Advertising to Millennials: How to Sell the GOP to Millennials

Screenshot 2014-03-28 at 8.46.45 AMThere are 80 million millennials in America. They’re the most important rising demographic and market in the United States–and yet, it seems that not a single one of them wants to hear you talk about your business. So how do you market to millennials?

It’s a tough challenge, but some have it even harder than others. I talked with Tim Young recently. He’s an old colleague from the National Press Club in Washington who is now director of marketing at the conservative media company Liberty Alliance (No. 1726 on the Inc. 5000). In Young’s words, his job involves “selling the hardest thing possible to millennials: the Republican party.”

If the GOP–or you, for that matter–wants to convince millennials to give your brand a try, what should your strategy be?

Here are 5 key things to keep in mind:

1.  Authenticity matters most.

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Recently, the Republican National Committee revealed it was spending “six figures” to run a TV spot targeting millennials, but its commercial was picked apart in minutes. Why? Mainly because the messenger seemed inauthentic. Its star was a hipster-looking guy in tortoise sheel glasses, complaining about the economy while literally pumping gas into a $33,000 Audi.

“Millenials aren’t going to listen to a super-rich Republican stereotype trying to ‘play them on TV,'” Young said. “It’s offensive and cheap to pander. Just present your brand appropriately. You look stronger and it’s also playing to your authenticity.”

2. Realize you’ll be fact-checked–almost before you finish.

Millennials are skeptical and tech-savvy. They judge political candidates the same way they shop for electronics, meaning they fact-check every claim quickly, using multiple sources.

“The absolute worst thing you can do is to try to sneak things by them,” Young said. While an audience of just about any demographic can now be counted on to snipe at tenuous claims, the difference is that millennials came of age with smartphones in their hands, ready to verify what they’ve been told.

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