Millennials seem to be the hot demographic in marketing these days, with many agencies developing youth-focused campaigns for major brands. It’s no wonder why: young adults between the ages of 18 and 34 spend $1.3 trillion annually. However, there’s a fine line between appealing to Millennials and trying too hard to relate to them. Many brands make the mistake of riding the wave of preconceived notions about the demographic and end up achieving an adverse result. (See: any advertising that overuses hashtags or the word “selfie” as an attempt to garner Millennial attention). Thankfully, there are some best practices when it comes to making your brand attractive to a younger demographic:

#1: Tune in to the conversation.
In order to truly get a sense of how Millennials truly feel, you need to investigate on the Internet. Monitor your brand on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Alerts to see what people are saying about your brand and products. By getting a feel of how your brand is perceived on social media, you’ll have a better idea on how to promote it going forward. Remember that this should also be a two-way conversation. Take time to “reward” those who consistently connect on social media with a response.

#2: Mobile marketing is key.
Everyone these days has a smartphone at hand at all times, especially Millennials, who use their smartphones for more tasks than any other demographic. The key to attracting mobile traction is to put emphasis on the experience, not a product or brand. Ensure that your website is optimized for mobile, as graphics-intensive sites tend to load slower and frustrate mobile users.

#3: Choose the right messaging.
Create a dialogue with your customers, and keep opportunities open for them to voice their opinions. Allow features like rating and comments on your website to make it clear that you value public opinion about your brand and your customer service. Regardless of which outlet you choose, keep your messages consistent. Brands that lose their voice and viewpoint can also lose consumer’s trust.

#4: Don’t focus on life stages.
Traditional advertising focuses mostly on life stages – graduating, getting married, starting a family. Millenials have proven that they are a non-traditional generation that doesn’t regard the typical life stage focused advertising the way previous generations have. Given that things like purchasing a home are now less of a goal for more young professionals, consider tailoring your advertising to suit a location-
independent lifestyle. Also consider that the definitions of family and community are vastly different than they were before. “Family” often now includes close friends and “community” doesn’t necessarily exist within the confines of a physical neighborhood. Millennials are more likely to identify with social identities than a specific stage of life.

#5: Flexibility is important.
Whereas previous generations may have been keen on subscribing to monthly memberships, Millennials have become accustomed to the flexibility and convenience of the pay as you go model. According to YouthNation by Matt Britton, this generation’s more unpredictable lives lead them to view monthly memberships as “cumbersome and wasteful.” In the book, Britton cites the success of Barry’s Boot Camp and Soul Cycle as examples of the efficacy of the pay-as-you-go system. This model doesn’t just apply to fitness, as 63% of millenials are choosing to forgo credit cards, and a growing number are choosing “pay-as-you-drive” car insurance. The common thread between these trends is clear – millenials are careful to only spend the money they have, and after growing up amid a disastrous economy, it makes sense. With such concern about employment, debts and paying the bills, make sure your product or service offers flexible payment options – it will pay off for you, too. In fact, Britton cites surveys that report that younger users would actually prefer to overpay during active months in order to not pay during inactive months.

As the Millennial generation approaches an eventual takeover of the workforce, their purchasing power and influence over marketing grows. This means that their lifestyles, need for flexibility and connection to technology will become more important values in advertising to them as well. Marketing your product or service to Millennials doesn’t have to be hard, as long as you keep their specific needs in mind. Is your brand adjusting its strategy to make itself appealing to Millennials?