The Secret to Making Millennials Fall in Love with Your Brand

Wondering how to get Millennials to bond with your brand? There's been much discussion over
this elusive generation, and it's clear they are unlike any previous generation when it comes
to their relationship with brands. Indeed, it's time to toss out that dusty marketing rulebook and
explore their world. It's definitely one worth exploring as Millennials purchasing power is estimated to be, according to ComScore, $170 billion.

Being a good explorer means getting to the third date--fast. First dates are all about quantitative analysis; you diligently go through a list of questions, and it's all very proper. Second dates might go a little bit deeper; now you know the person across the table isn't an axe murderer, so you ask an unplanned question or two. But, the best third dates are when you jump into bed with them and take it all off.

It's clear most marketers don't do third dates very well. They prefer to keep a barrier between
themselves and real people. But that won't fly with Millennials. If you want them to care about
your brand, you'll have to get to know them intimately (at least, metaphorically). Here's how:

Get Out of the Zoo and into the Jungle

Want to learn how a lion hunts? There's only one thing to do: get out of the zoo and into the
jungle. The same is true with Millennials. Focus groups just won't cut it with this group. They
are far too smart and far too cynical of marketers to be bothered with sitting in a room, going through the motions of answering boring and often irrelevant questions about their generation. Frankly, for many of this generation, it just pisses them off that brands want to study them...not get to know them.

Personally, I'd rather interact with real people -- not respondents -- on their turf, not mine. It's
important if you want to get to the truth. We call it "eXploring" and have been doing it for some time now: we hang out, babysit, flip burgers, wash hair--whatever is important to them. We reach out through our personal networks, never using recruiting facilities, nor will we ever pay for their time. We build a rapport so that the conversations evolve naturally, encouraging our new friends to take us where they want to go instead of us guiding the discussion. Ultimately what we get is the truth: the truth of what is important to them. Not answers to the questions we wanted to ask.

Make It Experiential

In the past, it was always about brands talking at people and sending out simple, repetitive
messaging. But because of the way Millennials constantly interact with tech and social
networking, they are literally inundated with messaging. Some say they are immune to it. It's like they all have mental spam-blockers to help them filter (and ignore) the avalanche.

But what is able get through to them is first-hand experience. They want to feel your brand--not hear it. They want to interact with it, play with it, pass it on and discuss it with their friends. They want to understand what it stands for and how it can make their lives better. And it's your
job to help them do it.

Think Short Term

Millennials love to experience everything without committing to anything. Can you really blame
them? Historically, marketers have been obsessed with getting customers early and generating
enough brand loyalty to keep them forever.

But with Millennials, we've had to rethink our relationship. Put your brand in their hands short
term, and they will keep you in their repertoire. Give them an opportunity to interact with it right
now, without asking for a long-term commitment.

Let them rent your product for a weekend. Visit your store without pressure. Speak to your
experts without commitment. Ignore the contract; let them play, touch and feel.

To connect with this generation, stop trying to trap them. Instead, be confident enough to let
them touch your brand short term, knowing that if they love it, they will come back.

Stop Talking and Start Listening

If your goal is to create a good relationship with Millennials, it might be a good idea to shut up
once in a while and really listen to their point of view. Your close friends do that; they let you
talk. They listen to what you need.

Traditional marketing is about talking at. In today's world, you need to take the time to sit back and listen. This generation is eager to share -- eager to tell us what's important to them. All we have to do is sit back and listen, taking the time to figure out how to fit into their lives and give them something they need rather than persuade them about something we want to sell. If you can address a need or desire that Millennials have, they'll do the heavy lifting for you. They will become your advocates. Bottom line: Stop selling to them, and they will start selling on your behalf.

Let Your Brands Loose

The best brands have it. Apple has it, Nike has it and Trader Joe's definitely has it. We need to
do a better job of letting our brands loose. Let them have some character. Some tension. Some
fun. Brands with depth of character are irresistible.

With so many more channels than traditional media, there is an opportunity for brands to create
layers or depth of character--in other words, to be much more interesting. Most marketers want
to control their brand's personality, sticking to a very limited range of core values. But in the real
world, a great person has core values, plus stretch points in their persona that create tension and--frankly--make you want to hang out with them more often. So don't be afraid to expose a bit of yourself. When it comes to Millennials, give a little, and you might just get a lot.