Best-Kept Secrets: Marketing to Millennials as Parents

Meet the writer: Karen Pieper

Hi, I'm Karen! I've been in the industry for 21 years and can't wait to share my perspective on all things direct mail. I'm currently the Digital Marketing Manager at Letter Jacket Envelopes and deal with tasks from managing the website, facilitating conversations with customers, and much more!

“Marketing to Millennials”—you’ve been hearing it for the past ten years. Is there anything new under the sun to say? Well, yes! Because Millennials have grown up. They’re still buying faux-vintage denim, but now they’re also looking into home loans, debt consolidation, and baby strollers.

Marketing to Millennials as Parents

The biggest change to hit Millennials is parenthood. This doesn’t mean they’ve ceased to think, interact, and purchase like Millennials. But it can change or intensify what catches their attention. So if your target audience is either parents or Millennials, this means shifting your tactics to hit right where young, savvy shopper meets Mom and Dad.

For our second installment of Best Kept Secrets, here are some tips on marketing to Millennial parents.

Keep it real

Marketing to Millennials has always meant authenticity. They don’t tend to have the marketing-weariness of Gen Xers but are still looking for something real. They’re well aware there’s a “man behind the curtain,” and simply want marketers to acknowledge it and not try to snow them.

This is now doubly important as they look for products and programs for their children. They want authenticity for their children as much as they do for themselves, and are careful curators of their lives. Strollers need to work and look good. Food needs to balance affordability with fair trade. Childcare has to be holistic. Millennials are thinking more practically as parents, but it doesn’t mean they are willing to sacrifice quality.

No, but really, keep it real

Millennials tend to give organizations major points for self-awareness because it creates a feeling of openness, honesty, and trust. You know that to market to parents, you have to signal right away that you’re trustworthy. Authenticity flies the “trust” flag for Millennial parents.

But beware! You could see this as business as usual, painting a sheen of “Authentic!!” over an old way of doing things. You might sell more stuff, or get more people into your programs initially, but you’re missing an opportunity. As a marketer or leader, this desire for authenticity is actually a refreshing call to accountability.

With Millennials, there is a measurable marketing benefit to doing the right thing, which is, telling the truth about who you are, what you uniquely offer, and—the hardest part—what your limits are.

Help Millennial parents acknowledge where their limits are, too. They tend to be perfectionistic, hard on themselves, and overly image-conscious.

Seek authentic signals

Don’t fake an identity in order to be hip. Rather, see where any of the below elements tap into a deep part of who you already are and what you want to accomplish. Then harness it in your marketing.

Authenticity for Millennial parents looks like:

  • Financial transparency – Still in debt from school loans and credit cards, they’re now trying to save, buy homes, and raise families. Level with them.
  • Super upfront policies – In fact, level with them about everything. Minimize or eliminate fine print. Be credible, credulous, and earnest.
  • Using real, organic, fair trade, or natural products and ingredients – Don’t give the impression that you do if you don’t!
  • Clarifying corporate identity – What makes you really interesting? Work your quirks.
  • Admitting flaws, limits, and mistakes – Again, Millennials need help doing this themselves!

With Millennial parents, honesty, being down-to-earth, and the acknowledgment of being human will gain more trust than a flawless veneer.

Don’t take yourself too seriously

Humor is very important to Millennials. It not only catches attention but is another sign of authenticity. Millennials are also attracted to optimism and a positive attitude, which humor plays into, and it’s helpful in taking the pressure off of the “perfect” parent: moms encouraged to continue careers and dads encouraged to be present at home, all while staying stylish and happy. Appropriate irony or an occasional touch of silliness, even self-deprecating humor in advertising campaigns, can be a very effective way of saying, “We know who we are. We’re for real. Join us.” Keep trust-building your top priority for Millennial parents.

Use social media to build loyalty

If you want an immediate response to a Facebook message or Instagram post, send it to a Millennial parent. They’re easy to snag by smartphone, and they love the chance to communicate with the world of adults and ideas amidst the world of diapers and dinner planning. Don’t forget: Millennial identity is still tied strongly to personal fulfillment and the assertion of individuality.

Social media is also the new word of mouth, and it is crucial to building brand loyalty with Millennials who are natural loyalists. Don’t neglect social media. Millennial parents use it as a main mode of communication, are often checking it at odd hours (especially if their children are young), use it to communicate about their children, and frequently exchange information about products, services, and organizations.

Stay connected

Parents need connection beyond the family circle to stay sane, and Millennials are more aware than previous generations of the need to take care of themselves. This means you need to stay connected, so you can give them something to connect to. What does this look like?

  • Connecting to other people – Show your human side, and make sure Millennials can get in touch with real people on your team.
  • Connecting to a community – Millennials are natural cause advocates. What is your organization’s vision you want them to share? Put that up front.
  • Connecting to history – History indicates authenticity and can provide a compelling backstory to add interest and show why you’re unique.

Millennial parents, already masters of selection, are more eager than ever to share their opinions, weigh options, and back worthwhile causes. It’s partly a chance to assert their individuality, and partly as a way of seeking the best for their kids and curating a balanced life. Build trust and stay connected with Millennial parents, and you’re reaching one of your most dynamic and creative audiences!

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