How To Get Their Attention

Are you sick and tired of Gen Yers not showing you respect? Do you wish there was some way to get through to this generation and motivate them? Well, I have news for you. Gen Y isn't that much different than Gen X or even baby boomers. Standing 80 million strong, Gen Y is looking to be just as successful as you are, but in half the time. It is struggling in this economy just like you and are trying to find ways to stay afloat, despite layoffs.

It is the most-connected generation by far, using text messages more than actual phone calls and instant messaging over talking to you in person. When communicating with anyone, it's really important that you understand the receiver's preference. Understanding the tools that Gen Yers use to communicate with each other is the key for forming those relationships and tapping their networks.

Gen Y was groomed from birth with technology, and its members seek to get a lot of satisfaction from work. They aren't interested in just a day job; they want meaning in their lives. Talking the Gen Y lingo might help you connect with them, but what they really care about is attention and respect. Most Gen Yers are needy and require a lot of mentorship from older generations. With short attention spans, you better be able to send more messages to them in 140 characters or less (think Twitter) and it better be eye catching and compelling.



If you want to market to Gen Y, then create profiles on social networks that its members are already participating with and engage them directly. These social networks can include the leading sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, as well as niche sites and video-sharing sites like YouTube.

Here are some tips to engage members of Gen Y:

  • Listen to them carefully and analyze their behavior.
  • Ask them how they want to be contacted before sending out a mass mailing or poking them on Facebook.
  • Be creative with your marketing because that's the only way you will attract them to your product or company.
  • Reward them with incentives and they'll come knocking on your door because they were raised to feel special by their parents.
  • Develop content they can share because they are already active online and have their own channels of distribution.
  • Recruit them to help you with your marketing to other Gen Yers.

Companies and marketers that can understand this generation will see enormous opportunities now and in the future. Gen Y is bound to take over the entire workforce, so your best bet is to learn how it operates, tap its expertise and station yourself where it is already "hanging out."

Use your best judgment when reaching out to them because any mishaps will result in a negative spiral of bad press online. You cannot avoid Gen Yers because they are everywhere and changing our business world. The smartest thing you can do is engage them honestly, transparently and authentically.

Editor's note: If you'd like to contribute to this newsletter, see our editorial guidelines first and then contact Nina Lentini.

8 comments about "How To Get Their Attention".
Check to receive email when comments are posted.
  1. Rufus Dogg from DogWalkBlog, April 10, 2009 at 12:59 p.m.

    @Dan Most of this is actually crap. GenY is less likely to be on Facebook for anyone except their circle of friends. Because of articles like this, they are suspicious of anyone who is not of the GenY generation and most will not engage based on a Social Media "friendship." GenX and Boomers are more likely to be engaging outside of their generation using SM tools.

    GenY, outside of tech circles and SM, really don't use Twitter either. All their texting is within their closed networks that marketers and other generations just can't break into. While they say that they seek mentorships from older generations, their IRL mentorships involve taking advice from each other, like an episode out of The Hills or The Real World. (

    My experience with GenY has been counter to everything you wrote about in this article. Perhaps if I got out more, but GenYers just won't talk to a geezer like me :-)

  2. Joe Buhler from buhlerworks, April 10, 2009 at 1:29 p.m.

    I might not word it as strongly as @Rufus Dogg - maybe due to being an early Boomer following outdated communications etiquette - but I agree in principle what he says. There's too much written about how to market to and communicate with Gen Y by people who are not of that generation and in my opinion there are too many generalizations about their behavior by any age group. It has much more to do with personal attitude towards social media and communication in general than age or demographics. One thing is evident, the level of resistance towards any blatant marketing speak has never been higher, not only among Gen Y put other groups as well.

  3. Ann Abell from LIme Green Bubble, April 10, 2009 at 1:41 p.m.

    Wow, this post is completely off. For anyone whose been doing their studying like a good little Gen Y or Gen X, then you would have read the research which shows Gen Y brand loyalty comes from what their parents used. Grown up w/ Downey, then Downey it is! Gen Y is also more likely to be persuaded by in store advertising. This generation is most likely to made ad hoc purchasing decisions based on an in store display. But Dan, what you say is Gen Y needs to be treated "special" on FB, Twitter, etc. Why? When the fastest growing age group on SM is 45+.
    Yes, Gen Y has grown up with this technology. Which means, human behavior science tells us habits formed early on are hard to change. Gen Y in high school and college built habits to use social media for communicating with "friends"...not business networking. To make that shift, will be mean changing habits.
    Thus, Dan, your entire post is contrary to what research and behavioral science tells us. Maybe it's just Gen Y fluff?

  4. Rufus Dogg from DogWalkBlog, April 10, 2009 at 2:44 p.m.

    @Joseph I posit that GenY has been coddled too much as it is and when faced with direct and honest feedback, they curl up in a fetal position and develop "issues." We are not doing them any favors by furthering the coddling.

    "Communications etiquette" nowadays relies on social cues this generation simply has not been taught to recognize and will not hear. Start being frank, honest and direct; you'll hurt their feelings, but you'll get their attention.

  5. Jeff Dickey from Omnichannel Marketing Project, April 10, 2009 at 2:47 p.m.

    I think that Gen Y is the first generation of perpetual information seekers that know exactly how to get whatever information they need from whatever sources they believe to be credible. They are the first to have grown up in the world of "information anarchy" and are much more skilled at sorting through the data and coming out the other end with a rational result than prior generations. Advertisers and marketers need to be very aware that any attempts to "relate" to this group will be met with a great deal of apathy, if not disgust. Quite simply, just give them the facts, tell them the brands attributes are and let them come to their own conclusions.

  6. Jim Dennison from DigitalMediaMeasures, April 12, 2009 at 11:46 a.m.

    Is anything in the orig article based on credibel research? Or is this just a blog of Dan's opinion, formed by his own experience?
    Anne Abell makes good points, and actually seems to have research to back it up.

  7. paul myers, April 16, 2009 at 6:40 p.m.

    Yeah, I agree, if you want to market to Gen-Y infiltrate the places the hang out and try to act like one of them. Then create profiles on social networks that members of Gen-Y are already participating with and engage them directly. If that doesn't work, just walk up to them at school or the mall and butt into their conversations. I'm sure they'll welcome you with open arms ;-)~

  8. C. Phillipps from Yoohooville, Inc., April 17, 2009 at 5:26 p.m.

    I guess I'm the oddball Gen Y'er who uses Twitter and has made many business contacts on Facebook and LinkedIn. The only part I found of the article that rang false was "Recruit them to help you with your marketing to other Gen Yers."

    Recruitment efforts will die on contact. People my age hate being recruited for anything and won't do it. Why do you think microvolunteering is becoming so popular? We like to "do good" but don't want to be held responsible for results.

    The next blog is actually filled with worse content. This one actually seems somewhat relevant, although its nothing I haven't heard before.

Next story loading loading..