If you’re in marketing (or HR for that matter) you’ve likely been served a multitude of articles inviting you to learn more about the so-called “millennial mindset”.

And while the “millennial” concept is a loose one at best (replace the word “millennial” with “young person” and you’ll notice that a lot of the same psychographic characteristics still apply) and a poor substitute for real market research, I do believe that businesses should make an effort to understand how their brand and marketing are being interpreted by a younger demographic. This is especially true for businesses in the good ol’ Y-E-G.

What’s So Special About Edmonton?

Edmonton is one of Canada’s fastest growing cities. In 2015, an average of 82 people moved here every single day.

In addition to the city’s high average growth rate, Edmonton boasts a large community of young people. In fact, Edmonton has one of the youngest populations in the country according to the 2014 census which found that almost a quarter of residents are between 18 and 34 years old.

In other words, millennials make up a larger proportion of Edmonton’s population than they do in other Canadian cities.

Who Are Millenials and Why Should I Care?

The Pew Research Centre defines millennials as individuals between the ages of 18-34 in 2015. So what’s so special about this age group despite their great hair and general comfort with technology?

In 2014, Elite Daily surveyed 1,300 millennials on various consumer-related topics and came up with two pretty interesting results:

  1. Millennials aren’t influenced by traditional advertising.

    Only 1% of the survey respondents said that a compelling advertisement would make them trust a brand more. As Forbes put it, “millennials believe that advertising is all spin and not authentic”. (And if there is one thing that a millennial hates it’s anything fake or phony.)
  1. Millennials review blogs before making a purchase.

    While older generations rely more on traditional media, 18-34 year olds tend to look to social media and 33% rely mostly on blogs before they make a purchase.

So what does that mean for Alberta marketers?

22% of Edmonton’s population doesn’t trust traditional advertising, and many of them are turning to blogs for purchasing advice.

This is where the concept of “Always Be Helping” comes in handy.

Always be Helping or “ABH” is a global marketing trend that has huge potential for Edmonton-based companies and marketers in particular.

Forget YOLO. ABH (Always Be Helping) Is Your New Motto

Some of your customers will be responsive to traditional selling techniques. But more and more, the age-old salesperson’s adage “ABC – always be closing” is reminiscent of a by-gone era when salespeople held all the power and consumers had little information to help them make their buying decisions.

My friends, times have changed. Thanks to the Internet, consumers have essentially unlimited information and purchasing advice. Ultimately, buyers have the power now.

So, how can marketers deal with that?

First of all, we need a new motto. Instead of obsessing over “ABC – always be closing” we need to think about “ABH – always be helping”. This is especially important when marketing to millennials, but it applies to customers of all ages.

Second, we need to supplement traditional advertising by meeting our target audience where they already hang out: on the Internet, reading helpful blog posts.

Customers are people with problems (just like us) and our job as marketers is simply to help people find solutions to their problems. By helping our customers at every turn and offering them useful content aimed at solving their problems, we can build trust and raise brand awareness in an authentic way.

And, you know, actually help people, which always feels good!

A well-written, helpful blog post that helps one of your users solve a problem is going to be much more effective at building trust (and eventually securing a sale) than focusing your strategy soley on advertisements that many millennials will simply dismiss.

One Last Thought on Content

Search engines (a.k.a Google & friends) love content because people love content, but not just any content: high quality, unique, immensely useful content.

There is no point in creating blog posts that aren’t actually helpful. Your content absolutely needs to resonate with your customers.

Luckily, good posts do double duty. If you can create good quality content that answers your potential customer’s questions and also touches on the new, the uncommon, or the curious, you will not only win the hearts (and dollars) of your audience, Google & friends will be very happy with you and that’s never a bad thing.

Go Forth and Help!

Strategic marketing is particularly important during a recession and we’ve touched on a number of ways to keep sales strong in the past, however, you can consider “Always Be Helping” a solid approach to try out during your next marketing campaign.

The next time you have the opportunity to create content think about:

  • Which group of customers are we addressing with this content?
  • What stage of the buying process are we offering them support for?
  • Are we answering their questions? Is what we are addressing a common question asked by our people?
  • What are some other ways we can help our customers? Can we make ABH a company-wide trend?

Come on, YEG! Let’s find ways to help our customers and watch in amazement as they rename Edmonton, The City of Helpful Businesses! I’m only half joking. We do need a new tagline though.

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