y and rather feels authentic and truthful.

This data underscores the importance of developing a relationship early with millennials so that they can grow to know and trust your brand — even before they may really need what you’re selling. I think this is especially true for companies that see sales around a reason or life milestone (diapers, diamond rings, homeowners’ insurance).

If you’re cultivating an authentic relationship, one not based on the constant state of selling, you’ll reap the rewards. Authenticity comes from thoughtfulness and treating millennials the way they want to be perceived: unique, decisive, and authentic.

See the infographic on the survey results we prepared. 

And then check out these 10 Proven Ways For Brands To Connect With Millennials.

This article originally appeared on Entrepreneur.

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Michael Brenner
Michael Brenner is the CEO of Marketing Insider Group, former Head of Strategy at NewsCred, and the former VP of Global Content Marketing at SAP. Michael is also the co-author of The Content Formula, a contributor to leading publications like The Economist, Inc Magazine, The Guardian, and Forbes and a frequent speaker at industry events covering topics such as marketing strategy, social business, content marketing, digital marketing, social media and personal branding.  Follow Michael on Twitter (@BrennerMichael)LinkedInFacebook and Google+ and Subscribe to the Marketing Insider.
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