The word millennial is pretty much a swear word in the minds of many older generations or those who don’t understand Generation Z.

Millennials are seen as the “me” generation, the ones who want it all…and they want it now.

Nicolas Cole Mather works to teach people how to build their brands, is an expert on the younger generation and is a writer whose work is published in Inc. Magazine, The Huffington Post, Business Insider, Forbes and more.

Nicolas Cole Mather on Millennials

Brandboom sat down with Nicolas Cole Mather (his friends call him Cole) to discuss the topic of millennials, Gen-Z and what they mean for today’s workforce.

In the podcast, when asked how he defined millennials, Cole offered a new take on the topic.

“The way that I’ve come to see it is it (millennials) has a lot more to do with access and if you see a lot of companies that are trying to attract millennial talent, what they do is they misunderstand that idea of access and try and replace it with things like, 'We’re gonna provide Ping-Pong tables,' or 'Everybody can sit in a nice comfy chair while they work on their laptop,' or 'We have an open bar on Fridays.'

"And those things are cool and they certainly maybe make the environment feel a little bit more comfortable or even younger, but in reality, that’s not really what a millennial is after. What they’re after is access to things that they might not be able to get on their own,” Cole explained.

According to Cole, these millennials aren’t just seeking a “chill” work environment, but are more so out to find a place of employment that fosters their desire for knowledge through access.

So often millennials are coined as lazy kids who just want to play on social media all day, but really, Cole believes, they actually truly do want to learn and for them, access is the way to do just that.

For companies considering hiring millennials, Cole says you will draw in the types of employees that you advertise for.

“It’s kind of just thinking about what kind of millennial do you want to attract? If you’re using those things to attract millennial talent, I’ll tell you what kind of millennial you’re gonna attract, and it’s not gonna be the workforce that’s willing to stay up until 2:00 in the morning grinding out a project. It’s gonna be the person that thinks they’re still in college,” he said.

Cole also says that the ways in which millennials receive their news and information has changed from the ways of the past. Credibility and honesty are still things millennials look for in their sources, but gone are the days where people wait 15 minutes for a video to load.

In this sense, instant gratification is indeed a trait of millennials. And, if outlets want to capture the attention of this new age of viewers, they need to be smart in doing so.

“If someone 27 or 30 but below 22 or 15, if they go to your site and it doesn’t load properly for 15 seconds, they’re gonna leave. I will go to a certain site and go, 'Oh, that’s a really cool article,' and then I’ll click on it and it’s now on my phone spazzing in front of me because there’s four different ads trying to load at the same time. I’m gone. I’m never coming back,” Cole said.

For brands and companies marketing to a millennial audience, this is a mistake they can’t afford to make.

Luckily, Cole is an expert on teaching such companies how to improve their marketing strategies, especially to millennials. In fact, he offers services on how to improve online writing, build a personal brand and how to communicate a company’s story and mission through written content.

Through all of his time working as a consultant in these areas, Cole has come to believe that if such businesses were to fully understand Generation Z, then this failure to connect with them could be avoided.

If an outlet paid attention to the fact that millennials won’t wait for things to load or that they become dissatisfied with messy content, they would be able to correct their errors and better appeal to such viewers.

Another area such companies could improve on when it comes to attracting millennials is to be sure their product fits.

“A great example of how to “sell” in today’s economy is, you’re not telling someone, 'Go buy this,' you’re sharing something of value and then saying, 'And by the way, it’s here if you want it.'

"And so if you look at the press world, which is a perfect example, you’ll have all of these PR companies that are very old in the industry, and they go, 'Hey, the better way to sell your company or sell your product is to go get some other person to write about how great you are.' Okay, nobody’s reading that. Like, literally nobody,” Cole said.

“And then the opposite, which is what I’ve done for myself, and now I’m starting like, it’s what works. It’s what people do wanna know, is if you have the CEO themselves telling the story or saying, 'This is how I built my company. This is what it was like when I didn’t know if I was gonna be able to bring this idea to fruition 10 years ago. Oh, and by the way, this is what we do. It’s here if you want it. Anyway, back to my story…'

"That’s how you sell something today.”

The new generation of consumers takes more kindly to the advertisements that aren’t in your face, just like with the example Cole gives.

“That’s what makes it so compelling and it’s not disruptive or it doesn’t step on the toes of the consumer. They don’t sit there and go, 'My experience was just bothered by an ad.' It’s just part of it. It’s there if I’m on it.

"And so, when you’re talking or explaining to big brands how do you reach the younger people, it’s like, you have to completely change your mentality. It’s not just this single voice outward being like, 'Go do this. Go buy this.' You have to figure out what they’re already willing to pay attention to and finding a creative way to weave your brand or your story into that narrative,” Cole said.

Cole also says that when it comes to speaking to younger generations, it’s all about either being entertaining or teaching something of value.

“You either need to speak the entertainment language and find a way to make your customer laugh or be engaged and then find ways to weave your brand into that without like, 'And now a cut from our sponsors.' As soon as that comes on, everyone turns off.

"And the same goes for the knowledge. It’s like, fine… Whoa, there was such an awesome book I read. I read this maybe like four years ago. I have to look up the title. And it’s about all of the brand collaborations that have happened, and how even before influencer marketing, it was about brands working together and finding ways to weave their stories together so that they would create a more authentic ad if you will,” he said.

Don’t get him wrong, though, Cole still believes in the power of ads, just when they’re done correctly.

“You know to be clear, ads still work, right? Like, Facebook ads are great. I guess the thing that I just want people to understand is if you’re gonna take an ad budget and put it somewhere, put it behind a piece of content that doesn’t look like an ad,” he said.

Key Takeaways:

  • “The biggest thing that I’ve noticed it has to do with this idea of access where I think, the millennial generation they wanna know things when they wanna know them or they want to meet people when they want to meet them or they want to create their own schedule when they wanna create it” Cole at 2:10
  • “A lot of millennials are kind of boxed in and coined as these people that they don’t wanna learn, they just scroll through Instagram all day. But really, they do wanna learn.” Cole at 3:51
  • “It’s like if you have your main thing being a site or a product or an app or whatever and the usability of it, the actual experience of it gets compromised just so you can put an ad there or you think that like that’s the better way to reach someone. It’s almost like they’re still not hearing it, that no one’s paying attention to that ad” Cole at 10:10
  • “A great example of how to “sell” in today’s economy is like, you’re not telling someone, “Go buy this,” you’re sharing something of value and then saying, “And by the way, it’s here if you want it.”” Cole at 12:07
  • “The reason influencer marketing is becoming so popular is because it is one of the first marketing strategies if you will, where you’re not telling the consumer, “Go buy this.” You’re saying, “You already like this thing. Here’s my story. First person. This is me. And, oh, by the way, this thing’s here if you want it. Anyway, back to the story…”” Cole at 13:19
  • “People go online for two reasons, they either wanna be entertained or they wanna learn” Cole at 17:14

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