Attracting Millennial Customers To Your Small Business

on February 1, 2017

If you’re having a hard time marketing to the seemingly elusive Millennial demographic, you’ve come to the right place. Obviously, I am no Millennial, but I have raised two (and, cliché alert! One has graduated and is living at home), and I work closely with a few others. So, to answer this question, I impaneled an informal Millennial board of advisors.

Their insights were really interesting.

There is no doubt that the smart small business owner will want to cut as wide a demographic swath as possible, given one’s brand and market position. Indeed, we will leave opportunity knocking if we fail to understand perhaps the most important demographic of them all these days, the Millennials, what with their buying power and smart phones and social media prowess.

Trying to connect your small business to a niche audience that grew up in tandem with the rise of modern technology (and its attendant new and complex implications, social challenges, and the folds and creases that come with it) might seem challenging, but it’s actually a matter of listening, learning, and altering.

Here then are some sure-fire tips from my Millennial advisors:

1. We have six words for you: Social media, social media, social media. It’s no secret that Millennials are the kings and queens of social media. In fact, according to research compiled by USC’s Applied Psychology department, 89% of American Millennials are social media users, most of whom use their preferred social platforms on a daily basis.

As well, Millennials have the highest percentage of smartphone ownership out of any other generation, which means their social media usage is usually mobile. As such, Millennials will be much more likely to run into, and engage with, your brand if your small business establishes a robust social media presence:

  • Don’t stick to just one social media platform. Just as Millennials often use more than just Facebook or just Twitter, your business too should have a long social media wingspan if you want to reach as many potential younger customers as possible.
  • Post engaging content regularly. Nothing will get you unfollowed faster than hosting a dormant page, or even just posting bland photos without captions or context.
  • Interact with customers. A recent survey found that 62% of Millennials say that active brand engagement on social media makes them more likely to be loyal customers. Take advantage of that fact. Reply to tweets, Like people’s photos, and respond to complaints quickly. Millennials expect a personalized experience.
  • Be concise and bold. Millennials have grown up accustomed to instant entertainment and instant information. They are patrons of the Short Attention Span theatre (but then, aren’t we all these days?) The key thing then is to make sure you look enticing enough at first glance for someone to stop scrolling and tap.

2. Don’t be inauthentic: My experts insist that Millennials are smart, cynical, and incisively critical. They dislike advertising that appears deceptive or dishonest.

Given that, if you or your staff don’t have an entirely firm grasp on certain Millennial trends (memes, emojis, popular hashtags, etc.) then it might be wise to avoid them altogether; they will easily recognize your efforts as contrived and transparent.

3. Stand for something: Millennials often distrust corporations and feel contempt toward corporate greed.

Here’s some food for thought:

  • 87% of Millennials are more willing to make a purchase when there is a social or environmental benefit attached to it
  • 91% of Millennials prefer brands that are associated with a cause

As a small business, therefore, you have the opportunity to present yourself as a better type of business – one that is personal, personable, and trustworthy; one that Millennial customers can feel virtuous in supporting.

So, for example, look to find a way to make your business greener. Or, if your business can afford it, donate a portion of your profits to a cause. Find a way to pay it forward in whichever way works best for you and your company, and then be sure to let Millennials know what you are doing to make the planet better.

How best to get the word out?

Social media of course.

© 2017, The Strauss Group, Inc.