The Barkley Agency Finds A Niche in Marketing to Millennials

 Millennial Marketing Jeff Fromm

For agency’s, this is a great example on how to identify a niche and build a positioning of expertise.

Agencies are historically bad at new business.

  • Most do not have an identifiable target audience
  • Many do not have a written plan to market themselves
  • Inconsistent new business practices
  • No positioning beyond constantly stating that, “we have great creative, we’re stratetic and we’re fun to work with!”
  • Lead new business efforts by talking about themselves – credentials, capabilities and case studies instead of leading with benefits
  • Treated as vendors instead of experts
  • No appeal to prospects outside of their local market or region – Why would a client want a long distance relationship if an agency looks and sounds like everybody else?

Clients want to work with people that they know trust and like. As agencies grow, the more faceless they become. Agencies need to find ways to personallize their brand to help them stand out from their competition.

Clients also want expertise and not just someone who “checks the box” that they have some marketing experience in a particular industry. They want to work with an agency with deep expertise. Agencies need to identify their area of expertise, own it and communicate it.

The Barkley agency demonstrates how to humanize your agency, build a positioning of expertise and make a personal connection with your best prospects.

Jeff Fromm, is an EVP at Barkley, the largest 100% employee-owned advertising agency in the U.S.. The agency was co-founded by his father, Bill Fromm, back when it was known as Barkley Evergreen & Partners. His primary responsibility is business development for the agency.

Jeff has positioned himself as an expert in marketing to Millennials. For Barkley’s prospective clients, if the millennials are not their current market, it wont be long before they will be.

The 80 million members of the Millennials generation (born 1977 to 1995) represent 25% of the U.S. population and more than $200 billion in annual purchasing power.

By marketing himself a Millennial marketing guru via primary research, conducting conferences and workshops, authoring a book, speaking, blogging and networking through social media, he has promoted Barkley as an industry leader.

Finding a Positioning of Expertise

Barkley commissioned their own research in 2011, a comprehensive study of the attitudes and habits of Millennials: “American Millennials: Deciphering the Enigma Generation.

Jeff Fromm spearheaded this Millennials’ research which partnered Barkley with The Boston Consulting Group and Service Management Group. Jeff also co-authored, “American Millennials: Deciphering the Enigma Generation,” based on this joint study.

Here are some stats on Millennials this research uncovered:

  • 80 million Millennials, almost 25% of the US population
  • $1.3 trillion of consumer spending annually
  • 68% of Millennials don’t make a major decision without discussing it with others
  • 70% say they are often asked for advice
  • 70% agree that having their friends approval on decisions is important
  • Twice as likely to have 200 – 500 Friends on Facebook than older generations
  • More than 3x as likely to have 5oo+ Facebook Friends
  • 61% rate products and services online
  • 76% believe they can truely make a difference with their actions
  • 63% will likely do business with a socially responsible company
  • 75% would like to travel abroad as much as possible
  • 69% consider themselves adventerous
  • 77% enjoy eating a variety of ethnic foods
  • Twice as likely to visit restaurants mid-morning, afternoon and late night snacks
  • 72% say their physique or appearance is very important
  • 60% say that good health is the most important thing in life
  • 42% watch TV on their computer
  • 38% watch less than 10 hours of TV a week
  • Only 43% continue to buy brands they grew up with
  • 63% will purchase a non-favorite brand on sale
  • 50% will go out of their way for frequent shopper reward programs
  • 37% will purchase a product or service to support a good cause

Gaining a Positioning of Expertise Through Writing

If you want positioning as an expert you need to know that experts write.

Jeff teamed with Christie Garton to write and publish, “Marketing to Millennials: Reach the Largest and Most Influential Generation of Consumers Ever.” 

Christie Garton, a Millennial herself, is the founder and publisher of, an online magazine for college women. She is also the author of best-selling college guide, “U Chic: The College Girl’s Guide to Everything”.

The book’s conclusions are based on the original research initiated by Barkley. Here’s my brief review of the book:

Through expert interviews, statistics, case studies and testimontials, Jeff and Christie provide an enlightening look at this generation that has more wealth than any generation in history. It also provides a practical marketing guide for prospective client brands on how to earn trust and loyalty from Millennials.

Jeff and Christie break down those in the Millennial age group into six segments. The six segments include: Hip-ennial, Millennial Mom, Anti-Millennial, Gadget Guru, Clean and Green Millennial and Old School Millennial. They convey how important it is for brands to understand these different segments to develop effective marketing approaches.

This book is more than theory and statistical research. You will find it full of insights, ideas and practical advice. It is also well written using clear, concise, conversational language that makes it reader friendly. Plus, there are a number of thoughtful additions such as the Key Takeaways at the end of each of the seven chapters.

Both Jeff and Christie have been quickly positioned as Millennial experts. Plus, Barkley has created a niche that is already reaping new business dividends.

Gaining a Positioning of Expertise Through Events

Barkley’s Millennial marketing research led to the founding of the Share.Like.Buy, an annual Millennial Insights & Marketing Conference. The conference is attended by CEOs, CMOs, chief awareness officers, researchers and educators. There are many prospective clients represented. It is toughted as the world’s largest, most comprehensive conference for marketing to Millennials.

Gaining a Positioning of Expertise Through Speaking

Speaking opportunities provide an instant association as being an expert. Jeff frequently speaks about marketing to Millennials to organizations such as the Association of National Advertisers (ANA), International Franchise Association (IFA), and the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4As), as well as private corporations. Here’s a listing of Jeff’s speaking opportunities that often puts him in front of Barkley’s primary prospects:

Video Interview with Jeff: Millennial marketing guru gives sneak peek of Fast Casual Executive Summit keynote

Gaining a Positioning of Expertise Through Social Media

Jeff is the lead editor of a blog, Millennial Marketing. It serves as his central social media platform. This niche blog is full of Millennial information that becomes the cornerstone for building an online community of prospects.

Here are some of his most popular posts:

Jeff’s About Page:

Jeff Fromm is EVP at Barkley, a fiercely independent ad agency in Kansas City. He has been actively studying Millennials since 2010. Though he likes to say that he’s been studying them for two decades, thanks to his twin daughters who are in their early 20s.  Jeff is author of multiple reports and co-author of “Marketing to Millennials: Reach The Largest & Most Influential Generation of Consumers Ever.” See Jeff’s full bio.

Other social media accounts expand Jeff’s reach and engagement with prospects:  Millennial Marketing Facebook page and Millennial Marketing Twitter account. Jeff’s personal accounts Facebook, LinkedInTwitterGoogle +.

SEO: The blog owns the number #1 position in organic search for “millennial marketing”. Take a look at the search results for Jeff Fromm and Millennials.

Videos: The following video is an example of propogating their findings through another means of communication.

millennial marketing Jeff Fromm

A collaborative eBook was written at the first Millennial Marketing conference and shared via this SlideShare presentation: Insanely Useful Advice for Marketing to Millennials.

Gaining a Positioning of Expertise Through PR

Jeff is frequently quoted in national print and online publications about marketing to Millennials, QSRs and retail. He also writes columns and blogs for various publications, including

Here’s a sampling of articles and quotes over the past year:

Barkley has identified additional niches they are reaching using this same personal positioning strategy. 

cpg insights brad hannah

Brad Hannah is an expert in private label and CPG or consumer packaged goods challenger brand food marketing for Barkley.  He writes for an agency niche blog, CPG Marketing Trends and also writes an ongoing column for Progressive Grocer Store Brands e-newsletter.

1 qsr insights

Jason Park and Stephanie Parker are positioned as experts helping quick service restaurants increase their profitability. Jason and Stephanie have more than a decade of experience marketing restaurants that include Sonic Drive-Ins, Applebee’s, Quiznos and Diary Queen. They co-author QSR Insights: Bite Size insights for QSR and Fast Casual.

About Michael Gass

Consultant | Trainer | Author | Speaker

Since 2007, he has been pioneering the use of social media, inbound and content marketing strategies specifically for agency new business.

He is the founder of Fuel Lines Business Development, LLC, a firm which provides business development training and consulting services to advertising, digital, media and PR agencies.


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