Millennials aren’t the future of B2B. They’re the NOW.
We’ve talked a lot about millennials ’round these parts. If you want proof, check here and here. Our basic thesis is that it’s dangerous to overlook the increasing power of millennials as consumers. But anyone who understands the slow encroachment of time will realize this truth sooner or later.
What we’re here to talk about today is the underrated power of millennials in other, non-consumer sectors of our industry. Sheer inertia and flips of the calendar indicate that millennials should be just as important in B2B as they are in B2C, but for some reason, it feels like B2B remains the domain of boomers and Gen X. Marketers in B2B know the influx is coming, but it seems so far away.
Welp, the future is now, olds! That guy or gal you see every year at the trade show might not considered a millennial, but chances are, they have a growing number of coworkers who are, and they’re probably important enough to their respective companies that they’re at the show. This is a perfect opportunity to get to know them over coffee or lunch or after-hours events (like young people like!).
But why put in the time?
Because millennials aren’t the future of B2B. They’re the now.
The future, today
Last fall, Snapapp released a study that enhanced what we already knew about the millennial impact on B2B. The study showed that 13 percent of millennials who are involved in the purchasing process at their companies are already making B2B buying decisions and 28 percent more are influencing them. When you broaden the scope of those numbers, a whopping 82 percent of these millennials are involved in their company’s buying committee in some way.
Luckily, the basic tenet of reaching millennial B2B buyers is pretty similar to reaching your standard millennial consumer. Some things to remember when looking to make that connection:
As we’ve gone over again and again and again, the key to a youngling’s heart is through the feeds. The Snappapp study shows that the same holds true for millennial buyers, as 45 percent surveyed start researching solutions with social media. They look for trusted influencers online, and they trust reviews from credible sources. So even though your end-target is different (business vs. consumer), you still want to use the same channels to reach that audience. They’re looking in the same places, after all.
People don’t often get on social media to not interact. It’s almost always a two-way street, and the more you engage with the younger audience, the more they’ll feel involved. And the more they feel involved, the more they will trust you. And trust is important! Because…
There’s value in values
One of the things we’ve stressed in our millennial-based content is that trust is a major component to any purchasing decision a millennial may make. They tend to buy from companies they trust, and that trust has multiple definitions.
First, they want trust in the literal sense; they want transparency and authenticity. Forbes states that in any interaction, nearly half (43 percent) of our fastest-growing generation won’t even consider visiting a website from a company they don’t trust. That’s a telling stat. These kids can sniff out things that sound like advertising or marketing-ese. So even if you’re advertising or marketing to them, you need to tell the truth. Be up front about your intentions. Otherwise, they won’t even look at you.
The second kind of trust revolves around responsibility. In the Snapapp survey, more than 20 percent of the respondents said that they look only at vendors who have values they believe in or a strong commitment to community involvement. These kids care, and they want the companies they buy from to care as well. This is an area where you can use your social channels for maximum effectiveness. Are you out in the community? Are you making a difference? Document it! There’s no shame in getting a little mileage out of the good you’re doing. The better your company does, the more good you can do, right? Champion a cause. And then talk about it. If you show passion for something, you show that you’re more than just a product-pushing behemoth.
Light at the end
It’s not easy to reach millennials, whether they’re B2B or B2C. But that’s not the point; the point is that we have to. While B2C has already embraced that growing wave of finicky future folk, B2B is still a touch behind the curve. We need to catch up, because they are coming, if they’re not already here.
The good news is that while it’s a generation that demands a lot of the brands it chooses to indulge, we have the tools to get the job done in ways that are more comprehensive and accurate than ever before. Millennials want to be talked to individually. But we can do just that! If you have the bandwidth and manpower to talk to them, you can bend your B2B customers’ ears in ways that boomers could never imagine. We’re already living in the future. We just have to use it right.