As posted in the Gaston Gazette
Discussions about what millennials want are everywhere these days – plastered across media websites, scrolling across television screens, garnering hundreds of comments on blogs and social media. Why is this group such big news? Because, according to the Pew Research Center and the U.S. Census Bureau, millennials have surpassed Baby Boomers as the largest living generation. As a result, their influence is growing.
Since many of them are now of an age where they’re buying houses, getting married and having children, they are an audience that many businesses want to engage with. But what’s the best way to reach them? Here are a few effective ways to connect with this powerful group of consumers:
- Make sure you have a mobile presence. Too many websites are either antiquated or inaccessible when it comes to their mobile web presence. This is a big no-no when dealing with millennials. According to Nielsen, over 95 percent of millennials own and use a smartphone. Because this age group does so much on their phones – everything from posting social media updates to purchasing plane tickets – it’s difficult for a business to reach this group if its website doesn’t have the functionality that will make it simple for millennials to order or use its products or services.
- Seek them out online. According to Jayson DeMers at Forbes, millennials are easily the largest demographic on any and all social media, and Instagram and Snapchat are currently their favorite sites. As a result, your best bet for finding and engaging with them in meaningful ways is through social media, and these two platforms in particular will be valuable. If you’re not familiar with either one, you’d be wise to attend a class or watch a video to familiarize yourself (there are lots of YouTube videos that can help you with this). Even better: find a millennial who already believes in your business to help walk you through Instagram or Snapchat and to help you develop some content that this demographic will find engaging. And don’t forget video: we’ve already written an article on the growing influence of live video; millennials find it far more compelling than text.
- Target your message rather than generalizing it. Although we use the “millennial” label often, many millennials dislike being lumped into a large group. Despite falling into this large generational demographic, they are still unique individuals with a huge variety of interests. As marketing expert Stephen Zoeller points out, this is the most racially and ethnically diverse generation that America has ever seen, so that means you’ll have to adapt your messaging accordingly. In other words, if you target your message to “millennials” alone, chances are you’re going to miss the boat. Instead of reaching out and trying to appeal to the group as a whole, find a single (or several) niche demographics within that group that your product or service will likely appeal to and target them. If at all possible, find a way to incorporate individual engagement when you’re reaching out. And it’s not just millennials who love it when a business responds directly to a comment on social — increasing your personal touch will appeal to consumers of all ages.
- Collaborate. Jayson DeMers also points out that 84 percent of millennials don’t trust traditional advertising. Many of them, says DeMers, feel companies who heavily advertise are just motivated by maintaining their profit margins. So what’s a business to do? Focus, as Entrepreneur’s Christina Baldassare mentions, on collaborating with bloggers and other influential millennials to put together content that will help illustrate how your business, organization or product can benefit this target audience. Although that may seem like a stretch for small businesses, hiring a millennial can provide you with both insight and ideas into how to scale this suggestion to your unique size.
- Put your values front and center. It’s not just personal benefit, however, that millennials are looking for when they’re wielding their purchasing power. According to the American Marketing Association, 70 percent of millennials also respect and are loyal to brands that exhibit some form of corporate social responsibility. So, if you want to earn this group’s respect and loyalty, you need to be clear about how you’re giving back to the community. Do you donate some of your profits to a particular charity? Do you have a profit-sharing plan for employees? Do you carbon offset? Whatever it is that you feel strongly about in terms of philanthropy, make sure that your potential millennial customers know about it, too.
Millennials may seem like a vast, intimidating group to connect with, but these tips provide a clear path to reach them effectively. And chances are if you connect with them, you’ll connect with other demographics that share similar interests and vision. That’s a great way all around to build a devoted, dependable customer base.