September 26, 2014

Millennials make perfect marketers

Inbound 2014 inbound marketing conference

10,000 marketers from all over the world attended Inbound 2014 in Boston.

I spent all of last week in Boston at Inbound 2014. The conference was full of ridiculously smart speakers — Martha Stewart, Malcolm Gladwell and Simon Sinek were all wonderful keynotes. It was impossible to leave a session without being fired up. But I don’t want to go on about how awesome every session was (I’m sure a few other fellow attendees will do that), or how strongly I believe inbound/content marketing is the way to go (that’ll be a separate post), or even how great the beers and bars in Beantown are. I really want to comment on some interesting things I noticed about the people.  

Ten thousand people registered for this conference (it was huge), their average age was 35 (it was young), and they came from everywhere in the world (I’m talking New Zealand to Turkey, to the UK and all over the USA) and held various marketing positions in all types of business. In short, Inbound 2014 was full of Millennials. You know us: the entitled, self-absorbed, sheltered generation. We get a pretty bad rep most of the time.

I met a lot of my fellow marketing Millennials and spoke with them about work and life in general. I came to the conclusion that we make for great marketers. Here’s why:

1.      We love change and want to change the business world.

We thrive on change. We’re always throwing ourselves into new experiences — traveling, creating, reading — and then telling each other what we’ve learned. We’re not afraid to think outside the box and if we aren’t happy with something, we come up with a way to change it.

We take the same attitude toward our work. Marketing is a world of constant change. The way we create and design ads is different, as is the way we share company information, hire, communicate, etc. Trying new tactics to bring in customers doesn’t scare us. It turns us on.

2.      We don’t all think we’re entitled.

Just because we don’t love working 9 to 5 at one job for 35 years doesn’t mean we’re lazy, whiny, spoiled brats. We work our asses off as long as we love what we are doing. And we aren’t content to settle. We keep working long and hard to move up at our jobs. But when we aren’t happy, we move on. I know the general thinking on this is that too many jobs on the resume looks bad. But look at it this way: When we start a new role we bring with us loads of knowledge and experience that are gained through earlier successes and failures.

3.      We know social media gets things done.

I know, we are always on our phones. I’m not saying it’s one of our best qualities, but it does serve some good purposes. We know the power of social media and how to use it for good causes. We’ve raised millions for charities and generated countless leads for businesses. And we know how to use social media to stay connected to the customer. We know how to get in front of people and get our messages heard — and we’re happy to bring that to our jobs.

4.      How the former generations did things isn’t wrong. It’s just different.

Simon Sinek's selfie at Inbound 2014

Selfies were all the rage at Inbound – Simon Sinek takes one of himself and the crowd during his keynote

Generation Xers have a hard time connecting with their new office mates. They’ve had to retrain themselves to use the tools of this new world: Internet vs. encyclopedias, CRMs vs. Rolodex, inbound marketing vs. cold calling. But we Millennials grew up in this world, so these tools aren’t new to us. We’re impatient to push our companies into using new technologies that will cut out time-consuming tasks so we can focus on solving customer problems.

5.      We’re always on.

Electrical outlets are a hot commodity to us! Phones and laptops simply have to stay charged. It was how people at Inbound kept the conference Twitter conversation going, took pictures of the slides during sessions or took pictures of anything at the conference for that matter (#selfies). A lot of the people I met were part of small start-up teams (I can’t stress how many start-up companies were there). We couldn’t stop working just because we were away — we had to turn in blogs, update our sites, call our clients, etc. We don’t stop working, simply because we don’t have to. We can run meetings, scan and send documents to customers, and have brainstorming sessions all via our cells. We don’t have to wait to get into the office the next day to share an idea with our boss or marketing team. We actually are very dependable.

In conclusion, Millennials make great marketers because we get this “technology thing,” know how to handle change, and aren’t afraid to take risks and try new approaches. It’s the only way to stay ahead of the game. If a company isn’t willing to try new things to get its customers’ attention then it’ll get lost in the marketplace.

And the Millennials will move on.

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