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How to brand and sell to Millennials

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Who exactly are the Millennials?

Millennials (or Generation Y) are the generation of people born between 1981 and 2000. They were born into a technological society and tend to be more tech-savvy than members of previous generations. They are presently in a period of their life where they are finishing school, building credit, starting families and experiencing all the opportunities and challenges that surround that time.

The cliché goes that smartphones never leave their side. They live on access to information and, as a result, will know more about your business, products and services than you can imagine. The opinions that they find online and through social media are more important than those of your best salespeople. They make informed and educated decisions.

If they can save the trip to go to your place of business and buy online to get it delivered to their home, they absolutely will—regardless of their location but even more so if they live in an urban setting.

They also like cool products and, therefore, your brand, your marketing, the messages and the media you are using might be more important than your salespeople.

When were the generations born?

Our latest study breaks down the dates of birth for the generations as follows.

Baby Boomers: 1946-1965

Generation X: 1966-1980

Generation Y or Millennials: 1981-2000

Generation Z: 2001-now

Whether you are selling to businesses or consumers, Millennials can no longer be ignored. They are now the largest demographic age group in North America. In Canada, they make up 40% of the workforce and will continue to dominate it for the foreseeable future.

They make up an important part of the economy and their huge buying power will continue to increase.

Businesses who want to stay connected to this group will need to think differently or risk becoming irrelevant.

Focus on seven key brand experiences

Millennials interact with many brands across many media and channels. With the Internet and social media, they have the power to make or break a brand overnight. To improve your chances of success, you need to create the proper brand relationship.

Millennials have different buying habits, behaviors and personality traits that you will want to understand more deeply. Pay close attention to these seven key points throughout the buying cycle.

1. Evaluation

Millennials want to understand your product or service

Millennials will want to know you before they can trust you. They will read reviews and testimonials on your website, but they will put more importance on the reviews from independent sources or blogs.

One of the best examples you can find is tripadvisor.com, a website where millions of people share their knowledge and opinions about the travel space for free.

Take note that all of this is done predominantly on smartphones. Are you relevant to that experience?

2. Trust-building

Millennials want you to be transparent

A strong brand is one of the greatest asset you can have. However, with Millennials, your brand must be transparent.

Transparency is quickly becoming a strong differentiator because millennials trust their peers and independent experts more than they trust your company. They want to find impartial, honest and sincere evaluations from people in their community, likely on social media.

Referrals from influencers will be more powerful than advertising. They will ask their questions to these peers who do not work for you.

3. Interest

Can you be reached on every channel?

After reviewing their options, Millennials will narrow their choices. That is when they will probably make contact with your company. They want to start a conversation (online or offline) to begin the relationship. Make sure you can be reached across every channel.

4. Trial

Millennials want to try before making a purchase

Millennials are increasingly expecting to try your products or services before making a purchase. Offering a trial period will help convert leads. If you cannot, consider offering a strategic discount code, free samples, or other perks to get them into your sales funnel.

5. Conversion

Reduce the financial commitment

Millennials want to access the products and services they need when they need them, and without paying the full price of ownership. Streaming music services, Netflix, Uber, Airbnb, car-sharing services all provide products and services without the long-term financial commitment.

Millennials are the main customers for these new innovative businesses. These businesses succeed with disruption, and it starts by asking: “Why does something have to be done a certain way?”

6. Retention and loyalty

Stay in contact after the sale

After the purchase, we strongly recommend reengaging with customers at key moments. You want to know more about the customer experience that you offered, but you also want clients to talk about you to their peers and to advocate for you.

Encourage them to share their experience. Your new customer was once a prospect looking for referrals; now ask them to become your brand advocate and defender.

7. Review

Harness communities

Millennials, as a group, love to share within communities. They go from audience to influencer in a moment. They can add value to your company by sharing positive insights about your business. They can show gratitude and appreciation, but they can just as easily give you a bad rating. The benefits and the risks to your brand are at the scale of the online world.

Tell a consistent story across every channel

After mastering the buying cycle, you need to tell your brand story in a way that guides your target audience through the journey from prospect to customer. Create a fluid story that is interactive and connects across your media channels with a consistent message. Friction should be the enemy you fight in every part of your sales process.

Put this in the context of the omni-channel graph that we have built to support our clients in developing their vision.

Be authentic and honest

Think about Millennials and their economic reality as you build your business development strategy. Also, take the steps to deal with as many customer touchpoints as possible in your buying cycle.

Authenticity is extremely important in differentiating your brand from others. Honesty across all your brand assets and sales actions will strengthen your relationship with clients. Be very cautious about the aggressiveness of your sales pitches when targeting Millennials; coming on too strong can damage your brand reputation. Conversely, if you are open and welcome the criticism that comes with being a modern business, then you’ll have a solid chance at success.

Are you targeting Millennials? Have you seen a demographic shift in your business’s clientele? We’d love to know more about your experience selling to this generation of consumers.

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