It was late March when one of the largest companies in reinsurance reached out to us to help them register over 100 millennials for an entrepreneurship competition kickoff event in the middle of April. The kickoff event promised a glamorous evening complete with a rundown of the competition, dinner with the reinsurance executives, and a nationally recognized keynote speaker—one of the youngest venture capitalists in the world. The entrepreneurship competition promised a paid six-month learning period while the competing participants learned more about reinsurance and developed their innovation plans, office space, business coaching, two all-expenses-paid trips to Germany, and best of all, the opportunity to win over $50,000. At the time, they had zero registrants.
There were a couple other perceived obstacles. We had to invite over 100 like-minded college students and young professionals to a non-mandatory kickoff event in Boston—one of the largest hubs of entrepreneurs in the USA! Of course, there were going to be other similar events occurring during the same time period, marketing to the same target group. In addition, the competition was revolving around innovating the reinsurance industry—an industry that millennials (and probably most people across all generations) don’t find particularly sexy...
Fast forward to the day of the event, April 14th, only about three weeks beyond the onset of the engagement. Our client had 130 interested millennials registered to learn more about this opportunity. How was this accomplished?
1. Speak to Millennials in Their Language
We had to ensure that we made the most of what little time we had. This meant getting the tone and message right ASAP. While we knew the tone of our outreach had to be approachable and casual to effectively reach millennials, the right message was yet to be determined. Would we get more of a response from touting the entrepreneurship program itself? Or would our target persona respond better to a glamorous evening with a famous keynote speaker?
We did a quick A/B test to find out. After testing paid ads and social posts, we determined that the entrepreneurship competition message won. This was the message we pushed throughout the remainder of the promotion period.
Key Takeaway: Know your audience. Think about the different aspects of your event that might be attractive to your specific group of millennials. If you can’t choose one clear message, it’s worth testing the different types to make sure you are making the most of the majority of your promotion time. If you need some help getting to know your audience, check out our article: Buyer Personas 101.
2. Share the Event with Their Influencers
Who were our target persona’s influencers? The organizations they belong to, follow, and trust. These included universities, entrepreneurship groups, and online communities. Getting the word out to these organizations to share with their respective members involved a frenzy of emails, calls, presentations, and press releases, but this proved to be one of the most effective ways to get the bulk of our registrations.
Key Takeaway: Let influencers spread the word for you. Research who your target audience engages with, as well as how your audience gets their news. Then find out the best way to reach these outlets and organizations. Provide them with the necessary tools so that they can spread your message as effectively as possible.
3. Be Where They Already Are
Of course, we were on social media. We launched paid and organic campaigns on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. But that alone wouldn’t have gotten us as far as we did. So we sought out other hubs where our millennial entrepreneurs spend their time. We published weekly articles on BostInno, one of Boston’s largest online hubs for innovation news. And our client participated in Boston’s Startup Job Fair and other virtual job sites like VentureFizz to promote the competition to innovative opportunity seekers.
Key Takeaway: Find their niche. Determine where your prospects gather online (and in-person, too!) and communicate with them in ways that make sense for your objectives.
When marketing events to millennials, it’s important to keep in mind that they shouldn’t be approached as one homogenous group. This mistake is made far too often. Take the time to learn about your specific segment of millennials so that you can effectively reach them with the right messaging and through the right channels to avoid wasted marketing efforts.
Think you might need help marketing your event to a millennial audience or marketing to your other target prospects? Then it might be time to consider outsourcing your marketing!