In this time of increasing technological capabilities, it is time for a business shake-up. Excelling businesses need to target the tech-savvy millennials. These young B2B researchers (aged 18-35) have grown up in an age of digital connectivity, easy access and instant gratification. To stay ahead of the game, businesses need to understand and appeal to this new generation of decision makers.
Why target millennials?
According to a survey conducted by Google and Millward Brown Digital, 46% of B2B researchers in 2014 were millennials, compared to just 27% in 2012. With a more youthful workforce, some traditional strategies of the buying process have gone out of the window. One of the major inter-generational changes is the loss of the sales pitch. According to Social Media B2B, linear sales pitches end up frustrating millennial buyers and risk lengthening the sales process. Despite this, millennials state that interactions with the seller are the most influential process in decision making. Therefore, to ensure that businesses are reaching a good middle ground, they must understand what engages millennials when buying products or services. This can quite often be a relaxed conversation about what the business can offer, instead of going for the hard-sell method.
These business brains are young, up-to-date and highly technical. Mobile phones are a major part of a millennial's life, as a survey by Mitek concluded that 87% say that their smart phone never leaves their side. This tech mania doesn’t end when they enter the office, as “49% of B2B researchers who use their mobile devices for product research do so while at work”. This is a major change compared with the previous generations, who prefer a less casual method of research.
What are their buying strategies?
The most important concept businesses need to get their heads around, in order to target millennials correctly, are the methods which these young decision makers employ when researching. Google states that: “On average, B2B researchers do 12 searches prior to engaging on a specific brand’s site.” Therefore, millennial researchers are well aware of who you are, what you do and what your values are before any interaction. This is revolutionary inter-generationally, as researching is now more important than repeatedly using a trusted supplier.
Instead of searching for a particular brand or company, Google has found that millennials kick off their search with generic internet query. 71% of millennials say they research products or services first before looking for a supplier. Another new development is watching videos, with 70% of B2B buyers and researchers watching videos throughout their path to purchase. This is an interesting finding, as it demonstrates that millennials want to independently discover what businesses can offer them, without being bought into with a sales pitch.
What can you do to appeal to millennials?
One of the most effective ways for businesses to engage millennials is to have interesting and varied information on their website. Elite Daily has discovered that, “unlike prior generations, millennials rely mostly on blogs; one in three selected them as a top media source before making a purchase”. This demonstrates that content writing is an effective and important way to bring millennials on board with a business.
As we have discovered, millennials need to be targeted differently to Gen X and Baby Boomers. However, Elite Daily has outlined that “millennials don’t trust traditional media and advertising and are looking for the opinions of their friends (37%), parents (36%) and online experts (17%) before making purchases”. Therefore, the people that millennials may turn to for advice will not necessarily be bought over in the same way. This means that businesses must ensure that they are appealing to all ages.
An interesting development in the world of social media is that a majority of millennials like to interact with business contacts in this way. Elite Daily outlines that “62% of millennials say that if a brand engages with them on social networks, they are more likely to become a loyal customer”. Although LinkedIn is designed for this purpose, Facebook, Twitter and other avenues are invaluable to the millennial researcher. Social Media B2B suggests that “social communities like LinkedIn and Twitter allow buyers to understand your value proposition while doing their own online research, and they readily consume valuable information like videos, blog posts, how-tos, testimonials, and more to form their impressions". This means that businesses must have a comprehensive social media presence, to allow millennial researchers to have a full impression of who they are and what they stand for, not just the product or service that they are offering.
Our managing director Alan Boyce and CEO Fergus Parker previously wrote blogs on the issue of LinkedIn. They demonstrate conflicting attitudes toward using social media in a business environment. They also explore the fact that, even if it can be frustrating at times, LinkedIn and social media are valuable assets for companies.
What do you need to do?
So what can you possibly do with all of this information?
Have a comprehensive online presence. Compile fantastic social media channels with blog posts, videos and infographics.
Do not hard sell. Millennials will research your business so you don’t have to bore them with a long-winded sales pitch.
Millennials want to work collaboratively, and getting in touch is one of the most important processes of the buying process.
Face-to-face contact is important. In this age of online connectivity it is important to maintain this natural method of communication.
Knowing how to correctly target an audience can be challenging, especially if they are a new force in the workplace. However, this should be integrated into your business strategy if you wish to stay on top and relevant.
However, a word of warning
All of these statistics are all well and good, but it is important to remember that these figures are not indicative of all millennials. Oliver Tadd, commercial director and a millennial decision maker for Energenie, contradicts this study of millennials somewhat. Tadd does not like to be approached by suppliers on social media, and prefers face-to-face meetings if he is going to be involved with a business. On the issue of LinkedIn he said: “I’ve used it to contact people before, but generally I use a more natural way of meeting people.” When asked if there is anything he may do differently in the buying process, compared to someone of an older generation, he hypothesised that he “wouldn’t say there’s a formulaic reasoning” between generational methods.
However, if we don’t do our research in order to market to the target audience, we may as well be flogging cassette tapes to Spotify.