As a business, understanding your audience is crucial. You have to know who you want to market to, how they think, what they want, and how they want it. Only then, can you begin to convert this audience into actual customers.
Making up roughly 25% of today’s population and having an estimated direct purchasing power of $200 billion, millennials have become a huge targeted market. The birth year of the millennial generation spans from approximately 1980-2000. As this generation has stepped into its early adult years, and in such large numbers, brands everywhere are trying to secure them as faithful customers. Yet, as with any new consumer trend leader, a strong understanding of their needs and habits is essential.
And the research is out there. Millennials have been inundated with surveys. There are statistics on their personal tastes, beliefs, preferences, their use of technology and interaction with education, and their presence as consumers. But with all of this info, marketing to the millennial generation is still a challenge. Why?
This is because the standard for marketing doesn’t work on millennials. Only 6% of millennials believe online advertising is credible and just 12% considers media to be their main source of influence.
Millennials don’t want to be marketed to. They don’t even like being categorized as millennials, or anything else for that matter. They want to be individuals, just like the rest of the population. They want personal connections and engagement.
If you are a business owner or entrepreneur, you should be implementing these concepts into your marketing. We’re not saying to forget about the rest of the world and to cater strictly to millennials, but the competition to earn their brand loyalty is fierce, and after all, they are the future of the world’s buying power.
The following pointers are a great starting place for any business to market to millennials across multiple channels.
1. Get social.
This is probably the easiest and yet, most dreaded method to reach the millennial market. However, over 75% of the millennial population has a social networking site profile. If you haven’t set up a profile for your business on at least one social networking site, you are missing out. This technology has changed the way consumers search for, rate, and share information. Many millennial consumers turn to sites like Facebook and Twitter to learn other’s opinions on your business, and if they can’t even find you on those sites, they will most likely look for another company instead, feeling that you aren’t committed enough to your business to invest in social networking.
2. Update your technology.
Millennials are the technology gurus of our time, and a company that doesn’t have a website may be hard for them to take seriously. They want a seamless shopping experience where they can easily transition between in-store, mobile, and online. More importantly, the internet gives us 24/7 access to information, and millennials really, really want that. The days of waiting for open business hours are over. A recent survey showed that 92% of millennials say that they are influenced by real-time product availability. Meaning, you have a much wider opening for attracting new millennial customers who can visit, research, and shop your business online on their time, not yours. They want a user-friendly (and mobile friendly) website that can essentially give them everything an in-person interaction would. So find yourself a good web designer and developer, because you’re going to need one to market to millennials.
3. Attach an accessible human to your business.
We know running a business is never-ending work, but millennials want human interaction, as well as digital. A cold voicemail (or even a friendly one) when they call isn’t going to cut it. Hiring a receptionist to do this can be a big out-of-pocket expense for your business. Consider using alternative virtual solutions for this, like a call answering service. Amata Office Solutions is a Chicago based commercial real estate firm that specializes in helping businesses find office solutions that fit their needs. Their Call Answering Program provides live, personalized call answering, among access to their shared co-working spaces and social events (double whammy for targeting millennials; human contact and public interaction), and can cost under $70 a month. The best part is you don’t even have to be in the same state to use this service. Many of Amata Office Solution’s members are based in other areas, on the go, or have home-based businesses. Using Amata’s Call Answering Program ensures that their clients are never being neglected, even when they are at their busiest, and this is what millennials want. Bottom line is, if you don’t have time to give your customers personal, human interaction from the beginning, hire someone who can do it for you.
Of all the studies and surveys done on millennials, one thing stands out as being the most important to them: they want engagement. It’s important to millennials to feel not like a customer, but like any other person, with understandable needs that require attention. The three tips listed above won’t be nearly as effective without engagement. Millennials don’t want to be marketed to through your social and web sites. They want to gain a realistic understanding of your business, and why other consumers use it, but they don’t want ads and gimmicks. 83% of millennials say their social media experience is worsened by sponsored stories, however 91% say they would consider making a purchase if their friends recommended it. So if they don’t trust advertising, and they only trust each other, what do you do?
You have to use brand advocates. Give your costumers multiple platforms from which to voice their opinions on your business. Include testimonials on your website, share fun photos of your company’s own experiences, encourage customers to share their experiences on your social sites, and continue to interact with those that do. Thank customers for posting their stories, ask them questions, and really listen to their answers. Present your company as a living, breathing entity, and you will be well on your way to attracting the millennial generation.