B2B Marketing to Millennials
Millennials have surpassed Baby Boomers as the nation’s largest living generation, according to population estimates released by the U.S. Census Bureau. Millennials, whom we define as those ages 18-34, now number 75.4 million, surpassing the 74.9 million Baby Boomers (ages 51-69). These millennials are now in the B2B world. More than one in three American workers are now millennials and they do not respond to B2B marketing the same way their Baby Boomer predecessors did. Therefore, understanding of the situation is in order before we try our hand at marketing to millennials.
The Purchase Process:
A survey by The Arketi Group found that 61% of millennials describe their role in technology purchases within their organization as decision-maker and 34% report having budget and/or final sign-off authority on enterprise technology purchases of $10,000 or more. As decision-makers, millennials are consensus decision makers. Millennials want the support of their team. Their team can be their friends and colleagues as well as other important people within their industry.
The new buyer’s journey for millennials looks like this:
|Step One||Online search for product information|
|Step Two||Research industry influencers for reviews|
|Step Three||Input from friends/colleagues|
|Step Four||Live demonstrations from vendors|
Millennials go to search engines to create a long list of options. This is followed by checking the opinions of industry analysts for reviews and recommendations. When they pare down their list based on the reviews, they then gather information and opinions from their friends and colleagues. Finally, they visit the vendors for a live demonstration of the product/service (Source: Arketi Group). So keep that desire for consensus in mind when marketing to millennials.
This purchase process presents a lot of opportunities for an integrated B2B marketing plan to reach out to them. First, let us look at the types of content from which they prefer to get information to help them with their decision.
(Source: Sacunas.net: “How the Millennial Business Buyer is Changing B2B Sales & Marketing”)
In the search phase, when they are online looking for information, a strong content marketing program is essential. Carefully targeted content that is optimized for search will help direct the millennials to your solutions. Content must be strategically placed on websites and portals that the millennials use during their search. These sites are:
(Source: Epsilon Data Management)
Succinct product videos on YouTube can catch their attention and direct them to your website to download white papers and case studies. Placing links to videos and papers on Google+ will have a positive impact as well.
In the influencers stage of the process, millennials seek out the influencers of their industry. They actively look for recommendations and opinions of the men and women who are the thought leaders in their industry. This is where a strong influencer marketing campaign belongs. When the thought leaders of the industry are aware of your products and services, they are more likely to talk about them. A word of advice, though: start your influencer marketing campaign now. Influencers will work with you when they know you, not just when they receive an ad or a friendly letter from you once.
Colleagues and Friends: Based on the data they have gathered so far, the millennials will shorten their list of options and then seek input from friends and colleagues. This is where a strong social media marketing program to millennials is essential. The best recommendations for your products are when their colleagues deliver strong recommendations. It is crucial to have built solid relationships with your social media program. Millennials are very concerned with authenticity; they do not like phoniness or sales pitches and that is why they consult with their friends and colleagues. Any social media marketing program must be authentic and honest in its approach. Be open and honest about your products and services; both their advantages and disadvantages and the people who use them.
Finally, there is the final stage before purchase. This is when the millennial wants to see a live demonstration of the product. By this time you should have built a relationship with the prospective customer, so that the demo is an easy step. Since we know that millennials prefer collaborative decisions, ask them to bring their friends to the demo. You can also use technology to reach out to their friends. Google Hangouts can deliver a live video. It is also possible to perform a live video on YouTube. Before you launch, make sure the demo is announced via email and make sure to send reminders on Twitter inviting their colleagues to watch the live demonstration.
In summary, millennial presence in the B2B market place is growing rapidly. Reaching out to them is a fairly easy process when their style of information consumption is taken into consideration and proper materials are prepared for outreach. Now may be a good time to take another look at your search marketing, content marketing, influencer marketing and social media marketing plans to determine the best way to conduct effective B2B marketing to millennials.
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With more than 25 years of hands on marketing strategy and operations experience, Sheila Kloefkorn is dedicated to developing marketing strategies and plans that help clients succeed. Some of the world's largest brands have depended on Sheila for marketing programs that delivered tangible and substantial results. Specialties: B2B marketing, lead generation, lead nurturing, sales strategy, marketing strategy, competitive marketing strategy, social media, search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM), mobile marketing, email marketing, website design, marketing plans.