It’s hard to spend more than 5 minutes on the internet today without stumbling across some Millennial-related content. From killing paper napkins
, we often find ourselves paying lip service to this generation’s preferences. And there’s good reason: from being raised in a digital age to shifting economic pressures, Millennial buying habits are undeniably different from other generations.
But those differences don’t end in B2C territory. According to research
we did with Heinz Marketing
that surveyed over 500 professionals with buying authority, over 40% of Millennials now influence or make B2B buying decisions.
But they run the show differently.
Millennials have distinct buying preferences that have dramatically changed the B2B buyer journey. And their growing numbers and influence mean B2B marketers can’t just assume Millennials are just a B2C concern – we can’t afford to ignore this cohort of buyers any longer.
Lean into what makes Millennial buyers
and “Millennial-proof” your marketing with these three core strategies:
1. Speak to Millennials’ specific challenges
Millennials are most likely to start searching for a problem that they are personally experiencing, whereas other generations are more often motivated by solving for team issues.
You may think this confirms the old trope of the self-centered Millennial employee. But it’s likely that they are more self-motivated. Rather than wait for their bosses to ask them to find answers, our research suggests that Millennials take the initiative to solve their specific professional challenges.
Where other generations may have gone through institutional channels and waited for a solution to their problem, Millennials charge head on into the research to solve their problem, bureaucracy be damned!
To successfully reach Millennials, marketers will need to develop a robust understanding of the specific needs and pain points of Millennial buyers in their vertical. What keeps your Millennial buyers up at night? How can you position your product as the solution to their problems?
2. Build a robust social media following
The power and potential of effective social media marketing is often overlooked in the B2B space, assuming the world of Instagram influencers and Snapchat takeovers are someone else’s opportunity.
But increasingly, thanks to the rise of the Millennial buyer, all generations now indicate that they start their research on social media when considering B2B buying decisions.
Millennials also value human connection and personal relationships with the vendors they choose to work with. Social media allows marketers to humanize themselves to their digital audience at the very top of your funnel. By building a strong, engagement-focused social media presence, marketers meet Millennial buyers at the beginning of the buying journey.
Social media is also a great opportunity to showcase your company values. Our research shows that Millennials buy for who you are, not what you’re selling. They prioritize community engagement and company values over specific product details.
Before you brush off this idea, consider this: while the Millennial buyer may not always be the one calling the shots, you may never make it in front of the Baby Boomer or Gen Xer who may ultimately sign off on your product or service if you don’t get your product in front of Millennials. They are most likely to be researchers or influencers on buying committees, weeding out solutions early on and recommending the best fit for the company.
Marketers will need to build a robust social media strategy showcasing their values in 2018 to engage Millennial buyers.
3. Rethink the lead-gated white paper play
The lead-gated white paper download followed by a cold call from your sales team just doesn’t cut it
with today’s buyers, especially Millennials.
Over 30% of buyers ranked downloadable content like white papers as the least useful content type for them early in a buying process. And the problem isn’t necessarily that B2B marketers aren’t creating great content, it’s that we’re equating a download with buying intent.
Just because someone downloads your white paper does not mean they are in a buying process (it just means they like your content). Further, Millennials in particular don’t want to be called by sales before they’re ready – 32% of them don’t want to connect with sales until the late stages of their buying journey (if at all) when they already know exactly what they want. This means your sales team is likely wasting their time calling people who downloaded a white paper, but are nowhere near ready to buy.
For B2B marketers, the challenge for 2018 will be creating content that keeps Millennial buyers engaged while they move through the buying process at their own pace. Marketers will need to create content and experiences that offer Millennial buyers continuing opportunities to engage without just grabbing their email addresses and hoping they want to hear from you.
The Millennials are here
2018 will require marketers to up their game – Millennial buyers are here, and they interact with content, and consume your marketing materials differently than previous generations.
To be successful in this changing landscape driven by the rise of the Millennial buyer, savvy marketers will speak to specific pain points, focus on relational channels like social media, and bravely abandon the well-worn lead gated white paper that has been central to the old B2B marketing bible.
Read the full report from SnapApp and Heinz Marketing to get more insight on how to Millennial-proof your 2018 marketing here
The post Three Strategies to Millennial-Proof Your Marketing in 2018
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