The Millennial Generation has arrived and they are hotly pursued. Millennials represent the future and everyone wants a piece of the 21 – 35 year-old market segment. While prospecting, you may have encountered a Millennial gatekeeper, the boss’s young assistant. Those in their early thirties are also increasingly in the role of decision-maker, so it’s time to make sure that your marketing message and sales strategy are appropriately tailored to what resonates.
Millennials have been even more heavily chased by Corporate America than Baby Boomers. They grew up in the age of product tie-ins to books and movies, video games, 24-hour television, music videos, social media and cell phones. They have been on the receiving end of 360-degree media bombardment for their entire lives. As a result, they excel at picking apart a marketing message. They respond to what they feel is an authentic story about a product and they do not want a slick marketing message.
Michele Serro, former associate partner at IDEO, a design and innovation firm and founder of Doorsteps, a New York City-based online tool for prospective homeowners that targets Millennials, has done extensive research on this generation. Serro found that for Millennials, the marketing message is nearly inseparable from the product itself.
She found that to influence this cohort, a holistic marketing approach is necessary and authenticity is essential. “Millennials can sense when they’re being marketed to or told a story,” Serro says, “and they are extremely impatient with irrelevant information.” A “canned” sales spiel will get you nowhere with Millennial decision-makers. If they feel that your message is false, you will be labeled as untrustworthy and that will be a deal-breaker.
Your sales pitch should be the story of your product: a believable narrative that explains what your product does, who your service is meant to benefit and how what you’re selling will help your Millennial decision-maker resolve or avoid a problem, make the organization look good, or service their organizations’ customers more effectively.
Because they’ve been forever immersed in social media, Millennials are accustomed to interacting directly with the purveyors of the products and services that they use. Facilitate that expectation of engagement:
1. Make the text on your website read like a conversation and design your ads to reflect the content marketing style, which is also conversational in tone. Your message will be somewhat personal and casual. It will allow your Millennial client to connect with, understand and trust what you’re selling.
2. Respect their intelligence and never dumb-down your message. Millennials are ambitious, as evidenced by their heroes Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg. Present your information in a fast-paced way that has some whimsy. You can be sincere or you can be clever.
3. Work with their short attention spans and spread your message via tweets, a constantly updated interactive website, regularly updated blog posts, YouTube and podcasts and content marketing type ads. Make all postings mobile friendly.
4. Give them the opportunity to engage with your brand. Start a dialogue that facilitates a conversation and set the stage for product loyalty. Ask questions they’ll want to answer. Create meaningful content that focuses on building community. Not everything should be a sales pitch.
Nancy Robinson, Vice President at Iconoculture, a Minneapolis consumer research and advisory firm, says that Millennials can become your loyal clients.”They’re loyal, but that loyalty has to be earned and renewed. They expect customer service, they expect the product to be good, they expect the product to work.”
Thanks for reading,
Kim L. Clark is a strategy and marketing consultant who works with for-profit and not-for-profit organization leaders who must achieve business goals. Kim is the founder and principal of the consulting firm Polished Professionals Boston and she teaches business plan writing to aspiring entrepreneurs. Learn how Kim’s expertise can benefit your organization when you visit polishedprofessionalsboston.com.
Photo courtesy of Ted Eytan [FLICKR]