Make It An Event!

Marketing to Generation Y has become a cluttered, complex conundrum that has left many marketers with their hands in the air and their dollars unwisely spent. The landscape is unwieldy and, as we know, the Gen Y target is elusive. How to guarantee that your message will be heard by this influential group?

Make it an event!

The largest generation to date, Gen Y is the most active, both socially and physically. They gain inspiration from each other and strive to have their voices heard, their ideas expressed. They want to be part of the community and contribute to the world around them. They are activators and expressionists, who collectively evangelize and inspire change.

One of the most effective ways to capture this energy and leverage it for your brand is through event marketing, focused on the passion points of this generation. This can provide a clear pathway for success that can then be leveraged and used as a springboard for deeper conversation and social media outreach.



There are numerous ways for brands to get involved with event marketing that will not only hit their target but also are cost effective. The most important thing to think about is staying true to your brand while aligning with Gen Y's passions. Executive coach and author Bea Fields recently listed in a post some of the best areas to find this audience:

  • Concerts (Gen Y loves live music.)
  • Extreme sporting events (skateboarding, snow boarding, BMX)
  • Movies (mainstream as well as art-house)
  • Hiking events (They love the outdoors.)
  • Video games and video-game competitions (Cyber Athlete Professional League, GameCaster, Global Gaming League)
  • Mashups (Weather Bonk, Where's Tim Hibbard, Y! Mash, Sims on Stage)
  • Social networking sites (Facebook, MySpace, Second Life,, Digg)
  • Tattoo parlors (36% of them have at least one tattoo)

This is just a smattering of the ways to begin your campaign but you can, of course, always develop events of your own. Because Gen Y cares about everything from authenticity to having quality time with friends, the range of events that appeals to this group is especially varied.

Gen Y wants to be out there and involved -- be it for charity, the environment, personal betterment or other causes. Use events as a way to not just reach Gen Y but to extend your brand messaging and reinforce your brand values. For instance, if your company's values are strongly tied to improving the environment, consider building out a series of local events that raise money or develop an awareness for all things green.

Leverage social media to promote the events and use Gen Y evangelists to blog, tweet and generate excitement about the experience. As we have seen in the social media space, Gen Y is more than happy to help promote a brand that aligns with their values and that they consider authentic. Use offline events to prompt an online experience.

This is a generation that doesn't simply want to be connected; they long to be part of something bigger, to have a voice that resonates in the larger chorus of ideas and sentiments that they share with their peers. An event, whether it's an online campaign or a live gathering, has the potential to galvanize, tapping and underscoring Gen Y's clearly defined values as it heightens awareness of a brand or cause.

When it comes to reaching Gen Y, a happening can make it happen.

1 comment about "Make It An Event! ".
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  1. Byron Wolt from Speak to Students, September 24, 2010 at 4:39 p.m.

    Great article! Young people have grown up being "sold" things. They all have a memory of the toy that looked SO COOL in the commercial not actually being cool when they got it home. Traditional sponsorship - like having a banks name on a high school scoreboard certainly gets the eyeballs of the desired market but really doesn't do anything for the spectators (even if the local team is winning the scoreboard does NOT get the credit!)

    However, sponsoring an event that is popular is giving something of value - entertainment, thrills, etc - and connects the product with a positive memory and really does do wonders for business today AND tomorrow.

    However, there are other ways to truly connect with young people but it does require non-traditional thinking to market to youth. I help sponsors reach the coveted student population by creating presentations that are of interest to students AND the teachers who control access to their students. In school presentations are not nearly as exciting as concerts or extreme sports, but I create personal and up close connections by offering relevant information they can use today and in their future. If nothing else, I get them out of class for an hour which creates a positive impression as well as give them ways to receive more information on an opt in basis including social media.

    Again, thanks again for your GREAT article.

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