Have you started thinking about Millennials in your B2B marketing strategies? It might be hard to believe, since they were "just kids" a few years ago, but they are rapidly entering management levels. According to Pew research, they are already the largest generation in the US workforce, and their numbers are only going to grow in the years to come.
And if you try to talk to them like you talk to Boomers, they'll show you the door.
There are probably few generation gaps we know of larger than that separating the Millennials from the Boomers. They have had vastly different upbringings, creating vastly different views on life. Knowing how to talk to them is going to be key to B2B marketing strategies moving forward.
Know Your Millennials
So who is a Millennial, anyway? It's a hard generation to define, although it's generally considered to be anyone born in 1980 or later. However, it's also possible for late-born Xers after 1975 or so to have Millennial-like traits, especially if they grew up in tech-savvy households.
More or less, if someone's under 40, they're probably either a Millennial or have leanings in that direction.
These are some character traits which are generally typical of Millennials:
- Honest egalitarianism. They are by far the least-sexist, racist, homophobic (etc) generation yet, and generally respond badly to anything with bigoted overtones. Likewise, jingoism is fairly rare.
- Work hard / play hard. Contrary to stereotype, most Millennials are hard workers, and they're also highly entrepreneurial. They just want to have some fun while they're doing it, and reject "Puritan" ideas of work as its own reward.
- Self-teaching. This is the generation that turned "google" into a verb. They are extremely comfortable teaching themselves via online sources and tend to research things heavily.
- More logical, less emotional. They aren't robots, but most Millennials will be swayed by hard facts ahead of appeals to emotion.
- Sometimes-extreme cynicism. Millennials have grown up in dark times. They tend towards being distrusting of authority and border on outright paranoia about manipulation. (Another reason they trust facts over emotion.)
- Socially-minded. Millennials are far more likely to be concerned about social welfare, unemployment, environmental problems, and other "big picture" global issues.
- Attention-deficit. Millennials are media-saturated and accustomed to the rapid pace and multi-channel flow of information on the Internet. They are -arguably- the first generation which is both capable and comfortable with multitasking effectively.
- Social-media addicted. Whether it's Facebook, Reddit, Tumblr, or any of the other options, Millennials rely heavily on social websites both for social contacts as well as news/research.
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Effective B2B Marketing Strategies For Millennial Professionals
So where does this leave you and your outreach? It's a field that's currently under intense scrutiny, but here are some suggestions that should help.
1 - Never Ever Lie.
This simply cannot be emphasized enough. The tendency of Millennials to do their own research, coupled with their paranoia about manipulation, means that lying to them is a very very bad idea. Honesty is the best policy and Millennials do positively respond to those they see as being honest\sincere. If you earn a Millennial's trust you'll have a very loyal customer.
2 - Avoid outright advertising.
Most Millennials dislike traditional advertising intensely, and will respond much better to strategies based in social outreach or content marketing. Their lives are already interrupted so often that they regard traditional ads as further unwanted intrusion.
3 - Always answer "What's in it for me?"
While this is should be fundamental for all B2B marketing strategies, it's especially important when dealing with Millennials. They aren't wholly self-centered, but they are extremely self-interested and expect clear rewards for any action taken on their part. For example, surveys and other data-collecting activities will be more successful if there's a carrot attached.
4 - More visuals, less text.
Millennials aren't as reading-adverse as often claimed; it's more that they consider pure text to be inefficient at conveying many ideas. A multi-media approach to content that has a strong emphasis on visuals, with text and sound taking a secondary position, will work better.
5 - Focus on social outreach.
If you're marketing to Millennials in any market, a strong social presence is a must. This can also work to your advantage. Millennials tend to self-segregate into discrete online communities, so knowing the demographics of sites like Reddit and Facebook, and their sub-communities, can help you discover great lead sources.
6 - Personalize and customize.
The more "mass-market" something appears to be, the less likely a Millennial will be interested in it. Utilizing smart marketing automation techniques will help you build content which seems far more personalized and immediately-relevant to a Millennial.
Understand Your Client Completely
Millennial B2B marketing strategies require an entirely new approach, compared to marketing to Boomers. Understanding the major differences between the generations will be key to your success here.