How Millennials in the Workplace Are Revolutionizing Marketing

December 8, 2016 Krystal Overmyer

Millennials in the Workplace

For young marketing professionals, a simple phrase might define their marketing approach: out with the old, in with the new.

Today’s new wave of marketers and business leaders aren’t following in the footsteps of their older counterparts. In the eyes of Millennials in the workplace, baby boomers are stuck in the past, holding onto traditional marketing tactics that are quickly losing their effectiveness. Switching over to digital—now—is the younger crowd’s imperative. Where older marketers tread lightly, Millennials dive right in.

This age-based discrepancy on marketing tactics isn’t all that surprising. After all, Millennials are tethered to their internet-powered devices and social media networks, and it makes sense that they would readily embrace digital marketing vehicles when creating their own budgets. What’s noteworthy here is the clear difference in overall viewpoint and approach when it comes to marketing—differences that can be downright dramatic.

The Digital Shift (or Lack Thereof)

According to a report from Magisto, Millennials at small- to medium-sized businesses are far outpacing their baby boomer counterparts when it comes to embracing digital content strategy. Millennials in the workplace spend 58 percent of their marketing budgets on digital media, Magisto found, whereas baby boomers spend only 14 percent. In other words, Millennials are three times more likely than boomers to spend more than half of their media budget on digital.

Millennials in the workplace marketing

These differences are echoed when it comes to mobile spend. Nearly half of Millennials allocate the bulk of their budgets to mobile; boomers allocate just 10 percent. On social media, Millennials are also more active. Sixty-eight percent of Millennials rely on social media ads, compared to just 27 percent of boomers.

Millennials are also more video savvy than their older colleagues. Among the 500 small- and mid-sized business surveyed, nearly 90 percent said they currently use or want to use video ads, Magisto reported. Only 40 percent of boomers currently use or want to use video for digital marketing.

Going Digital First

While it’s difficult to parse out exactly why older business leaders are holding off on digital marketing, part of it comes back to how the shift to digital is taking place. Traditional marketing teams may still see digital as an augmentation of their traditional, broadcast-advertising-based pitches, just another tactic to add on to an existing, top-down plan. Millennials, on the other hand, see digital and mobile at the core of all their marketing efforts. Social and video are natural content strategy allies.

Overall, marketers are getting better at riding the digital wave. Digital ad spend will soon overtake TV ad spend for the first time, according to eMarketer. That suggests that marketers, at least in the aggregate, are slowly recognizing digital’s dominance. After all, the amount of time people spend on TV and traditional media is continually decreasing, even as time with digital and mobile rises upward, eMarketer noted in a second report.

Content strategy ad spend

While TV and traditional media will continue to have a place in the marketing budget, marketers who focus too heavily in this area will miss out on a wealth of storytelling opportunities. One of the reasons Millennials in the workplace are more keen to utilize digital marketing tools is because they use these tools to tell their own personal stories, through video, photos, and other shared content. The explosion of digital marketing tools has allowed for an explosion of storytelling opportunities across content types and platforms.

Consider the story of Dollar Shave Club, which burst onto the shaving scene with a widely shared YouTube video. Thirty-something Dollar Shave Club CMO Adam Weber says video has been a core part of the brand’s content strategy and its primary way of storytelling. Interestingly, the digital video came first and the TV spots later. Now the company uses a full array of social platforms to tell its story through video.

“I think in the long term, as you get more into the digital places, the social outlets like YouTube, Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter—those types of venues are great venues for telling stories via video,” Weber told Marketing Land. “Those have become an increasingly larger part of our game plan. They offer a lot of unique capabilities that something like television doesn’t offer.”

Weber continued:

I think most brands go TV first and then adjust accordingly to digital. That’s definitely going to change. You’ve got to design for context first, and most video consumption isn’t happening on television nowadays. I think that’s the first one. It’s about how they create it, and with what channel in mind from the beginning. To enable that, some things have to change. The production and creative relationships you hold have to evolve. You have to be more agile, cost-effective, iterative with your video creation.

Ironically, what comes intuitively to Millennials takes practice for the seasoned, experienced professional. Millennials have an advantage in understanding and incorporating these trends because of their native- or near-native experiences with digital and mobile. Instead of slowly testing the waters, marketers should follow the Millennial approach and dive right in before the digital marketing ship sails without them.

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