1. Connect with Millennials. It doesn't matter how you do it, but you'd better find a way. Whether it's your deodorant brand sponsoring a cheerleading competition or your Internet start-up sponsoring a conference, human connection is still vitally important.
2. Brand, brand, brand. I say this every day a thousand times: brands matter. We hear that Millennials are fickle, and they're not brand loyal. Yes, this is true. But brands still matter. Would a Millennial man rather rock no name sneakers or Converse? My bet is on Converse. I'd raise that bet even higher for the hybrid that is Converse for Target.
3. Impact their lives. It's not enough to connect with Millennials via a platform they love or to create strong brands. How are you impacting their lives? Brands like Pepsi understand this. Instead of funneling millions into a traditional advertising campaign, it used its money to create an impact in local communities.
4. Understand what Millennials want. This is so much easier than it seems. Don't allow your director of research to be the keeper of all secrets. Spend a day immersed with Millennials. Take some time to see how they live, and figure out where your product fits in their lives.
5. Engage with Millennials. Millennials love marketing, and they certainly love brands. Allow them to participate in this process with you. We live in a world of buzz. Millennials who love your product are your biggest fans. Figure out how to engage with them.
6. Create products Millennials want. It seems so simple, but people create stupid, useless stuff everyday. The recession has forever changed this generation. Now, they want value and luxury for the same dollar. They don't have money to waste on a product they don't love.
7. Utilize every platform available to you. Please listen carefully: print is not dead. TV is not dead. All forms of media are alive. Millennials are bombarded with hundreds of messages before they even reach their first class of the day. Why would you ever cut your chances of communicating with them? They are everywhere, and your messaging should be everywhere as well.
8. Realize that you don't have all of the answers. As marketers, we think we do. We have research, we have resources, we have cool products to market. But a big ego is just the ingredient needed for an epic, major fail. I experienced this personally in 2010 when I helped a client launch a brand for teen girls. Needless to say, it didn't go well. Why? Because I spent the majority of my time trying to explain to my client that we didn't, in fact, know more than they did about what they wanted out of this particular product.
9. Solve problems. The ideas that are really making big money solve problems. Want to look great but not spend $100 on a party dress? Go to Forever 21. Want the ultimate skinny jean that won't break the bank? Head to Uniqlo. The brands that are rocking it through the recession are winning for a reason. They're really well-branded problem-solvers.
10. Have fun. There have been so many studies and articles published about Millennials lately. With so much doom and gloom out there, we forget that Millennials just want to have fun and enjoy life. They are attracted to brands that permeate the same message. You may think you're selling the world's most boring product, but we all need boring products, too. I don't know the last time I thought Tide was uber-sexy, but my washer needs it. I love those commercials, and I love how I feel watching them. It's like a washing party I wasn't invited to. At the end of the day, treat your product like the most exclusive VIP party that every Millennial should crave an invite to. The VIP host might cost a bit extra, though.