Josh Tickell, America’s #1 Expert on the Millennials, featured in Inc. Magazine.

By Molly Reynolds for Inc. Magazine


How do you get a Millennial to buy your product? One company decided that it was by telling them off.

Since 1946, Klipsch has developed a reputation for producing really loud speakers and headphones. After nearly 70 years, the company decided to attract a younger audience. New taglines began proudly appearing in retail stores across the country: “Stop buying crap audio, it’s embarrassing” and “Pissing off the neighbors since 1946.”

While cursing at your target demographic isn’t usually a positive thing, Klipsch CEO Paul Jacobs knows that sometimes your audience appreciates direct humor. “Know who you are and stay authentic to that,” he says. “We make loud speakers. Really loud speakers. So it made sense for us to be loud in our messaging.”

And it’s worked. The campaign has 100% social adoration. At the CES, Time named the campaign the “Best Act of Passive-Aggressive Marketing.” And thousands of Facebook and Twitter followers have Liked, or tweeted about, Klipsch’s “cursing campaign.” The Millennialaudience is indeed a powerful one, with no time for BS.

Josh Tickell is America’s No. 1 strategist for connecting with Generation Y, successfully helping businesses like Cliff Bar, Chevy, and Green Mountain Energy reach the sometimes-elusive generation.

Here are Josh’s four points for understanding the audience.

1. Function

Does your product work? How do they know it does? Get testimonials and reviews. Listen to feedback and make changes where necessary. Keep updating the product. Millennials (and the rest of us) respect a company that respects user input.

2. Emotion

Are they responding emotionally to your brand? How do you know? Ask them! Emotional response has a lot to do with subtle stylistic choices, colors, textures, and feel (even for apps and websites). Do surveys–get as much feedback as possible.

3. Social value

Are you really creating social value? Is it coming off as marketing? How do you know? No company worth its weight in stock-ticker printouts is going into the market nowadays without doing good things for the world. You’ve got to build this into your brand and make it clear (e.g., Toms One for One shoes).

4. Participation

What is your online narrative? Are you waiting for them to create it? How are you creating valuable participation? This generation is used to the back-and-forth of text and Instagram and Facebook. The best way for your company to engage is through true bi-directional engagement. How can you create avenues for involvement and participation both online and IRL (in the real world)?

Okay, so maybe your brand doesn’t lend itself to swearing at Millennials, but there are many ways to engage them. Given that they are responsible for more than a trillion dollars in direct buying power–and have a strong influence over older generations–finding out how to market to them is crucial … and that’s no BS!