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Millennials, Gen Z, and Minorities Will Soon Be the Majority. Follow These Proven Strategies to Stay Relevant

Your customers will evolve as the population does. As long as you adjust with them, you can stay relevant every step of the way.

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BY Sonia Thompson - 10 Oct 2017

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

The U.S. Census Bureau recently released data showing that 49 percent of kids under age 15 are minorities. Known as post-millennials or Gen Z, they are now "the most diverse" generation.

Data from Pew Research says that millennials are now the largest generation in the workforce. And within 15 years, people of color will make up the majority of the American working class.

The demographic and psychographic makeup of your customers is changing. Because of this ever-increasing shift, you need to be equipped to speak to these audiences in an authentic way to have any hopes of being relevant to them.

While many companies know they need to adjust away from traditional marketing methods to reach these new customers, many don't know how to do it in an authentic way. Consequently, they struggle to get the results they want.

Cashmere Agency is a lifestyle agency specializing in communication strategies for multi-cultural millennials and Gen Z. They've worked on projects such as the movie Get Out, VH1's original series Martha & Snoop's Potluck Dinner, and with brands such as GE, PayPal, and AirBnB.

I interviewed Ryan Ford, their Chief Creative Officer, to find out what makes them so effective at communicating to these audiences, and how other companies can do the same. Here are four ways to position your brand to be relevant with these increasingly powerful customer groups.

1. Commit to building a diverse team.

To effectively communicate with your customers, you have to have a degree of intimacy with them that enables you to engage with them authentically. According to Ford, building a team that reflects your customers is foundational to achieve this:

It's very simple, we are who we market to. We really stand by diversity not just in the products that we're marketing, but also in our own staff.

How well does your team reflect the people you are serving with your products?

If after evaluating your team, you realize you've got room for improvement, start working on a plan to diversify. That will likely mean you'll have to go beyond your existing network to find people who can bring the perspective you need.

2. Embrace talent with non-traditional backgrounds.

A common trap companies fall into when trying to seek out top talent, is to look for people with generally accepted skill sets and experiences.

But Ford says hiring people who don't fit the mold can give you an edge.

To build a team that is reflective of the time, you have to maybe look outside traditional models...Oftentimes we're looking for, obviously people with experience, but also people that are creative and passionate about culture. Those people you can find in different realms as well, you just have to look a little harder for them.

As you're thinking about how to build a high-performing diverse team, start thinking differently about the qualities that are most needed to connect with your customers.

3. Charge team members to teach what they know.

When bringing new people on board, a lot of companies invest a significant amount of time acclimating new hires to the company culture and the way things are normally done. But Ford says it is good practice to get new talent to teach you what they know early and often.

We expect even our entry level team members to train us as well, to let us know about what's the next big thing out there, what are people talking about, how are they communicating, and how are they doing it effectively.

Don't wait for your new people to learn the ropes. Tap into their expertise to fill in any gaps as soon as you can.

4. Get outside help as needed.

You won't know how to do everything. And that is totally ok, as long as you seek out people who can help you with areas you aren't strong in.

Ford told me that this realization is a growing trend,

A lot of marketing professionals at brands, and networks and studios understand that in-house they may not have the capabilities or expertise to deal with the projects that are on their table, and that's very different from the way it used to be when they felt like they could do everything internally.

For you, that may mean seeking out subject matter experts as contractors, consultants, or even a marketing agency that focuses on the specific audiences you want to reach.

As the population evolves, your customers will too. And as long as you make the needed adjustments in your approach, you can stay relevant to them every step of the way.