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How to Market to Millennials if You're Old

Posted by Wendy Marx

How to sell to Millennials (even if you're old). 5 tips to reach Millennials.

 

If you were born before 1980, you may cringe at the thought of figuring out how to market your B2B product or service to Millennials. You might feel a bit like Liz Lemon on 30 Rock:

 
What do these hipsters want anyway? How do you reach them? 
 
In this post, we're going to:
 
  • Break down some stereotypes about Millennials
  • Compare generational values
  • Show you how to market to Millennials

Breaking Through the Millennial Stereotype

The term "Millennial" was coined in 1991, and refers to the generation that was born between 1980-2000. 

The stereotypical Millennial is often seen as an entitled person of the online age, or as someone who hangs around industrial chic coffee houses, sporting a scruffy beard, skinny pants, and a flannel shirt. 

While these stereotypes are familiar to most of us, they are often glaringly inaccurate descriptions of the average Millennial, and lack  the full picture.  

Think about it: 

A working mother of two children and a sophomore in high school are equally defined as Millennials. 

However, you certainly wouldn't market your products or services to a 16-year-old in the same manner as you would to a 35-year-old. 

The bottom line:

Millennials aren't necessarily defined as the stereotypical hipster. 

That being said, the 35-year-old mother and the 16-year-old sophomore have something in common -- they were both raised in the digital age. Neither one has ever experienced working in a world without email, or without instance access to online research materials. 

This reality has therefore shaped the norms and expectations of the Millennial generation.

What do Millennials Value?

To some, this question may seem as perplexing as a teenage girl's constant sway of emotions. However, it's really not so complicated. 

The basic answer is that Millennials prize many of the same things that other generations value when it comes to business transactions: 

  • Human connection
  • Personalized attention
  • Quick repsonse time
  • Transparency
  • Free content

The persona that Millennials are the generation that avoid human contact is misleading. While it's true that 52% of Millennials make online purchases with their phones several times a month, they are also three times more likely to call a business with a question than to reach out on social media. 

The bottom line:

Millennials want the convenience that the digital age has birthed, but not at the risk of losing all authentic human contact. 

Isn't that what we all want, regardless of our age? 

How to Market to Millennials -- 5 Tips

1. Lose the Company Jargon

Authenticity is a huge factor in successfully marketing to Millennials. With that in mind, think about how you communicate to your friends and colleagues. That's how Millennials want to be treated -- as friends and colleagues. 

Therefore, cut out the industry jargon and think about how to communicate in an authentic way. When you talk to your friends about a new product you've tried, do you give them a sales pitch? Of course not. Rather, you chat about how it's changed the way you do things, and the reasons you chose the product in the first place.

Try this: In your next blog post, instead of highlighting a product or service you offer, write about a challenge that your customers face and how to successfully face that challenge. Pretend you're writing to friend that's been struggling with a problem and has come to you for advice. 

2. Don't Ask for Blind Faith -- Use Facts

Millennials have grown up in a very transparent world. Every statement can be challenged with a quick Google search. 

Because of this, you need to back up your claims with hard facts, like this one, from IBM:

53% of Millennials believe analytics can help them make better decisions.CLICK_TO_TWEET.png

 Try this: Include downloadable case studies on your home page that allow readers to analytically understand how your product or service has benefited a customer. Back up the case study with facts and figures, but use everyday language to explain the details.

3. Offer Free Content

Inbound marketing, or content marketing, can be a confusing topic if you're just starting to explore it. The basic concept (as explained by Hubspot) is this: 

 

 Screen_Shot_2016-02-10_at_12.51.02_PM.png

 

Now, if you're into old-school marketing, where paid advertisement rules, this might be a slightly foreign concept. But, let's run with it...

If you think the majority of your prospects are categorized as mature baby boomers, or even GenXers, think again:

46% of millennials are making B2B decisions.CLICK_TO_TWEET.png

So, it's rather likely that a large percentage of your prospects are under the age of 35.

This means that they are accustomed to receiving free information online. The used-car salesman approach is null and void in this generation (as we hope it is across the board). 

Millennials want to be fed free information so that they can make a conscious decision in their own time. It's your job to nurture that hunger for information. 
 
Try this: Find out what is the biggest challenge your customers face. Based on their response, create a piece of free content (ebook, video, whitepaper) that addresses that challenge. 
 

4. Show Your Face on Camera

What recently motivated me to try out the productivity app, Slack? It was this video:

 
What works about it? Sure, the meat and bones are that it's a sales pitch, but it doesn't feel like one. It's fun, it's relaxed, and it makes the company seem human. 
 
Check out this stat:
 
80 percent of Millennials consider video content when researching a purchase decision.CLICK_TO_TWEET.png
 
Try this: Start a YouTube channel featuring your brand in a humanized way. If that seems a bit overwhelming, or if you're initially anxious about having your face on the big screen, start with some tutorials about your product. 
 

5. Don't Neglect Social Channels

Nearly every business is on some kind of social channel. More important than a social existence, though, is a social presence

Millennials use your interactions on social media to judge whether or not your company culture is the right fit for them. Therefore, if you're only interacting on Twitter once every couple of months, or only posting on LinkedIn every blue moon, you've taken away a major criteria for analysis. 

Try this: Not every channel is right for your B2B company. However, it's a good bet that LinkedIn should be your go-to channel:

 80% of B2B social media leads come from LinkedIn.CLICK_TO_TWEET.png

So, if you haven't started one already, go ahead and create a LinkedIn company page. You can even use our free resource to get you going: Your Guide to Creating the Perfect LinkedIn Page. 

Inside, you'll learn about how to write a killer company description, how to make your page pop with the right graphics, and you'll even get some tips from the pros. The guide is my gift to you!

In the meantime, I hope you've learned a thing or two about marketing to Millennials, or as we like to call them... people. 

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Topics: B2B Marketing

Feb 11, 2016
 
 
 
 
 



 

 

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