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3 Millennial Marketing Lessons I Learned from the Holiday Whiteboard at My Office

3 Millennial Marketing Lessons I Learned from the Holiday Whiteboard at My Office

We were asked to write down what we wanted for Christmas. I was surprised at the results.

I’m fortunate enough to get to work with some very talented and creative people, spanning various professional and social backgrounds. The office tends to skew a bit younger, with millennials making up the vast majority of people on my team. So, when I saw the very creative responses posted on the Christmas whiteboard, it struck me – there have to be a few marketing lessons here.

The List

  • Chocolate
  • iPad
  • Chocolate iPad
  • ‘Peace on Earf’
  • Bike Lanes on Bloor
  • Clock Radio
  • A Really Good Sandwich
  • Sleep
  • Flu Shot
  • Bruh Humbug

  • A Dog
  • One Ring to Rule Them All
  • People to Take This Board Seriously
  • Foot Massager
  • Good Gramer
  • Star Wars
  • My 2 Front Teeth
  • Get Milk & Eggs After Work
  • The Aston Martin from Spectre. Use It to Get a Parking Space
  • BYE, Felicia!
  • Netflix & Chill
  • The Next Lotto 649 & Some Good Waffles Wouldn’t Hurt
  • New Bond
  • Please Take Board Seriously
  • Work from Home
  • Twerk from Home
  • Improved Twerking Conditions
  • Better Twerk/Life Balance
  • ꜛ Don’t Kill the Joke
  • A Rich, Handsome Man

Lesson 1: Millennials Love to Troll

In case you’re new to the internet or have been living under a rock for the last decade, trolling is the act of deliberately posting a comment for the sole aim of eliciting a response from other users. Just scroll through the comments on YouTube, Facebook or any internet forum for prime examples. 

Even here, there were quite a few troll posts, including several witty to somebody’s wish for a work from home option:

Work from Home > Twerk from Home > Improved Twerking Conditions > Better Twerk/Life Balance

While most trolls are just out for a quick laugh, some of the more malicious ones can actually wreak havoc on your website, but you can prepare from them with a bit of diligence. That’s why it’s always important to run your content past multiple people before publishing it online. Are there any innuendos or double meanings that people can take advantage of? Can the pictures you post be Photoshopped to create an unflattering meme?

Internet trolls can hurt your brand’s credibility and undo your current marketing strategy, which inevitably results in a decrease in revenue. In the worst case scenario, internet trolls can even engage in brandjacking, where they set up a spoof social media account guised as your business and begin posting god knows what. It’s always a good idea to have somebody on your editorial moderate postings to ensure only legitimate comments are approved.

Internet trolls can indeed be costly to your bottom line, but smart companies use trolling to their advantage and they use humour as their secret weapon. They key is to be playful. You don’t want to seem mean or condescending – and you always want to err on the side of positivity. Here are a few of my favourite examples of how to do it right:

 Popular UK Department Chain Sainsbury’s

 International Pizza Chain Domino’s Pizza

Comedian Rob Delaney and Toilet Paper Brand Charmin

I’m sure whoever started the Holiday whiteboard didn’t expect to have it trolled as hard as it was (people even listed ‘for people to take this board seriously’ as one of the Christmas wished). But like just like how things play out on the internet, tolls gonna troll playa. It’s how you deal with them that matters.

SUGGESTED READING: 10 Tips to Dealing With Trolls –

Lesson 2: Millennials Crowdsource

Online engagement is a key trait of most millennials, who see themselves as part of a large online community that shares news, updates, opinions and feedback. This characteristic was quite apparent in the way our Holiday board was eventually completed. As one person would post something on the holiday board, others were quick to chime in with their thoughts, follow-up suggestions and – of course – troll comments. This is of course, the very definition of how to crowdsource an idea.

The lesson here is that marketing doesn’t happen in silos anymore. Millennials don’t want to be talked at – they want to be talked to. Interactive marketing is the key to reaching this much coveted demographic. In fact, according to a 2015 study by Elite Daily and Millennial Branding, 62 % of millennial respondents said they’re more likely to become loyal customers of brands that engage with them on social media. And 42% said they were interested in helping companies develop future products.

One company that’s making a splash in the advertising world is MOFILM – an online crowdsourcing platform that connects global brands with aspiring filmmakers in the hopes of creating the next viral advertising video. Companies get to tap into fresh, new ideas while successful candidates get a heaping helping of exposure, as well as much sought-after resume and demo reel experience.


Some of the world’s most recognized brands like Coca-Cola, American Express, Guiness and Shell are already part of the initiative.

Long story short: don’t just try to push products onto millennials. Make them a part of your marketing strategy. Find new ways to allow them to engage with your brand. It’s all about fostering a community where both you and your customers can have meaningful interactions.

SUGGESTED READING: Millennials Spend 18 Hours a Day Consuming Media — And It’s Mostly Content Created By Peers –

Lesson 3: Millennials Want the Complete Experience

If you take a close look at the 30 items posted, you’ll notice that only 40% were consumable goods. The rest were intangible things, such as activities or conduits of social change. And while many replies were absolutely ludicrous, it’s still an important figure to take note of.  For ages, advertising has been one-directional: companies would create print ads, TV commercials and radio spots to get their products and services noticed. While those methods are still very valid today, they’re being slowly replaced by more interactive, experiential marketing techniques.

More than just the products, millennials want the complete brand experience. In their 2015 Millennial Study, independent ad agency Moosylvania surveyed a thousand millennials and found that they’re “looking for brands that help them become something more than their regular selves“. This means that, contrary to what many people from older generations would have you believe, it takes more than a few shiny trinkets to win the loyalty of a millennial consumer.


Source: Moosylvania

What does this mean for your advertising strategy? It means stop trying to simply push product and start courting millennials by showing them how your product can make their life better. Tell a story. Paint the picture of what life would look like with your brand at the centre of a millennial’s life. In short, make it about them –  and not you.

If there’s one lesson that brands and content marketers need to realize about millennials it’s this: you can’t fool them with flashy, empty promises. Millennials are more likely to do research before making large purchases. They’re more likely to share their experiences on social media. And they’re more likely to engage with brands on social media or at in-person events, tradeshows and booths than any other demographic. The brands that have the most success with millennials are those who are transparent, take ownership of their mistakes and give millennials solutions to their everyday problems.


SUGGESTED READING: How to Sell to Millennials: Give Them an Experience – Financial Post

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