Running a successful business is easy, right? You create a product, display some advertisements and people come flocking to buy it. Except it's never been that simple. And just when companies and advertisers were starting to get a handle on how to sell their products and services, the Millennial generation has arrived to throw off the entire system.
Millennials now represent the largest sector of U.S. consumers and will soon make up more than half the population. That means if you're ignoring the Millennial consumer, you might as well put a for sale sign on your door. To make matters worse, you can't just sell products to Millennial buyers. This generation of consumers is one of the most educated in history, so they can see directly through traditional marketing schemes and ad pitches.
Millennial consumers don't put as much emphasis on a great deal as the older generations, instead they focus on the values associated with the product or service. Brands that can tap into Millennial values are the ones that will have staying power within this buying group.
Let's take a look at a few ways companies are already winning at the Millennial marketing game. How might you apply these principles to your own marketing efforts?
Solving Their Problems
Millennials are constantly on the lookout for products and services that make their daily lives easier. Hate hailing a cab and then fumbling through your wallet to find cash? Uber took care of that. Measuring caps full of detergent for every load of laundry was a drag... until Tide Pods hit the market. In every situation, there's a problem. For every problem, successful brands offer an innovative solution. Millennial consumers want you to find a way to fix their problems, even if they didn't know it was a problem in the first place.
Focusing on Mobile
If you want to reach Millennials, just look in their hands. Over 85 percent of Millennials own a smartphone, and they are constantly tethered to their devices. Optimizing your website for mobile is absolutely critical to seeing success in the Millennial market. It's important to understand that Millennials value their time and demand convenience. They don't like to wait for long load times or fumble through poor navigation. If your site isn't mobile optimized, user-friendly, and easily navigated, they will move on quickly.
Additionally, Google will downgrade your search engine rankings if your website isn't optimized for smartphones and tablets. Creating responsive websites is simpler than ever, so there's no excuse for not keeping up with mobile.
Encouraging Loyalty with Rewards
There is a common misconception that Millennials aren't loyal to brands. That's not necessarily true. Millennials have a tendency to be loyal to brands who reward them for their loyalty. Rewards programs can be successful among Millennials, especially in the travel industry.
The Millennial consumer likes quality, but doesn't want to spend a fortune on it, either. They're chic and savvy. They like status. So when it comes to things like hotels, they want 5-star accommodations at a 2-star price. That's where loyalty programs are effective. You can convince a Millennial to stay loyal to your hotel brand - and maybe even pay a little more - if they'll be rewarded with perks such as a free room or a complimentary meal.
Millennials are inherently distrustful, especially of big corporations. To get in touch with young consumers, companies need to open the door and let them in. Show them what you're all about. Explain how you take care of your employees and encourage their individual success. Share your efforts in your local or global community. Create a blog where team members share their thoughts and ideas on the industry.
Toms Shoes is a perfect example. The company's "buy one, give one" business model - where with each TOMS purchase, the company provides shoes and other services to people in need - struck a chord with Millennials and they helped turn it into a Fortune 500 company. Millennials want to know that they are spending their money with a company that cares about more than dollar signs.
Promoting the Experience
The Millennial generation at large doesn't want to just buy and use a product or service - they're looking for a full customer experience. When someone goes to an Apple store, for instance, it's not typical for a customer to simply choose their product, pay for it and walk out. In most cases, there's not even a traditional cash register in sight - instead, the store is designed in a way that encourages customers to test drive the products on display. There's also easy access to in-person technical support at the Genius Bar. Even after they've left the store, all Apple products are synced, so each purchase adds to the value of other products the buyer might already own. This all adds to the buying experience and build impressive long-term loyalty among Millennials to the Apple brand.
Companies who can create this buying experience also create makeshift communities among its customers. Consumers identify with other people who have bought the same product or brand. It's these types of experiences that keep Millennials coming back.
Customers Are The Best Brand Ambassadors
Companies spend hundreds of millions of dollars on advertising campaigns each year, but the best advertising any company can have is word-of-mouth - meaning your existing customers are the best person very best salespeople your brand can get. This is especially true for Millennial consumers. As a rule, they don't buy something just because it was advertised to them. Instead, they conduct their own market research - they ask their friends, scour social media, search Yelp. To Millennials, the opinions of fellow consumers are far more valuable than the words of the company trying to sell to them.
If a Millennial customer truly loves a brand, they're going to tell their friends about it and convince others to try it. Companies that have great customer service or are actively engaging with their customers on social media are best positioned to create those brand ambassadors. Southwest Airlines, a popular low-cost airline among young travelers, is known for connecting with travelers through an active social media presence, where they share photos and respond to customer concerns.
What You Can Do Right Now
Are you ready to revitalize your brand's marketing strategy to better appeal to Millennials? Start these steps right now to improve your sales with this growing sector of young, digital-savvy consumers.
Optimize your brand's website for a better mobile experience. Make sure Millennial customers can quickly access important information - such as your business's address, phone number, and pricing - even while on the go.
Give customers a behind the scenes look at the inner workings of your business. Knowing that your products are ethically sourced and that you treat your employees well goes a long way toward gaining favor with Millennials.
Renew focus on your customer experience. How quickly do you respond to customer questions or complaints online? How easy is it for customers to purchase your product or make returns? By creating positive customer experiences, you will turn your existing customers into brand ambassadors who do the selling for you.
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