Millennials get a hard time in the press – portrayed as self-centered and difficult to work with – but you may want to steer clear of these assessments as the face of marketing changes. In 2012, millennials were only 27 percent of the B2B market, but they now make up about half of the market, and are still making gains. This is a market you can’t afford to discount or disparage. In fact, they should be central to how you think about marketing.

Rather than focusing on the failings of an entire generation, digital marketing professionals should focus on what they can learn from millennials and how they can apply those lessons to their campaigns. Millennials are skeptical and disinterested in a lot of older marketing methods that they view as disingenuous and intrusive, making them precisely who you need to devise new, more effective strategies.

Now is the time to start onboarding millennials for your marketing team if you haven’t already – and to start listening to them. It’s time to build intergenerational bridges.

Pro Tip #1: Don’t Dismiss Youth

One reason that millennials sometimes get the short end of the stick is that their name identifies them clearly with a temporal landmark – we all know about when millennials were entering young adulthood in a way that naming a group generation X doesn’t really accomplish.

This may be a disadvantage for the group because so many people still think of the year 2000 as very recent, rather than a decade and a half ago. Millennials are adults with full-fledged professional abilities, and many industries, marketers included, forget that.

Rather than dismiss youth, it works to your advantage to highlight the capacities of youth. Take Timothy Sykes as an example. Born in 1981, Sykes is considered a millennial and has already parlayed his talent as a penny stock trader into millions of dollars. Not only that, but he’s also taught many others to do the same through his training programs. No one would apply the many negative millennial stereotypes to Sykes, so why do we so easily pigeonhole a huge segment of our audience?

Pro Tip #2: Listen To Their Critiques

Having grown up in a complex digital landscape, surrounded by a new density of ads, millennials are, in fact, very savvy about advertising. That makes them an ideal part of any advertising team. Prone to filtering out the absurd and over the top “shock and awe” style campaigns, as well as see-through ads that are all hype and no content.

Instead, millennials can help drive your marketing campaigns by pointing out the gaps, challenging your claims, and demonstrating just how their peers will take on anything they view as suspicious.

As any millennial will tell you, when they hear or see an ad that makes unlikely claims, they aren’t going to buy a product and give it a shot or ask around trying to find a friend who has used your product. No, they’re going to go straight to the internet and run searches until they get to the heart of the matter. You can’t sell snake oil to a millennial.

Pro Tip #3: Let Them Lead Where They Excel

Millennials are masters of social media in a way that no one from older generations can match. After all, Mark Zuckerberg, co-founder of Facebook and born in 1984, is also a millennial, and no one is about to challenge his social media – or business – prowess. Your average employee from the same generation may not have helped to build one of the biggest platforms online, but they certainly know their way around them.

That’s why you should let millennials lead in the areas where they succeed. When given the right training and empowered to make decisions, they can have a huge impact on your marketing campaigns. Often, our judgments that deem millennials poor members of a corporate team are based on cases where they aren’t given any decision making power. They’ve never been given a meaningful chance.

Stop trying to market to millennials without bringing them onboard, or you’ll quickly find you’re working against multiple disadvantages. Other companies are learning this lesson and changing their corporate makeup and their marketing style to meet their new audience.

It’s your company’s turn to step up to the plate.

Now is the time to start onboarding millennials for your marketing team if you haven’t already – and to start listening to them. It’s time to build intergenerational bridges. To develop strategies for effectively engaging millennials and leveraging their insights, explore WebCEO’s Social Media Analytics Tools.