Connect with Millennials Consumers through Branded Audio Content

In our hyper-visual world, it seems counterintuitive to have an audio-only ad campaign. But on the contrary, your highly desired customer base (i.e. Millennials ) are listening more than ever. 

During my daily internet scavenging for useful information to share with all of you, I found a research study in partnership with Spotify for Brands and YPulse on Understanding millennials through music. The study surveyed 7000 millennials (individuals born between 1982 and 2000) from first world countries (United States, United Kingdom, and Australia). From the study, there were four key takeaways: 

  1. Music is the number one passion for Millennials. Music is a key a part of their lives. It defines who they are. Music sustains them through allthe  moments of their lives whether good, bad, happy or sad.
  2. Millennials stream music through their mobile devices and listen throughout the day. Streaming provides a soundtrack to their lives.
  3. Millennials gather social currency from discovering new sounds and sharing with their network.
  4. Music tribes no longer exist. With more access to music from around the world, Millennials are wide-ranging in the audio content they consume.

Okay. Millennials listen to music but how does that help me market my small business? The research demonstrates the ability of these kinds of media platforms to reach younger audiences. Audio has great potential and here are some ways to incorporate audio in your small business advertising strategy.

Create a Playlist



Creating a playlist, is an easy and free strategy to build relationships with your current consumer and cultivate new ones.  With a Spotify account, you can create a playlist to match the tone of your brand. Playlists are an excellent option if you have a brick and mortar location. During your business hours use your playlist to set the store ambiance.  Also help to build your playlist followership by encouraging your customers to follow on Spotify. If you’re a salon, your playlist might give your customers something they can bop their head to. If you’re a personal trainer, your playlist may be high energy helping your clients give it there all. Whatever you choose make sure the sound you curate matches your brand and places your business in a professional light.

“Spotify playlists are Kate’s mood ring, mirroring what she’s feeling at any given moment. Pop hits spin while she’s in spin class, international music stimulates her mental state throughout the work day and her pregame playlist gets her in the mood for a fun Friday night with friends. Whatever you’re feeling or doing, there’s a playlist for that.”

Business Podcast

Podcasting is an excellent way to connect with a mobile audience and could possibly be a supplement or even a replacement for your business blog. MasterCard has a podcast titled, “Fortune Favors the Bold.The show discusses how our relationship with money is evolving. A money podcast by a credit card provider is very on-brand for MasterCard.

You may have a smoothie bar, your podcast may be centered around, healthy living. You’re a restaurant you could have a food show like Blue Apron, focused on a type culinary cuisine or a commenting on food trends. A podcast is a great way to solidify your authority on a topic. This goes with saying, but the topic of your show should connect well with your brand. If you’re a novice podcaster, start-out on SoundCloud where audio files are free and easy to upload. Also don’t be afraid to ask loyal customers or local influencer in your area to be the voice of your podcast.
Spotify Ads (Now in Beta)

Lastly, we have the paid advertising on streaming platforms. Currently, there is not an active self-serve ad platform for streaming services but Spotify ads is currently in beta and I’m really excited about the potential. The Spotify Ad Studio will allow any business big or small the opportunity to advertise on the platform. Businesses can upload their audio files directly to the ad studio, segment their audience based on age, gender, location, activity, and music taste. You can even segment by device. Just set your desired budget and campaign dates and you’re good to go.

If you need further convincing to dip your toe into audio, I think spotify said it best: Audio stays with people all day long, reaching them where visual media can’t — from the car to the shower (really). So what are you waitng for? Create that playlist, start your podcast and draft your ad script and prepare to make long lasting customer relationships one listener at a time. 



Creating Content for your local market: Redefining How to Reach the “Average” Consumer with Maggie Windsor Gross Head of Strategy for Heat

I checked out to Adweek’s webinar, How to Create Content That Resonates: The “Understanding Average” Project presented by Maggie Windsor Gross when she broke down the findings from her Understanding Average Project. The goal of the project is to uncover ways to “be different while simultaneously appealing to the masses.”

One of my clients is a barbecue restaurant based out of Fort Worth, Texas.  I have been managing their Facebook and Instagram consistently accounts for about six months and I have yet to see any significant increases in engagements or community growth. I couldn’t understand why. I had all the core elements of an strong social post. I had vivid imagery, clear call to action and clearly defined brand persona. So, why wasn’t reaching my desired audience? It turns out I was reaching them but my tactics didn’t intrigue them to take action. Allow me to explain.

“You never really knew a man until you sit in his shoes and walked around them.”   -Jem Finch, To Kill A Mockingbird

Appealing to the masses requires the empathy, the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. Using empathy in a marketing strategy means getting our head out of the mounds of data. Stop saying, “The data shows this” or “this trend is resonating with this demographic” and being putting people first in your strategy. I was not doing this with my BBQ client. I was following the trends and not considering the people who would be receiving my communications. This is because I manage the social networks remotely and target audience is local to the Fort Worth, Texas area. I’m not from the area and my life is very different from the people living in my target region.

Maggie speaks of this reality stating “most people who work in marketing have very different lives from average people.”What hurts the marketer are preconceived notions brought into data. Maggie encourages marketers to use “empathetic data.” Empathetic data is more than statistics. As Maggie puts it, [Empathetic data] encourages us to ask questions to helps us see the world through the eyes of others and stand in other people’s shoes without judgment.

So she began her research to discover the average American and this task proved to be a difficult one because there wasn’t just one average but two:  The Top 10 Average and the Middle Average. The Top 10 Average includes people living into 10 Media Markets: NYC, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington DC, Boston, Atlanta, and Houston. The Middle Average is, well,  everywhere else.

What was found during the research is the two averages have very different priorities. Top 10 care a great deal about their personal images and “staying in the know” so they keep with social trends and new fads to maintain a high social currency. For the middle average folks, it simply is not on their radar. So who is the middle average person? The presentation didn’t create a persona of the Average 10 person or the middle Average person as to not further corral people into more groups and add on more labels. So I will.

I’m going to call the Middle Average person the Bootstrapper. The Bootstrapper is a hardworking individual whose sole priority to support themselves from their families.  They work hard to create a good life for themselves. Bootstrappers spend most of their time caring for family or working leaving very little time for leisure activities.  Think about it. This fits the mold for most of the country. You get up. You got to work. Pick of the kids. Make dinner. Go to bed and repeat. It’s a family first focus and most of our media does not center around on this kind of mundane lifestyle because it lacks entertainment value. But this is the life of most people.

When creating content for the Middle Average know this. Not all trends trickle down from Top 10 Average to the Middle so when developing content for your local region it is imperative that you have a strong understanding of who your audience is and what is important to them. Top 10 Average gets social credibility from knowing the cool brunch spots or being in tune with social causes and emerging artists. While Middle average people may find pride in fundraising for their child’s sports team or advocating for a stop sign at the intersection of their neighborhood. The main difference between Top 10 and Middle Average isn’t their income, education or family status. It is their priorities. If you don’t live in a middle City but want use to reach people in that region use the following questions to develop your strategy. 

  1. What encourages your average consumer’s behavior? Are they career -focused family – centered? What centers them at their core? Say we want to reach a single mom in Fort Worth, Texas to visit our BBQ restaurant. Perhaps, her focus is to provide a nutritious meal for her children with little time and effort exerted. Then our content should push the product’s affordability and taste and our delivery service.
  2. How their geography shapes their reality? Remember, not all trend will trickle down to middle market so creating a mannequin challenge video in a middle market may not strike a chord as it would in a Top 10 city. Do the people carry a great sense of pride from where they come from? If so, you may want to feature local celebrities or public figures in your content.
  3. How open are your consumers to new experiences? If you have an adventurous customer base you may want to push new menu items frequently.  If “new” doesn’t entice them, you may want to leverage your time in the game with copy like, “smoking our own Bologna in 1985. This help to showcase your businesses authority in a business vertical. 
  4. What incentives make their decisions make sense? Let’s relay back to the single mom scenario. She is supporting her family on one income so stretching her dollar is a core deciding factor. An incentive like “buy one, get one” or “family dinner combo” speaks to this kind of consumer.  While eating at a restaurant where Beyoncé was spotted, will provide a Top 10 Average person enough social cred to make the outrageous cost per plate well worth it. It would not even be a thought in our single mom’s mind. 
  5. What decisions can you offer to change behavior? Think about what your customer base is doing. What you would like them to do. Then, what will make them take your desired action? If you want customers to try your tofu BBQ wrap or pulled pork sandwich topped with a kale salad mention the tangible values, such as health benefits 

Note, these decisions should not be based on personal perceptions but instead on empathetic data allowing us to see their world through other someone else’s eyes.

How to Use Visual Forecasting to Create Instagram Content Worthy of the Double Tap.


Is your Instagram a snooze fest? Do your followers scroll past your content without even a single tap, let alone two? Well, allow me to let you in on a little secret. Your “smiling businessman” and “young woman drinking coffee”stock photos aren’t cutting it anymore. The strategy is outdated and in desperate need of an upgrade. Lucky for you, I have five trends redefining visual storytelling. I’ll break down the trends into actions items to take your business’ Instagram account to the next level.

  1. Fluid Self 

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Whats our group name?

A post shared by AmbersCloset (@amberscloset) on


The problem with the usual Google search image is the lack of diversity of race, gender, and other identifiers. Go ahead search for “people drinking coffee” I’ll use the following as an example.


The image isn’t the worst as it does feature people of different ethnic backgrounds but Fluid Self takes it to the next level by celebrating diversity rather than using it as an accessory. Now, look at this Instagram post from Adorned by Chi. Can you see the difference?

The difference is it is different. The fluid self trend is all about shining positive light on what makes us unique. Placing emphasis on the fluid self trend in visuals is a good way of positioning your business as a progressive, socially-conscious brand. If you are a clothing retailer and you carry sizes for the very small to the very large then your social post should feature models of all sizes wearing your clothing. If you believe in LGBTQIA rights than feature people in that community in your posts.

  1. Multilocalism

Multilocalism is a must have if your business or brand is related to anything multicultural. Whether you have an Asian cuisine restaurant or sell fair trade clothing your customers should be transported abroad not only when they use your product but through your Instagram as well.

Travel Noire, a travel company whose mission is to encourage people of color to travel whether it be locally, domestically or internationally. Their feed is filled with vibrant images of faraway lands. The travelers are immersed in the cultured, draped in traditional clothing and interact with locals. There Instagram is a perfect example of the use of Multilocalism.

Multilocalism also celebrates heritage. Due to the accessibility of global travel and immigration, countries that may have been ethnically uniform now have diverse citizens who mesh the cultures from their old country with the cultures of their new home.

Let’s say you have a pizza shop and your pies are made from a family recipe going all the way back to Sicily . Your restaurant has a traditional Italian atmosphere so why not bring that same feel to your Instagram. Photos of dough being tossed or a short video of a pizza being assembled with a Italian accordion playing in the background.

3. Touch and Tactility 

This trend is all about triggering our four senses with our sense of sight. Think of it this way…have you ever seen an image of food that made you hungry or saw a photo of a blanket and thought, that looks cozy. This is the touch and tactility trend at work.

Take this image from Shameless Maya. The post itself is about creating Instagram feeds but what really caught my eye was the fuzzy rug. The goal of the post may not be to sell rugs but the texture snagged my attention and sometimes that’s all you need. 

  1. Silence and Solitude

Silence and solitude connect well with mental health and self-care. Taking time to care for oneself may it be through healthy eating, meditation or experiencing the outdoors. Self-care is becoming more and more important and with that comes the need for visuals that show it’s okay to put yourself first.

This trend can work for just about any business. If you’re hospitality focused show a guest at peace on the beach. If you’re a yogi why post a pic of the class in savasana if you’re in retail how about a model at home in some cozy lounge pants. This trend is about taking time to do what makes you feel good.

  1. Creative Reality

This trend is all about having fun escaping to a more exciting place. Images that match the creative reality trend represent worlds we wish existed in our reality.

Take Millie’s Homemade Ice Cream Based in Pittsburgh, PA. They may just be an ice cream Shop but their Instagram selling a  fun vibrant experience. The colors are bright, the treats sweet and covered in sprinkles (jimmies if you’re from the ‘burgh).

For a memorable Instagram feed, I recommend you pick one of these trends to focus your Instagram strategy around.  This will help solidify your voice on the platform and provide continuity for your followers.  That’s all for now.

Featured Brands: Amber’s Closet, Adorned By Chi, Travel Noire, Shameless Maya, Hey Fran Hey, Millies Homemade Ice Cream