millennialMillennial to many of us is a dirty word. It translates into entitlement, laziness, and a lack of communication and life skills. Millennial is even a dirty word to some millennials. Many of us, myself a borderline millennial included, were raised by parents who believed loving us meant giving us all kinds of love, even the tough kind. We are just as annoyed by the slackers, maybe even more so than those of older generations. Researchers and marketers need something to call people born after 1980, so this bad rep is reflected upon everyone.

Bad or good, most millennials share qualities differentiating them from older generations:
Raised with technology since birth

Millennials have lived in a world with color TVs in every living room and most kitchens. They’ve never fought over who would get up to change the channel, instead debating over who has ultimate control over the remote. Exposure to computers started in early elementary school, as well as reliance on the internet for information.  

Short on patience and quick to discern

Patience is low because millennials never experienced the necessity of digging through encyclopedias and phone books for information. Instead, what they need is delivered in a quick Google search. This ease of access to information often makes millennials more discriminatory. The internet isn’t a highly proofed encyclopedia, but a collection of opinions. Millennials have learned to sort through the junk to develop their own truth in the information they seek.

Tolerant of other cultures

As the children of flower children, millennials tend to base cultural judgments on their parents’ value of equality. They are the most accepting of other cultures out of all generations. Sometimes to an extreme.  

Early adopters

Because millennials have experienced technology since birth, they’re more open to new technology. Especially if they can see a potential benefit from utilizing it.

Confidence with a need for acceptance

Recipients of participatory ribbons, millennials built confidence in their abilities. Those same ribbons trained them to find extreme gratification in recognition.  It’s a double-edged form of confidence. Feeling they can tackle a task and after doing so wanting recognition for the outcome.

Market on the intersecting values.

Instead of focusing on exactly how you’re different from millennials and pointing fingers about who’s better, focus on the values you share. Your values as a company should not change because millennials work for you and buy your products. Those values are what make you great. Companies who successfully transition maintain their values and apply them through new mediums.

Family first

All parents want their children to lead a life better than their own. Many millennials were raised in split families. They place a high emphasis on family time and like their parents before them, endeavor towards being good parents. Their family is often placed before their own personal needs.

Positive messaging

Nobody likes a negative nancy or excessive complainer. Millennials are no exception. A positive work environment and marketing message can create buy-in for your business and product.

Personal interactions

Everyone likes to feel important, to be spoken to like you’re the only person in the room. As recipients of participation awards, millennials crave connection. Personal interaction may not be face to face, it may be virtual but the emphasis on personal relationships remain paramount.

Deliver on promises, don’t lie

A man is only as good as his word. Social media and business reviews display the ethics of your company for all to see. Millennials will discover you’re lying before they even meet you. They’ll Facebook stalk you and consult the opinions of their friends, parents, and online reviews. They feel confident finding information and making decisions, including the decision to work with your competition.

Open communication

Surprise parties are about the only good surprises in business. Letting people know what to expect is the foundation for good customer service. The millennial version of this just starts earlier in the relationship, before even meeting you. They expect to find information about your product on their own prior to speaking to a sales person. Provide millennials with the information they need to make an informed buying decision and you will be the first in line when they pick up the phone.

Gain a competitive edge.

Be prepared to offer instant gratification

Stop thinking of instant gratification as entitlement and start thinking about it as excellent customer service. Offer auto email responders, have humans answer the phone, provide instant quotes and resources for those at the beginning of the buying cycle.

Personalize it

Don’t just say your customers are like family, prove it. Address them by name in your marketing and acknowledge you know them. Use photos they can identify with and find a way to marry professional with fun. For example, every order I place for my dog at 1800petmeds.com is delivered with a dog treat. I care enough about my dog to order medicine, they care enough about my dog to offer a treat.

Polish your online presence

Millennials will compare you with your competition online, make sure you stack up. Your website is their first impression of your company. For example, if your competition offers an online estimator and photo gallery of their work make sure you do the same. (And take better pictures too!) Millennials will also judge your company based on visual appeal and have a higher likelihood of leaving unprofessional looking or slow loading sites.

Mobile friendly is a must

Pew Research Center found 83% of Millennials sleep with their cell phone. Your website needs to appeal to the decision maker, regardless of how they’re viewing it.

Genuine Imagery

Because the millennials’ initial interaction with your company is online, they’re slower to connect with the human element of your company. Show them you’re real people by using real photos in your marketing.

Mediums to Reach Millennials

Keep up direct mail and door hangers

Direct Mail and door hangers, especially when personalized, still have the potential to reach millennials. Printed newsletters also do a great job of sharing your company’s values and story.

Connect via email

Email is easy to personalize and inexpensive to send. Make sure email campaigns are mobile-friendly. Find a balance providing educational content, examples of completed projects and highlighting company employees, news and achievements. Educational content establishes you as an expert while completed projects and company news add a human element to your marketing.

Show them through video

Video can effectively and concisely communicate a story for the impatient millennial. Once again, focus on the human element of your business and let your personality shine through.

Social media of course

As you venture into social media, remember, it’s about being social. You’re not going to make friends if you’re just trying to sell stuff. Take a strategic approach to your social media sharing content and monitoring reactions to learn what information garners the best response from your audience.

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