Businesses are constantly changing to keep up with the onset of new products, new technologies and new practices. But now there’s a new B2B buyer to add to the mix, Millennials, and they’re forcing companies to transform the way they do business in order to attract and retain these rising decision makers.
The largest generation since the Baby Boomers, Millennials have surpassed Gen Xers as the largest generation in the U.S. labor force, and the Department of Labor predicts 74 million Millennials will be a part of the workforce by 2025. According to a 2016 report by the B2B marketing agency Sacunas, 73% of Millennials are currently involved in the decision-making of a product or service purchase at their company.
While these statistics are compelling, so is the Millennial makeup. Considered the most tech-savvy and socially conscious generation, Millennials think differently, act differently and, most importantly, work differently. They are all about efficiency and simplicity in the workplace, and expect flexibility wherever possible. They are an entirely digital generation where everything is done on a mobile device – from streaming videos and social networking, to shopping and getting information with a simple voice search.
So what can you do to keep these multi-tasking Millennials engaged and interested in doing business with your company? Consider these three tactics to help attract and connect with these new B2B customers:
1. Develop a strong digital and social presence
To have an eCommerce site is just the tip of the iceberg; you need a multichannel digital presence that Millennials will notice and want to interact with on the job. They prefer using a mobile device over a computer or tablet, so your website must have a responsive design that’s built for smartphone use. Large images, a clean design and easy search and transaction capabilities are a must.
In addition to having a responsive site, you need to be present in other digital channels, such as search engines and social networks. These channels are considered the most important to Millennials for researching B2B products and services. In addition to product information, they’re also looking for insight and reviews about your company, your customer service and your corporate footprint. They care if you have a social conscience, so they want to know what you do for your employees, the community and the environment. Get your story out there; promote your business successes, but don’t forget to celebrate your human successes as well.
Studies show that Millennials are more likely to support a company that is socially engaged and present. According to Sacunas, 85% of Millennials use social media for researching and networking purposes, so be sure to regularly engage on channels like Facebook, LinkedIn, You Tube and Twitter. Post relevant news such as new products and promotions, showcase products with video demos, and interact with people by creating a forum for questions or concerns. Likewise, invite customers to review your company, products and services so they can share their feedback and, hopefully, promote your business and brand.
2. Offer relevant, easy-to-access content
In order to make educated purchasing decisions, Millennials look for entertaining, yet informative content related to vendor products and services. By far, videos resonate the most with Millennials. They prefer this visual format over other types of content because it’s more engaging and convenient for them. Consider producing videos showing new products in action, being sure to highlight the features and benefits they provide. You can also share success stories by interviewing satisfied customers so they can hear first-hand how you helped them or their business. Create a calendar of video topics so that you can keep your videos fresh, creative and relevant for viewers.
After videos, Millennials surveyed said they prefer to read case studies and white papers. Customer stories and testimonials weigh highly for these buyers, as long as they’re authentic and relevant. General company or industry news doesn’t interest them; they rely on more practical information related to products and other customers to help guide their decisions.
3. Gain their interest by making it personal
Millennials approach B2B purchases much like they do when they make consumer purchases: if they are going to be associated with a company, they feel that company should share their ideals and values. This point is not to be taken lightly. Sacunas’ study found that 80% of Millennials felt social, environmental or charitable efforts are important to their purchasing decisions and, when given the choice, they would purchase from a company that supported their values over one that didn’t promote any ideals. If your company is corporate conscious, make a point to promote your causes on social media and other digital channels. Whether it’s an employee volunteer event or a charitable donation to a personal cause, there’s no shame in letting people know your efforts to make a difference.
With Millennials paving their way in the workforce, B2B companies need to take notice and adjust their marketing strategies accordingly so they can keep up with this new digital, social-minded buyer. Taking the time to meet their needs and earn their trust will pay off as these up-and-coming decision makers continue to change the B2B industry.