Developing new slang, using selfie sticks, and religiously watching reality shows are a few of the most commonly used characteristics to describe the Millennial generation (ages 18-34).
While some of these may be true (I recently got a millennial friend a selfie stick as a gift), this generation is much more complicated than it may seem on the surface and B2B marketers need to start taking them seriously, today.
Did you know?
- This year, Millennials are expected to surpass the Baby Boomer generation as the nation’s largest living generation.
- By 2018, Millennials will have the most spending power of any generation.
- 3% of U.S. executives will be eligible to retire in the next 5 years.
- In the last 5 years: 87% of Millennial workers took on management roles, vs 38% of GenX & just 19% of Boomers.
Noticing a trend? What these stats tell me is that Millennials are rapidly assuming leadership roles within organizations, in turn making them more influential players in the decision-making process than ever before. So, what do B2B marketers need to remember when informing and engaging this dynamic generation?
Combining my own thoughts as a millennial in the B2B space with data from a couple recent industry reports from the IBM Institute for Business Value and Google/Millward Brown Digital, I’ve come up with a few things that are critical for B2B marketers to consider:
1. They want to get to know their vendors
It may seem strange for the digitally-dependent Millennial generation to actually want to get to know the vendor they will be working with, but the reality is, using online sources for research is looked at as a “routine” task in the process. Communicating directly with vendor representatives is the real number one source of research for millennials.
This doesn’t necessarily mean they want generic sales pitches thrown at them from every direction, rather, they want to have relevant, personalized experiences with the vendor during the research phase. At KoMarketing, we work with prospects (either virtually or in person) to get some of their most pressing questions answered and provide them with recommendations and workflow that would be realized if a partnership was formed.
2. They value collaboration
Compared to their Gen X and Baby Boomer counterparts, millennials take a particular liking to vendors that offer an exceptional client experience. IBM’s data shows that 35% of Millennials list “Ease of doing business” as their first priority when it comes time to select a vendor. Willingness to work collaboratively (33%) and industry and marketplace expertise (31%) were also important factors. Gen X and Baby Boomer members tend to prioritize based on speedy delivery of products and quick responses.
When marketing to Millennials, B2B marketers need to ensure they display their willingness to collaborate and make themselves available when needed. We’ve seen this strategy pay off at KoMarketing as we’ve had several opportunities to train our clients on SEO best practices while also completing critical tasks in order to meet business goals.
3. After the sales cycle begins, don’t call them
One of my Millennial colleagues recently said in jest, “I don’t even like it when my parents cold call me.” This statement seems to carry some weight across the entire generation, as Millennials seemingly want their space after the research phase has been completed (see below chart).
Rather than following up with prospects via unwanted telephone calls, B2B marketers and salespeople need to consider faster, more convenient forms of communication. Digital properties like social media, live chats and email are all welcomed and encouraged tactics. At KoMarketing, we take this into account by allowing our clients to determine how frequently and through which channels we communicate with them.
4. They get by with a little help from their friends
Once again looking at how Millennials compare to their Gen X and Baby Boomer colleagues, there are fundamental differences in how the two generations make B2B purchasing decisions. Data shows that Millennials rely on an equal mix of organizational data analysis and the opinions of family and friends while Gen Xers and Baby Boomers tend to favor their own individual opinions and insight gleaned from industry experts.
The key takeaway here is to remember these large B2B purchasing decisions being made my Millennials could very well be swayed by others that are far outside your target market. At KoMarketing, one of the things we do to stay connected to not only our target audience, but also those far outside of it, is manage an Instagram account that doesn’t necessarily “scream” B2B marketing. Remember, you never know who might play a part in choosing between you and another vendor. Get yourself involved in the community!
5. They want a mobile-friendly experience
The usage of mobile among B2B researchers is reportedly intensifying. This can likely be linked to the growing number of Millennials involved in B2B research processes. Google/Millward Brown’s data shows that 42% of today’s researchers use a mobile device during the B2B purchasing process and within that 42%, there has been a 91% growth in use over the past two years throughout the entire path (instead of just at the initial stages of research).
As a result of mobile’s spike in usage, B2B marketers need to ensure their websites and overall strategies are optimized for mobile. At KoMarketing, we’ve been stressing the importance of mobile friendly web experiences for quite some time to make sure we are aligning with our target market’s needs.
6. If Google trusts you, they trust you
As a Millennial, I vaguely remember the days of not knowing. You know, those days before Google could be accessed from the palms of our hands. “I’ll Google it” is a phrase that’s been a part of most Millennials’ lives since they were in grade school, therefore, it’s become a measurement and signal of trust.
In fact, according to the “2015 Edelman Trust Barometer,” search engines are now the most trusted source for general news and information among the informed public for the first time ever, edging out traditional media. The trust gap between traditional and digital sources of media is even more evident among Millennials, as 72% of them say online search engines are their most trusted source of information (64% for the broader informed public).
What does this mean to B2B marketers? Well, it means Millennials could very well research (or judge) vendors based on the information they find when they “Google it.” B2B marketers’ websites and their associated content should be optimized for search engines in order to get them in front of Millennial decision makers’ eyes. I don’t think I need to explain how KoMarketing can help here : )
If your current B2B marketing strategy doesn’t take into account the interests of the Millennial generation, it may be time to rethink your strategy. The truth is, as time moves on, these selfie-loving digital enthusiasts will continue to find themselves in decision-making roles. What types of marketing strategies does your organization use to appeal the Millennial generation?