Does navigating the waters of the millennial generation seem overwhelming? They're no longer the angsty teenagers who Smell Like Teen Spirit (click here if you're too old to get that reference). Nope, they're now the decision makers in today's marketplace. How do Millennials impact your B2B company? And how can you reach out them during the buying process?
Who are Millennials? Do They Matter to B2B Marketing?
Millennials are those who were born between 1980 and 1996. They are the generation who came after the GenXers (those born between 1965 and 1979). To put this in perspective, by the time even the oldest Millennials entered the workforce, nearly half of all Americans were already using email regularly.
Digital natives, they're the first generation of tech-savvy business people.
If you've been around the block, you might have a hard time thinking that Millennials are making buying decisions, especially in the B2B marketing arena. However, a study by Google and Millword Brown Digital shows otherwise. In fact, in just a short period of time, the number of Millennials making purchase decisions in the B2B realm has risen dramatically:
And, as Millennials age, they will be the driving force behind the B2B business world, so you'll want to know how to gain their attention and adoration now.
How Millennials Make Buying Decisions
Millennials are researchers. They've grown up in a world where an unlimited amount of information is at their fingertips, and they're eager to put it to good use.
Therefore, Millennials need content readily available. They want to research a company and product, not only to discover if the price is right (something all generations want), but to sense what doing business with a particular company would be like. Does the company provide free, educational content? Is its customer support dependable and easy to reach? Millennials have a very short attention span when it comes to being put on hold. They expect a hyper-responsive experience, preferably a digital one.
In addition, Millennials want hard-core data and analytics to back up their purchasing decisions. According to a 2014 study by IBM,
Oddly enough, the same article showed that Millennials don't place a high value on others' opinions while they're in the research phase of the buying process. However, they highly value the opinions of peers when it comes to making the actual purchase.
Millennials are also less likely to leave negative reviews since they are all too familiar with the sting of negative postings in social media and will avoid engaging in online character debates.
6 Ways to Use B2B Marketing for Millennials
Now that you have some insight into the buying habits of Millennials, how do you revolutionize your marketing to include this important demographic?
1. Make Content Readily Available
If your site doesn't include owned media, such as blog posts and other educational tools, the average Millennial will assume you don't take doing business in the digital age seriously.
If you haven't started yet, commit to at least two blog posts a month. Ideally, you should be posting twice per week. And remember, this is valuable and educational content. It's not direct advertisement. It's to help prospecitve buyers to become more educated.
Don't forget about other types of content -- video, SlideShares, podcasts, Infographics, white papers, eBooks, and case studies.
Handpicked Related Content:
2. Get Active on Social Media
You may think that your B2B is too boring for social media. However, Millennials couldn't disagree more. You see, they want insight into the personality of your company before they commit. They want to see what you value, and how you communicate. They are also watching to see how quickly you respond to interactions on social media.
So hurry up and get your social media strategy underway. Decide which channels to highlight, commit to posting regularly, and responding to comments quickly.
3. Commit to a Responsive Customer Service Experience
Millennials do not want to wait on hold, nor do they want to have to search for ways to contact you. How can you best fulfill their customer service needs?
Here are a few dos and don'ts:
- Offer a "we'll call you" option on your contact page. This frees up the buyer to go about his or her business without waiting on hold.
- Don't simply have an email contact sheet as the only way to reach your company. There is a sense of uneasiness that you'll never get back in touch or that your response will land in the junk folder.
- Provide live chat assistance.
- Be at the ready to answer troubleshooting questions and other inquires on social media.
- On your mobile website, make sure your phone number is clickable so that one touch places the call for the buyer. This avoids the frustration of copying and pasting, or worse yet, writing it down on a separate piece of paper (gasp!)
- Don't use long form sheets on your mobile website. When buyers want to contact you or download your eBook, they don't want to complete a resume just to see if they qualify. Short sheets are more mobile friendly. Think name and email address only.
4. Include Millennials in Your Company Culture
Millennials want to feel connected, as part of a culture or community. More than ever, these buyers want to know that they will have an integrated experience.
Thank posters for leaving positive feedback, and if they've had a stellar experience with your service or product, ask if you can highlight it in a case study.
If buyers are less than forthcoming with feedback, reach out to them and let them know that you value their thoughts and opinions. Remember, Millennials may have even less patience than most for the telemarketer experience, so make your communication casual and friendly.
5. Be Authentic
Millennials have a widely different view of Corporate America. They have grown up in a land where Steve Jobs and Google rule. Stuffy cubicles are replaced with open working spaces and rent-by-day office co-ops. Skinny jeans paired with a graphic tee are the new power suit.
This isn't to say that Millennials are disrespectful of the workplace. Rather, they prefer to have their work life integrated into who they are, and they want that to be an enjoyable, authentic, and rewarding experience. If anything, Millennials show that they take their work life seriously by incorporating it into their very being.
Therefore, they are seeking companies who agree with this sort of authenticity. Keep a glass door policy and Millennials will be happy to get on board.
6. Get Friendly with Data
Millennials want hard-core facts and figures, not empty, emotional claims. Statistics go a long way with the average Millennial. Make sure you have your figures in order and prominently displayed in case studies, and on your website.
What to Do Next
1. Read about How to Grow Your B2B PR with Social Media to get a better understanding of how to use this marketing tool for the Millennial age.
2. Subscribe to the B2B PR Sense Blog by filling out the form below. You'll get the latest, cutting-edge info on all things B2B PR.
3. Analyze your B2B content to see if it's up to par. Better yet, let the professionals help you. Get a boost by signing up for our free Content Assessment.