Millennial Motivation

Seniors Ignite Models Millennials

Image by Cherie Phelps – Location Salvation Mountain
Models: Haley, Toni, Gabby, Clara,

Who is the Millennial Generation?

I’m sure you’ve heard the term Millennial or Generation Y. They are the current crop of high school seniors, but do you know who they are?

The Millennial generation is comprised of kids and young adults born between 1982 and 2004 (though this generation may end earlier). Roughly 80 million belong to this generation. The Millennials are super tech/internet savvy and wired to the network. This has led some people to dub them as “digital natives” – the first generation to grow up knowing only the digital world.

Neil Howe and William Strauss were the first to coin the this the “Millennial Generation” and have written several books on the subject of the Millennials. Howe and Strauss believe because the Millennials have been heavily invested in (by their parents) they expect to do great things. According to American history they are the next “Great” generation – similar to the GI Generation.

What motivates the Millennials to buy?

That is a glimpse into who the Millennial generation is, but what motivates them to buy? More specifically, why will a high school senior choose your studio your competition?

There are multiple factors, and this generation is no different in valuing price, quantity, convenience and quality.  How they view those four qualities varies one each specific purchase they make. However beyond these 4 considerations there are 5 other things which motivate  Millennials to choose your studio over the competition.

1. Relationship.

The most important quality you can build into your senior portrait business is engagement. Online and offline Millennials want to feel connected with those they associate themselves with. In a word, it’s networking. Here are 2 practical ways to interact with seniors (warning: these are not new ideas, but they are no less important – don’t blow them off).

  1. Social Media – I know how overwhelming the thought of social media can be. Being on Facebook personally can threaten to take over your life if you let it. Here’s a hint. Choose 1 or 2 networks you feel best fit both you and your market and laser focus on those. Be great at them. Let the others fall to secondary importance to the rest of your studio efforts. Catherine Hall calls this “Party hopping with a purpose.”
  2. Senior Model program – Over the last several years the senior ambassador program has made a massive return to the senior studio because it focuses on relationship. These relationships turn into beautiful word of mouth marketing.

2. Customization.

The Millennial generation has been told all their life that they can “have it their way,” so they believe it. As consumers they want products and services tailored to them.

Toyota created the car line Scion specifically to market to the Millennial generation. One of the ways they separated themselves for the competition (at the time) was to offer 50+ accessories to modify the chosen Scion. Seth Godin described this idea of customization like this:

“We’re moving from an era of finding customers for our products to an era of finding products for our customers.”

Scott Hess of TRU – a teen research organization – says the brands which will be best structured for the future will create “templates for creativity.”

As a senior portrait studio, you provide a template – studio, lighting, expertise, props, etc –  and allow for your client to participate in creating a dream session from within the provided framework. You already do it (or have the capability to do it very easily), now you need to market it.

3. Delight.

A global study by Economist Intelligence Unit polled a group of executives in which they found one of the best techniques to connect with the Millennial generation (beyond relationship and going where they are) is to provide a great product at a great price.

While this sounds like and is a no-brainer response, but the question you need to ask yourself is this – “Am I providing a GREAT product?” Author and blogger Michael Hyatt calls this creating a WHAT that is a WOW.

As a senior photographer the product is more than just the final image. It’s the website and blog you host. It’s the contact you make via mail, email, Facebook, phone, etc. It’s the first and subsequent meetings. It’s the feeling they have at the shoot. It’s the emotion they feel when seeing their finished images for the first time.

Are you providing a WOW product for your client?

4. Brand Recognition.

One thing the Facebook Like button has shown us is that Millennials believe in and are loyal to brands they like. A poll within the music industry showed that a Facebook like was the most important thing to determine the success of an artist, album or song.

You need to work to make sure your brand is one that a high school senior will recognize and contemplate when they think about senior portraits. The truth is building a brand takes time, but it is important to make sure you protect and nurture your brand as best you can.

How do you build your brand? One way is to associate your brand with brands and things that your seniors like. Here are just a few ideas:

  • Connect with local boutiques and businesses that cater to seniors. This takes guts and time, and the worst that can happen is being turn down.
  • Contract for display space at your local mall. Work hard to have the display near a store that your local seniors love.
  • Sponsor a fashion show.
  • Advertise in a local parent and/or teen magazine. 2 hints: 1. Make sure this magazine matches your brand. 2. If you can contract to do cover shots, you will be able to trade for the advertising space.

5. Purpose.

In recent years, a lot has been made about the “give back” marketing strategy (think TOMS Shoes). It seems to be a great model, but research with the Millennial Generation actually puts this further down the list than other things. In fact, both Baby Boomers and Generation X rank “giving back” higher than Millennials as a reason to purchase a product or service.

The Millennials do can about giving back and reaching out, but they do it as an afterthought and only if many other factors cancel each other out when making a decision.

Purpose as a marketing concept works best when it’s done as a true core of your business and person. Don’t kill yourself to make your studio green just to impress the next class of high school seniors. Do it because you believe in it, and be happy with how you’ve made a change in your world.

Don’t forget the parents.

The Millennial generation as high school senior will drive you senior business, but there is still a need to be able to connect with the parents of high school seniors. The parents of today’s senior wants to provide everything they can for their child to be a success, yet they have different factors that motivate them to purchase.

For more information on the selling to 3 generations at once visit The Collective to read this post: 5 articles on How to Market to High School Seniors (and their parents).



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