Hello, I’m a millennial. Born between 1981 and 1996. You’ve probably heard some stuff about me and my generation. You know, how we’re entitled and lazy. How we’re hyper-focused on getting more likes on Instagram and more followers on Twitter. How we’re apparently “killing” the diamond, cable tv, motorcycle and yes, even the American cheese industries.
These are all really just sweeping generalizations. There’s more to us than Snapchat and our parents’ basements.
People are kind of obsessed with us. Seriously, I’ve seen many articles, listicles, videos, podcasts and the like about us millennials. To some extent, the fascination is warranted considering millennials are pretty much taking over the workforce. Check it out:
According to Pew Research Center’s analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data, more than one in three working Americans are millennials
Gallup estimates that there are approximately 73 million millennials in America
A recent B2B report on millennials by Merit found that 73% of 20 to 35 year old’s are involved in product or service purchase decision-making at their companies and one-third of them reported they are the sole decision-maker for their department
Let’s talk about that last statistic. 73% of 20 to 35 year old’s are making purchasing decisions in B2B scenarios. Demographics of B2B buyers are clearly changing. They are getting younger. Are you thinking about the differences in their buying habits compared to the generations that came before them?
Here are five simple truths about selling to millennials in B2B, straight from the mouth of a millennial herself.
1. If we can do it online, we’d rather do it online.
We like to find the information we want to find, on our own, the moment we set out to find it. We like efficiency. We don’t like to have to call a representative and spend hours on the phone. And it’s not because we don’t like you. It’s because we don’t want to waste your time or our own time. We want to find what we need to find and get on with our day. If you’re not online, your competition will be. And you bet we’ll find them.
Selling to Us: Get online. Be findable. Build better user experiences.
2. We know when you’re trying to market to us.
There’s no generation before us that adopted technology the way millennials did. We’re digital natives and early adopters. (Checkout this piece from Pew Research Center about generational technology adoption) As technology usage grew, so too did the amount of advertisements we were being fed. Today, companies try to reach us any way they can, through as many channels as possible. And we’re not buying it. (Literally and figuratively) According to a recent study by McCarthy Group, 84% of millennials said they did not like traditional marketing, nor did they trust it. We know that if we download your white paper, you’ll follow up with us to sell us your product or service. Or if we visit your website then navigate away from it, we’ll be retargeted back to your website later on. We know you’re marketing to us. But you’ll have to be strategic to get us to actually listen. Don’t get me wrong. Just because we know it’s happening, doesn’t mean we won’t respond to marketing. You just have to do it in a way that’s helpful and human. Leave the jargon and the corporate speak behind and tell us what you want to tell us in a thoughtful way.
Selling to Us: Be authentic. Be genuine. Understand your brand’s vision and define your purpose. Cut through the clutter.
3. We won’t respond unless it’s about us.
Narcissistic? Probably. When it comes to cold calling or one-off emails about the value of your business or how you’re #1 in your industry, none of it matters unless you give us something that makes us say, “I can see myself in this”. We don’t have a very long attention span and we’re definitely not going to show up to your hour long demo disguised as a webinar just because you’ve stuffed a fancy buzzword in the title. To really cut through the clutter of the marketplace, you have to do a good job telling us why your product or service could benefit us specifically.
Selling to Us: Personalize your message. Make every touchpoint count. Tell us about us.
4. If you haven’t noticed, we like our phones. A lot.
According to a study by B2X, 25% of millennials look at their smartphone more than 100 times per day. (Fun experiment for my fellow millennials, I just did a quick screen time lookup on my iPhone and I spent a total of 27 hours and 24 minutes on my phone the past 7 days – yikes!) I don’t love admitting it, but many of us are glued to our phones. Mobile usage in B2B is, to no surprise, only increasing. In fact, The Boston Consulting Group conducted research that found that 80% of B2B buyers are using mobile at work, and more than 60% of them report that mobile played a significant role in a recent purchase. When it comes to marketing to millennials, mobile should no longer be an after thought.
Selling to Us: Design your website for mobile first. At the very least ensure your site is responsive. Or deploy a fully branded mobile app.
5. We like when companies are fundamentally good.
We are a socially conscious generation. We like to feel good and we like to support brands that do good. AJ Agrawal, Founder of Verma Media said it succinctly when he wrote in a recent Entrepreneur article, “The world is in a dire state. With the rising cost of living, sluggish job markets and sky-high college debts, millennials are tight on cash; they can’t make the charitable donations their parents once did. Given these circumstances, many want to patronize and work for companies that are not only customer-oriented, but have socially oriented mission statements (and actually follow through).” For many of us the reality is that we’re drowning in student debt so working for or doing business with socially conscious companies is one step we can actually take to feel somewhat good about ourselves.
Selling to Us: Support a cause that aligns with your mission. Give back in the community. Be a company millennials can feel good about supporting.
Us millennials really aren’t all that complicated. We just want to get our jobs done as efficiently as possible, buy products and services from companies we can feel good about, and maybe here and there, take a pic of our #avocadotoast for the gram.
Pssst….here’s a bonus tip. These 5 truths aren’t just for millennials. My boss is a Gen-Xer and he agrees with all of these too (except maybe the #avocadotoast part).