I feel sorry for millennials; they get bad press. Perhaps the worst thing about being a millennial is that they are so typecast, but it may just appear to be that way due to the heaps of content they are all ‘supposedly’ producing about themselves! At the tender age of 43, I am of “Generation X”, but before I get shot down for being too old to comment on this (or anything at all if you believe the millennial hype), millennials should, if stereotypes are to be believed, love and want to be me, as I own a successful digital PR agency. As we know, “all” millennials work or at least (should) want to work in this sector.
Wikipedia (where else would I look for this piece) states that there is no precise start/stop date for being a millennial, but sort of suggests that to qualify, births range from the early-80’s to early 00’s. For the purposes of this piece then – folk between say 22-34.
(Millennial members of the Tank team.)
Demand Generation professionals need…?
Demand generation is all about developing relationships with prospect customers, existing customers and evangelists at all stages of the purchase process to create a stronger sales funnel. This, in the main, is achieved by identifying targets and then creating a marketing strategy to engage with them. In other words, feeding targets with excellent, relevant content and creating relationships that, one way or another, make them feel better and more informed about a brand.
In addition to sourcing, creating and delivering factual information and advice, agencies create stories. We judge a story by asking whether someone could feasibly tell that story to their friend in the pub. If they can, it passes the test. I believe that anything that passes that test should then theoretically be content that someone would like to read (audience), publish (journalist or influencer), or share (anyone on their own personal channels).
So given that the essential hub of all content is some kind of story or genuinely useful and targeted information – is this something that can only be created by a youngish person – a millennial? Of course it isn’t.
The ability to write with empathy, cultural understanding and persuasion perhaps should improve with age. Good writing, I believe, is a combination of technical excellence and life experience. Whilst experience is not the preserve of the middle aged and beyond, the odds of having more of it are definitely on their side. The most electrifying poets may have been teenagers and twenty somethings, but a person who can excite pet owners about buying a tin of cat food with a blog, probably has a few decades of actual cat ownership under their belt. Put it another way – given that the majority of the people with the most money are (much) older than millennials, as are most of the people that procure for businesses – are millennials always best people to understand and engage with these people?
Age Diversity in Agencies
It’s a shame that there isn’t more age diversity in agencies. The first decade of my career was spent with inspirational ad creatives and copywriters who were big in the 80’s and early 90’s. I’d like to say that when I worked with them, what made them great was that they cut their teeth in the hard drinking, no rules creative environments of the late 70’s, when they were the millennials in the right place at the right time. It wasn’t. It was actually that they just knew rules of engagement backwards and could create outcomes with words and pictures – as they knew what the customer wanted and needed. Talent, age, experience and training gave them this.
(The entire Tank team.)
One argument for a complete millennial team is their natural affinity with the tools of technology, both social and digital. Then I remember that I, and most of my agency, were taught 90 percent of everything we know about social media and to some extent search, by a man who is at the door of 50. He in turn learnt from someone older than him, and on it goes.
I work with lots of talented millennials, or as I call them, talented people. They make up much of my team, some clients and supply partners. They are not the only people who are required in the demand generation mix, though. Whilst some agencies will obviously have a totally millennial team, there is so much need for age and experience, too. The industry does have a hell of a lot of young people in it, and some people say it’s a young person’s game, due to the energy required to keep up in this fast-moving industry. That said, most of the good agencies that I know (our own being one of them) are staffed with a fair percentage of people over 34.
So, for me at least, demand generation teams should certainly not be solely made up of millennials.