Contrary to popular belief, millennials do in fact respond to traditional marketing methods such as direct mail. You just have to make sure you’re speaking their language and invoking their values.Characterized as a generation of “digital natives” who are collectively eschewing all traditional methods of communication, media consumption, and consumer behavior, marketers have stressed the importance of adopting digital strategies to reach a millennial audience. Following this advice, companies have been going all in on digital—at the expense of traditional tactics.
That leaves a rich opening of opportunity for companies who are willing to dig beneath the surface level characterization of millennials to understand what truly matters to them and how to apply that in direct mail marketing.
While it’s true that millennials celebrate technology, message matters. A USPS study revealed that 42% of millennials actually prefer direct mail political messages over online messages. The secret to successfully marketing to millennials lies not in digital vs traditional, but in understanding what they value and tailoring your marketing efforts accordingly.
Internalize and implement the following values in order to target your direct mail campaigns for millennial audiences.
Millennial Values & How They Relate to Direct Mail Marketing
This list is in no particular order, except for this first one. Above all else, millennials value authenticity. Deals and special offers matter less to millennial consumers than authentic messaging. Your direct mail campaigns should be an authentic portrayal of your brand, and you should demonstrate willingness to stand behind your product.
Take the example of Casper, a mail-order mattress brand that has grown into a $100 million company in just two years. Their secret to success? They offer a 100-day trial period for their mattress. Sleep on it for 100 nights and if you don’t love it, send it back for a full refund. That shows willingness to stand behind the quality of their product. And that willingness is perceived as authenticity. They’re not trying to trick you into a purchase that sounds too good to be true; they believe in the quality of their product so much that they’re willing to give you a full refund if you don’t agree.
Millennials tend to prefer companies who make social responsibility an element of their mission. Some companies go as far as to make social change a linchpin of the business model, such as TOMS and Warby Parker, who each donate one of their product to someone in need for every purchase made. Or bra company Third Love, who offer a trial period like Capser (standing behind the quality of their product), and donate any bras returned after the 30-day trial period to women in need.
You don’t have to rework your business model to demonstrate social awareness. Even something as simple as choosing to print your direct mail piece on recycled paper will show your recipients that your company feels a sense of social responsibility. Another option is to select a charity whose mission aligns in some way with your own company values and pledge to make a certain donation for each response to your mailer.
While millennials hope to make a collective difference in the world through social change and community organization, they also prize personal freedom. Treat your direct mail campaigns as an opportunity to empower your customers, making them feel individually seen and valued.
According to a recent Gallup poll, 95% of millennials age 18-29 say they feel positively about receiving a personal mailing. Use targeting and audience segmentation to create personalized, custom mailers and market the qualities of your product that will increase the independence, flexibility, and freedom of choice in their lives.
A good example of individuality in action is Coke’s “Share a Coke” campaign. Coke packaged their 20-ounce bottles with 250 of the most popular names amongst millennials, creating a truly personalized product.
Yes, one of the values that matter most to millennial shoppers is value itself. They are less interested in getting the cheapest possible price for an item and more interested in finding the product that provides the best value.
Communicate value in your direct mail campaigns by clearly outlining the product benefits. Identify any special features, highlight ways that your product is an improvement over competitors, and above all, clearly depict how your product will solve problems in your buyer’s life. Demonstrate the practical value of your product by illustrating how it solves a real-life problem more effectively, more efficiently, or more conscientiously than competitors. Or all of the above.
For example, Dollar Shave Club’s success is derived from the cost and convenience of their products, as compared to buying razors in the store. Their marketing emphasizes these benefits, clearly conveying the value of their products.
While millennials trust direct mail more than many marketers give them credit for, they are ultimately digital natives. That doesn’t mean you should replace direct mail efforts with digital strategies, but look for opportunities to integrate direct mail and digital initiatives.
Consumers are actually 10-30 times more likely to take action in response to direct mail advertising than they are in response to a digital initiative. Use direct mail to make contact and introduce your company, product, or offer, then ask your recipient to take action using digital. For example, send recipients to an online landing page or prompt them to redeem an offer by scanning a QR code.
We’ve just spent this post outlining some of the values that characterize millennial consumers. However, don’t make the mistake of treating millennials as a uniform group. Millennials are a massive generation, spanning the ages of 21-35 and including over 80 million Americans. While there are certain overarching values that many millennials share—such as those discussed in this blog—there are just as many ways in which they differ from one another.
A single 22-year-old living in central Boston is very different from a 33-year-old married parent of two living in suburban California. Do your homework to segment your audience and get to know your best customers. Remember, personalization is one of the overarching values that millennials share. The more customized your direct campaigns can be, the better they will perform with millennial audiences.
Now that you know what values your millennial prospects hold dear, you’re ready to start marketing (and mailing) to millennials. Download our 12-page USPS Postal Rate Guide to make sure you’ve got everything you need to make your next campaign a success, including current rates, design guidelines, tabbing information, and more.