Influence Millennial B2B Buyers With a Page From the B2C Playbook

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Marketing to millennials is the norm in the consumer world. For years, B2C marketers have been delivering personalized messages through digital channels to meet millennials where they are with what they care about.

It’s time for B2B marketers to do the same.

Millennials, those people born between 1981 and 1997, are growing their careers, moving up the corporate ladder, and coming into roles that influence meaningful business spend. Now the largest generation in U.S. history, millennials are often less responsive to impersonal marketing tactics, such as cold calls, direct mail, and mass emails.

This shift challenges the basic mindset of the B2B marketer. In many cases, these marketers think about selling their product to a business, but in reality, we’re selling to humans working within the business who have their own interests, needs, and drivers. Although we’ve started to target the business role of our prospects, it’s time to further incorporate demographic information into our marketing campaigns, such as generational data.

By understanding the buying habits and preferences of millennial B2B buyers, we can better target our outreach and grab their attention. But here are a few data-driven insights to keep in mind before creating a campaign around what you think you know about millennial decision makers.

Millennials want easily accessible information online.

Unlike the generations that came before them, millennials grew up with technology. This group of “digital pioneers” expects to easily find the information they seek. In fact, Spiceworks research shows that compared to baby boomers, millennial tech buyers are more likely to turn to Google and social media to learn about new products and services. And when they land on your site, they expect to find detailed product specs and pricing information.

In other words, if you put too much control over your product information by requiring a sales call first, that’s a surefire way to get ignored. It’s our job to make the desired information easy to find. Otherwise, millennial buyers might suspect you have something to hide and turn to another provider.

Millennials expect more personalization.

At this point, millennials expect targeted emails and ads based on their interests and have embraced quid-pro-quo arrangements. They’re willing to share their data with companies as long as they’re getting value from it in exchange. B2C marketers are already leveraging this data to create personalized experiences for millennials, so why aren’t B2B marketers following suit?

Research shows millennial buyers are twice as likely to respond to a personalized message than Gen Xers and baby boomers. As B2B marketers, we should be anticipating our customers’ needs with more demographic data: their age, company role, and where they are in the buying cycle. We can use this information to personalize our campaigns and add more value with content that moves prospects closer to a solution.

Often, this will result in a win-win situation; in exchange for the value you provide, your millennial prospects will be more willing to provide information about themselves, their company, and their purchase plans.

Millennials despise cold calls and mass emails.

The quality and frequency of your communication is key when reaching out to millennial buyers. In fact, 85 percent of millennial tech buyers said too many sales calls and emails will make them less likely to purchase from a brand they’re loyal to. So instead of emailing them product pitch after product pitch, focus on making their lives easier by sending them informative content (e.g., technical specs, how-tos, templates) that helps them get their jobs done and convince their boss to invest.

And if millennials don’t engage with (or even open) your email, a phone call could push them even further away, especially considering only 8 percent of millennial buyers prefer to be contacted by sales reps and marketers via phone. A high volume of unsolicited calls from sales or marketing is almost guaranteed to do serious damage to your brand and cause millennials to look elsewhere.

Millennials appreciate creative marketing efforts.

At the end of the day, B2B buyers are expected to make technology purchases that are in the best interest of their business. To make these decisions, they need content through each phase of the purchase journey that will help them determine a need in their organization, compare solutions, and make final purchase decisions.

However, millennials have a little more appreciation for creative marketing efforts throughout the decision-making process. In fact, 23 percent of millennials tech buyers believe creative marketing efforts are important to driving brand loyalty, but only 18 percent of Gen Xers and 13 percent of baby boomers said the same. This means marketers may have more luck reaching millennials and building brand advocates if they experiment with visual content, video, and other creative content that quickly grabs their attention.

Ultimately, to reach and influence millennial B2B buyers, take a page from the consumer marketing playbook. No need to overhaul your entire marketing strategy, but keep in mind the preferences of each generation and test to see what works. You’ll see a lot more success if you stop thinking about your buyers as a business and start thinking about them as humans with individual needs.


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Author: Sanjay Castelino

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