Marketing to millennials: a generation of influencers

- July 15, 2020 3 MIN READ

My, how time flies! The first of those supposedly entitled, unmotivated, lazy, technology-obsessed, video-game-playing upstarts we call “millennials” are now into their mid-thirties. To the surprise of baby boomers and Gen-Xers, the majority of them are growing up to be responsible, hard-working adults who are part of a generational powerhouse that is not to be ignored, writes Faye Ferris, sales and marketing director at businessesforsale.

The millennials now comprise 25% of the population and are expected to spend $2.45 trillion this year alone. According to a University of Wisconsin study, 85 per cent of millennials are either working or in school.

At the same time, it is NO surprise to the older generation that these millennials are different in their core make-up of how they think, operate, and view life. They seek out information and make decisions very differently than previous generations. So, it’s important that we don’t use the same methods to reach and influence them as we’ve used to reach “their elders.”

We need to adapt our buyer personas and take a serious look at including them in the mix of our content marketing strategy now.

Who are the millennials?

In the broad sense, millennials were born after 1980 and are defined as being between the ages of 18 and 34. They’ve grown up with ever-increasing technology at the core of their lives. From Nintendo 64 to WiiU and the “World Wide Web” to social media, the digital age is part of the very fabric of who they are. They are visually inspired and seek to make a difference. They are undergirding and fueling the new wave of social-conscious living and the increase of socially active companies over these past few years.

Articles recently addressing this generation debunk many myths about millennials and give us insight into what makes up their buyer personas. One says: “They were forged in the dynamic, fast-moving, boundary-breaking world of the digital age. The tools millennials and others grew up using in school and in their social lives—computers, the Internet, social media, mobile devices—have translated to expectations of the workplace.”

With a cautious view of “big business,” millennials are treading the corporate waters cautiously. In another study by UNC, Millennials prioritized “meaningful work” over higher pay, and 70% said they will change jobs when the economy improves. Seeing an emptiness in sacrificing their lives for a career, they are figuring out how to balance work and play while at the same time being productive and successful.

A generation of influencers

Although few have reached the level of being final decision-makers, they have a greater influence than you may have thought. Because they are known for being tech wizards, social media savvy, and in-the-know of current and rising trends, executives are bringing them into the decision-making process from the beginning.

Often in B2B marketing, we put all our energies into reaching the final decision maker, while missing the fact that it’s equally (if not more) important to connect with the influencers…the ones who have the ear of the C-suite executives.

If you are a nonprofit or B2C company, their influence among their peers is not to be underestimated.

What their persona might look like

Millennials are always connected as verified from research by social-influence marketing platform Crowdtap that revealed individuals ages 18 to 36 spend almost 18 hours a day with different types of media. This constant connectivity makes it easy for millennials to voice their feedback and opinions via social media. Because of their ability to spread the word farther and faster than any other generation, this makes them especially influential in the business world.

So what might a millennial buyer persona look like? As with all personas, a good start is to look at what motivates them. They want a well-rounded life between work, family, and community. They require authenticity.

Don’t try to simply sell to them or ask them to support your mission; you must establish a relationship first. Also, keep in mind that millennials do their research and put a high value on ratings and personal reviews, whether it be purchasing a simple personal product or deciding whether they will support a company as a whole.

But once they believe in your company or organization, they will be your greatest advocates. Look at Apple as an example. For the millennials who use their products, it seems that Apple can do no wrong, no matter what issues they might be working through.

Now that you know more about this generation, ask yourself whether your buyer personas connect to them.

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