WORK-LIFE BALANCE / JUN. 09, 2015
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How Millennials Can Ride the Wave of Brand Cluelessness

How do you reach them?

As the market changes and the bulk of spending shifts from one demographic to another, brands are often left asking this basic question over and over again. For example, a 2013 Nielsen Company study, “African-American Consumers: Still Vital, Still Growing,” found that the buying power for the over 40 million U.S. African-Americans will increase significantly, with a projected growth of $1.1 trillion by 2015.

The problem, however, is that coupled with these extraordinary statistics “most mainstream advertisers are not inclusive, do not include African Americans in media and marketing plans and have underestimated the market size,” C. Daniel Baker, a Black Enterprise contributor, said in response to the Nielson study. In addition to reaching diverse minority audiences, brands are struggling with connecting with Millennials.

In her 2012 article, “Millennials Want to Party With Your Brand But On Their Own Terms,” Adage contributor, Erin Mulligan Nelson provides an overview of Millennials’ buying power, which “will be the largest consumer generation in history.” In fact, the Gen Y population, aged 17 to 34, will spend more than $200 billion annually starting in 2017 and $10 trillion in their lifetime, according to Nelson.

But the real question here is: How can entry-level Millennial marketers take advantage of those brands that are still trying to figure out how to reach the growing populations of diverse consumers? The following are “3 Tips on How Millennials can Ride the Wave of Brand Cluelessness,” using surfer terms.

See Also: How to Become an Online Marketing Executive in the US

1. Pop-up

“If you’re a surfer or aim to become an accomplished wave rider, you need to learn how to pop up on a surfboard,” says Surfer Today.

Like the move a surfer makes to “rise to a standing position when taking off on a wave,” Millennials can use this critical technique for beginners to launch a career in marketing. It’s a strategy known all too well by 29-year-old Sean Burpee. According to The Wall Street Journal, Burpee had his mind set on creating TV commercials one day. So he enrolled in advertising school with the goal of getting a job with an ad agency. But after a summer internship at BuzzFeed, Burpee was offered an opportunity to get “better waves”.

“I was looking at agencies as well, but BuzzFeed was my No. 1,” Burpee told The Wall Street Journal. “There was absolutely no question.”

In 2013, Burpee had successfully used his internship as a chance to prove himself, and land a full-time job at BuzzFeed. However, it was the fact that advertising agencies today are fighting with other companies to secure younger, “top creative talent” that helped Burpee move up the ranks.

“We are no longer competing just with other advertising agencies like Crispin Porter and BBDO, but now it’s also Facebook, Google, Vice, Maker Studios and other content players,” Bob Jeffrey, non-executive chairman of J. Walter Thompson, an ad agency owned by WPP PLC, told The Wall Street Journal.

In other words, it’s an employee market, and competition is at an all- high. Advertising agencies are desperate, and it’s the perfect time for you to get a job in this growing industry. So update your resume!

2. Snaking

Since there are a lot of Millennials out there vying for a chance to show off their creativity to the companies in Silicon Valley, some “snaking” might be required. The “snaking” technique, says Surfer Today, is the aggressive act of paddling under, around, or over the top of another surfer to get right of way.

That means targeting those struggling brands or advertising agencies and using your creative talents to stand out from other candidates. For example, when General Motors grappled with how to connect with Millennials, they hired the youth brand consultant, 37-year-old Ross Martin, the executive vice president of MTV Scratch, a corporate cousin of the TV network responsible for Jersey Shore.

“Automakers are realizing that if they do not adjust to changing youth tastes, they risk becoming the dad at the middle-school dance,” Anne Hubert, senior vice president at Scratch, who leads its consulting practice and works closely with G.M., told The New York Times.

Instead of the traditional resume, you will need an online portfolio. Most importantly, you will need to show how much you understand the very diverse Millennial population as well as demonstrate your online influence.

3. Paddle Battle

Since many adverting agencies and brands tend to “wipeout” when it comes to engaging Millennials; they are now entering a new “paddle battle.” As a result, they are turning their attention to the next generation of consumers, says Ashley Rodriguez, an AdAge contributor.

“Plenty of advertisers, in fact, were caught off guard by the pace at which technology advanced culture,” Rodriguez added. “And as the cycle of culture continues to speed up with the next generation -- dubbed Generation Z, or sometimes ‘centennials’ because they were born around the turn of the century -- smart marketers are looking ahead and making small, fast bets to avoid losing touch with the next crop of teens.”

When this happens between surfers, the goal is “to get into a curl first and thus gain the right of way,” says Surfer Today. In other words, you must do your market research. Look for trends that will help with your pitch to potential employers.

See Also: 7 Best Free Online Courses For Learning PR and Marketing

In the end, it really is all about using your creative talents to aggressively take advantage of the market. You need to become an expert by learning everything you can about diverse Millennial populations. In fact, you already are because you are one of them. Use this to your advantage when applying for your next marketing position.

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