Marketing to Millennial Business Buyers

The Millennial generation has been out in the workforce for a while now, and this cohort is now entering the stage of their careers where they are part of the business buying process. Much has been written about Millennial preferences as consumers. But how about them as business buyers? Let’s take a look.

The Millennial generation has been out in the workforce for a while now, and this cohort is now entering the stage of their careers where they are part of the business buying process. They may not all be decision-makers quite yet, but they are certainly important influencers. So we B-to-B marketers must consider how to appeal to Millennial business buyers effectively. Much has been written about Millennial preferences as consumers. But how about them as business buyers? Let’s take a look.

Millennials were born in the range of 1977 to 1995, more or less — some researchers put it at 1980s to 2000s. So they range in age today from around 20 to late 30s. As consumers, they are tech dependent, they value authenticity, and they are attracted to brands that think and act like them. Here’s what this means to B-to-B marketers.

Broaden your communications media channels. Millennials prefer mobile text, and IM networks like WhatsApp for direct messages. For advertising, use social media like Facebook and LinkedIn.

Streamline your lead gen. Make it effortless. Use auto-populate techniques for forms, where possible. Ask for minimal data elements (but fill in the company profile using an outside provider like ReachForce).

Mobile-enable all communications. This means mobile-friendly website and email formats.

Ask for referrals. Millennials are very loyal, once they establish a trusted connection with a brand. So they are likely to refer, especially if you ask.

Avoid marketing speak. Be real, authentic and truthful (they fact check). Get to the point, fast (but make plenty of information available if they want it). Don’t be too serious — make them laugh.

Don’t sell too hard. Not only do they fact check, they’ll also look at reviews, comments and other online validation.

Be active on social media. The B-to-B value of social has been proven again and again. But if you’re still not convinced, the behavior of Millennials should be enough to put you over the top. This generation expects you to be tweeting, blogging, posting on Facebook, and participating in LinkedIn groups.

Tell stories. These buyers respond to emotion. Use case studies, testimonials.

Treat them uniquely, not as a member of a group. This translates into taking full advantage of personalization techniques, like dynamic web page serving and data-driven customized messaging.

Talk about efficiency, and results. These are the themes that interest Millennials. They want to operate faster, cheaper, better. And they want their efforts to change the world. If you can help with those missions, say so. These are the product positioning angles that are meaningful to the new business buyer.

Any other ideas to add to the list?

A version of this article appeared in Biznology, the digital marketing blog.

Author: Ruth P. Stevens

Ruth P. Stevens consults on customer acquisition and retention, and teaches marketing at companies and business schools around the world. She is past chair of the DMA Business-to-Business Council, and past president of the Direct Marketing Club of New York. Ruth was named one of the 100 Most Influential People in Business Marketing by Crain's BtoB magazine, and one of 20 Women to Watch by the Sales Lead Management Association. She is the author of Maximizing Lead Generation: The Complete Guide for B2B Marketers, and Trade Show and Event Marketing. Ruth serves as a director of Edmund Optics, Inc. She has held senior marketing positions at Time Warner, Ziff-Davis, and IBM and holds an MBA from Columbia University.

Ruth is a guest blogger at Biznology, the digital marketing blog. Email Ruth at ruth@ruthstevens.com, follow her on Twitter at @RuthPStevens, or visit her website, www.ruthstevens.com.

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