It’s time for all of us business owners/managers to realize exactly how large and important the Millennial market is. Though it’s discussed constantly, I think we often forget that the Millennial market coming of age is crucial to almost every business regardless of their model.

Here is some food for thought: According to Goldman Sachs, Millennials are one of the largest generational groups in history, and they are now entering their prime spending years at 20-36 years old. There are a number of statistics available for the market size and potential of Millennials, but suffice it to say that they are a larger group than the Baby Boomers and on average they attain a higher degree of education. All this means, quite simply, that the Millennial market is far too large for savvy business owners/managers to ignore or to write off as some kind of trendy buzzword.

Although Millennials coming of age and beginning to really spend money is certainly good for our economy overall, it does present some real challenges to businesses.

The first of the two primary challenges is that Millennials have a vastly different world view and value system compared to earlier generations. This means that they are looking for different products/services/venues than those preferred by previous generations. The second (and more difficult) challenge is that Millennials do not consume media or engage with companies in the same ways that previous generations have. This means traditional forms of advertising like the Yellow Pages, billboards, direct mail or even traditional TV, which have worked for businesses over the last 50 years, no longer engage the largest potential market, the Millennials. Consider this: How many Millennials do you know who even know how to use the Yellow Pages?

So, going into 2018, how do businesses engage with the largest single group of potential customers ever to hit our markets? The answer is pretty simple: digital marketing with a focus on content and not hard sells. According to Nielsen, Millennials, more than any other group, do not respond well to hard sells.

If you want to get to Millennials, you have to hit them where they are — online. Unfortunately, the online marketing arena is much more complicated than the traditional marketing world where you simply buy ads. Though you can simply buy ads online, this is not normally the most effective strategy. If you want to really attract the elusive Millennial, you have to be willing to commit to long-term content strategies that focus on growing your social presence on sites like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn. These media, when combined with an appealing and strategically designed website, can take time to really gain steam, but almost always pay off if done correctly.

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If your company does not currently have a solid and well-planned digital marketing strategy, then seriously consider getting started before the year gets too far along. The longer companies wait to begin building influence online, the more time and money it takes to catch up with competitors. Your efforts with digital marketing now will enable you to effectively tap the potent Millennial market.

Timothy A. Zercher is the president and CEO of Pueblo-based EasySocial. The EasySocial team manages more than 30 companies’ online marketing and advertising efforts across the U.S. Zercher can be reached at easysocial.solutions.