Millennials are not only the future of business, we are the present.
This post is part of the #YPSportsChat Blog Series! This series will give young professionals an inside look at the intricacies of the sports business world and advice on how to navigate it.
We are one-fourth of the population. We wield about $1.3 trillion in annual buying power. About 85% of us own a smart phone. Those of us with those smart phones touch it on average 45 times a day. Collectively, as a whole, we consider our friends the most credible source of product information. We are the largest generation in United States history, topping even the Baby Boomer Generation. Millennials are not only the future of business, we are the present.
As a Millennial entering into the workforce, however, I noticed that my generation consistently is spoken about with a negative tone. I have heard and seen things that view my generation as a disobedient child that needs to be set straight. Despite the criticisms, though, the reality is that Millennials are not going to all simply disappear. In fact, this generation is entering the prime spending years. Those born between 1980 to 2000 are about to run the economy and reshape spending. As such, it is worth finding the value Millennials bring to the workplace and to marketing.
Let me give a caveat before I continue: Millennials do not have all the answers, and any generalized characterization of a generation is never going to encompass every individual born to that generation. However, Millennials as a whole are more connected in a globalized context and are better equipped to understand and relate to others within our generation.
I am constantly on my smartphone. My iPhone is basically on my hip 24/7. I have talked with countless Generation X or Baby Boomers who view such phone usage as a negative thing. Our use of smartphones “disconnects us” from society and those immediately in front of us. While that observation does have some validity, the prior generations did not grow up with smartphones, and thus, the generations have a significantly different perspective from significantly different experiences. I would argue that the average Millennial today feels connected to everything happening in the globalized world on a much deeper level than our parents or grandparents because of their experience with instantaneous information provided by computers and the internet. So why are we shamed for that?
Instead of seeing this connectivity as a negative, why not see it as an opportunity for brands to produce content and have people feel connected 24/7 to their product?
Look at the Twitter profile of the Cleveland Indians’ Triple A affiliate, the Columbus Clippers. They have, as of May 11, tweeted over 42.7 thousand times and liked over 12.5 thousand tweets. For those that love statistics, that is about 5.3 thousand tweets and 1.5 thousand likes a year over the last 8 years. Those tweets range from touching on real-world issues to game promotions to interacting with fans. They have, as a Millennial might say, “fire Twitter game.” Importantly, the organization is connecting with fans in a way that many brands are still trying to figure out. Millennials understand such social media outlets intimately, because we grew up with it. We saw the evolution of AOL Instant Messenger to Twitter; the move from MySpace to Facebook; and the change from mere photo albums to the filters of Snapchat or Instagram. As such, we can spot trends quicker and find ways to incorporate brands into those trends. This talent is something we, as Millennials, possess and need to be willing to showcase.
As the data about the influence of social media on marketing is collected, the giant companies are starting to realize the importance of Millennials for the future of their companies’ successes. It is prevalent wherever you look. You can go into Barnes & Nobles and find a book on how to “Market to Millennials.” You can find countless articles online. You can bring in speakers or watch TED talks on the subject. However, most companies have the best resource right at their fingertips.
It’s us. The answer for how to reach the Millennials is Millennials. We think like our generational peers, and we work for you, the older generations. We want to contribute and feel like we are part of the big picture. Let us be that part. We think differently from the older generations. Give us a proper voice where we can really let our ideas and experiences shine. Millennials have a unique way of thinking and, given the chance, can add value to the conversation and longevity to the company willing to listen.
That being said, Millennials, we need to start stepping up and creating those conversations. We Millennials can bring a lot to the table NOW. Not in 10 years, when we have the appropriate “experience,” but right now. Decisions that are being made today are going to have the biggest impact on OUR lives, not our bosses’ lives. Those bosses will be retired, sipping mojitos by a beach by the time the impact of some decisions are truly being felt. Millennials need to feel empowered to go, stand up, and voice their opinion. Then, take it a step further. If you are told no, ask why. Ask for an answer. Don’t be afraid of the inevitable rejection that will come at points. But, if you can at least get your voice to be heard with your team, athletic department, or company, you are helping them think of our network, our generation. While we may not be the big donors or season ticket holders yet, we will be; and in the meantime, we are still the ones with the time, energy, and disposable income wanting to find a good time on a Friday night.
So, my Millennial friends, don’t be afraid to talk with your boss about ideas to reach out to Millennials. Be ready to show how you can incorporate multiple different departments in your marketing plans or how your sales plan includes relying on the creation of a trending social media post. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your network (professional and personal) through social media. If you don’t already, start networking through social media. (Start with YPSportsChat… it’s 100% worth it!) The impact we can have now is incredible. Being a Millennial is not a curse, but a gift. It is our ticket into the conversation. Use it. Embrace it. SnapChat It. Love it. And, never forget to take that insta pic of your dinner. It is, and always will be, straight fire.
My name is Ryan Phillips. I am currently a Marketing Coordinator for the University of Dayton Athletic Department. If you want to connect with me, please feel free. Find me on Facebook, Twitter (@rjphillips09) or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you want to look at some of the sources of information I used for this piece, the URL’s are listed below:
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