Michelle Van Etten

In a technologically advanced world, gone are the days of old stuffy meetings and home parties. I have heard over and over again that “people fail, systems don’t.” I agree, but not one system fits all generations. “Bait the hook to suit the fish,” said Carrie Dickie in her talk at the 2016 ANMP International Convention. This certainly applies to today’s prospects. Each generation has different values, therefore you want to tailor your message so it resonates with each person’s core values. The problem with the old way of thinking is that the principles were established before the birth of the Millennials.

The old way of network marketing involved hotel meetings with boring slideshows, or home parties that only a couple of people attended. This works if you are targeting the Baby Boomer generation, whose values are tradition and security. Chances are they worked for someone else all their life. Your slideshow gives credibility to the opportunity, and since working a job did not set them free, they may see network marketing as a solution. To Gen Y (and even Gen X, for that matter), this puts us to sleep. The presentations are too long, filled with too much information, and almost always too much hype. To attract the Millennials you have to think like a Millennial.

Gen Y (aka Millennials) refers to people born between 1980 and 2000. They are one of the largest demographic cohorts since the Baby Boomers, at over 80 million strong. This generation is the future, and they have vastly different views on how they want to live their lives. They do not buy into the Baby Boomer’s philosophy of “go to college, get a job, work for 40 years, retire.” Based on what they see, this ideology did not work out well for their parents. Millennials don’t care as much about material success. Instead, they value freedom and possess an entrepreneurial spirit. Even if they go to college and get a job, they want to quit within a few years and become their own boss.

Millennials are highly tech savvy and embrace new social platforms. They have a desire to make the world a better place and be part of a mission. They use social platforms such as Snapchat and Instagram to chronicle their lives and share with their online community. Gen Y is the first generation to make their purchases predominantly online. They usually have created a strong presence and following on social media, therefore that is how they will market. Millennials are social and vocal about sharing what they love—and what they hate—on social media. If you are trying to market to Millennials, keep it real, leave out the hype, and market on their social media platforms.

Social sharing is what Gen Y loves to do: they market to their social platforms and work their business online. No need for in-home parties, even in a party-plan model. Alternatively, you can set up a Facebook event online and market to your friends—and, more importantly, their friends’ friends. Social sharing also does not have the same connotations that network marketing has, and, therefore, faces less rejection. This type of marketing fits in easily with the desire for freedom to be one’s own boss.

Millennials are not lazy; they are just efficient and have found an app or a platform that makes marketing easier than traditional belly-to-belly interaction. They use YouTube, Periscope, Snapchat, and Instagram together to promote their opportunity by developing their own personal brand. Most Millennials are not brand loyal, so teaching and empowering them to “be the brand” actually makes them loyal to you and, consequently, the company.

Michelle Van Etten

To market her company’s fashion division, Michelle loves modeling new styles with her business partners.

What gets Millennials excited is doing something that works and knowing they are part of something so much bigger than just themselves. I personally build almost 100 percent online through social media. Most of my business is built one-on-one over the phone through connections I made on social media, where I continuously share my lifestyle with my friends and followers.

I celebrate my team’s successes and aim to add value each day to others. Millennials care about their future, and being a light in the darkness in this day and age resonates with their values.

Network marketing companies need to embrace these new forward-thinking distributors by creating social media tools that reflect their needs. Companies need to create turnkey tools that work with all the social media strategies, such as an online event folder with each post ready to be added to the event, or short videos that can be used on personalized YouTube channels to represent Millennials and their contribution to the success of the company.

Social sharing is the name of the game, and Millennials are natural masters at it. Connect with them and use their online marketing savvy to grow your business and your team.

MICHELLE VAN ETTEN leads an international multimillion-dollar direct sales business and a very large organization. In July 2016 she was asked to speak at the Republican National Convention about entrepreneurial women in business.