A quick Google search for something along the lines of “authentic millennial marketing and brand building” will quickly generate many hundreds of thousands of results. It’s clear that marketers are desperate to understand how they can share their brand messages authentically and transparently, especially when it comes to millennials.
Millennials get blasted with thousands of marketing messages per day while scrolling through their social news feeds. To truly resonate with millennials in today’s marketplace, you must stand out by relating to them in a genuine and authentic way.
I recently chatted with Matt Kohn, founder & CEO of Different Hunger Media, about his three year journey in building a millennial audience and how he leveraged radical transparency to recently pull off a $30,000+ product launch.
START WITH WHY
If you’ve been in the marketing space for a while then surely you’re familiar with this term and concept championed by researcher, speaker and author Simon Sinek.
When building a brand, it’s so important that your vision is bigger than yourself, according to Kohn. He states that you have to leave your ego at the door and place the wellbeing of your audience above your own.
How? Step one is to identify your why, both personally and professionally. Why are you in business in the first place? What is the legacy that you wish to leave in the world? What tangible impact do you want to make in the lives of your audience and customers?
“Different Hunger started as a personal blog my last semester at Emory University. I was hellbent on avoiding the 9-5, soul-sucking conventional career path. I stumbled across a few bloggers who had achieved this dream lifestyle and asked myself, why not me? I was hungry to build a career and lifestyle I truly loved in order to inspire and positively impact others.”
AVOID THE PREMATURE EXPERT EPIDEMIC
Just because you have a Facebook group or an email list with a few thousand people doesn’t mean you actually any idea what the hell you’re doing. Instead of prematurely taking on the role of the expert (which Kohn shared is a major problem in the industry today), take on the role of the reporter and simply document your journey in an authentic and transparent way.
This commitment to transparency, combined with a motivation to genuinely impact and empower the lives of others is fundamental to forming genuine and meaningful relationships with your audience.
“Throughout my journey (from desk job to failed business owner to burnt out freelancer to thriving business owner) I have been very intentional about sharing the struggle. If I lost a client or if I was broke, I told my audience why and how I got there, so they could learn from my mistakes and avoid that same path. I’ve even shared bank account screenshots and all that stuff. I wasn’t embarrassed about sharing this stuff either, because my primary motivation was helping others, even if it meant I had to massively humble myself to do so.”
HOW TO GENERATE TRACTION AS A NOBODY
When you’re literally just getting started, you need to figure out how to leverage the credibility of others to generate traction for your brand, since, let’s face it, you’re a nobody.
After Kohn quit his full-time desk job and moved to Medellin, Colombia to pursue his dream of self employment, he realized he was a nobody that wanted to build an engaged, millennial audience. To do so, he reached out to his role models with a simple question that would benefit his target audience: What would you tell your twenty something self?
After a few months, Kohn was able to get in touch with 75+ world class individuals such as Arianna Huffington, Lewis Howes, Ray Romano and many more Olympians, athletes, CEOs, best selling authors and more. .
“The fact is that nobody cares (about you or your blog/business/product). You need to give others a reason to care. My massive blog post was an attempt to put Different Hunger on the map by adding as much value as possible to my millennial audience. The reception to the post was phenomenal and it provided me the foundation I needed to actually turn Different Hunger into a business.”
DOCUMENT THE JOURNEY (ESPECIALLY THE STRUGGLES)
It seems that every other day a new marketer pops up on your newsfeed with an offer to help you build the lifestyle of your dreams and a 7-figure business in your underwear. According to Kohn, this is where you can capitalize and separate yourself from everyone else.
“People want to see a paper trail of your growth and development. They want to be able to relate to you and understand that you struggled just like them and everyone else. Leaving a paper trail that clearly illustrates your entire journey (both the highs and the lows) is essential.”
MONETIZING YOUR EXPERIENCE
Once you are able to build your own credibility by generating your own results, it’s time to monetize. Kohn shared that this is actually the easiest part, because by this stage you should have a rock solid understanding of your audience and they will be able to tell you exactly what they want.
“I struggled hard as a freelancer for 6-8 months before I finally was able to build my own 6-figure business. After sharing my wins with my audience, I realized that a lot of my audience was in the position I was in, trading their time for money and burning out as a freelancers. When I packaged my results into a product for my audience (the first product I created in 3 years), I barely had to do any selling because I had already won the trust of my audience.”