Marketing & Growth

How to Market to Millennials

By Robyn Parets

Note: This is the first in a three-part series on how your business can successfully market and work with the millennial generation.

If you’re a small business owner, knowing how to market to millennials is key to your success. It’s imperative that you know how to market your products and services to specific customer segments—and numbering about 80 million, millennials are the fastest growing consumer group in America.

In fact, millennials have the greatest lifetime value of any customers, according to The Center for Generational Kinetics. Here are some other things you should know about this powerful consumer base:

  • Millennials are generally 20 to 37 years old.
  • These young adults are comprised of students, married couples, and parents.
  • They view life differently than their parents, as they’ve been raised in a world ruled by technology and an abundance of choices.
  • It’s likely that by next year millennials will outspend baby boomers by about $200 billion in consumer goods. This gives them more spending power than any other generation.

What Do You Need to Know About Millennial Buying Behaviors?

To effectively market and sell your wares and services to millennials, sometimes called Generation Y, it’s important that you understand key buying behaviors that drive this consumer segment. In a nutshell, millennials are more willing to try different brands than other consumer groups. They are also very loyal once they select your company’s brand, products, or services. In addition, they are likely to refer friends to your business when the buying experience is positive. Likewise, they won’t hesitate to badmouth your business if they have a negative experience.

Three Ways to Market and Sell to Millennials

Now that you have a better understanding of who millennials are and how they shop, it’s time to implement a marketing plan to effectively reach this influential consumer base. Here are three ways you can start attracting millennials to your business right now:

1. Sell an Experience, Not Just Stuff

Millennials seek passion, happiness, discovery, and diversity—not just in life, but in their buying experiences. This is why they’d rather spend money on an enriching and diverse experience than a humdrum product or service. To appeal to Generation Y, it’s time to think outside the box and craft ways to create an engaging buying experience. This isn’t always so simple, but here are some ideas:

  • Consider inviting your customers to an event at your office or a local restaurant to celebrate a company milestone or the launch of a new product.
  • Since Generation Y spends big bucks on travel experiences and events, you might want to consider ways to market your products and services to your customers while they are traveling or tie in a promotion to a popular local music event or destination.
  • Hold a contest to generate buzz and excitement for your business.

2. Use Technology to Communicate and Stay Relevant

Millennials have grown up withtext messaging, email marketing, and numerous forms of social media. It’s imperative that your business communicate and market to this generation using all available technology and social media platforms, says Sarita Bhargava, Chief Communications Officer at Digital Promise, a startup education technology company in Washington, D.C.

“A marketing message has to be relevant and engaging. The sheer size and scale of millennials means companies also have to use technology to change rapidly and interact with this generation,” says Bhargava.

As an example, your small business can market to millennials by creating email lists and sending out e-blasts and newsletters using an email marketing tool like MailChimp or Constant Contact. You can also use Facebook pages, Instagram, Twitter, and text messages to promote deals to your customers.

3. Seek Out and Play Up Positive Reviews

Talking about technology, Millennials love to use interactive channels to shout or rather, Yelp, about companies they love—and hate. It’s your job to make sure positive reviews are posted on apps and sites like Yelp and Facebook. Likewise, reviews and testimonials should be highlighted on your website and blasted out on social media channels. Since millennials also rely on what other people say, you can be sure that they are actively engaging with review apps and websites to help them decide which businesses to patronize.

No reviews yet? No worries. Even if you’re just starting out and don’t have any posted reviews, you can change that in a snap by asking a few select customers to write something positive about your company. This gives you instant testimonials or reviews that you can share online and post on various channels to help drive traffic to your business.

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